Local businesses come out of hibernation as COVID freeze lifts

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

Since Linn County moved out of the high risk category for COVID-related illness last month, the streets in Lebanon have been markedly higher in traffic volume. Especially downtown.
The relaxation in regulations has allowed restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to reopen, and children are also returning to school for the district’s reintegration process.

A line of movie-goers wait to buy tickets for the new release of “Raya and the Last Dragon” on March 5.

Now in the “moderate risk” category, restaurants, gyms and indoor entertainment facilities in Linn County can allow up to 50 percent or 100 persons occupancy (whichever is smaller), but all except gyms must close at 11 p.m.
For gyms and recreation, indoor full-contact sports are prohibited, but outdoor full-contact sports are allowed. Outdoor recreation and entertainment – including zoos, stadiums, pools, trails, etc – allow a maximum 150 persons.
Indoor recreation and entertainment in Lebanon includes such places as Linn Lanes bowling and Kuhn Cinema.
Linn Lanes kept functioning last year by selling it’s “famous burgers” to go, said Gary Heintzman, owner.
“What we’re finding is those same people that were ordering food to go are still ordering it to go. So we’re definitely busy back there,” he said.
To meet state requirements, usable bowling lanes are spaced every other one, and reservations must be made in advance, allowing a half hour time slot for sanitation between games.
Reservation slots fill up every weekend, Heintzman said. Not only are the league bowlers “really excited” to come back, but families are pretty excited as well.
“It is exciting to at least have some noise in the place,” he said. “Bowling alleys aren’t made to be quiet.”

EMPLOYEE Jayden Hayes, left, rings up an order for Terry Weist at Kuhn Cinema.

Kuhn Cinema reopened Feb. 19, showing not-so-recent films such as The Croods 2 and Wonder Woman 1984. Though these movies were released several months ago and made available through online apps, it was the first time they could be watched in a theater.
Terry and Shana Weist, and their two daughters, have already made two trips to the Kuhn since it reopened. Though they had watched “The Croods 2” at home a couple months ago, they didn’t mind watching it again as soon as the Kuhn reopened, said Shana Weist.
“It’s something that feels normal again,” she said.
Their second trip was to watch the new release “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
“It’s just nice to be out as a family doing something other than being cooped up at home, where you’re not feeling isolated from everything,” said Terry Weist. “This is giving back some normality to your life and everything outside of what COVID has brought to everybody.”
If Linn County stays below 63 COVID-positive test results during a two-week period, the county will qualify for the low-risk category, the lowest category available. Still, even in the lowest category, senior centers (and hookah bars) are not allowed to open.