Some entertainment venues reopening soon, others holding off

Some venues opening soon, others hold off

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With the stay-at-home order lifting on Friday, May 15, all businesses can soon get back to work.

That means movie theaters, casinos, museums, and zoos, among other attractions, can welcome back customers.

Under the “Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger” executive order, which replaces the “Stay Home, Say Healthy, Stay Connected” order, businesses that choose to reopen must implement the following safety measures:

  • Increased cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation practices
  • Monitoring for sickness
  • Ensuring physical distancing
  • Providing necessary protective equipment
  • Continuing to telework where possible
  • Limiting the congregation of groups of no more than 10 where feasible

Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said the last measure does not mean theaters, for example, can only allow 10 people inside an auditorium at once. It means one group [family or friends] should not exceed 10. However, theaters and concert venues will have to operate at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing.

The Tucson Petting Zoo and Funny Foot Farm says it’s ready to offer some entertainment to families. Owner Georgianna Davisson says her goal is to facilitate fun in a way that makes staff and guests feel safe.

“We are requiring everyone to go on a tour, that they sanitize before and after and try not to touch some things. We do ask that everyone social distance about two capibara lengths apart; about 6 feet,” Davisson said.

Davisson says she will keep capacity at about 25 percent to ensure proper physical distancing is achieved.

“Luckily, we can monitor how many people are coming in because we do have the front gate,” she said.

Given Arizona’s heat, Davisson says they are not mandating masks. She said face shields have been ordered for her employees.

While people are still allowed to pet the animals, frequent hand washing is recommended. An outdoor sink has been set up and hand sanitizer is available at different locations around the farm.

“It’s going to be great, the animals -- people are their herd, they need attention as much as we do,” she said. “And of course, it brings in some revenue, which we need to feed these guys.”

People can stop by the petting zoo on Wetmore Road near the freeway from 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. daily.

As one business prepares for what could be a busy weekend, another is staying closed.

“Right now, the concert business is on hold,” said Curtis McCrary, the executive director of the Rialto Theatre Foundation. “There are so many issues related to the venue side; our side of it, but also what it’s like for touring artists to go from densely-populated city to densely-populated city; the exposure and the risk. Until the artists side of things gets more comfortable and believes it’s safe to go back out on the road, it doesn’t make sense for us to try to reopen. In theory, we could program local artists if there were some that were willing, but I’m not super comfortable with [reopening] yet.”

That’s because the recommendations put forward by the State, Pima County and the CDC may be challenging to implement in a setting like the Rialto Theatre. McCrary says reopening in a limited capacity may not make financial sense.

The Event Safety Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting safety at events, issued an extensive reopening guide.

“It kind of leaves you with the sense that this is going to be extremely difficult to comply with given the practical realities of gathering hundreds of people in the same space, how you keep them separated, how you control bathroom use and cleaning,” McCrary said. “As far as I can see, there won’t be anything that will happen [at the Rialto] before August at the soonest.”

Fox Tucson Theatre, which is facing an estimated $1.5 million loss in revenue since the stay-at-home order went into effect in March, says it will not reopen until Sept. 1. Officials say they will continue to “monitor the many factors that influence event production and reevaluate as conditions change.”

Cinemark will also hold off on reopening movie theaters until mid-summer. The first major release currently scheduled is “Tenet,” set to hit theaters on July 17, and a company representative says they need more time to figure out how to navigate the new safety guidelines.

Harkins Theatres says it is not planning to reopen this weekend, either. However, a company representative says they are “anxious for the day they can safely and responsibly welcome guests back.” Harkins plans to reopen a few weeks before the release of “Tenet,” which will be followed by “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Mulan.”

Casino Del Sol is looking forward to an anticipated May 21 reopening.

Tohono Chul and the Tucson Botanical Gardens are not reopening this weekend. We expect to learn more about their plans next week.

Reid Park Zoo is asking the community to take a survey to find out what changes need to be made before the zoo reopens.

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