The Star Drive-in

The exterior of The Star Drive-In in Montrose is quiet amid the coronavirus pandemic. There are questions about whether the drive-in movie theater will be allowed to reopen soon amid implementation of Gov. Jared Polis’ ‘safer at home’ order.

Gov. Jared Polis’s "safer-at home" order, implemented Sunday night after the "stay-at-home" order was lifted, allowed businesses and retail deemed non-critical to reopen and operate in the following ways — delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, drive-up service and curbside delivery.

On May 1, non-critical retail can allow customers into the building, but in a manner that allows for strict compliance with social distancing requirements.

But, with public gatherings still limited to 10 people or less, theaters are shuttered until further notice. The order, though, does not make a distinction for drive-in theaters.

Pam Friend, owner of the Star Drive-In Theater, told the Montrose Daily Press she wants to open the Star in a timely, safe manner to ensure the health and safety of the community and is approaching the opening with caution, making sure she is compliant with the governor’s orders.

She hopes to open in mid-May.

According to Katie Yergensen, media relations manager with Montrose County, the county has given the go-ahead to Friend to open the drive-in as long as she is comfortable with the guidelines that are in place.

“If they feel they meet the criteria, they are able to open,” Yergensen said.

“We’re in the business of saving lives but also saving jobs,” she added.

Yergensen said the health department is more than willing to help local businesses navigate the new executive order. The order is several pages, forcing businesses to review large documents that can leave plenty of room for interpretation.

“From a public health side, yeah, we can help and go through [documents] with them,” Yergensen said.

Local businesses are welcome to reach out to the county or visit its website at montrosecounty.net for more information.

James Lane, owner of the Tru-Vu Drive In in Delta, told the Press earlier this month that the business was given the go-ahead from Delta County Public Health to open the drive-in for service on April 17.

The venue wrote about the successful reopening on their Facebook page:

“Saturday night at the TruVu was great. Everything went as planned and we seem to have worked out all of the kinks. We need to give extra thanks to our staff. Without their help and dedication to making this opening happen, we would not have been able to pull this off. Hope to see even more happy faces in the upcoming weeks.”

Lane noted the staff had an adjustment period as they worked with new rules to adhere to safe physical distancing guidelines.

“Just new rules, trying to get things to work, just working out the kinks,” Lane said. “By Saturday, we had them all worked out, so it was really good.

“It was a little bit rocky on Friday but okay, but Saturday was smooth as silk,” owner James Lane said. “We had two sellouts so we were real pleased.”

Some of those new rules include no vehicles parked backwards, the use of a car radio or personal radio, and calls must be made to schedule restroom usage.

And, instead of showing films back to back, the Tru Vu only has one showing a night at the moment, with films alternating days throughout the week.

The concession stand is open, but with a different twist. People are dropping off their order at the concession stand or giving them to the parking attendant.

Lane expects business at the snack bar to pick up in the coming weeks after having a steady first few weeks.

Adam Egloff, a Montrose resident and owner of the Jimmy John’s in Montrose, understands the strain small businesses have experienced during the COVID-19 shutdown. He’s shown his support by starting a petition to open the Star-Drive In, which read:

“The purpose of this petition is to allow the Drive In Theater in Montrose, CO to open! Other drive-ins across the country are open and thriving. As long as everyone stays in their car and they don't open the concession stand then this is perfect for these times of social distancing.”

With the stay-at-home order leaving many cooped up in their homes, Egloff believes it’s time to give people a chance to experience a form of entertainment they haven’t had since the shut down.

“I’m a small business owner here in Montrose and we have been affected by the shut down,” Egloff said. “So I’m trying to help other business owners in the area as much as possible.

“I also think the people are getting bored and restless. Why not add another chance to escape what’s happening then the drive in? It’s a safe way to have a good time as a family.”

The petition gained nearly 500 signatures after a few days with many supporters in the community rushing to social media and clamoring for the Star to open.

One commenter wrote, “Can’t wait until you open! We need something fun to do with our families.”

Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press

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