B.C. movie theatres forced to shut down again due to COVID-19 restrictions
VANCOUVER -- Movie theatres across the province are shutting down after clarification from B.C.’s top doctor on her current COVID-19 restrictions.
Last week Dr. Bonnie Henry extended her provincial health order, banning British Columbians from meeting up with anyone outside their immediate household.
Theatres continued operating through the weekend as operators were unaware their businesses fell under the order on gatherings.
“It was quite clear in my mind where the events issue was so we clarified it today that movie theatres fit into that and it’s the intent of the order that we reduce the opportunities for social interaction,” Henry said during her daily briefing on Monday.
Cineplex began shutting down its theatres not long after.
“I can confirm that we temporarily closed our network of theatres across the province last night, in accordance to government directives,” said Sarah Van Lange, executive director of communications for Cineplex in an emailed statement Tuesday morning.
Landmark Cinemas also confirmed its theatres closed as of Tuesday and both companies removed available movie tickets from their websites until the order is set to expire on Dec. 7.
“Any movie-lovers that have tickets to an upcoming showtime are encouraged to reach out to our guest services team for a full refund,” explained Van Lange.
B.C. theatres reopened in July with many restrictions in place.
Box offices have been shut down at many locations with ticket sales going online.
Reserved seating and staggered showtimes allowed for physical distancing.
The updated public health order specifically names a number of banned activities like performances, sporting events and exhibitions.
However, health officials want British Columbians to focus less on the semantics and more on the intent, to minimize social interactions where the virus spreads rapidly.
“The events order does not discriminate between indoor and outdoor events so everything is on pause," Henry said. "It doesn’t necessarily mean that things need to be cancelled. We are looking at if we are able to get into a place of control, then some of these lower risk events may happen again.”
The new rules have led to the temporary cancellation of beloved holiday activities like Van Dusen Garden’s Festival of Lights and Bright Nights at Stanley Park.