Excise police halt drive-in theater's opening

By The Associated Press

PLYMOUTH — State excise police have halted a northern Indiana drive-in theater’s plans to open for the season, telling county officials current coronavirus restrictions prevent drive-ins from throwing open their gates to cars loaded with moviegoers.

The Tri-Way Drive-In Theatre had announced on its Facebook page that it would start its season this weekend in the city of Plymouth, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of South Bend.

But the Marshall County Health Department said Thursday the theater would not be opening yet. The department’s administrator, Ashley Garcia, told the South Bend Tribune that she was contacted by Indiana State Excise Police when the state agency learned of the theater’s plans to open.

Garcia and her staff had worked with the theater on its opening guidelines, including requiring customers to stay in their vehicles, except when visiting the restroom or buying concessions, when they would have to wear face masks.

But Garcia said state excise police told her the theater could not open until Gov. Eric Holcomb lifts his stay-at-home and “essential business” restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Garcia said the theater can be used for drive-up ceremonies, such as religious services, but opening for movies classified it as a place for amusement, which is restricted under Holcomb’s orders.

The drive-in’s owner, David Kinney, said he’s disappointed that Tri-Way can’t join other drive-ins that have opened for business in other states but he respects the governor’s actions.

“I thought we had done everything we could do to make the drive-in safe for everyone. I hope we can get open in the near future,” he said via email.

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