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Movie theatres look to keep clear of COVID to reopen

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) -

Movie theatres around Michiana are looking to reopen and one in Mishawaka is planning to open its doors to patrons starting Friday.

So how are theatres planning to keep people safe from COVID-19? 16 News Now spoke with Cinemark 14 in Mishawaka.

”We’ve taken great care in outlining enhanced clean and safety protocols,” Chanda Brashears says. She is the Vice President of Investor Relations and Public Relations at Cinemark.

The company looking to lower moviegoers’ fears as the pandemic rolls on.

“We have gone to the Nth degree to ensure that the health and safety of our employees and our guests and our communities is a top priority,” Brashears says.

The seats sitting empty for months and ticket booths with no workers. Now they’re back in business. The empty parking lot could soon look a lot different as people head in this week, but they’re being COVID-19 cautious. 

“We rely heavily on each individual government as to whether, you know, based on on the virus, as to whether its appropriate to lift some of those restrictions,” Brashears says.  

As part of Stage 4.5 of the Back on Track Indiana Plan movie theatres can open at 50% capacity. Stage 4.5 is set to expire August 27th. If Indiana moves to Stage 5, then theatres like Cinemark 14 can move to 100% capacity. 

Cinemark says they’ve been planning for the reopen with test sites.

”We’ve has 16 test and learn theatres open across the United States, which has really given us confidence in terms of the implementation, the training, the communication of all our health and safety protocols,” Brashears says.

Here are all the precautions Cinemark says they are going to take:

  • All theatres will reopen with staggered showtimes to maximize physical distancing.
  • Seat-Buffering Technology will automatically block seats adjacent to a party upon ticket purchase.
  • Face masks are mandatory for all guests within the theatre and may only be removed for eating and drinking in the auditoriums.
  • Cinemark is substantially raising the fresh air rate in its building HVAC systems by adding purge cycles and constantly using supply fans to increase total volume of fresh, outside air flowing into our theatres. All theatres utilize MERV filters in its HVAC systems.
  • Cinemark vacuums are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters identified to be effective in trapping at least 99.97 percent of microscopic particles, including COVID-19.
  • All public and high-touch spaces, such as concession stands, door handles, drink stations, self-ticketing kiosks, benches and restrooms will be thoroughly sanitized every 30 minutes using products identified by the EPA to be effective in eliminating COVID-19.
  • Each auditorium will be disinfected every morning, and all handrails and occupied seats, along with those on either side, will be sanitized between show times.
  • For additional assurance, there will be seat wipes and ample hand sanitizer available for customer use.
  • Auditoriums will have limited capacities that meet or exceed local ordinances.
  • Cinemark has streamlined its in-theatre ticket verification processes, no longer requiring digital ticket holders to carry a paper ticket, and moviegoers purchasing tickets at the theatre will no longer need to hand their printed ticket to an usher. All are encouraged to purchase tickets online and use contactless payment methods for a more contact-free experience.
  • Guests who are not feeling well are asked to stay home, and Cinemark will gladly provide a full ticket refund.
  • To help reduce potential contact between cash and food-handling areas, cash payments will not be accepted at the concession stand. However, each theatre will have a designated area where cash will be accepted, and gift cards will be available.
  • There will be plenty of in-theatre signage that will encourage moviegoers to practice proper physical distancing as well as showcase the new protocols involved in The Cinemark Standard.

Cinemark hopes that will be enough, but if theatres become a source for spreading COVID-19, Cinemark couldn’t tell me a specific plan on how they might act.

“We would follow the local health authority’s directives in terms of the next steps,” Brashears says.

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