Lackawanna County driving in to a red zone controversy

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DICKSON CITY, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A local drive-in movie theatre in Lackawanna County opened back up for business over the weekend.

However, Lackawanna County is still in the red phase of Governor Wolf’s reopening plan for Pennsylvania.

During Monday afternoon’s COVID-19 briefing, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said, “in the yellow zones, drive-in movie theatres can open if they are practicing social distancing.”

The Circle Drive-in Theatre in Dickson City, Lackawanna County opened over the weekend, while Lackawanna County remains in the red phase– with no date set on when the county will move into the yellow phase.

Lackawanna County resident Lisa Denardo is okay with their decision to open up against the Governor’s order.

“You’re staying in your car, you’re with the people you are in your house with anyways so I think it’s great to see some exceptions like that because honestly we are all going a little crazy staying at home,” says Denardo.

The Circle Drive-in Theatre opened up Monday night as planned— but not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.

“I think you have to heed the advice of the experts making the rules and if you’re still in the red phase then you’re still in the red phase and you shouldn’t open up,” says out of state resident Scott Lynch, of Washington D.C.

The Circle Drive-in theatre is following social distancing guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that they have posted on their website and ask all guest to follow. The concessions stand is closed, a limited number of bathrooms are open, and every guest is required to wear a mask.

But, the Department of Health says, in order to move to the yellow phase, Northeastern Pennsylvanians need to focus on the stay-at-home order in place.

“We still have counties particularly in the southeast and the northeast that have significant community spread and we have to stay focused on preventing that,” says Dr. Levine.

43 counties in Pennsylvania will remain in the red phase May 8, 2020.

Levine adds, “the governor will make his decision with other counties that can go from red to yellow.”

The Circle Drive-In Theatre has not responded to any calls from Eyewitness News as to whether they will close down until Lackawanna County moves into the yellow phase.

In response to questions about their opening– the department of health says:

“Non-licensed facilities/businesses in Pennsylvania, which would include drive-in theatres, are tracked by the Department of Health, and if they are not abiding by the stay-at-home order, a letter may be sent. Subsequently, further complaints about the same business are sent to the Department of Labor & Industry for a more in-depth investigation.

The preference is to have an educational opportunity first and to make sure the business is aware of the guidelines in place. Unless there are major, significant concerns, the goal is for actions to be informative and educational, not punitive.

We want people to institute good public health practices as we continue to move forward amidst COVID-19. If it is discovered that there are significant public health concerns, the Department of Health can, as a last resort impose a fine on the business.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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