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Ada County moves forward with reopening movie theaters

Photo by Mackenzie Hudson

Movie theaters are reopening in the Treasure Valley with new COVID-19 precautions in place. Theaters in the Boise area are utilizing seating charts, keeping groups together and distancing them from others. This means unused seating, blocked rows and a lower capacity at The Flicks Theatre in Downtown Boise.

Veronica Gordon, a junior political science major, expressed her concern over potential exposure to COVID-19. 

“I get enough exposure at work and going to campus for class, going to the movies seems like an unnecessary risk,” Gordon said. 

Gordon comes in contact with different people every day while working at Piehole, a local pizza restaurant, and feels like the additional exposure would not be worth it.

 “It’s probably hard to regulate who actually has their mask on because it will be dark,” Gordon said.

Ada County requires the utilization of face masks in public spaces where people are unable to maintain a distance of six feet from others. Regulations regarding face masks in the auditorium will vary from theater to theater. 

Ada County is in a modified stage 3 of the Idaho Rebounds Plan. Gatherings of 50 people or less are now allowed as long as social distancing is in place. Those who are vulnerable to the virus are reminded to social-distance and avoid areas where additional exposure is unnecessary.

All Regal theaters require that masks be worn at all times, unless you are actively eating or drinking. Customers can also order from the concession stand ahead of time through the Regal mobile app.

The Flicks Theatre requires face masks at the ticket and concession stands, but can be removed once in the theater. The Flicks in downtown Boise is currently operating at 25% to 30% capacity, varying due to changes in party sizes.

Carole Skinner, a representative from The Flicks, assures there is plenty of space for physical distancing. 

“It is easy to sit far from others,” Skinner said. “We have blocked off rows and have implemented the use of seating charts.”

Along with social distancing, utilizing masks, seating charts and outdoor dining, The Flicks has also implemented the Phenomenal Aire System. This system produces electrically charged ions that microbiologists say remove viruses and bacteria from the air. 

“The audience that comes is very happy to be there, and especially glad that we have installed the Phenomenal Aire system, in addition to all of our other cleaning and safety protocols to make it even safer,” Skinner said. 

According to Skinner, along with movie screenings, they are providing other incentives like food, rentals and even streaming options.

“We are offering curbside food, concessions, DVD rentals and are offering movies to stream at home,” Skinner said. 

The Flicks is open from 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 12:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekends. Student admission is $7.50.

Movie theaters join the list of bars and nightclubs that are now able to operate with a lower capacity. Ada County guidelines are revisited every two weeks, and are adjusted as needed. 

“I hope we can survive this pandemic and continue to thrive for many years,” Skinner said.

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