EL PASO, Texas - After many months in the dark, the movie projectors are slowly turning back on around El Paso, including those at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Montecillo on the city's west side.
Tuesday evening's reopening was treated as a triumph with the cinema even giving out special collectible tickets to those first returning customers.
"I came here early to get this and I am going to hang it up on my wall," said El Paso resident and movie fan Mike Salazar. "El Paso has a strong movie community so this is a massive morale boost for us collectively."
Before the reopening, the employees spent several days learning the ropes regarding a handful of important new safety features.
Those features include the newly installed iWave ionization technology, which has already been integrated into the cinema's heating and cooling systems.
According to managers, the iWave is a considerable new weapon against the spread of Covid-19, using charged atoms that attach to and kill harmful substances like bacteria, mold, allergens and viruses in the building's air and on surfaces.
The Alamo Drafthouse staff was furloughed back in March during the beginning stages of the pandemic.
With the reopening however, the entire team was invited back.
“And we actually created new positions called the 'safety crew' where some of our team members will now be working the sanitation areas and disinfectant stations between the theaters," said Ed Dodds, theater vice president.
Additionally, other protocols like remote ticket buying, disposable menus and temperature checking are being embraced.
Moviegoers must wear face masks and hand sanitizing stations have been installed around the facility.
Seats also will be "buffered" so that each set of two or each group will have empty seats between them.
However, the Alamo Drafthouse wasn't the first theatre to reopen in El Paso and they are not the only show in town.
Also open is Cinemark East Montana, the El Paso Premiere, the Grand 10 at Fort Bliss and Cielo Vista Mall 14.