Moviegoers rejoice as LA County receives green light to reopen theaters

By Yzzy Arias, April 27, 2021

Moviegoers can now return to theaters as local health officials loosened business restrictions on Los Angeles County when it entered the orange tier on April 5 after seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases. In time for the summer blockbuster season, numerous movie theaters are now operating with safety measures in place.

As of April 5, movie theaters are operating at 50% capacity or 200 total people, whichever is fewer. They are set to operate at full capacity by June 15 as long as the distribution of vaccinations increase and Angelenos continues to follow safety protocols.

Movie theater chains, including Regal, AMC and Cinemark, are some of the big-name companies reopening along with smaller theaters, including Regency, Landmark and Laemmel.

Despite the excitement surrounding the reopening, some Cal Poly Pomona students are cautious to return.

Kelly Huang Chen, a second-year industrial engineering student, used to go to theaters two to three times a week before the pandemic. Despite the reopening, she won’t be rushing back to them anytime soon due to possible health risks.

“You end up interacting with more people than you think and it’s not like they sanitize everything,” said Huang Chen. “I have younger siblings who are not eligible for the vaccine yet, so I don’t want to take that risk.”

According to the LA County Department of Public Health, audience members will be required to wear masks at all times, except while eating or drinking, which is only permitted in designated dining areas or while seated inside the auditorium.

AMC is incorporating additional safety procedures that limit its menus at concession stands to shorten lines and reduce auditorium capacity for guests to practice social distancing. Condiments, utensils and drink refills will only be offered upon request.

On the other hand, Regal Theaters is allowing flexibility for guests to purchase tickets and concession items on its mobile app.

“You have to make advance reservations now,” said Josepf Amador, a first-year aerospace engineering student. “(Theater staff) implemented a two-seat buffer between reserved seats and they would regularly check-in during the movie to make sure audience members followed the rules.”

This month, Amador visited movie theaters in San Bernardino County and was content with how they were operating. Regardless of the safety measures enforced by theaters, he urged Southern Californians to exercise caution when engaging in in-person activities to return to “some kind of normalcy.”

Unlike these corporations, some movie theaters in LA County will not reopen due to financial burdens. Earlier this month, Pacific Theatres announced that its ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres locations will permanently close after failing to recover from the year-long closure due to the pandemic.

The most popular Pacific Theater location was the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. The theater is hard to miss due to its concrete geodesic dome made up of pentagonal and hexagonal shapes.

This location hosted countless movie premieres such as “Shrek 2” to “Spider-Man 2.” Cinerama Dome’s latest pop culture appearance was in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” in 2019.

Theaters that reopened near campus include Regal Edwards West Covina, Laemmel Claremont 5, AMC Glendora 12, Harkins Theatres Chino Hills 18 and AMC Covina 17.

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