McHenry Outdoor Theater unable to reopen as planned because not ‘essential business,’ officials say

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MCHENRY, Ill. — Moviegoers were thrilled when McHenry Outdoor Theater announced earlier this week they were reopening May 1. However, now it seems they cannot reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a post to the theater’s Facebook page Thursday, theater owner Scott M. Dehn laid out what happened. He said he’d been working with government officials on guidelines that would allow him to reopen, such as vehicles spaced 10 to 15 feet apart and the theater’s capacity cut in half.

“Eventually we got to a point where I was told that they had nothing left to add and wished me good luck for our season. This is when I went public about opening May 1st,” Dehn said.

Then, he got an email Thursday that told him otherwise.

“I just received an email from the government office that I was referred to by the Health Dept. Now they are saying that I cannot open because we are not an essential business,” Dehn said.

Dehn apologized profusely in the post, saying he responded to the email he received with all the correspondence with government officials, as well as his health and safety guidelines. He said he has yet to receive a response. He said:

“As much as I know there is plenty of blame to go around here, I also know that the buck ultimately stops with me. I am very sorry that we are in this position. But honestly, I can’t think of what I could’ve done different. I followed every direction I was given and worked extremely hard converting this theater to one that exceeded the sanitation requirements. I know many of you are upset. I am too- trust me. I would like to thank you all for your continued unwavering support through these difficult times. We’ll be back… One way or another.”

WGN has reached out to state officials for comment.

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