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Naro Expanded Cinema to reopen June 4

The theater closed on March 19, 2020 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus during the global pandemic.

NORFOLK, Va. — Owners of the Naro Expanded Cinema in Norfolk said that they expect to reopen the theater on Friday, June 4.

The theater closed on March 19, 2020, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus during the global pandemic. 

Fourteen months later, with vaccines available to all adult Virginians, it's ready to reopen its doors to the public.

The company took several unusual approaches to stay in business through the closure, including streaming some films online, selling popcorn on the street, applying for grants, renting out theaters for private showings, and accepting donations.

The landlord for the business also lowered the rent, to help the Naro be able to make its payments.

The team waited to reopen even when some chain movie theaters started operating at limited capacities because co-owner Thom Vorlas said they didn't want to be irresponsible during a public health crisis.

In the last few weeks, Gov. Ralph Northam dropped the universal mask mandate, saying fully vaccinated Virginians could be unmasked in most indoor settings. Other Virginia coronavirus restrictions are set to end Friday.

In late May, the daily reported coronavirus cases for Virginia had dropped dramatically, from almost 2,000 cases per day in February to an average of 360 cases reported per day.

On Thursday, Norfolk's 7-day average for newly reported cases was just 13.

By the latest Virginia Department of Health update, 53.8% of adult Virginians had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 43.2% were fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for people ages 12 and older.