Drive-in theaters offer Mexicans an escape from coronavirus confinement

By Mariana Gonzalez-Marquez

Guadalajara, Mexico, Aug 11 (efe-epa).- Drive-in theaters went out of vogue decades ago in Mexico, but they are making a comeback during the coronavirus pandemic and offering a way for families to escape the monotony of home confinement without exposing themselves to Covid-19 infection.

In the western city of Guadalajara, the children of Raquel Jimenez and Oscar Reyes told Efe while sitting on pillows and watching a kids’ movie that their parents have taken them to the Lopez Mateos Drive-in on two occasions since the health emergency in Mexico began in March.

“It’s something quite a bit different for the kids. It’s about interrupting the confinement. We’ve been following the (health safety) instructions to the letter, and even though these are movies they’ve already seen it’s about the experience of being away from home,” Reyes said.

This latest outing was planned as a way to celebrate the 16th birthday of the couple’s niece without the risk that a visit to a plaza or restaurant might entail.

“We came for safety reasons. Our family hasn’t been going anywhere other than to work, and the birthday girl hasn’t left the house since March. And so to make sure her day wasn’t all sad we brought her here,” Jimenez said.

The Lopez Mateos Drive-in opened three weeks ago in a big open area on Guadalajara’s south side, where up to 350 couples or families can gather at one time to watch a movie on a LED TV screen from their cars, the promoter of that establishment, Santiago Valencia, told Efe.

People can listen to the film through their cars’ speakers thanks to a system that enables dialogue and other sounds to be piped in via radio.

“Most (customers) are families who are surely eager to provide entertainment for children who haven’t left (their homes) for some time, and (to make sure) that option is safe. It keeps them in the same family bubble, and if you don’t want to, you don’t have contact with anyone at all,” Valencia said.

Everything is designed so customers are in contact with the least possible number of people. When they arrive, they have contact with just one person who takes their temperature, offers them hand-sanitizer gel and informs them of the theater’s rules.

The movie-goers are permitted to bring their own food from home, but they also may order snacks and beverages from attendants who walk up to their car doors when the motorists activate their hazard lights.

Instead of paying in cash, they must use a “cashless” bracelet linked to a credit or debit card; they also are accompanied to the restroom area to ensure that social-distancing rules are being followed and large crowds do not form.

Valencia said people can safely enjoy different forms of entertainment outside their homes, although he acknowledged that the fear of gathering in public places remains high.

“The news that’s been generated (has instilled) terror toward entertainment in general, and that’s kept us from doing a lot of the things we would be able to do. We could now open theaters with the appropriate safety measures” such as leaving every other seat unoccupied, he said.

Mexico had reported 485,836 confirmed coronavirus cases and 53,003 deaths attributed to Covid-19 as of Monday, according to the Health Secretariat’s latest figures. EFE-EPA


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