A popular Town of Lockport drive-in theater opens Friday evening, but will do so with numerous changes that enforce physical distancing amid a continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Transit Drive-In will require patrons buy their admissions in advance, online. No drive-up purchases will be allowed. Once vehicles are inside, they will be required to park at least six feet apart.
"There'll be a minimum of six feet but if vehicles park precisely the center of each pole, there'll be 10 to 12 feet of space in between the vehicles," said owner Rick Cohen. "Because we're only doing a single feature, restroom use will be minimized. Not eliminated, but minimized. So if people plan ahead, they realistically never even have to leave their car, or they don't even have to open the window. We can scan their ticket through the window and you can go out, enjoy a movie together with your family, with your friends, and have a social distancing-friendly safe and enjoyable experience."
Cohen says larger vehicles with rear hatches may still be backed in and doors opened, letting people sit inside to watch the movie. But any and all times one leaves a vehicle, including sitting in a lawn chair outside that vehicle, a mask is required.
He tells WBFO he and the staff have taken numerous steps to ensure safety of both customers and staff. But he says the customers need to do their part by respecting and obeying all rules in place. He added that private security has been hired to monitor the site, out of concern for those few who may decide they want to challenge the guidelines.
The drive-in is also being offered for graduations and even weddings. Cohen says four weddings have already been booked for June. When asked if drive-in theaters may enjoy a comeback in a COVID world, he suggested it was not so much a comeback but more an evolution for his business.
An evolution, but also a burden.
"It was a challenge for me personally, to make sure that I do this the right way," he said. "This isn't life as usual. This is something different and everyone has to adapt to that. That's how life goes on, you adapt or you die. That's how the world has been over the past millennia. Species that don't adapt, die. So, we've taken the steps that we feel are appropriate. And we feel that it will be safe, and that it will be enjoyable, but it's not certainly going to be the same."