By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
After being closed for a year due to COVID-19, Cherokee Cinemas and More is set to re-open its doors on Friday, March 19.
“We believe we will have the safest activity one can do in an indoor social setting,” said Mark Hubble, chief executive officer of Kituwah, LLC which operates the theatre. “Our precautions are as strong, or stronger, than any other social indoor activity on the (Qualla) Boundary. As far as I know, we are one of the few, if any, establishments being able to use disinfectant air fumigation equipment which we purchased last year.”
Hubble said normal COVID-19 measures will be in place at the theatre. “Masks will be required except when enjoying food and beverage as well as social distancing at a minimum of six feet. Every other row will be cordoned off for social distancing, and maximum capacity will not exceed 30 percent. Because we sell tickets, we will just limit the number of tickets to each showing. In order to eliminate crowding outside of the auditorium, games will not be available in the lobby. Employees will wear masks and clear barriers were installed earlier at the concession stand.”
Cleaning will be a priority as well, and hand sanitation stations are already in place in several parts of the facility. “Every auditorium will be air-disinfected using a disinfectant mist at the end of each day in addition to normal enhanced cleaning protocols. As long as the number of new COVID infections continues to trend lower, we believe the theatre can be safely re-opened and the chance of infection is lower than almost any other activity currently available.”
Hubble stated another measure they’re taking to reduce crowding, “We are staggering shows so that no show starts within 20 minutes of another show to alleviate any crowds near ticketing or concessions.”
While March 19 is the target date for re-opening, Hubble relates, “Currently, we are set for that date, but if COVID infections start to rise again, it’s possible it could be delayed. We had attempted to re-open earlier, but that lasted about one day because it coincided with a huge surge of infections on the Boundary. However, given the rapid vaccination process on the Boundary and the declining number of new infections, we believe March 19 is achievable.”
At the moment, the theatre will only be open on the weekends. “We are limited to Friday through Sunday because we may be conducting some improvements on the interior, and we are limiting contractors to Monday through Thursday work times so that they don’t disturb patrons.”
For more information, visit: https://www.cherokeecinemas.com