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Guidance for hosting an outdoor drive-in theater and outdoor theater

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Entertainment Licensing

We have information on how you can apply for an outdoor drive-in theater and outdoor theater permit in Boston.

On May 25, 2020, the state issued specific COVID-19 safety standards for drive-in movie theaters as part of Phase 2, Step 1 to help protect against the spread of the virus. Below you will find the process to apply for an outdoor drive-in movie theater or outdoor movie theater permit in the City of Boston.

  1. Applicants should fill out and submit a public event application and a one-time entertainment application at least two weeks before event dates.  After we receive those, the Special Events Committee will schedule a meeting with you. The Special Events Committee will hold an online conference with you to review what other City permits or documents you need. Please note: Outdoor drive-in theaters may not end later than 11:30 p.m.
  2. Both applications must be signed by the Police Captain of the area where the outdoor drive-in theater will take place. Please note: The Police Captain signature may take a few days to obtain.
  3. After you receive the Police Captain's signature, email both applications as well as the other permits required by the Special Events Committee to MOCAL@boston.gov.
  4. The following may also be required by the Special Events Committee:
    • COVID-19 safety plan 
    • Insurance
    • Letter of permission or contract for the drive-in property
    • Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
    • Building - Inspection certificate (if building a stage)
    • Fire Assembly permit (if the area will be enclosed by fencing or barriers)
    • Generator permits
    • Temporary Change of Use permit 
    • Health permits (if offering concessions)
    • Other permits
Reopening in Boston

We have more information and resources on reopening for businesses in the City of Boston:

Reopening Boston

Contact

Contact Special Events at SpecialEvents@boston.gov or call 617-635-2673 if you have any questions on the application process.

Additional requirements

Drive-in theaters must adhere to the Commonwealth’s rules and regulations. Additional requirements may be enforced by the City of Boston. Please note: The rules may be updated from time to time.

Vehicles
  • Capacity must be reduced to allow for adequate distancing between cars.
  • Customers must remain in their vehicles at all times, except when buying concessions or using the restroom facilities.
Concessions and Payments
  • Concessions may allow dine-in services. But, you must follow restaurant guidance issued as part of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan.  
  • Concession stand lines must have markers to ensure social distancing.  
  • Remote payment should be used when possible. 
Restrooms
  • Lines must have markers to ensure distancing.
  • Facilities should be cleaned frequently to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Uses
  • Drive-in theaters are not restricted in what they show. They may show content in addition to movies, including pre-recorded concerts and graduation ceremonies.
  • Live performances must follow the rules for performers in the theaters and performance venues guidance located on the Reopening Website. These include rules around the distance between performers and between performers and audience members.