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B.C. movie, music theatres implement ‘social distancing’ amid coronavirus pandemic

Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre is one of several that have cancelled performances to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Simon Little

British Columbia’s movie and music theatres are implementing social distancing policies to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Landmark Cinemas says it will only sell half as many tickets as there are seats in every screening room so that moviegoers will be spread out from one another.

“Our reserved seating system has blocked every other loveseat recliner or conventional chair to dramatically increase personal space.”

The company has also boosted cleaning and will require customers to get a new bag or cup for popcorn and drink refills.

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Cineplex says it is also increasing its cleaning schedule in high-traffic and contact areas, and ensuring staff aren’t financially penalized if they stay home from work due to illness.

READ MORE: What’s cancelled amid the novel coronavirus pandemic? Here’s a full list

Vancouver’s independent Rio Theatre is also encouraging moviegoers to sit further apart from one another.

“We seat over 420 people, so it’s very easy for guests to practise ‘social distancing’ and leave empty seats between you,” said the company.

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The Rio says it is also sanitizing all high-touch surfaces, such as POS terminals and asking staff not to touch customers’ phones when they present e-tickets.

Social distancing concerns have also prompted a wave of event cancellations at music theatres.

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The Vogue Theatre in Vancouver said Friday it was “temporarily pausing operations until further notice.”

The Vancouver Park Board also announced the cancellation of all events drawing more than 250 people at Vancouver Civic Theatres, including the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse and Orpheum Theatre.

“Social distancing and event cancellation is one way we can take a proactive approach,” said city manager Sadhu Johnston.

“Pandemic and business continuity plans have been reviewed and all City departments are making every effort to ensure essential services are maintained to the highest possible level.”

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On Friday, the Vancouver Opera also announced that it had cancelled the remainder of performances scheduled in the 2019/2020 season.

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Ticket holders are being offered gift certificates that can be used for a future event.

READ MORE: B.C. to unveil stimulus package to deal with economic effects of coronavirus, premier says

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has also cancelled all performances until April 15.

The orchestra says it will honour all tickets at a future date, but says the suspension of performances poses a serious financial risk to the non-profit organization, and is asking people to consider donating the tickets back to the VSO for a tax receipt.

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