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Yelm Cinemas General Manager Noah Aden in the theater complex's lobby on Wednesday, July 1.

Sorry, folks, but COVID-19 has struck another blow to entertainment in Yelm.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest decree responding to a significant increase in coronavirus cases in the state has forced Yelm Cinemas to once again shut down. 

The popular theater venue had reopened on July 3, after Thurston County was cleared to enter Phase 3 of Inslee’s Safe Start plan — but it temporarily closed its doors again on Monday.

For Yelm Cinemas General Manager Noah Aden, the theater complex’s temporary shutdown is particularly saddening given how well the community had responded to the reopening. 

“It had gone very smoothly,” Aden said. “People were wearing their masks and respecting other people going to the movies and our employees, as well. We had instituted a heavy cleaning routine, and that was doing really well, too.”

But with the state’s latest COVID-19 stipulations, the theater was backed into a wall.

“With the mandate for theaters being at 25 percent capacity or less, we looked at that and figured we really couldn’t sustain the business,” Aden said. “We couldn’t have properly staffed the days and would have run into a lot of scheduling problems.” 

But there’s a bright spot in all of this gloom: Beginning Saturday, Aug. 1, people with a hankering for fresh, hot, buttery popcorn can visit Yelm Cinemas to get their fix. The “popcorn drive-thru” will take place from noon to 7 p.m. every Saturday until the world runs out of popcorn — which hopefully won’t be one of COVID-19’s legacies.

Predicting when Yelm Cinemas might again reopen is anybody’s guess, Aden said — despite the fact that new movies are still due to be released in August.

“That’s a tough one, and I don’t really have a clue right now. We’ll just have to take it week by week. It will all depend on the mandates that are out there.”

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