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Iconic Vancouver movie theatre launches petition, calling for re-opening

Last Updated Dec 9, 2020 at 9:35 pm PST

Rio Theatre sign (CityNews)

The owner of Vancouver's Rio Theatre wants to know why it can't stay open

Owner, Corinne Lea, says she's hoping a recently launched petition will get the province to reconsider its stance

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The owner of Vancouver’s Rio Theater has launched a petition, asking for an exception from B.C.’s extended health order that has seen the theatre’s doors closed.

Corinne Lea is the owner and operator of the Rio, and says quite simply, movie theatres shouldn’t be in the “event” category in the health order. Instead, she says they should be treated like a bar or restaurant.

“Lump us in with the food and beverage industry, which is what we are,” says Lea. “That’s what my license says on my wall, I have a liquor primary license and a limited food-serving license. I feel adamant that I should not be treated any differently than bars and restaurants.”


Lea says food and beverage establishments have been allowed to stay open, but its theatres that are actually much safer.

“How many bars or restaurants have 40-foot high ceilings?” asks Lea. “We’re built with amazing ventilation, everyone is seated looking forward, sitting in the dark, they’re not there to talk and socialize, and even when people are arriving, we’re controlling the line-ups out front, as well as inside… When people go to a bar, they go to socialize, that’s the whole purpose.”

She says the rules just aren’t consistent.

“My business is suffering while others are still allowed to be open, and some of these businesses are much riskier.”

Lea’s now launched a petition, asking for the province to re-consider movie theatre closures.

“I mean, we would love to get a private consultation with the health minister and Dr. Bonnie Henry, but that’s been very difficult to get, so we’re just doing it in the best way we can to get the message across to them that, we’ve been put in the wrong category, and please take us out.”

The petition is nearing 1,000 signatures as of Wednesday evening.