After closing at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, five months later movie theaters in Arizona are beginning to reopen. The opening of theaters comes as Arizona COVID-19 cases have trended down, which likely means the opportunity to move Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties into the next phase of reopening.
Last week, Harkins Theaters announced plans to reopen three of its movie theaters in northern Arizona. However, this week after the state announced that Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties would likely move to the “moderate” phase on Thursday, the locally-based theater chain said it would reopen all of its movie theaters on Friday, August 28th.
AMC Theatres started to reopen theaters in other states on August 20, but has not yet announced plans to reopen its Arizona locations.
“There is no question that this has been the most difficult time in my 50 plus years in the business. I am so excited and so appreciative of our incredible team and tremendously loyal guests that have continued to support us through this challenging time,” said owner Dan Harkins in a statement earlier this week.
Under the state’s mandated benchmarks, under the “moderate” category, movie theaters, some bars, water parks, and tube operators in Arizona, will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity. Businesses must follow a strict set of guidelines, including requiring face masks, employee temperature checks, and increased cleaning, among other requirements.
There is still one more hurdle for many Arizona businesses. Bars that do not serve food cannot reopen until the state’s COVID-19 percent of positivity reaches less than 3%.
The following is Harkins reopening plans:
- Masks are required unless eating or drinking
- Theater capacity will be reduced and “buffer” seats will separate groups
- Groups will be encouraged to maintain a six-foot distance from each other
- Employees will undergo safety checks
- Showtimes will be staggered and have reserved seating
Harkins did announce that their loyalty cups will be refilled using paper cups. Their popcorn refills have been suspended indefinitely.