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Theaters Are Reopening. But We’re Going To Wait Until It’s Safe. | Column from the Editor

Last week, the newspaper I work for reported that Massachusetts movie theaters could open as early as tomorrow. I live in Pittsfield, and so far, our local Regal movie theater is the only one with any sort of concrete plans to reopen (July 10), with the other theaters in the area preferring to reopen closer to the middle or end of July. The fact that Massachusetts is within reach of reopening theaters, which are close-quarter indoor facilities where the coronavirus can spread quickly, is a testament to the local and state leadership that has seen transmission rates of the virus plummet, as southern states are seeing increases in coronavirus cases during these hot summer months. 

But just because they are open doesn’t mean people will be comfortable going to them. I sure won’t be, not until it’s certain a second wave won’t happen and/or a vaccine is developed. Before the state lockdown, I refused to go to the theater, knowing the February-March slog was not worth risking the virus for. And I told InReview’s staff of writers that I didn’t expect coverage of films that are currently in theaters during this pandemic, and this will continue until a safe new normal can be reached. 

I am all for my local theaters being able to earn some money during these trying times, especially as Paycheck Protection Program funds start to run dry and unemployment insurance is set to expire at the end of July. By all means, these funds need to be renewed, and Congress cannot politicize injecting much-needed life into the economy during this virus-related stagnation. We should not be pressuring businesses to open prematurely for fear of going under during this pandemic, because Republicans are against social programs we need right now. 

And while I understand the plight of theaters, I cannot in good faith go to one or encourage others to go see a film currently in theaters unless it’s safe to do so. While I miss movie theaters and the theatergoing experience, we have access to almost every movie that has ever come out at the palm of our fingertips, as well as some of the best original content on the market, and no film is worse contracting a sometimes-deadly virus for. I cannot in good faith put myself or others at risk just for a review of something new. It would be irresponsible to do so.

So while theaters slowly start to open up, I would not expect to see many reviews for new theatrical releases in the near future on this blog. Thankfully, the virus has delayed several films, so hopefully we won’t be missing much. 

Thank you for your readership, and please stay safe during these trying times. 

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