Going to a movie theater during a pandemic is weird. When I went to Bow Tie Cinemas Marquis 16 BTX Theater in Trumbull, Connecticut on Friday, June 19 with my friends, it was an odd experience. To start, the entrance of the theater warned customers that if they had any symptoms such as dry cough or fever they should stay home. Once my friends and I entered the theater, there were markers on the floor informing customers where to stand to maintain social distancing. 

The cashier’s desk had shields to protect employees from customers sneezing and even though tickets could still be bought at the theater, it was recommended that patrons buy tickets in advance online. 

After I got my ticket scanned, my friends and I proceeded to our seats, which were each one seat apart from each other to maintain social distancing. Before our movie started, an ad from Bow Tie came on the screen talking about how the company was dedicated to providing a safe experience for customers during the pandemic and how all theaters would be cleaned after each showing. However, once the ad was over, one of my friends found a sticky area near her seat, suggesting that the theater was not properly cleaned.

A few days later, I decided to go to another Bow Tie theater, the Sono Regent 8 in Norwalk, Connecticut to see if they were also following the guidelines the company had promised.

One of the first things I noticed when I entered the theater was how the self-serve butter machine used for popcorn was covered in plastic wrap. It looked strange at first but it reminded me that it was part of the theater’s effort to keep a sanitary environment. 

When I went into the auditorium to watch the movie, I immediately noticed that the floors were clean and that the area surrounding my seat was also neat. When I went to the bathroom, every other sink and toilet were closed so that social distancing could be maintained.

As I left the bathroom, I saw an employee sanitize the guard rail near the theater exit. That same employee later went into the auditorium where my movie was playing to sanitize my seat after my movie was over.

A couple of things that I noticed during my experiences at the Bow Tie theaters was that when I went to see my movies, there was no employee checking to see if we had our masks on during the movie. It’s understandable that employees cannot be in a single auditorium for the duration of an entire movie, but it concerns me how there’s not a better system in place to make sure that all patrons are wearing masks at all times. Another part about my experience that I noticed was that even though auditorium seating was supposed to be every other seat, not all of the seats were covered. That could create confusion for those who are looking to distance themselves from each other while seeing a movie.

If you are thinking about seeing a movie in a movie theater, don’t forget to always wear your mask, whether you are in the bathroom or watching your movie. The only exception to this rule is when you are eating or drinking any snack or beverage. Another important tip is to sanitize your hands every time you use the bathroom or touch any doorknob in the theater. 

A final tip to having a safe experience at the movies is follow any rules the theater has in place. If it means buying your tickets online or limiting the amount of people that are with you, follow those policies because they are meant to keep you safe. If you see any theater violate state health guidelines, report it to your local health department.  

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