BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Movie theaters could be back up and running in Western New York by the end of June. North Park Theatre Program Director Ray Barker says they’re already working on plans that’ll keep people safe when it’s time for them to walk through the theaters doors again.
“Until there’s a vaccine, we have to be aware that coronavirus has not gone away,” Barker said.
The North Park Theatre plans to do its part to limit the spread of COVID-19. The theater is exploring the idea of spacing people out inside the theater. Since most rows are 10 seats wide, Barker says it’ll be easy to keep people 6 feet apart.
“We seat over 600 people so even if we kept our maximum capacity say at a third, we still can allow for significant social distancing,” he said.
All businesses require employees and customers to wear face masks and the same goes for inside the theater. Barker says the only change he could see is if people are eating and drinking while watching the movie.
“I think it’s a circumstance where if you’re going into a public area like the lobby or going to the restroom, you should wear your mask,” Barker said. “If you’re seated and socially distant you can obviously take your mask off to eat your popcorn.”
Besides coming up with plans to reopen, the North Park Theatre has been booking films for people to stream at home and wants to thank its customers for helping them stay afloat.
“Distributors have been kind enough to give us their films and allow us to show them through our website and then if you buy a ticket a percentage of your ticket comes to the theater which helps us and keeps us going and helps us pay our bills,” Barker said.
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.