Health department looks into bugs at local movie theater

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — More complaints of bug bites are stemming from a Norfolk movie theater, but management said an exterminator did not find bedbugs.

Lamonte White believes he was bitten by bedbugs while at Cinemark Theatres at Military Circle Mall. Since’s initial story aired, more people have come forward saying they, too, were bitten.

Sabrina Bowman said she saw a movie in theater nine at Cinemark on Tuesday of last week. She was itchy during the movie. When she got home, she found bites on her arms, neck, and back.

“It is frustrating,” Bowman said. “Because I’m very concerned about my health and what bit me.”

Bowman said she’s spoken to Cinemark regional managers on the phone multiple times since the incident. Another woman sent pictures saying her young son was bitten on the arm after seeing a movie at the theater on Friday.

Norfolk’s Public Health Department visited the theater on Monday after receiving one complaint. White said he called the health department on Thursday of last week. Harry Bennett, interim Environmental Health Manager, told an inspector spoke to theater managers. Managers said they called an exterminator out to the building. According to management, Ecolab did not find bugs in any of the theaters. Exterminators also brought in a dogs that sniffs out bugs.

Cinemark went ahead and treated theater number five, where White had received the bites.

Cinemark’s corporate office confirmed everything the health department said. Spokesman James Meredith added, the exterminators will return to the theater at the end of the week to check on the situation.

Bennett told there are no regulations dealing with bedbugs in Norfolk. The health department visited Cinemark as a courtesy because they received a complaint and because they regulate the concession area of the theater. Bennett said bedbugs or other pests are a private matter for the theater. He said, the health department has more control over hotel rooms and bedbugs, for example. The health department is required to inspect hotel rooms, while it does not regulate movie theaters.

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