REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — With San Mateo County moving to the red tier in the state COVID rating system, the largest operator of movie theaters in the county — Cinemark — announced Wednesday it will reopen its facilities for the first time in six months on Friday.

San Mateo health officials learned on Tuesday they has been upgraded into the state’s less restrictive red tier.

“The first thing that came to my mind was hallelujah,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Canepa.

Effective immediately, indoor dining, exercising in gyms and fitness studios, going to a movie theater and church could resume in San Mateo county, but with modifications.

Cinemark wasted little time in announcing its theaters would be reopening with COVID restrictions in place. Theaters can reopen at 25% capacity or allow up to 100 people, whichever is fewer. Masks are required and workers are cleaning more frequently and disinfecting high-touch areas.

The nationwide movie theater chain had a test run of its new operating procedures when it reopened Century Theaters at Northgate Mall in San Rafael last weekend after Marin County was placed on the red tier.

Among those who flocked to the theater was Mildred Otis.

“You’re pretty much sitting in your own little space, so it was myself and then there were two empty seats and then the next people and then no one was in front of me, no one was behind me,” Otis told KPIX 5 of the COVID restrictions. “So I felt okay, I got popcorn and everything.”

Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi was overjoyed at getting the green light to reopen in San Mateo County.

“There is nothing quite as powerful as a great cinematic story as it is told on the big screen,” he said in a prepared statement. “We wanted to ensure the time was right before announcing the reopenings.”

The theaters that will reopen on Friday are:

  • Century 12 San Mateo — 320 East 2nd Avenue, San Mateo
  • Redwood Downtown 20 and XD — 825 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City
  • Century at Tanforan and XD — The Shops at Tanforan, San Bruno
  • Century 20 Daly City and XD and IMAX — 1901 Junipero Serra Blvd., Daly City