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‘Movies are back:’ Theaters excited to reopen since mask mandates lifted

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s official. The mask mandate for both indoor and outdoor settings has lifted in the state of Michigan, one week before it was supposed to on July 1. With COVID cases dropping and vaccination rates rising, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer moved the date to Tuesday, June 22.

Movie theater chains, like Celebrations Cinemas, are grateful for it.

“Movies are back,” said Emily Loeks, public relations and community affairs rep with Celebration Cinema. “The Hollywood distribution is putting their big movies back into movie theaters. So, this is a critical turning point for our company. And for theaters across the country.”

Celebration, as it’s commonly called, is excited to show movies like Fast and Furious, In The Heights, and A Quiet Place. And, to get moviegoers back inside, they’ve launched Cinema Week.

“We’re excited to celebrate that with our whole industry. And, our company is offering a lot of special deals this week,” Loeks said. “So, today is $2 movie day, all movies all day. Tomorrow is free popcorn day. There’s a host of other deals that are going on that are publicized on our website, and then also some special surprise perks in the theater that we’re excited about.”

AMC Theaters is offering free popcorn all week.

The Grand Rapids Chamber held an in-person event to mark the lifting of the restrictions. GRC president Rick Baker said it certainly is something to celebrate considering the pandemic hit the businesses hard.

“The Michigan business community was severely impacted by COVID restrictions,” Baker said. “As a state, we lost the second most number of small business jobs in the nation. We have learned a lot and it’s great to see the remaining rules being lifted.”

However, challenges lie ahead, he said. At the event, they discussed the labor shortage and talked about tackling housing issues and childcare

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