WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — While Utah marks the second-highest rate of COVID-19 infections, movie theaters reopen for the first time since the pandemic began.
On Thursday afternoon, the smell of popcorn at Valley Fair Mall lured Nan Sanchez and her husband to the Megaplex theater.
“When I first walked in the mall, I smelled the popcorn and I said, ‘Oh! The movies are open’,” Sanchez said.
They don’t even know what they’ll watch, but Sanchez says she misses the experience of a movie on the big screen.
“Some movies you go for the movies, but I don’t care if it’s good, I want to go,” said Sanchez.
From Logan to St. George, theaters open up for the first time in 90 days.
“We were like, ‘Oh my gosh, popcorn and a movie! We have to do it’,” said Lee Ellen Stephens.
Theaters closed in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Theaters opened on the second-worst day of infection with nearly 500 new cases.
“Ticket sales have been very brisk. We were really surprised. We thought opening on a Thursday would kind of give us a warm-up period and many of our theaters and auditoriums are selling out tonight,” said Larry H. Miller Megaplex President Blake Petersen.
Petersen said the theaters have implemented strict cleaning and social distancing measures to prevent the spread.
“We really feel that at Megaplex theaters you will be as safe here as you would be in your own home,” Petersen said.
With limited screens showing second-run movies, only 25 percent of employees are back to work.
New releases are expected to be in theaters over the 4th of July weekend.