Life with social distancing around Shawnee; movie theaters latest to close

Kim Morava
Usually open daily year-round, including Christmas, Cinema Centre 8 was empty Tuesday as all Shawnee movie theaters are closed because of concerns over coronavirus.

Amid a pandemic, taking precautions against coronavirus in Shawnee has prompted many changes, from schools being closed, shuttered movie theaters and even how some local restaurants choose to operate with pickup only rather than opening dining rooms.

Tuesday, all Jones Theatres locations in Shawnee — Cinema Center 8, Movies 6 and the Hornbeck in downtown Shawnee — were all closed until further notice.

With theaters that are normally open 365 days a year, with holidays usually quite busy, it's quite the opposite now as marquees and parking lots are empty.

Due to the COVID-19 virus, AMC Theatres, the business partner of longtime Shawnee-based Jones Theatres, Inc. closed all U.S. theatres “until further notice” Tuesday, with an estimated duration of 6-12 weeks.

“Our local family deeply regrets any inconvenience to our loyal guests,” the Jones family released Tuesday. “We will keep the community informed through our website at regarding local developments.  We have been part of the Shawnee community for 106 years. We will be back. Stay with us.”

In response to coronavirus concerns, many restaurants in Shawnee have either closed their inside dining areas and opted for drive-through services only, while some have even changed hours or are now offering delivery or other services.

Some of those dining rooms closures include McDonald's and Chick-fil-A, but drive-throughs are still open.

Shawnee's Hamburger King on Main Street reports it is open, but only for call-in orders, with pick-ups allowed at the front door only, with earlier closing hours in place for 5 p.m.

Van's Pig Stands are closing dining rooms but will prepare all food orders to go, with both the drive-through and inside registers open for pickup.

Shawnee's Boomarang Diners are are enhancing cleaning and sanitation practices, but they also are offering online or phone ordering with curbside pickup for orders..

Practices also have changed with casinos, including the Grand Buffet at the Grand Casino and Resort. While the casino remains open, with patron access limited to just a few entrances, the Grand Buffet was set to close at 9 p.m. Tuesday and will remain closed until further notice. At other remaining dining options inside, to-go orders are being encouraged.

Many other businesses are altering hours or services. Shawnee Mall, normally open until 9 p.m., now closes at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

And while all the precautions in place mean many have flocked more to grocery stores, so many stores have changed hours in response to the pandemic. For example, all Walmart stores, including Shawnee's 24-hour Walmart, now operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily to allow stocking time and cleanliness procedures.

And to help senior citizens, who are reported by the CDC to be the most at risk for coronavirus, some businesses have set aside special shopping hours.

FireLake Foods announced Tuesday it will set aside one hour each day so that shoppers who have been identified as “high risk” for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) have the opportunity to purchase groceries and other essential items. Those people include older adults, people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or have been advised by their physician to take extra precautions.

The Shawnee FireLake Discount Foods is offering the special shopping hour from 5 to 6 a.m., while FireLake Express stores in Tecumseh and McLoud will offer the shopping hour from 6 to 7 a.m.

FireLake Discount Foods also offers Groceries on the Go, which is available at Customers can place a grocery order online and have the groceries delivered to their vehicle.

Dollar General Stores also have enacted a designated hour of shopping for seniors for the first hour they are open each day.

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