Greater Cincinnati's Drive-In Movie Theaters Reopen with COVID-19 Protocols in Place

While indoor cinemas remain closed in Ohio, these local drive-ins are screening first-run films

click to enlarge Holiday Auto Theatre - PHOTO: HOLIDAY AUTO THEATRE FACEBOOK
Photo: Holiday Auto Theatre Facebook
Holiday Auto Theatre


While traditional movie theaters continue to remain closed under the Ohio Department of Health's “Stay Safe Ohio” order, the state's drive-in theaters have been allowed to reopen — with COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place.

The Greater Cincinnati area's two drive-in theaters — Holiday Auto Theatre in Oxford and Starlite Drive-In in Amelia — have reopened. Starlite opened May 1 with permission from the Clermont County Department of Health, and Holiday Auto Theatre opened May 8.

Todd Chancey, one of Holiday Auto Theatre's owners, said that the drive-ins' prominence in local and national news due to major indoor theater chains remaining closed is boosting business.

“Drive-ins are getting a lot of attention, and folks are showing up and realizing ‘Wow, this is a great experience and was one even before the current state of COVID-19,’ ” he says.

Both of the decades-old cinemas have also updated the policies on their websites to inform patrons about changes due to COVID-19.

Starlite released a statement listing the precautions it is taking, which include a new online ticket ordering system. Additionally, the theater has closed its concession building, but employees can still take orders via window service or an online ordering system. Patrons are also required to wear masks and maintain social distancing while in line for snack pick-up.

Starlite COVID-19 Policy 5-1-20

Posted by Starlite Drive-In (Amelia, Oh) on Friday, May 1, 2020

To maintain sanitary conditions, the theater is closing its restrooms at intervals during the evening for cleaning. Only two patrons are allowed in either restroom at a time, and they are expected to wear a mask and maintain social distancing while there. Lastly, the theater’s playground is closed.

Meanwhile, Holiday Auto Theatre has released its own COVID-19 protocols.

Holiday Fans...thank you for the messages of encouragement, your patience, and questions about when we would be ready to...

Posted by Holiday Auto Theatre on Thursday, May 7, 2020

The drive-in requires that patrons maintain social distancing, which means only one car can be parked between two poles (families with two cars are excluded from this rule). Because of its new parking plan, the theater’s capacity will be reduced by 50 percent, says Chancey.

Patrons may also sit outside as long as they are next to their vehicle, but the theater recommends wearing a mask if you do so. An update on the theater's Facebook page also states that the “grassy play areas” on the property will remain closed. 

Only two people may use the theater’s restrooms at a time, and its middle two stalls have been closed to maintain social distancing. Restrooms will be closed at intervals for cleaning and sanitization.

The concession is now one-way and has been outfitted with social distancing markers. The theater also encourages patrons who feel sick to stay at home.

Both theaters are screening first-run films this weekend: Holiday Auto Theatre's double feature is The Invisible Man and The Hunt; Starlite is screening Blood Shot and the new horror-thriller Fantasy Island. 

Find full theater details, including locations, ticket prices, film times and full COVID-19 updates at holidayautotheatre.com and starlitedriveinohio.com.

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