State OKs reopening of movie theaters, L.A. County says not yet

After opening presents, residents head to the movies, restaurants and parks on Christmas Day on Dec. 25, 2018. Tammy Murga/ The Signal
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California counties granted variance to hasten their reopenings can now decide to reopen movie theaters as early as Friday, state officials said earlier this week, but Los Angeles County officials said Wednesday they can’t open yet. 

The state Department of Public Health recently released a list of guidance for a safe reopening of family entertainment centers, such as bowling alleys, miniature golf, arcades and movie theaters — but the order excludes ice and roller rinks, as well as laser tag arenas. 

On Wednesday, L.A. County announced a modified health order that allows additional sectors to reopen, such as fitness centers, day camps, museums and professional sports without live audiences, but did not include movie theaters or gaming facilities. 

In counties that will grant a green light to reopen, locations such as theaters will have to limit attendance to 25% capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. They will also have to reconfigure or close off seats from use to ensure family units sit at least 6 feet apart from other households, and require face coverings when not eating or drinking. 

Regal Cinemas, the nation’s second-largest chain that operates the two Santa Clarita Valley theaters, has “not made a decision when to reopen Regal theatres,” according to spokesman Richard M. Grover in an email Wednesday. 

“We are constantly following the information provided by authorities. In order to open our theatres, at first, we will need to ensure the safety of our guests and employees. At the same time, we are working closely with our studio partners on when they will make their movies available,” he added. 

In Newhall, residents might have noticed the new Laemmle Theatres 6 take shape but visitors will have to wait a little longer, according to owner Greg Laemmle, who said Wednesday via email that there was not a planned opening date “but it is coming soon.” 

Under the state guidelines, businesses will also have to implement a reservation system, which Santa Clarita Lanes has announced on its website. The local bowling alley is expected to reopen Friday for private reservations and has implemented measures such as having one unused lane between groups. 

For counties to allow theaters and others in the family entertainment sector, each local health officer can offer reopening approval following their review of positive COVID-19 tallies, the rate of test positivity and local preparedness to support contact tracing and vulnerable populations. 

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