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

Photo screen-shot from School District 51’s website
COVID-19 infection confirmed in Boundary School District

Those potentially exposed to the virus have been told to self-isolate, says acting Superintendent

Stock image.
Judge tells Grand Forks man accused of theft to guard his personal property

Edward ‘Joe’ Wright is accused of a break and entering at a flood-damaged property in North Ruckle

Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Greenwood man to stand trial for alleged stabbing

Grand Forks provincial court will set a trial date next month

Grand Forks Mounties look on as a tow truck prepares to haul an SUV involved in a Highway 3 crash near the intersection of Spraggett Road Friday, April 9. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
First responders attend Highway 3 crash in Grand Forks

No one appears to be hurt in the two-vehicle crash which highway stopped traffic in both directions

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
100+ international travellers who landed in B.C. refused to quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it issued $3,000 violation tickets to each

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

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. urges people to stay in their neighbourhoods, discourages out-of-household meet-ups

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there should be no travel, even to the next city over

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

Most Read