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Curtains go down on most Delaware movie theaters

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Cinemark has closed all of its theaters nationwide, including its Christiana location, in response to coronavirus. | PHOTO COURTESY OF GOOGLE

Although they have not yet been required to be shut down by the state, nearly every movie theater in Delaware will be closed Wednesday morning.

Gov. John Carney updated his state of emergency order on Monday, temporarily banning dining in at restaurants and gambling at the state’s three casinos. While the order strongly urged other private businesses to limit patronage, it did not close other highly traveled public places like malls and movie theaters.

Nearly all of the state’s movie theaters are now voluntarily closing their doors, however, after initially trying to stay open with decreased seating capacity and heightened cleaning.

On Tuesday night, Cinemark joined its corporate chain competitor Regal in closing its theaters nationwide as businesses try to help stem the tide of transmission of the coronavirus. The two chains operate the four largest movie theaters in New Castle County.

Meanwhile, smaller movie theater owners in the state were largely following their lead as of Tuesday night.

Penn Cinema, which operates the IMAX at the Riverfront in Wilmington, is now temporarily closed after initially trying the same tactics as larger brands. AMC also closed in theater at the Dover Mall.

Movies at Midway, which operates the Rehoboth Beach theater, announced Tuesday that it was closing temporarily. Previously, it had announced the most drastic restrictions, decreasing seating by 66% and closing 40% of auditoriums for planned renovations along with heightened cleaning.

Meanwhile, Westown, which operates theaters in Middletown and Newark, is the only Delaware theater to remain open as of Tuesday night. It also has not announced a decrease in seating for “social distancing,” but is decreasing hours to 1 to 8 p.m. and redoubling its cleaning efforts.

As of Tuesday night, all three of the state’s malls remained open.

The Christiana Mall announced Monday morning that it would reduce hours to between noon and 7 p.m. every day except Sundays, when the mall will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Similarly, the Dover Mall is currently operating from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Sundays, when it will be open from noon to 6 p.m.

The Concord Mall has not announced any adjusted hours as of Tuesday night.

All three have said they have also increased the frequency of cleaning of public spaces and installed hand sanitizer for public use. Cherry Hill, which operates the Christiana and Concord mall’s Easter Bunny photo booths, has also postponed the opening of its attraction at the malls, and warned that it may close altogether.

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

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