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The show won’t go on just yet

Reopening hopes for theaters on pause as county pushes back date

Regency Theaters in Kihei’s Kukui Mall remains closed Friday afternoon. The cinema had been told it could possibly open Tuesday, but that date has been pushed back, county officials said Friday. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui theaters are waiting a bit longer to bring movies back to the big screen as reopening dates were pushed back, but local cinemas have been preparing new health and safety protocols in the meantime.

Regency Kihei Cinema was shooting to reopen as early as Tuesday, after receiving communication from the Mayor’s Office, “but they have caveated that the date could change,” said Lyndon Golin, president of Regency Theatres Inc.

“We are anxiously looking forward to showing movies in Maui again,” Golin said Friday in a statement to The Maui News.

County officials confirmed Friday that they have in fact postponed the Tuesday reopening date as they continue to monitor the pandemic.

“We continue to consult with our health officials and are working with our local movie theaters on their safety plans and procedures,” said Chris Sugidono, Maui County spokesman. “We hope to provide more details in the coming weeks, and continue to ask for the community’s support in limiting the spread of COVID-19.”

Thick chains secure the entrance to the Regency Theaters in Kihei on Friday. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui movie theaters have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus and Maui County officials initially recommended local theaters to postpone reopenings until Sept. 1, and now beyond Sept. 15, even though a few Oahu cinemas received the OK in August.

Popcorn, snacks and drinks will still be available at Maui theaters when the time comes, but the overall cinema experience will be more socially distant.

Golin said he had his “fingers crossed” for reopening next week at Regency Kihei, which now has a reduced seating capacity to a maximum of 25 percent in each auditorium. When they welcome back moviegoers, the theater will also have staggered showtimes to reduce crowding in the lobbies. Other safety measures include face coverings, daily health screenings for the employees, increased cleaning and sanitization protocols and hand sanitizer stations for the guests.

Consolidated Theatres, which operates the theaters at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, could not be reached for comment Friday. Consolidated on Oahu has already reopened its Ward Village, Town Center at Mililani, Pearlridge Center and Olino at Ka Makana Ali’i locations. The company said in August that it planned to reopen its other theaters at a later date.

On its website, Consolidated encourages guests to reserve tickets online in advance for a no-contact experience. At the box office, only credit, debit or gift cards will be accepted, not cash.

Water fountains, vending machines and arcade games will not be available.

Face masks are required to enter the building, and in all areas including lobbies, hallways, restrooms and auditoriums. Masks may be removed only while eating or drinking while seated in the auditorium.

Floor decals will be placed as social distancing queues for the box office, kiosks, concession stands and restrooms to ensure that guests know where to stand.

Seating capacity will be significantly decreased in all auditoriums to ensure social distancing, according to a news release. When purchasing a ticket, the seating system will automatically block off the seats around guests to ensure a safe distance between the next closest party.

A spokesperson for the company that owns Regal Cinemas Maui Mall Megaplex 12 could not be reached for comment Friday, but the theater’s website said it was temporarily closed due to local restrictions and will be reopening soon under new protocols.

All theaters have outlined COVID-19 prevention measures for when they open up.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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