New Jersey Movie Theater Opens in Defiance of Governor Phil Murphy’s Lockdown


NORTHFIELD, NJ – The Tilton Square Theater in Northfield, New Jersey reopened its doors on Friday with health and safety measures set forth by the CDC.  On Friday, the Northfield Police Department showed up and notified owners Brett Denafo and Clint Bunting that Governor Phil Murphy’s executive orders prohibit the opening of indoor movie theaters.

Prior to the opening, Denafo said, “Here we go! Time to open! Don’t know for how long till comrade Murphy shuts it down.”

Bunting said the partners took advantage of the COVID-19 downtime and kept all of their employees on the payroll, sprucing up the theater, painting and performing upgrades.  He said they were approved by the federal paycheck protection program and invested 100% of those funds into paying employees, but that funding ran out last week, which is why they chose Friday to get the doors back open.

“We want to thank everyone who came out and supported us yesterday. We look forward to keeping our doors open for the foreseeable future,” the partners said.

“We can actually monitor our place better than a Home Depot or Lowes,” Denafo said. “We know exactly where every customer goes…we know exactly what areas everyone is touching here, we sanitize after every show and do a deep clean every night.”

As far as being shut down by Murphy, Bunting said, “We’re willing to take that risk.”

Until official guidance is given by the Murphy administration, the theater will be running at a limited capacity.

You can buy tickets for this week online here.

The following is a statement released by the theater:

Let’s go Back to the movies and demonstrate together just how safely we can make that happen in the Future. The CDC states that, “LARGE VENUES (e.g…movie theaters…) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols.” For those of you who don’t know us, please give us the opportunity to show you that following strict protocols is what we’ve always done. Those CDC guidelines and our history of strict protocol make us very well suited to safely welcome you Back. In the Future, the following practices will be implemented in addition to our already thorough cleanliness and safety policies:

Strict handwashing and hand sanitizing practices for employees as well as strong procedures and practices to clean and sanitize surfaces. Employees will be required to wear masks and gloves and adhere to physical spacing guidelines.

Sneeze guards will be installed at the concession stands.

Customers will be required to physically space 6 feet while waiting in line for tickets or concessions.

Groups that come in together can sit together. Groups and individuals will be physically spaced by 6 feet. Theatre chairs will be sanitized before and after each movie showing. Theatres will be deep cleaned nightly. Our theatre HVAC system includes HEPA filters

Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the concession and hallways for easy access by customers and employees alike.

Signage will be posted at the entrance that states no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 is to be permitted into the theatre.

All customers will be required to wear a face mask when entering the lobby. Once seated in the auditorium, masks may be removed to enjoy concessions and the movie. However, masks must be put back on prior to leaving your seat.

We believe the “intermission” we’ve undergone can safely be over. We’re flashing the lights! It pleases and honors us to no end to see those seats we’ve saved for you selling to this extent. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be a part of this demonstration of safe reopening!

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