Movie theaters on Long Island will be allowed to reopen on Oct. 23 after the industry was held back from New York State’s phased reopening from the coronavirus shutdown over the summer.

Theaters will be required to limit capacity to 25 percent per theater, or 50 people per screen, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who made the announcement Saturday during a news conference. 

Movie theaters statewide were closed along with most other businesses to curb the spread of coronavirus when its spread peaked in New York in March. But theaters were among a handful of industries, including catering halls, concert venues, and amusement parks, that were left out of the fourth and final phase of the reopening plan this summer. So were gyms, bowling alleys, casinos, and malls, but those industries were belatedly allowed to reopen.

Theaters have struggled nationwide since the pandemic hit. Regal Cinemas, the world’s second-largest movie theater company, announced recently that it would temporarily close all of its U.S. locations to stem financial losses. As a result, Regal’s half dozen Long Island locations are likely to remain shuttered come Oct. 23.

In the meantime, Long Islanders have been taking advantage of a resurgence of drive-in movies — a more socially distant alternative — to watch films while traditional theaters have been closed.

Theaters will remain closed in New York City and areas in Rockland and Orange counties where the infection rate recently spiked, Cuomo said.

Besides theaters, COVID-19 has also prompted Hollywood to delay the release of numerous movies to 2021 while others were released straight to online streaming services, such as Disney releasing its live-action remake of Mulan to Disney Plus.

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.