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Local theater owner 'excited' to get back to business as state moves into phase 3 of reopening

Posted at 9:33 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 23:15:23-04

HARFORD COUNTY, Md. — A local theater owner said he's looking forward to getting back to work after Governor Larry Hogan announced all Maryland businesses can reopen on Friday, as the state moves into phase 3 of recovery.

Back in June, Thomas Wienholt, who owns five Horizon Cinemas in Harford, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, called on the governor to allow Horizon to reopen, arguing theaters were as safe as other businesses that were already given the green light to reopen.

At one point, he supported the governor’s decision to close businesses, but lamented the fact theaters were closed when places like churches and malls weren’t.

Still, Wienholt said he’s grateful the state is allowing them to finally open their doors after they were shut down for six months.

“We have been waiting patiently for this,” he said. "We are now just ready to get the theaters open and get our customers back to enjoy a movie."

Wienholt said Horizon has made changes at all of its locations to protect people from COVID-19. For example, at the Fallston location in Harford County, physical barriers are up to separate employees and customers.

Also, hand sanitizer is placed throughout the theater. Social distancing markers are on the ground as well. Theater seats will also be blocked off to ensure people are six feet apart.

Wienholt said more than 300 movie theaters across the country are implementing the same safety protocols.

“So, that way our customers can be confident that they are going to a safe environment when they are returning to the movies,” he said.

Wienholt said it’s been a while since people were able to sit down and watch a movie, but he believes people will feel comfortable coming back. That’s because he feels the theater is doing everything they can to keep people safe.

“Of course, some may not [feel comfortable] right away. That’s understandable. And i think it will take some time,” he said. “I think over time people will get more and more comfortable coming out [and] coming to the theaters along with other indoor businesses…we’re just thankful to get that opportunity to reopen.”

Governor Hogan is leaving it up to local jurisdictions to decide if their respective areas are ready to move into phase 3.

Wienholt said he believes Harford County will allow them to reopen. He plans to open his two Harford County locations on Friday at 5:00 p.m. and his other three locations next week.