Long Island's oldest movie theater previews safety measures ahead of reopening

BELLMORE, Long Island (WABC) -- Moviegoers will find new safety measures in place in Long Island's oldest movie theater, one day before it reopens to the public.

The Bellmore Movies and Showplace on Pettit Avenue in Bellmore will reopen for business Friday, showing "On the Rocks" starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones.

"It's a start, it's cash flow," theater owner Anne Stampfel said. "It's been hard. There are some days, if I didn't look into the eyes of my grandson, who gave me hope, I don't know what I would've done."

The theater has installed a new air filtration system and placed hand sanitizer dispensers in several places.

Related: Hot spot restrictions lift in some parts of NY

Social distancing guides are visible, and seating has been blocked off to help people stay 6 feet apart.

Temperature checks will also be conducted with touchless thermometers, and additionally, employees are required to go into the theater itself and take a picture showing where people are seated with each movie so they know precisely where to clean.

"Throughout the re-opening, we were getting safer and safer," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "And this uptick is nowhere near where we were at the height of the pandemic."

Meantime, AMC is planning to reopen its movie theaters on Long Island and in Upstate New York on Friday as well.

Related: Nassau County launches drive-through rapid testing site

They can only open in counties with COVID-19 positivity rates below 2%, and theaters will operate at 25% capacity with no more than 50 people.

Indoor movie theaters have been closed in New York since March, but the real question is, will moviegoers return?


"I will be there the first night they open," area resident Wendy Maddulena said. " I miss going to the movies so much. You have no idea."

There's lot more choices these days than there were century ago, when Bellmore Movies first opened -- surviving a closure of seven weeks for the flu pandemic of 1918.

"I think we need something to give us hope," moviegoer Marion Sierra said. "And something to entertain us."

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