Coronavirus restrictions suddenly make drive-in theaters more appealing

They offer both community and seclusion

Communities across America have gone on near lockdown as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread to all reaches of the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 7,000 cases in all 50 states, and many businesses are under restrictions or closures. Normal sources of entertainment such as movie theaters are no longer options, so cinephiles and those searching for an escape are looking to the past to adapt to an altered present. As the Los Angeles Times reports, drive-in movie theaters that remain open have seen an uptick in attendance.

According to the article posted on March 18, drive-in theaters in California, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri remained open. Despite warnings against gatherings larger than 10 people in certain situations, the owners believe drive-ins are exempt. Because people sit in their personal cars and do not have to interact with anybody else, the owner of Starlite Drive-In in Cadet, Missouri, says it's a gray area.

"I don’t think we fit into the gathering category personally because all the gathering places are places where you are confined with a bunch of people," he said.

Other drive-ins, however, have decided staying open is not worth the risk. Skyline Drive-in in Barstow, California, has already announced it will be closed until at least late April. This is partially due to the fact that many film studios have stopped sending new movies, though the theaters could always hold showings of previously released flicks.

The Paramount Drive-In in Paramount, California, however is welcoming people with open arms and has seen nearly double the normal attendance rates. "As our drive-in is considered a safe environment, we will remain open following our regular schedule," the theater said on Facebook. "In challenging times like this, nothing like a movie night with family to relax. Come by and watch a movie on the big screen!" 

For more on how the outbreak has affected drive-in movie theaters, read the full story on the Los Angeles Times.

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