To state the obvious, the coronavirus pandemic has been tough on the movie theater industry. Many cinema operators are just now starting to reopen with social distancing and additional safety measures in place.
Locally, the AMC CLASSIC Salem Valley 8 began welcoming back moviegoers a few months ago. From the sights and sounds of cinematic action to the smell and test of buttery popcorn, seeing a movie on the big screen is an experience of the senses.
Omni Pannell took her three children, ages seven through nine, to see Godzilla vs. Kong last weekend. “I give my children weekly assignments and at the end of the month if I am satisfied with their efforts, I reward them with a family outing of their choice,” Pannell said. “Normally getting everyone on the same page is challenging. That was not the case this time. They all wanted to see the movie and specifically chose the Salem location. I got a good feeling that we will be returning next month.”
The Salem theater is currently open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. One of the most popular movies in the country right now is “Raya and the Last Dragon” and it is being shown in Salem. Other movies currently being shown as of press time are: The Unholy, Nobody, French Exit, Tom & Jerry, The Courier, Chaos Walking, Boogie, I Still Believe, Minari, The Father and The Girl Who Believes in Miracle. AMC Stubs members can refill their large popcorn for free. To reduce contact, debit, credit and AMC gift cards are preferred with any purchase.
Guests are expected to practice social distancing before, during and after the movie and wear a mask. If needed, masks can be purchased for just $1.00 at the front counter. Before starting their shifts, managers and crew members have their temperatures checked. If anyone has a fever or symptoms, they are required to self-quarantine for at least 72 hours.
More and more Salem residents are getting vaccinated every week, something that warms Pannell’s heart. President Joe Biden recently announced that his goal is to have all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1. Once President Biden signed it into law last month, the American Rescue Plan extended critical unemployment benefits to furloughed movie theatre workers.
Said Roanoke County resident Luke Allen, “I lost my job as a ticket scanner last year when the pandemic hit. It’s been an unusual year, but things are starting to head in the right direction. I love movie theaters as much as the next person, but not at the expense of people’s health. I got a good feeling that things will only continue to get better from here on.”