Raleigh’s historic Rialto Theatre reopens for 1st time since March

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The marquee at the historic Rialto Theatre on Glenwood Avenue lit up for the first time since March on Friday.

The smell of buttery popcorn drifted outside as people stood in line to see On the Rocks.

Moviegoers tell CBS 17 Friday night at the theatre is what they’ve been waiting for. One man said, “We’ve been going for years and we wouldn’t miss the reopening for anything.”

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) said stationary activities in enclosed spaces, such as going to the movies, are considered risky. So the old is adjusting to a new way of operating.

“We’ve actually replaced all of our filters in the building with Murph 13, which is a much more dense filter to pull out some of the particulars because we are in an enclosed space,” said Wesley Ferrell, general manager of The Rialto Theatre.

Guests are required to wear masks, except when snacking on concessions. They are also asked to scan a QR code for contract tracing when they walk in. Instead of four shows a day, there is three to five staff time to clean.

“Were extra careful about cleaning everything, going back over everything, making sure surfaces that are touched; door handles, bathrooms, everything like that, gets an extra clean up pretty much every moment we can,” said Ferrell.

The theatre has 433 seats, but they’re only selling 100 tickets per show. Every other row is sectioned off with caution tape to give six feet of space.

When asked about enforcing social distancing, Ferrell said, “It’s really hard when the theatre is dark. Obviously, before the theatre is in, we can go in and give people directions about where to sit. Once the movie is on, we have people every 15-20 minutes just go in and check the auditorium.”

Overall, moviegoers who attended the reopening seemed pleased with the theatre’s precautions. One couple took their own, wearing gloves and bringing alcohol wipes.

“It looks very safe in there to me,” one woman said. Her husband added, “We know these fellas won’t let us down.”

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