Movie theaters reopen doors while adding safety measures designed to keep customers safe during pandemic

(FOX 9)

On Friday, Marcus Theatres reopened its Southbridge Crossing Cinema in Shakopee, joining several theaters across the metro welcoming back moviegoers after the industry was shuttered for months because of COVID-19.

"It feels good to be open to the public, letting them back in, entertaining people which is what we do," said Ben Reiners of Marcus Theatres. "That’s what this industry does, entertaining our guests."

Theater general manager Ben Reiners showed FOX 9 the new health protocols in place to keep guests and staff safe. Precautions include frequent cleaning of every high-touch surface, masks unless you’re eating or drinking, and a theater capacity of 25 percent with seating spaced out in what they’re calling a checkerboard arrangement.

Marcus is also adding this proof of sanitization to provide guests peace of mind.

"When you go to sit down, you just remove the tape," said Reiners. "Sit and enjoy the show. And then after the movie done, we’ll come back in, clean and sanitize and re-tape it."

One other change that won’t be so visible: Air circulation and ventilation. Marcus says it’s now pumping additional outdoor air through the building.

"I encourage anyone to go talk or go into their theater, if it’s not right, walk away," said theater owner Martin Hubbard. "But if they’re comfortable, see a movie."

Hubbard is a small theater owner in Chanhassen with eight screens. He says, like many other business owners, his theater is hurting during the pandemic.

Hubbard figures he’s lost 80-percent of his business, putting his entrepreunurial dreams in jeopardy.

And yet, he has invested in cleaning supplies, safety enhancements and new seating and ticketing software to make sure buying a ticket for a new release Hollywood film isn’t a risky proposition.

"So this weekend is the turning point in the next two weeks," said Hubbard. "Hopefully it comes back, hopefully people come back and help us stand on our feet."