Here's how drive-in theatres prepared for opening night
REGINA -- At a time when entertainment options are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, the provincial government has given drive-in movie theatres the green light to open on May 15.
The news was publicly announced just one week before opening day, which meant some theatres were left rushing to get things complete.
“We’ve been scrambling,” Ray Boutin, the owner of The Prairie Dog Drive In Theatre in Carlyle, said. “We’ve been chasing the gophers out, filling in a few gopher holes, getting the theatre in shape and ready to go.”
When the province’s Reopen Saskatchewan plan was first released, drive-in theatres were in stage four. Owners of southern Saskatchewan theatres are happy about the update.
Don Zaba, the owner of Twilite Drive-In Theatre in Wolseley, said they usually open in April. Despite the late start to the season for them, Zaba is thankful they’re having a season at all.
“If [people] want to see a movie, the only place they can watch it right now is at the drive-in under the stars,” Zaba said.
In order to open, drive-ins have to follow specific guidelines laid out by the province. Twilite and Prairie Dog have both made adaptations to follow the rules.
“The biggest thing is the attendance at the drive-in will probably have to be in half, because of the five metre ruling,” Zaba said, referencing the mandatory space drivers have to maintain between cars.
Twilite will also be limiting their concession stand to offer half its normal supply.
At the Prairie Dog, numbers have been added to posts to make sure cars stay five metres apart.
Boutin said only two people will be permitted inside the concession booth at a time, or they can place their order through text and have their snacks delivered.
The province’s guidelines say people in the same vehicles must all be from the same household. And additional areas at drive-ins like playgrounds won’t be permitted to open.
The theatre owners say they’ve received a lot of excitement from customers about opening.
“People are a little fed up and cooped up and what not, so this will provide a bit of a social outlet,” Boutin said.
Since new movie releases have been slow, both theatres plan on playing movies that were released at the beginning of 2020 to start the season. Then they’ll starting playing classics for customers to enjoy.