Owners of the first arthouse cinema to reopen in the Central American country of Costa Rica say they have been encouraged by the response from audiences as they head into the second week of business.

Cine Magaly in the capital San José opened its doors on Monday (May 11) with a first-run presentation of The Lighthouse after the ministry of health said patrons could return to theatres that demonstrated sufficient safety and hygiene protocols in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Costa Rica has kept the impact of the pandemic relatively low compared to other parts of Latin America – at time of writing there were 843 reported cases and eight deaths – yet the Carcheris knew they had to reassure customers it was safe to return.

Staff training, face shields, social distancing… and a flower

Cine Magaly staff received a day of training to bring them up to speed with new hygiene and safety protocols. These include enhanced cleaning, face shields and gloves for staff, and stickers on the lobby floor to ensure customers remain two metres apart upon entry and line up for concessions in accordance with social distancing measures.

Available seating is indicated by yellow bands, and unavailable seats are marked clearly. Staff check for compliance routinely during shows.

“We don’t want everybody exiting the theatre at the same time so we call people by row to leave separately so people can keep their distance,” explained Carcheri. “That has been quite easy to implement.” As a bonus, returning audience members each received the gift of a flower on the first two days.

The Lighthouse, whose planned March release had to be scrapped when Cine Magaly and every other theatre closed, is currently playing once a day at 4pm on the larger of the venue’s two screens, a 557-seat auditorium.

Monday’s screening sold out all 99 seats, which due to social distancing restrictions represented 17.8% capacity.

The show was for “single” customers only, however on the same day the ministry of health said it would allow “bubbles” of people to sit together. Cine Magaly reconfigured seating to accommodate bubbles starting on Tuesday, when it made 140 seats available in the larger auditorium.

The major exhibitors are eyeing a reopening some time in June in Costa Rica.

Check out the full article at Screendaily.com