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Columbia, Jefferson City movie theaters reopen amid COVID-19


As movies are returning to the big screen amid COVID-19 theaters are making adjustments to combat the virus.

Columbia is currently in phase two, step three of the city's reopening plan.

This phase does allow for movie theaters and other entertainment venues such as night clubs and bowling alleys to open with restrictions.

All entertainment venues within Boone County must submit an operational plan as businesses like movie theaters are considered an increased risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and then be approved by the health department.

Ashton Day, Columbia/Boone County Health Department Health Educator, said it can take up to five business days to get the operational plans looked over and then approved, but they ask that all operational plans from businesses be submitted 30 days in advance.

Movie theaters and other entertainment venues must detail exactly what precautions they plan to take before reopening.

“Making sure social distancing is happening and congregating is not,” said Day. “As well as a disinfection plan, especially because of those types of facilities, a lot of people are going to be going in and out.”

Day said movie theaters and other entertainment venues are allowed to have 100 people inside, but that social distancing still has to be practiced.

Ragtag Cinema in Columbia reopened in June after working with the local health department on meeting all the needed precautions.

Jacob Worsham, a Ragtag employee, said the theater now has limited capacity seating at 25%, along with sectioned seating with cardboard cutouts showing the needed six feet social distance.

Worsham said the theater does require masks to be worn, to comply with the city's ordinance and hand sanitizer stations are available in both the theaters.

"Right before any movies are shown we sanitize the whole theater," Worsham said. "And all the points of contact in the theater. There's also extra time between each movie, so that when we can sanitize where people were sitting."

Worsham said there has been more cleaning measures added to the workers everyday duties, but he said it's worth it.

Forum 8 in Columbia was scheduled to open on Friday as well, however in a Facebook post the theater said it pushed back the open due to technical difficulties. The theater still plans to reopen soon.

On Saturday Day said the local health department has not yet received an operational plan from Forum 8.

Capitol 8, in Jefferson City opened on Friday and have a busy week of showtimes ahead.

Regional manager of Capitol 8 in Jefferson City, Jeremy Curtis said the theater is well prepared for the opening.

Curtis mentioned high touch areas that will be frequently disinfected. Movie goers are asked to separate by at least three seats. The theater will also perform wellness checks on staff.

The regional manager went on to say the theater is following what he called the, "three S's." Those stand for safe distancing, sanitizing, and safely following guidelines.

Capitol 8 has showings listed on their website through the 20th of August.

Day said Regal Cinemas sent the health department guidance from their corporate offices, however health officials do not consider the guidance an operational plan.

Day said the health department is working with Regal to make sure it follows Boone County's specific guidelines.

Boone / Columbia / Columbia Video / Coronavirus / Entertainment / Entertainment / Jefferson City Video / Top Stories / Video

Ben Fein

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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


1 Comment

  1. LOL, The City wants small business owners, struggling to keep their employees on the payroll, to submit a plan 30 days in advance of re-opening. The City also has a Special Event Permit ordinance that requires “Applications for special event permits shall be submitted ninety (90) days prior to the first day of the event.” This 90 day time period was not enforced for any of the BLM protests that blocked City streets downtown for weeks. How is this fair?

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