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Hong Kong to reopen theatres as coronavirus restrictions eased

Ticket sales plunged to their lowest levels in at least 20 years at North American movie theatres during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Ticket sales plunged to their lowest levels in at least 20 years at North American movie theatres during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Alain Benainous/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Movie theatres across Hong Kong have been granted permission to reopen later this week after the local government announced its plans to ease restrictions on physical-distancing measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the news on Tuesday afternoon after meeting with Hong Kong’s Executive Council, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

She said that starting this Friday, cinemas in Hong Kong will be allowed to open their doors for business so long as they co-operate with certain safety precautions to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The safety measures in place include a face mask requirement, frequent wellness and temperature checks and temporarily adjusted seating arrangements, where customers not travelling together will remain distanced from one another.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. THE CANADIAN PRESS/NIAID-RML via AP
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. THE CANADIAN PRESS/NIAID-RML via AP.

Gyms, arcades and mah-jong parlours have also been given permission to reopen, too.

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In wake of the news, Hong Kong-based movie theatre franchise Broadway Cinemas revealed a list of May 8 movie screenings, including the controversial and highly successful Trolls World Tour.

Theatres will play a variety of North American and Asian films, including Better Days, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot and Tora-san, Wish You Were Here.

Adding to the good news, the Hong Kong government announced that for the 10th time within the last 17 days, there have been no new confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Variety.

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, has a total of 1,040 cases of the life-threatening illness and only four deaths caused by it.

‘Trolls World Tour,’ from left: Poppy (voice: Anna Kendrick), Queen Barb (voice: Rachel Bloom). 2020.
‘Trolls World Tour,’ from left: Poppy (voice: Anna Kendrick), Queen Barb (voice: Rachel Bloom). 2020. CP Images Archive

Despite the reopenings in Hong Kong, all cinemas in mainland China remain closed.

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After the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan last December, China became the first country to start closing down its movie theatres as a safety precaution. Shortly after, other Asian and European countries began to follow suit.

At first, COVID-19 resulted only in the delay of multiple Hollywood blockbusters in North America — including James Bond: No Time to Diehowever, in March, franchise cinemas across the continent began shutting down.

On March 16, Cineplex, Canada’s biggest movie theatre franchise, became one of the first in the country to announce that it would be closing its doors temporarily in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Cineplex Odeon Theatre at Dundas Square in Toronto is shown on Monday, December 16, 2019. Cineplex Inc. says it has temporarily laid off its part-time workers after closing its movie theatres and other entertainment venues early last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
Cineplex Odeon Theatre at Dundas Square in Toronto is shown on Monday, December 16, 2019. Cineplex Inc. says it has temporarily laid off its part-time workers after closing its movie theatres and other entertainment venues early last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim.

With mass closures across the globe becoming the norm, box office numbers began plummeting drastically, causing concern in the film industry.

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It’s unclear when cinemas in Canada or the rest of the world will open.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

Coronavirus: Drive-in operators set sights on summer to open outdoor theatres
Coronavirus: Drive-in operators set sights on summer to open outdoor theatres

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca