Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that local movie theaters will be among those allowed to reopen on Friday, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lifted restrictions in most of the state.
“Restaurants, gyms and other businesses that cater to the public are open, so it didn’t make sense to keep movie theaters closed,” County Executive Odell said. “We need to help businesses come back, not stand in their way. Plus, people are feeling Covid fatigue. We have to give them options and trust they will make the right decisions to stay safe.”
Over the weekend, Gov. Cuomo lifted the lockdown order on movie theaters in counties outside of New York City with no cluster zones and where the 14-day average infection rate is lower than 2%, which leaves out Rockland and Orange counties.
Putnam County Legislature Chairwoman Toni Addonizio, whose district includes the Carmel Cinema 8 on Route 52, said she was relieved that the governor had finally allowed movie theaters to reopen.
“This is good news for the theater owners and their employees, who have had to wait too long for their jobs to return,” Chairwoman Addonizio said. “It’s also good for our community. People have adjusted to wearing masks and washing their hands often to protect themselves from Covid-19, but they haven’t adjusted to the isolation and disruption of normal life. This is another step on the road back to normal.”
To reopen, movie theaters must follow certain restrictions: the theaters must limit capacity to 25 percent with no more than 50 people per screen; patrons must wear masks except when seated and eating or drinking; theaters must assign seating and even groups of friends will have to socially distance; air filtration systems and ventilation will have to meet state standards; and additional staff will be required to ensure rules are followed.
Putnam County is continuing to support its entire business community throughout the reopening process, Deputy County Executive Thomas Feighery said.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic we have utilized all the resources of Putnam County to partner with all businesses to navigate through each of the state’s phases for reopening,” Feighery said. “Some industries, like movie theaters, seem to have been unfairly left behind, and we have been advocating for their chance to safely reopen. We continue to partner with county businesses to ensure they have every tool they need to survive in this uncharted year.”
Kathleen Abels, president of the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation called the cinema’s reopening an important step forward.
“I am hopeful that with movie theaters reopening outside of red zones, live theater performances will soon be allowed,” Abels said. “Limited capacity, assigned seating and additional cleaning are really just common-sense approaches that mimic the guidelines for other sectors.
“Also promising is Gov. Cuomo’s Cluster Action Initiative, which divides clusters and the areas surrounding them into categories with successively greater restrictions. This initiative protects regions and counties where COVID-19 has been well-managed from being punished for the bad actions of a few.”