Red Tier status lets some businesses reopen for the first time in more than six months

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) — For certain businesses, Fresno County’s move to the red tier is their first crack at reopening since having to shut down in March when the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up.

State health officials moved Fresno County into the “substantial” or Red Tier on Tuesday (from the most restrictive “Widespread” or Purple Tier. The new designation allowed for nearly 20 business types to reopen indoor services in some capacity.

On the list are movie theaters and museums, which have been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As some prep to reopen, they want to show they can be safe places during this pandemic.

Bill Wilson and his son got into one of the first showings Wednesday at the Regal Edwards Theater in north Fresno. It’s been a long time coming to be able to buy movie tickets again.

“We were coming all the time before [movie theaters were shut down],” Wilson said. “This was our outlet, so we’re glad it’s open again.”

Regal Edwards reopened Tuesday night, but the staff at Maya Cinemas in northeast Fresno are still preparing to reopen their doors for Friday. There will be less staff, as movie theaters are only allowed to have 25% capacity – but there will also be brand new roles.

“We’re going to have a team called the clean team,” said general manager Josh Randolph. “Their specific job is to clean any high volume areas or any area that gets touched frequently.”

When you pick your seat at Maya Cinemas, it will automatically block the two seats to your left and right. It will also block out the whole row in front of you, as well as behind. You will be allowed to take off your mask in the auditorium so you can eat and drink your concessions — but everywhere else you’ll have to have your mask on.

Museums around Fresno County continue to prepare for reopening. Peg Bos, president of the Clovis Museum, said everyone will be required to wear a mask and a pair of gloves. They will have a supply on-hand for anyone who comes to the museum without either.

“I am in the process of contacting the gurus that make the decisions. I’m sure we’ll be open by next month, if not sooner,” Bos said.

As the preparations continue, the goal is to reopen and stay open – for good.

“It’s a big opportunity for us to show the state and the government that we’re able to open and still be a safe environment for people,” Randolph said.

At Maya, there will be 13 auditoriums available for the public – and three available for private use.

All Regal Cinemas locations in Fresno County have reopened. Sierra Vista Cinemas, like Maya Cinemas, is still prepping to reopen.

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