Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should let movie theaters reopen

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Now that our governor is finished with her shark week, perhaps she can bite into a small but persistent inequity in our COVID-19 shutdowns that, frankly, has gone on too long.

Movie theaters.

They have been closed in Michigan, with the exception of the Traverse City and Upper Peninsula regions, for nearly six months, since the earliest days of our pandemic response. Many want to know why. We have reopened stores. Reopened bars. Reopened restaurants. Reopened casinos. We’ve even reopened hair and nail salons, where customer and employee by definition come in close contact with each other.

Yet movie theaters remain shuttered, and players in the local industry claim they have never been given a real reason, despite frequent pleas for relief.

“I think that was really the root of my frustration,” says Paul Glantz, chairman of Emagine Entertainment, which operates 10 theaters in the state. “I felt like if we were closed for all this time, we were entitled to understand what differentiated movie theaters from other venues.”

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