Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the North Platte Community Playhouse has canceled showing movies for the foreseeable future after announcing Tuesday the movies would resume.
Board president Stuart Shepherd said he was contacted by Great Plains Health CEO Mel McNea, who asked that masks be required rather than recommended and the Playhouse board decided instead to cancel the movies for now.
“We got our reopening committee together and said, we don’t need to be doing this,” Shepherd said.
The theater, Shepherd said, has remained configured in the same manner required by the COVID plan approved by the West Central District Health Department for the musical production of “Mamma Mia!”
“We had written out a plan with Shannon (Vanderheiden, West Central District Health Department),” Shepherd said. “So we’re still operating under those restrictions.”
The theater was divided with seating allowed every other row, giving patrons proper social distancing. Family groups were allowed to sit together with 6 feet separating the families from each other. Wearing masks was strongly recommended, and Shepherd said the theater received thorough cleaning and sanitizing after each show.
He said it would have been the same for movies.
“Movies are a little easier because at most there might be 50 people in there, so it would be easier for them to social distance,” Shepherd said. “But we were told because of the situation in our community, masks need to be required.”
Megan McGown, marketing manager for GPH, confirmed that McNea contacted Shepherd.
“We support groups wanting to return to normalcy, but want them to be as safe as possible, and wearing masks is a way they can ensure that,” McGown said.
Shepherd said they could have required masks, but ultimately didn’t want to risk adding to the spread.
“It’s just hard and we decided, let’s not be a part of the problem,” Shepherd said. “We’d rather be a part of the solution.”
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