SOUTHINGTON — Movie lovers who have been housebound and locked out of theaters because of the coronavirus pandemic were disappointed this week by an announcement from operators of the popular Southington Drive-In that it will not show movies until August at the earliest.

The drive-in movie theaters that recently were allowed to open have seen huge turnouts nationwide and in rural Barkhamsted. Those venues are more suited to social distancing than indoor theaters, which remain closed in Connecticut and many other states.

The Southington theater is the only remaining drive-in that’s anywhere close to residents of the New Haven, Naugatuck Valley and Shoreline areas. The other two left in the state are the Mansfield Drive-In, which opened this week, and the Pleasant Valley Drive-In of Barkhamsted, which has seen sell-out business since it opened May 8.

But Dawn Miceli, one of the four volunteers who oversee the Southington Drive-In, noted it’s a nonprofit venture on town land. It relies on volunteers from local civic organizations to staff the operation. The groups then receive part of the proceeds.

She said the four-person volunteer committee received the sad news from Southington Town Manager Mark Sciota and Shane Lockwood, health director of the Plainville-Southington Regional Health District.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Lockwood said: “With there being executive orders by the governor restricting mass gatherings and because we continue to see an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths throughout the state, it is prudent to keep the drive-in closed for June and July, with the hope that the current waves of cases is minimal to non-existent in late July, allowing for an August opening.”

Lockwood added, “The drive-in is a place where our residents gather for hours before a showing. It is a festive atmosphere with kids running around, groups sharing meals and people catching up with friends. With cases still happening in the community, we did not want to risk being the source of additional illness.’

Miceli said, “We had proposed to them things we could do, such as bathroom protocols, getting port-o-potties, hiring a bathroom attendant and making sure people kept their social distance while parking their cars far enough away from each other.”

“Another issue is we don’t take credit cards; we only take cash,” she said. “We’re just a small town drive-in. The volunteer grabs your cash at the ticket booth.” (Some commercial drive-ins have adopted policies of accepting credit cards only as another measure of social distancing.)

“I know it’s disappointing,” she added. “We’re disappointed, too. But we understand the decision. When we emailed the civic groups about this, they all understood, too. I think they were worried about getting enough volunteers there to deal with people.”

Miceli said sometimes those volunteers have to go “toe to toe” with patrons who violate the rules.

“It’s easy for people to say, ‘My God, why couldn’t they open the theater?’” Miceli noted. “But there are a lot of moving parts. People don’t arrive at 9 p.m. when the movie starts. They arrive at 6 or 6:30 to have a whole social experience under the stars. Everybody’s milling around at the pavilion and tailgating outside of their cars.”

The drive-in features family movie classics such as Walt Disney fare; movies are shown only on Saturdays. The volunteer operation began in 2010, eight years after the original for-profit drive-in theater closed on that site.

“We’ll revisit this issue in July,” Miceli said. “I’m hopeful we can be open in August and September. Normally we close Labor Day weekend. But if we could do it for all of August and September maybe we can make up the money the civic groups have lost. I’m very hopeful we can salvage some of the season.”

Michael Fasulo, another member of the drive-in’s committee, said if the theater reopens later this summer, only 50 percent of the usual motor vehicles would be allowed. “Normally we can fit about 425 cars. So if we opened (this year) and had a busy night, we’d have to turn people away.”

Kathy Brzezinski of Milford, who has enjoyed going to the Southington Drive-In for years, said “It brings back a lot of nice memories from when I was a child and a teenager.” She recalls enjoying the Milford Drive-In, the Bowl Drive-In in West Haven and the Center Drive-In in Ansonia, all of which closed long ago.

Connecticut Media Group