Movie theaters, entertainment centers gradually welcome patrons back

By Mackenzi Klemann -

Regal Cinemas 12 in Lima.

Regal Cinemas 12 in Lima.

Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News

BLUFFTON — Guests will be ushered to their seats when they visit the Shannon Theatre this summer, one of several methods the Bluffton movie theater has adopted to enforce social distancing ahead of its reopening Friday, June 12.

In an email to guests this week, the Shannon Theatre encouraged customers to arrive early and consider wearing a mask.

While Ohio lifted its restrictions on movie theaters, art galleries and an assortment of indoor and outdoor entertainment venues on Wednesday, some venues are waiting a few more weeks before welcoming the public back, as delayed shipments of personal protective equipment and inconsistent guidelines between states complicate the reopening process for many U.S. businesses.

Regal Cinemas, which owns and operates the Regal American Mall movie theater in Lima, has not confirmed when its theaters will reopen. Still, the nation-wide movie theater chain plans to limit seating in its auditoriums and discard used containers when refilling soft drinks or popcorn orders, among other new safety measures, according to its website.

Brad Gossard, operating manager of the Hero Day and Glow Golf at the Lima Mall, is still waiting on an order of plexiglass shields to arrive before he can reopen either venue. He’s hoping the inflatable park and indoor mini golf course will be ready by late June, ahead of Fourth of July traffic.

“We’re struggling to get everything on time because it’s all on back order,” Gossard said, noting that personal protective equipment suppliers are prioritizing orders from hospitals and other health care facilities.

Gossard said his facility has already adopted many of the sanitation measures required by Ohio, but he plans to take employee temperatures at the door before each shift as an extra precaution.

“Fortunately,” he said, “we live in an area that has not been a hotspot for anything like this.”

Sally Windle, executive director of ArtSpace/Lima, is taking a cautious approach as she prepares to welcome the public back on-site.

The nonprofit arts center has been distributing to-go art projects each Wednesday since the coronavirus took hold in Ohio. The first public exhibit will be held on June 17, featuring artist Brandon Knott, whose work will be featured on Facebook that same evening to encourage spectators to watch from home.

A broader opening of ArtSpace is planned later this month, but Windle is still waiting for more guidance from the governor before she can resume large outdoor events, like Rally in the Square.

“We did not cancel everything because we wanted to be ready if the restrictions were relaxed,” she said. But until mass gatherings are deemed safe, Windle is cautious.

“We don’t want people to get sick,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

Regal Cinemas 12 in Lima. Cinemas 12 in Lima. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News

By Mackenzi Klemann

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