Local businesses seeking to continue service; Continental Cinemas closing temporarily

Published 8:31 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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Local businesses are beginning to feel the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus as new recommendations come out hourly about social distancing.

The latest recommendation from the Alabama Department of Public Health is to keep six feet of distance from other people and avoid gatherings of 25 or more people; President Donald Trump advised avoiding gatherings of 10 or more.

In Jefferson and surrounding counties, Gov. Kay Ivey has gone a step further and ordered certain regulations to be followed, including bars and restaurants offering no on-site dining for the next week at least.

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“Now is the most important time to support our local businesses,” said Dana Sanders, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. “They are the heartbeat of our community. It’s important during this critical time that we all work together to get through this.”

Many businesses and restaurants are offering curbside pickup and delivery during this time to help keep business afloat.

Bethany Allen, marketing manager at Glow, said the shop started advertising curbside pickup and free local delivery on Friday to get out ahead of the virus.

“We encourage everyone to keep shopping local as it is a tough time for us,” Allen said. “We’re taking the precautions and measures we can to help contain the spread.”

Continental Cinemas is among the most affected businesses in the county right now, announcing Tuesday that the theater will be suspending operations indefinitely during the outbreak, which has hit the film industry particularly hard.

“We love movies; we love sharing movies with the community we call home; we love the people of Troy. You, our customers, will always be our first priority,” theater officials shared on the business’ Facebook page. “It is unimaginable that we are unable to safely transport our customers into the land of imagination this weekend for the first time in over 20 years. We do not know what the next few weeks may bring, but we are certain it will ultimately bring us back to you.”

Taylor said Movie studios began postponing movies last week including major releases such as A Quiet Place 2 that was to release on Friday, and Mulan which was slated for March 27. When advice was offered to avoid gatherings of 50 or more people, the theater planned to cap attendance and remain open, but that advisement became more strict on Monday.

“When officials asked that no one gather in groups of more than 10 people, we knew it was no longer possible to responsibly stay open,” Taylor said. “Keeping our community healthy is the top priority right now … We will re-open as soon as we feel it is safe for our community to return to what we have done for thousands of years: whether it is gathering around a fire to share a story or gathering at Continental Cinemas with each other to laugh, cry, and to cheer on our heroes.”

There has been no comparable closing of movie theaters on this scale since the flu pandemic of 1918, Taylor said. He asked that the community come back out to support the theater with a well-attended reopening to help kickstart the business.

The Pike County Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday the postponement of all events through May 6, but the Chamber will remain operational to assist Chamber members.