Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has eased restrictions on select nonessential businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, and movie theaters. Variety reports that some cinema operators will reopen their Texas locations in the upcoming days with reduced prices and heightened safety measures.
Mitchell Roberts, the CEO of EVO Entertainment, said the company plans to reopen theaters in Schertz and Kyle, Texas, on Monday, and will require patrons to go through an "airport security-style check-in." Guests will enter through a cordoned area and be asked if they or anyone in their household has exhibited flu-like symptoms within the past 14 days. The theaters will also implement temperature screenings; those with temperatures higher than 100.4 degrees will be prohibited from entering a theater.
"I feel like it’s really important for our guests to come in and see what we’re doing to protect them," Roberts told Variety. "The focus is on earning that customer confidence back."
Under Gov. Abbott's order, theaters will be required to adhere to a 25 percent capacity cap. According to the order, residents are also "encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering."
San Antonio-based Santikos Entertainment reportedly opened three of its nine theaters on Friday with extra safety measures. Though the company's website doesn't mention temperatures screenings, it states all guests will be asked if they or anyone they've contacted had experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days. "If yes, you will not be allowed in the theater and we will reimburse you your ticket," the website reads.
"We're operating more for psychological value than net income," Santikos CEO Tim Handren explained. "That’s what theaters are for — an escape. We're going to provide that escape ... It's gonna be incredibly, incredibly safe. We're going to be a finely tuned machine with all the protocols that are required."
EVO and Santikos have reportedly decided to reduce ticket prices during the reopening phase, have eliminated cash transactions, and have revamped their concessions to reduce touch-points. Because the health crisis has stalled the majority of film releases, the theaters will screen a mix of classics and previously released 2020 movies.
"We're looking at positive, feel-good stuff," Roberts said. "Everyone has the same programming mantra — classic films, good, popular stuff."