Returning to work with the opening of movie theaters

Many Iowans have been without work for months since the novel coronavirus has had us isolating in our houses and avoiding places that are not deemed essential. I remember the message I received back in March from the CEO of Flix Brewhouse telling us that we were all being furloughed. At the time, I thought that I wouldn’t be getting my job back, or at the least it wouldn’t be until around October. Alas, with the release of “The New Mutants” on August 26, I donned my uniform and my new company mandated mask and returned to work.

We had a return-to-work orientation where the district manager and the general manager went over all the new rules, regulations, and how the company was going to help keep both employees and the general public safe.

One of these regulations is the new pre-shift health screening that each team member must complete before starting their shift. Our temperature is taken, we confirm that we haven’t been experiencing symptoms of COVID, and we go on our way.

Another new rule is that masks and gloves must be worn by all team members at all times. After months of wearing masks, I am well-accustomed to them. However, wearing one next to a pizza oven and heat lamps for hours at a time is another story.

One thing that bums me out is how few of us came back. Some decided not to return and five months of zero revenue and a relatively slow opening period means the company likely couldn’t afford to rehire everybody. I seem to work with the same three or four cooks each shift.

Honestly, I don’t know if I would have gone back if I wasn’t fearful of losing my unemployment. I still rarely find myself leaving the house and haven’t been in a store for a reason that isn’t essential since March. Part of me feels like it is too early for movie theaters to open, but I also understand the position that the theaters are in.

Theaters couldn’t open because movies kept getting pushed back or released digitally, and in turn movies weren’t coming to theaters because none of them were open and it was uncertain what turn-out would be. Theaters saw an opportunity with “The New Mutants,” and now “Tenet,” to break this Catch-22.

The company has made steps to encourage social distancing and safe moviegoing. The admit capacity has been almost halved and they are leaving two seats in between groups. Guests are also asked to wear masks until they get to their reserved seats. Disposable menus and pencils have replaced the usual menu and pens so the guest can be certain they are clean.

Interestingly en0ugh, our most popular showings have been of older movies. “Mean Girls” and “Serenity” had showings over this past weekend and were doubling the admits of the new releases. Given that we are still in a global pandemic, I was sure  people were willing to take the risk to see movies they have likely seen before. On the other hand, maybe people would rather see something they know they like on the big screen than take a risk on something new. The comfort of the familiar is enticing in a time where everything is different.

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