After months of being closed, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) approved Virginia to move into Phase 3 of reopening, allowing for food stores and entertainment centers to open, including movie theaters. Regal Cinemas reopened Aug. 21. However, it now has new rules it is enforcing as safety precautions.
“I’m glad that we’re going to be able to do something semi-normal again,” JMU (’17) alumna and Harrisonburg resident Kati Statzer said.
Phase 3 Protocols
Since Regal Cinemas is an entertainment facility, it must follow state regulations required for all movie theaters, restaurants and recreation centers. To enter the theaters, customers can’t have a fever or show any COVID-19 symptoms, social distancing is enforced at all times and employees have to disinfect shared objects between each usage.
Entering the lobby and exiting the building
Like other public facilities, people must wear a mask upon entering the building. Customers are asked to leave if they aren’t wearing a mask inside. The customers must wear masks the whole time they’re at the theater except when eating or drinking during the movie. According to Regal’s official website, guests are asked to go to their specific theater as soon as possible and leave right as the movie ends. The website also stated that the arcade, water fountains and vending machines can’t be used.
“I thought to myself, ‘How are they going to man that? How are they going to be doing that?’ and I saw that they’re actually going to have people coming in and checking and making sure people are wearing their mask,” JMU (’17) alumna and Harrisonburg resident Kori Mayhugh said. “And if they’re not wearing a mask, they will be asked to leave.”
Purchasing food and drinks
The concession stand is always open. While one can buy food and drinks as they were able to before the pandemic, concessions also has new rules. Regal’s website states the theater will have a spot every six feet in front of the cash register to indicated where to stand for social distancing. To continue Regal Cinemas’ social distancing system, every other cash register is open so people won’t be next to each other while ordering.
In the theater
Once moviegoers get to their seats, they must wear a mask throughout the movie except for when eating and drinking. Regal will have employees in the theater to make sure guests follow this rule according to its website. There are two empty seats between groups with seat reservations. Groups with no reservations will be asked to follow the same seating pattern. The capacity for each theater has been cut to 50% of guests allowed. Also, chairs are sprayed with disinfecting spray in between showings.
“I do think it’s a good idea to be half capacity so people aren’t just sitting on top of each other and kind of spacing everything else,” Mayhugh said. “It makes me feel safer when I’m going and sitting in a place for an extended period of time.”
Regal Cinemas app
Regal Cinemas already had an app in place for frequent customers to use to preorder tickets, look up showtimes and earn points for rewards such as free popcorn and drinks. Although the physical ticket booth and snack bars are open, the theater is encouraging those using the app to buy tickets and order food, which is a new feature.
While there are still rules and regulations for customer safety, some moviegoers may be excited to watch a movie outside of their house.
“I’m just excited to be back in an environment where I can just relax and enjoy a movie and do something with friends,” Statzer said.
Contact Gracie Brogowski at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the news and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Culture.