WEST SEATTLE, Wash. - The thrills and chills are normally found on the silver screen, but theater operators say they can open safely during the pandemic while making sure the real danger stays make-believe and in the movie.
Customers will be distanced from each other in auditoriums as they are required to allow only 25-percent capacity. Masks will also be required for both employees and customers.
"I feel like after we got to reopen once before it’s a lot easier this time around," said Barbara Cawley from Admiral Theater in West Seattle.
The theater had opened last year but was forced to close as health guidelines and infection rates changed since November. Reopening means customers will find plenty of room inside auditoriums.
"Sit at least three seats away from other patrons, and keep your mask on unless you’re actively eating and drinking," said Cawly.
"If you want to come out, this is a safe experience," said manager Marina Kosenko.
The historic North Bend Theatre is also planning to reopen Friday at diminished capacity. Customers will get snacks delivered to their seats instead of crowding around the lobby.
Several AMC theaters are scheduled to reopen Friday, so are multiple Cinemark screens across Western Washington.
Employees at Admiral Theater in West Seattle say they are ready to usher in a slice of what once was normal.
"There’s something about being in that dark room, the sound reverberating in your chest and hearing other strangers reacting to the same thing for the first time, it’s a full, visceral feeling that you can’t get on your couch ah home," explained Cawley. "You just can’t."
Customers at Admiral Theater, and several other owned and operated locally, may also buy tickets for matinee showings where concession stands will be closed.