QUINCY — Following the announcement of Illinois’ Region Three being moved to Phase 4 of COVID-19 mitigations on Jan. 19, there have been some signs of normalcy returning to Quincy and the surrounding areas.
Restaurants and bars are opening their doors to customers, school sports are starting to take to fields and courts again. And a haven for a few hours of escapism have come back to life as movie theaters work to light up their silver screens.
While AMC’s Showplace 6 is open again starting Friday, the VIP Cinemas Quincy 3 theater in the Quincy Mall reopened on Jan. 22. General Manager Jessie Smith said the numbers would be low in normal times, but during this time of pandemic, the turnout has been strong over the last week.
“I’m used to thinking about crowds of 200, 300 people,” Smith said. “We’ve seen consistent crowds, if smaller than normal.”
VIP Cinemas is following guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health to keep guests and staff safe as it has reopened.
“We ask guests to keep masks on in the lobby,” Smith said. “In the auditoriums, we ask that there are three empty seats between groups to maintain the 6-foot spacing.”
The requirements for theaters under IDPH guidelines call for 50% capacity, or 50 people total, whichever is smaller.
Smith said there hasn’t really been push-back from customers regarding the restrictions.
“Every now and then, someone will come out through the lobby to the restroom and realize they forgot their mask,” he said. “We’re not going to be contentious about it. We hope our guests will comply with the guidance as best they can, both to keep the community safe and to keep businesses open.”
One promotion VIP Cinemas is running is for anyone to rent out a theater for $150 for groups up to maximum capacity.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in our theater rentals,” Smith said. “People can come in with other people they know, people in their circle, that they live with, and enjoy a movie together.”
Smith said that the theater is doing everything it can to help keep all businesses open by meeting the requirements of the state. The theater is asking that guests do their part, as well.
“It’s really in the community’s hands,” he said.