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Coronavirus: Alberta movie theatres, entertainment attractions not ready for June 12 reopening

Alberta movie theatres, entertainment venues not ready for Phase 2 reopening on June 12
The countdown to Phase 2 of the province's relaunch strategy is on. Movie theatres, libraries, casinos and attractions like West Edmonton Mall can all reopen but as Chris Chacon explain, just because they can - doesn't mean they will.

Although Alberta may be moving forward with Stage 2 of its relaunch strategy a week ahead of schedule, Landmark Cinemas is warning moviegoers that theatres may not open for another few weeks.

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney announced Stage 2 — which allows the reopening of public libraries, most personal services and movie theatres — will begin June 12 instead of June 19.

However, the expedited timeline doesn’t mean that all eligible businesses are ready to welcome back customers on Friday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Gyms, pools, indoor fitness can open June 12 for Stage 2 of Alberta relaunch

CEO of Landmark Cinemas, Bill Walker, said the company is projecting a cautious approach and said he doesn’t expect to see any Landmark theatres reopening in Calgary and Edmonton until June 26.

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“We’re not going to open this weekend,” Walker said in an interview with 770 CHQR.

“[Phase 2] came a little bit quicker than we expected. We were on a call last week having a conversation about the reopening guidelines, and they expressed that it might advance, but this is certainly faster than we were thinking it was going to open up.”
Stage 2 of Alberta relaunch will happen in June 12
Stage 2 of Alberta relaunch will happen in June 12

Walker said Landmark still has several steps to take in order to reopen safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including the re-hiring and re-training of staff members.

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“We obviously had to lay off all of our staff, and we weren’t committed to a recall until we had some certainty around timing,” Walker said.

“Given the size of the business and the size of the staff, we have to take some time to recall [staff] and, of course, there’s safety training that has to happen.”

As for the changes people will see at their next movie experience, Walker said there will be more distancing and enhanced cleaning procedures.

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“When we reopen those auditoriums, it will still be reserved seating but we’re only going to be reserving half of the seats,” he said. “There will be no one in front of you, there will be no one behind you and there will be no one to your left or right.

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“The buildings are built for high capacity, so we’ll have our standard queue lines with distancing markers and we’ll have plexiglass shields for staff and food-service areas.”

Walker noted that facilities will also see new hand sanitizer stations and more bottled drinks will be available instead of high-touch drink machines.

READ MORE: Cineplex to close all theatres across Canada in response to coronavirus spread

Cineplex theatres will also take their time reopening despite the province’s decision to proceed with Phase 2 at an earlier date.

In a statement to Global News, Cineplex’s executive director of communications Sarah Van Lange said the company doesn’t have a definitive re-opening date just yet.

“The news is certainly welcome by the team here at Cineplex,” she said.

“We are still reviewing what’s been announced in Alberta and determining what it will mean for our cinemas so I can’t confirm anything just yet.”

Entertainment attractions

The public will also have to wait a little longer to experience the attractions at West Edmonton Mall.

In a statement to Global News on Wednesday, the mall noted its entertainment attractions will not be reopening until Stage 3 of the province’s relaunch plan.

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“West Edmonton Mall has been in constant contact with AHS regarding the reopening of all aspects of our property, including the waterpark and Galaxy Land,” the statement said.

“AHS has advised that neither attraction will be permitted to open to the public until Phase 3 is implemented by the Alberta government.”

However, the River Tree Casino is one organization that’s ready to open its doors on Friday, but officials noted that all table games will remain closed until further instruction from the provincial government.

Officials also said that with no cap on the number of people allowed inside the building, extra safety measures have been put into place, including additional cleaning and sanitization of the facility.