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Landmark Cinemas plans B.C. reopening as top doctor stays firm on capacity limits

Last Updated Jun 16, 2020 at 7:33 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Landmark Cinemas is testing its reopening process in Alberta, plans to open theatres in Lower Mainland in July

CEO says theatres are ideal for physically distancing

Provincial Health Officer says opening the theatre industry depends on sticking to capacity of 50 people

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Going to the movies is still a distant memory for some, but one theatre chain will be reopening in B.C. soon.

Bill Walker, the CEO of Landmark Cinemas, says some theatres in Alberta will be open by the end of this month to test procedures. Afterwards, its Lower Mainland locations in Surrey and New Westminster are scheduled to open by July 3 if all goes well.

“Theatres are a place, I think, you can successfully distance. We have alternative exit paths, we have really big venues built for higher occupancies,” he says. “I think we’re going to be able to provide something that makes a lot of customers comfortable.”

Walker adds all locations will be following the province’s guidelines on how theatres can operate safely. Theatres will also be maintaining reserved seating, and operating at about 45 per cent capacity to allow for physical distancing.

“So the customers will know where they’re seated,” he says, adding with the seat map, theatres will be able to ensure enough spacing between guests.

Some other theatres have already started to reopen, like Hollywood 3 Cinemas, and the Rio Theatre will be welcoming moviegoers again soon.

‘Ongoing work’ to open safely

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says her approval of the theatre industry opening up still depends on occupancy numbers being capped at 50 people or less.

“It’s at the capacity of how we can effectively and efficiently contact trace when we have people in those environments. I will say that there is guidance coming that is being worked on with the industry and WorkSafe BC and BCCDC (B.C. Centre for Disease Control),” she says.

“Because when we have people inside in a small space, that’s a riskier environment. There’s ongoing work with theatres about how to open safely and the measures they need to have in place. Venues where you can have people going in and not mingling in one large crowd.”

She hasn’t set a firm date when for when B.C. will enter Phase 3 of its recovery process, but Henry has confirmed more changes will be announced next week.