BALTIMORE — A local movie theater owner is calling on Governor Larry Hogan to allow him to reopen, arguing it would be as safe as other businesses that have already been given the green light to open their doors.
Thomas Weinholt, along with his family, owns several Horizon Cinemas located in Baltimore, Harford and Anne Arundel Counties, said he agreed with the governor's decision to close non-essential businesses back in March, but doesn't understand why indoor theaters are among the last group of businesses to stay closed.
“We sort of just been in a waiting game," he said.
Businesses such as malls, restaurants and even drive-in theaters are back open. Religious institutions have been allowed to reopen as well with a reduced capacity now that the state is in stage two of the governor's reopening plan.
But, indoor theaters, Weinholt said have been left in the dark on when they'll be able to get back to business.
"There is a little bit of frustration just because we haven't gotten a clear answer as to what needs to happen in order for the theaters to be able to reopen," Wienholt said.
As he continues to wait, Weinholt said he’s already preparing for the day when he eventually gets the go ahead to open back up.
Among the changes at the Harford County location are physical barriers that are now up to separate employees and customers. Also, hand sanitizer is throughout the theater and social distancing markers are on the ground.
Theater seats will also be blocked off to ensure people are six feet apart, he said.
“We feel the restrictions will be just as effective in a movie theater as they are in other indoor spaces that are currently operating," he said.
Like many other businesses, Weinholt said it's been a struggle for the theater during the pandemic. With each day that goes by, he said it will be harder for them to reopen.
He added he's hoping Horizon Cinemas will be able to open by the end of the month when the first movie of the summer is released, but he said the time is ticking.
“The longer that we stay closed the hard it is for us to be able to reopen," he said. "At some point we may not be able to bear the burden any longer.”
The governor's office sent us the following statement:
“The governor is committed to a safe, gradual, and effective reopening of our economy. That's how we were able to complete Stage 2 with an expanded footprint across the state. By following this roadmap, we are slowing the spread of the virus, and putting ourselves in a position to fully reopen safely.”