The concessions stand at a Cineplex movie theatre in Toronto remains closed on July 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The concessions stand at a Cineplex movie theatre in Toronto remains closed on July 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Cineplex CEO calls COVID-19 cinema closures in Alberta ‘devastating’ for employees

Ellis Jacob argues that cinemas are a safer form of gathering than other indoor venues

The president and CEO of Canadian movie theatre giant Cineplex says the company is “extremely frustrated and disappointed” Alberta is keeping cinemas closed amid the current COVID-19 protocols.

Ellis Jacob has released a statement saying it’s “devastating news to the more than 1,000 Albertans” who work at the company’s 19 theatres in the province, all of whom are presently out of work.

Jacob argues that cinemas are a safer form of gathering than other indoor venues, such as restaurants and big box retailers.

He adds the Alberta government is keeping movie theatres closed “for reasons they either can’t justify or just won’t disclose.”

This week Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro paused the province’s plan to move to the next stage of reopening and lift health restrictions tied to COVID-19, citing rising case numbers.

The move means movie theatres, museums and other entertainment venues will remain closed under Step 2 of the province’s health measures.

But some other businesses, including restaurants, pubs and bars, can open for in-person service, with restrictions.

“The facts are very straight forward. There have been zero known cases of COVID-19 transmission in any movie theatre anywhere in the world,” Jacob said in the statement.

He cited a host of health and safety protocols in place at cinemas, including reserved seating with physical distancing and controlled guest counts. Patrons also sit facing forward in a cinema instead of at each other, like they would in a restaurant, and are encouraged to remain silent while wearing masks in large auditoriums with high ceilings.

“Cineplex has a proven track record of operating our theatres safely for our employees and guests, and we, and all Canadians, just want to get back to that,” Jacob said.

Cineplex is among many arts companies across Canada who are upset their venues have to remain closed in various regions while restaurants and other businesses are allowed to operate.

When cinemas in Canada were running during the first and second waves, there were zero reported instances of transmission or outbreaks associated with the screenings, according to the Motion Theatre Association of Canada, which represents the exhibitors behind more than 3,000 movie screens nationwide.

In Vancouver, the Rio Theatre got around the rules by rebranding as a sports bar nearly two months ago, which has allowed the venue to be open with 125 people socially distanced indoors.

British Columbia officials plan to meet this week with arts organizations who feel the restrictions on their sector they feel are unfair, hypocritical and lack scientific evidence.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

AlbertaCoronavirusMovies

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Opportunity for input on campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Rainforest Arts in downtown Chemainus is closing temporarily. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Rising COVID cases cited in temporary Rainforest Arts closure

Contact can still be made through email and social media

The Red Zed 1 aroused a great deal of curiosity when it was stationed off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Alaskan fast ferries the eventual load for heavy hauler

The Red Zed 1 stayed anchored in Chemainus for the better part of a month and a half

A police car at the scene of a child’s death Friday, April 9, at the Falcon Nest Motel in Duncan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
RCMP investigating child’s death at Duncan’s Falcon Nest Motel

First responders attended to a call about an unresponsive child at the… Continue reading

North Cowichan is looking for public input through a survey as it updates its Master Transportation Plan. (File photo)
North Cowichan looking for public input on transportation

Online survey to be held until April 22

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Most Read