Quebecers have not been able to attend a movie outside the comfort of their own home since cinemas closed due to the coronavirus pandemic in March, but that changed Friday as Ciné Starz cinemas officially opened their doors.
Some moviegoers could not wait to get a head start on their favorite film.
“We miss going to the movies a lot. We haven’t done that in a while so, it’s fun” said Maria Lepage.
When cinemas were forced to close, a group of high school students who spoke with Global News said they could only watch their movies from their home. Now they’re glad the silver screen is back in action.
“Every month we go to the movies,” said Lepage
“Well not like every month but like often,” Lepage’s best friend Garah Galafipov added.
It’s reasons like this that made owner Bruce Gurberg Ciné Starz speed up opening plans for both locations in Montreal.
“My expectations are very low. I just want to see people to start to come in, feel comfortable and get back into the groove,” Gurberg told Global News.
Ciné Starz, like many other businesses, saw its revenues dwindle to zero during the lockdown.
While most movie houses are taking more time to reopen, Gurberg said staff and management here wanted to get a head start.
“I wanted my staff to get used to the social distancing before everything opens up and just give people an opportunity to come to the cinema,” Gurberg said.
Quebec public health officials recommend that people wear masks when in stores or other businesses, that everyone maintains a two-metre distance, and that maximum capacity must be cut to at least 50 per cent.
Gurberg said every second seat in his theatres is blocked off and moviegoers must choose a seat that is at least two seats away from other guests not in their group.
“Some of our rooms can fit up to 50 people but we have capped our limit to 50 people no matter the size of the theatre,” Gurberg said.
READ MORE: New drive-in movie theatre coming to Vaudreuil, Saint-Eustache Ciné-Parc scrambles to get ready
New preventative measures are also in place, including plexiglass installed at all cashiers, mandatory hand sanitizer use upon arrival, and physical distancing stickers on the floor to remind people to maintain two metres apart from others.
“I feel pretty safe. I’m glad we are taking the necessary measures to keep safe for the employees and the customers as well,” Ciné Starz Manager Tommy Lemaire said.
“It’s been a while — I had a nice two-month break but I like working here so I’m excited to be back.”
Ciné Starz is the first cinema to open in Quebec. The operators just hope box office sales will start rolling in as the big blockbuster films, many of which pushed back their release dates after the pandemic was declared, start playing out.View link »