VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Once again, B.C.’s Health Minister is asking theatre and other venue operators to be patient as daily COVID-19 numbers remain too high to open everything up again.
In response to complaints from theatre operators wondering why they are not allowed to start showing movies again — Adrian Dix responded, saying, “This is a critical time,” and defended the cautious approach.
“There will still need to be public health rules and there still needs to be public health guidance because this is a vicious pandemic. And COVID-19 does not care about our rules because it lives to transmit,” he says.
Dix added he’s especially concerned since 280 patients are currently hospitalized and 84 are in critical care.
“It’s a part of a process that really we engage to talk about what it would look like, so we’re going to continue to do that in the next months — just as we have in other areas of work and endeavour,” he says.
The CEO of Vancouver’s Rio Theatre — which is currently operating as a sports bar — has been critical of the government for making efforts to let some religious services resume by April.
CEO Corinne Lea tells NEWS 1130 she’s frustrated because efforts are being made to ease restrictions for religious gatherings.
“It’s pretty frustrating to see as soon as we became a sports bar, the health authority doubled our seating,” Lea says. “Theaters are only allowed 50 seats max, sports bars are allowed to have their capacity based on social distancing, so we were able to double our seating. So, don’t tell me this is about safety and science,” she says.
While she feels lucky the Rio could pivot to a sports bar to keep the doors open; she says the business is still taking a major hit.
“We’re probably only doing about 13 per cent of our normal revenue,” says Lea. “It’s pretty minimal. At this point, it just gives our staff and customers something to do, but it’s certainly not a long-term answer. We need to get back to doing what we love and what the public wants us to do.”
Dix insists most people support actions being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19.
During the height of the pandemic last year, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered movie theatres to close. Restrictions were then relaxed briefly in the summer but were closed again in November.
– With files from Jonathan Szekeres