B.C. movie theatres frustrated by second shut down order
VANCOUVER -- Since the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver re-opened in June with strict new COVID-19 protocols in place, it’s found surprising success, frequently selling out its 50 physically distanced seats.
“We are just this little indie theatre," said owner Corinne Lea. "To survive a pandemic, we figured out a business model that works and how to be safe. And I just dont feel supported by this recent order."
Lea said she felt "really blindsided" by Monday's announcement that the government had decided to close movie theatres along with live performance venues.
The provincial health officer’s order to close theatres until at least Dec. 7 is just as upsetting for the large movie theatre chains.
“We are a bit frustrated,” said Landmark Cinemas CEO Bill Walker. “We think we have done all the right things, we think we have demonstrated that we’re a safe place people can congregate. You don’t speak, you sit socially distanced.”
Lea says it doesn’t make sense that movie theatres have to close while bars and shopping malls remain open.
“Bars all over have had multiple outbreaks, we all know it, and they’re still open. So why is that?” she said. “If they feel ... that more things need to shut down, then I say shut everything down. Because this little bit of shutting something down here, but leaving this open? It’s like leaving window open when you’re trying to keep cold air out. It’s just not working.”
Walker says if the two-week ban on social gatherings and events is extended, movie theatres will lobby for an exception.
“I think ultimately by closing venues like ours that have demonstrated how we can safety operate, the only thing we are left with is private residences where people will get together,” he said. “Even Bonnie Henry herself...talked about the act of movie going and as being a safe thing you can do in the midst of a pandemic with your family.”
It will be up to Henry to decide when theatres can open again.