Nearly a dozen independently owned movie theaters across Oregon have petitioned the governor's office to include cinemas in Phase 1 reopening guidelines.
Currently, movie theaters are classified as "venues," and are included in Phase 2 of Oregon's COVID-19 reopening plan. The petition, authored by Cinema 21 owner Tom Ranieri, argues that independent theaters have been misclassified, and should be allowed to reopen alongside restaurants.
"Many of us sell food and alcohol, just like the restaurants, bars and taverns who are our neighbors and have been allowed to operate under Phase I here since June 19, nearly two months ago," reads the letter. "Given our size, we are actually the safer bet than most restaurants for people looking for social activities."
Along with Ranieri, the letter's signees include Hollywood Theatre executive director Doug Whyte, Laurelhurst Theater owners Prescott Allen and Woody Wheeler, and the owners of McMenamins' slew of theaters across the state.
"We can operate under Phase 1 guidelines as well or better than any other business currently open," writes Ranieri. "There's no sound public safety reason for denying us that opportunity. We're not asking for any special consideration. We just follow the rules like everyone else."
Last week, Cinema 21 began holding screenings at an extremely limited capacity—a maximum of 25 people in a room with seating for 500. Businesses that are part of Phase 1 can host up to 100 people.