San Antonio-based theater chain has seven theaters open
Santikos Enterprises has teamed with Community Labs to provide weekly COVID-19 testing to its 300 employees, the San Antonio-based movie theater chain announced Wednesday.
“This is just one more thing that we can do for our employees to ensure that they are coming back to a safe place,” Santikos Enterprises CEO Tim Handren said at a news conference. “We will be the only theaters in the world that are doing this.”
Santikos, which is operated as a nonprofit, currently has seven theaters open in San Antonio, with limited hours and disinfection protocols in place.
Looking for ‘silent spreaders’
BioBridge Global is conducting the tests for Community Labs to identify “silent spreaders” of the coronavirus – people who have COVID-19 but do not have any symptoms.
Dr. Rachel Beddard, Chief Medical Officer at BioBridge Global, said Community Labs has been expanding testing across San Antonio and will soon be processing 5,000 tests a day.
“I’m honored that (Santikos) chose to join us,” she said. “Theatergoers are going to be much more assured this is a safe environment.”
Keeping theaters safe
Santikos is part of a nationwide effort called Cinema Safe, a program “promoting protocols and guidelines developed and supported by leading epidemiologists to support a safe return to movie theaters.”
In addition to COVID-19 testing, Santikos guidelines include:
- Required masks for staff
- Social distancing in seating
- Reduced theater capacity
- Increased ventilation
- Frequent handwashing
- Widespread availability of hand sanitizer
- Disinfection between screenings
- Modified concessions, arcade, bowling, laser tag and hologate
- Changes to handling of cash
- Mobile ticketing
- Symptom screening at theaters
Community Labs expands
Community Labs was co-founded by tech entrepreneur Graham Weston, bank executive J. Bruce Bugg Jr. and J. Tullos Wells, managing director of the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. Its goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 with widespread, fast-turnaround testing.
The largest number of tests is coming from the Somerset Independent School District, which is offering weekly testing to students and staff. Bugg said more than 100 schools have contacted Community Labs about testing.
Bexar County has provided funding for Community Labs to provide testing at other school districts soon, and the City of San Antonio is working with the nonprofit to expand testing for asymptomatic individuals.