SUFFOLK COUNTY, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — Movie lovers haven't been able to see a film on the big screen since the pandemic shut down theaters in March. After being forced to close seven months ago as COVID-19 spread across the area, movie theatres can reopen next week.
On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that movie theaters outside of New York City can reopen at 25 percent capacity under state guidance starting Friday, Oct. 23. No more than 50 people are allowed in front of each screen in each movie theater at once. Theaters can only open outside of New York City in counties that have COVID-19 positivity rates of less than 2 percent on a 14-day average and do not have any cluster zones. Theaters will be subject to rigorous state guidance and enforcement, Cuomo said.
Theaters in Suffolk and Nassau counties can reopen. However, theaters cannot reopen in the following counties:
Movie Theater Restrictions for Pandemic Safety
State guidance on the reopening of theaters includes the following conditions:
- Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
- Assigned seating will be required in all theaters.
- Social distancing between parties will be required at all times.
- Additional staffing will be required to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance.
- Enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards must be met by theaters.
Status of Regal Ronkonkoma
In the Sachem area, Regal Ronkonkoma at 565 Portion Rd. in Lake Ronkonkoma is unlikely to reopen as soon as next week. Two weeks ago, Regal announced it was suspending operations across the U.S., even in parts of the country where theaters are allowed to operate. While the local theater in Lake Ronkonkoma remains closed for now, the company did not announce a permanent closure.
As the company stated at the time, "In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Regal will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its Regal theatres in the U.S. as of Friday, October 9. Regal will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status, and in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen."
Showcase Cinemas — the operator of Island 16 Showcase Cinema de Lux in Holtsville — is open where allowed. OnSachem News is inquiring with Showcase Cinemas about plans to reopen the Holtsville multiplex.
Record Number of COVID-19 Tests for NYS
Cuomo also announced that 159,972 test results were reported to New York State on Friday—a new record high.
"We hit 160,000 tests in one day, which is a record number and the highest we've ever done. When you're doing that level of tests you get down to the block level. And then, when you start to see a cluster, you oversample in that cluster, so you get even more data," Cuomo said. "Beginning October 23, movie theaters outside of New York City will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity with up to 50 people maximum per screen. This is outside of New York City in areas that have infection rates below 2 percent on a 14-day average and have no cluster zones."