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

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

While pharmacies across B.C. are using AstraZeneca for public immunizations for people 40 years of age and older, there is no availability currently in the Kootenays. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
No AstraZeneca vaccine availability in Kootenay pharmacies, says Interior Health

Vaccine has been opened up at pharmacies in other areas of the province to people 40 years of age and older

Michel-Natal-Sparwood Heritage Society runs a museum that was established to display the heritage of the "no-longer towns" of Michel and Natal, and the Elk Valley Area. Photo Submitted/Monica Beranek, Artifact Curator
Sparwood to support museum financially through to December 2022

The district will provide financial support for the museum to hire a full-time director

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

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

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Most Read