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Vancouver theatre company calls new health orders 'unfair'

Last Updated Nov 21, 2020 at 3:12 pm PST

(Courtesy artsclub.com)
Summary

The live theatre industry is angry with the province after being shut down as part of new sweeping pandemic guidelines

Theatre operators are feeling singled out after being deemed a gathering by provincial health authorities

VANCOUVER (NEW 1130) – The live theatre industry is angry with the province after being shut down as part of new sweeping pandemic guidelines in B.C.

Peter Cathie White, executive director of the Arts Club Theater, says his business hasn’t been the source of any exposures.

“It is a very strange category. For us, it’s an incorrect category. If movie theatres can operate where people are eating popcorn without masks freely, and we don’t offer such freedom, I do not see why live theatre cannot operate at the same time,” he said.

On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced all in-person religious services would be banned for two weeks. Gatherings under 50 people that were previously allowed are no longer permitted.

The only exceptions are funerals, weddings and baptisms with fewer than 10 people. However, restaurants, bars and movie theatres are still allowed to operate.

“Our businesses are operating safely,” said White. “The Arts Club has done 156 performances since this September – all of them done safely, all of them with physical distancing, all of them under the mandate of less than 50 people. And we’ve had no incidents.

“So I just don’t understand why we are in this category that we’re in.”

Aaron Craven of Mitch and Murray Productions also told NEWS 1130 he thinks it’s unfair for a small theatre company to be labelled as a gathering after obeying all COVID-19 procedures, with the help of the province and their unions.

“For us to be swept up in this order with restaurants, bars and cinemas and really much more uncontrolled environments to be left open, and for Dr. Bonnie Henry to say that ‘businesses abiding by COVID safety plans will remain open’ but yet cancel arts events in a blanket order is just insane,” said Craven.

He also said that the productions being restricted now aren’t large scale in any way, with usually one or two-person shows considered the new norm.

– With files from Lisa Steacy