[Note to readers: The May 1 opening date is now on hold pending clarification from state officials.]
The McHenry Outdoor Drive-In Theater plans to open May 1, according to its Facebook page.
For “Prehistoric Weekend,” the theater will screen “The Flintstones” and “Jurassic Park.”
Owner Scott Dehn wrote on the theater’s Facebook page that he has “been working very hard” alongside “proper government authorities in developing a comprehensive plan and procedure guidelines” to open and operate in a safe and sanitary way.
The theater will be enforcing several precautionary measures including a "strict” Stay In Car rule. Those who want to sit in the back of their truck or van will be required to wear a mask.
Tickets only will be sold at the box office, starting at 6:30 p.m. each night, and no ticket stub will be offered to avoid cross contamination. There will be no online or pre-purchased admissions.
Vehicles will be spaced out 10 to 15 feet for social distancing. As opposed to the normal capacity of 750 vehicles, the theater will allow only 350.
Dehn also said they will be “heavily stocked” on hand soap and sanitizer. Masks and/or gloves will be made available to the public if needed.
Dehn also wrote in the post that all employees are trained in personal sanitation and sanitation of the facility. Employees must wash their hands every 15 to 20 minutes and must wear masks and change gloves frequently.
Although radios will be available for rent at the box office for $5, Dehn encourages patrons to bring their own radios or to listen to the movies at 89.9 FM from inside the car. Before reusing, radios will be sanitized and remain in plastic containers for one week in an effort to disinfect them thoroughly.
The theater will not turn on the speakers on the poles. Dehn installed four exterior speakers to boost sound for the movies.
Bathrooms will be open. The theater will provide protective toilet seat covers in each stall, to be disposed of in a trash can. Markers will be placed at each restroom entrance for maintaining a 6-foot distance from others. Every other stall also will be closed in an effort to adhere to the social distancing guidelines. Stalls frequently will be sanitized.
Exterior hand-washing stations also will be available.
The concession stand will be closed to the public, however, freshly made cheeseburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, jumbo pretzels and nachos will be offered. A variety of candy and bottled beverages from two different beverage and snack carts in the exterior parking lot will be available.
In an April 3 Facebook post, Dehn said there is “a lot more” in place for the public’s protection.
“I want everyone to feel confident that this is the safest, most sanitary way to not just enjoy a movie during these difficult times, but to actually enjoy being outside on a beautiful spring/summer/fall night. With everything that we've been going through, we deserve at least that," he wrote. "I hope you have the faith in me to have yours and my employees' health and best interests at heart. It would mean a lot to all of us to have your support this season. We need you.”
Many commenting on the Facebook page are saying they are glad the theater is staying open and do not see a problem with its opening.