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Entertainment Venues - Movie Theaters, Arcades and Bowling Alleys Guidelines


These guidelines are effective as updated on July 31, 2020 in St. Louis County. In accordance with the Department of Public Health’s (“DPH’s”) Third Amended Order for Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening effective July 31, 2020 (the “Order”), these guidelines may be replaced or modified by DPH based on new scientific information and local information including the trajectory of influenza-like illnesses, cases of COVID-19, and any other information deemed relevant to protect public health in St. Louis County.

These guidelines place restrictions on entertainment venues’ operations such as movie theaters, arcades and bowling alleys, and similar venues which engage in direct interactions with members of the public. Since the COVID-19 virus is easily transmitted in group settings, capacity limitations in these public places are necessary to limit the number of individuals in these public settings at any one time. These capacity limitations, in addition to face coverings, social distancing restrictions and disinfection processes, have proved to be significant in the mitigation of the transmission of COVID-19.


Adherence to these guidelines are for not only the protection of customers in these entertainment venues settings, but also for the protection of employers and employees. The requirements that together prevent the spread of infections by respiratory transmission (including COVID-19) include:

  • Social Distancing – maintaining at least 6 feet between and among employees and customers.
  • Monitoring of Employee Health – ensuring that your employees are in good health and displaying no symptoms while at work.
  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE) – a face cover must be worn by employees and customers.
  • Disinfecting and cleaning – wash and sanitize hand regularly and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces with an EPA-approved disinfectant

Capacity Restrictions

Since movie theaters, bowling alleys, and arcades are facilities offering entertainment that involve direct interactions with members of the public, the Order requires such facilities to comply with the following capacity limitations and requirements to ensure social distancing in their facilities:

  1. Limit the number of individuals in any particular location to <b>25%</b> (twenty-five percent) or less of the
    facility’s authorized fire or building code occupancy;
  2. Install physical barriers, such as plexiglass, between customers and employees where possible or otherwise ensure six (6) feet of distance between customers and employees, particularly in check-out lines, return-lines or any other place where there is prolonged contact between the customer and employee;
  3. In all areas which are prone to lines or congregation, such as lines to enter the facility or in checkout lines, install clear markings with signage, tape, or other means that show six (6) feet of distance as the appropriate spacing between customers;
  4. Provide signage inside and outside the facility outlining social distancing requirements, limitations on crowd size, and procedures to limit crowd size;
  5. Prohibit customers from bringing outside containers, including reusable bags or boxes, into the facility;
  6. Establish hours of operation, wherever possible, for individuals at high-risk of experiencing adverse outcomes from COVID-19 as defined by the CDC;
  7. Follow any additional requirements as determined by general and business-specific operating standards, guidelines and/or protocols published by DPH.

Additional Requirements for All Entertainment Venues

  • Modify check-in and payment processes to observe social distancing and use contactless payments where possible.
  • Limit the number of guests inside each space, at a given time, as per the capacity limitations.
  • Prohibit use of waiting areas to avoid congregations by limiting a guest’s ability to enter the venue until they are ready to be seated or a space is available for them. Notify customers by call or text message.
  • Use a clearly designated entrance and a separate exit to maintain social distancing. Screen customers/visitors for illness upon their entry into the venue or attraction:
  • Best practice: Temperature checks and symptom screening questions (see below) asked of every customer. Customers with temperatures above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should not be permitted on premise.
    • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
    • Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
    • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours? Require guests to wear face coverings.
    • Post signage listing symptom questions and/or conduct direct screening of customers regarding COVID-19 symptoms
  • Avoid combining persons or small groups with other non-household or non-associated persons or small groups. Post social distancing reminder signs (six feet separation) throughout the facility.
  • Regularly and frequently clean and sanitize shared resources/equipment after each use. Disinfect any items that come in contact with any guests.
  • Clean and sanitize frequently used areas: doorknobs, tables, chairs, counters, check-out areas, keypads, restrooms.
  • Make hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, or soap and water readily available to employees and customers.
  • Use plastic shields or other barriers between customers and employees at service counters and clean barriers often.
  • Designate employees to be tasked with implementing heightened hygiene and disinfection practices. Where possible, maintain visitor/customer contact information for up to 30 days.
  • Plan for potential COVID-19 cases, and work with DPH officials when needed (e.g., monitor and trace COVID-19 cases, deep clean facilities).
  • Establish health/safety protocol for the venue should a customer or employee fall ill while at the venue and not be able to immediately leave the facility. Immediately isolate the ill person and have the person wear a mask.

Additional Requirements for Movie Theaters

  • Movie theaters are encouraged to utilize online ticket sales to manage capacity limitations.
  • Limit the number of individuals in any particular location to <b>25%</b> percent or less of the entity’s authorized fire or building code occupancy.
  • Ensure proper spacing between guests in the movie theater (six feet separation).
  • Two or more members of the same household may sit next to one another, with two empty seats on either side (six feet separation).
  • Guests must wear face coverings at all times except while seated in the theater.
  • Two individuals who are not members of the same household but who are attending together can sit next to one another, with two seat empty seats on either side (six feet separation).
  • Either leave every other row empty or insure that there is six feet of separation in all directions between groups.
  • Disinfect seats, arm rests, cup holders and all other frequently touched areas in the theater between screenings.

Additional Requirements for Bowling Alleys and Arcades

  • Adjust equipment layout and close or restrict access to equipment to maintain at least six feet of distance between equipment. All equipment must be disinfected prior to the next customer’s use of the equipment.
  • Limit guest per lane or group to no more than six individuals.
  • In venues that have lanes or stations, open every other lane or station only.
  • Require customers to use only one piece of equipment during their visit (for example one bowling ball, one putter, etc.).
  • Require customers to clean equipment such as bowling balls that they touch. Customers should use disinfecting wipes before and after each use.
  • Disinfect equipment, including bowling balls, shoes pool cues, putters, and other rentals before and after each guest’s use.
  • Special Requirement for facilities that provide interactive, electronic, video or other machines or games: All such facilities are considered amusement facilities under the Order and must submit a plan to DPH for approval outlining their operating guidelines that include social distancing and disinfection protocols,

Food and Beverage Service at All Venues

Administrative Issues for All Venues

  • Allow all employees to work from home as much as possible.
  • Employees must be screened daily and must wear face coverings. Screening includes asking the following questions:
    • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
    • Have you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat?
    • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
    • Have you had a new loss of taste or smell?
    • Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
  • Temperature screening employees: Employers should take and log temperature before every shift. Employers should take temperatures onsite with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival at work.
  • Minimum: temperatures can be taken before arriving and while the employee is wearing a face cover. A normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Direct any employee who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., answers yes to any of the screening questions or who is running a fever) to leave the premises immediately and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing.
  • Sick employees should follow steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick. Employees should not return to work until they meet the criteria to discontinue home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider and state or local health department.
  • Provide training on personal protective equipment based on CDC guidelines
  • Modify schedules, stagger shifts, breaks and meals, in compliance with wage and hour laws and regulations, to maintain social distancing. Consider reduced staffing requirements where possible.


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