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Coronavirus: Winnipeg theatres reopen, but moviegoing experience has changed

Some Winnipeg movie theatres are set to reopen Saturday. Alain Benainous/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Winnipeg movie fans will finally get to experience the big screen again as Manitoba enters the fourth phase of its reopening on the weekend, but going to the cinema will look a bit different than it did pre-pandemic.
Cineplex is opening up its SilverCity St. Vital and Scotiabank Theatre (Polo Park) on Saturday, and Landmark Cinemas says its theatre at Grant Park Mall will also be welcoming back film-goers Saturday.
Sara Moore, senior vice president of marketing at Cineplex, says there are plenty of precautions in place.

Read more: Drive-in theatres in Manitoba make a comeback during COVID-19 pandemic

“You’ve reserved your seats, you get to the door, and we’re actually going to greet you outside the theatre,” she said.

 

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“We also have masks available if you want one and didn’t bring one. We can hand one to you before you go into the theatre.”

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Moore says while theatres are limited to 30 per cent of capacity, Cineplex felt it was important to get theatres open so people could enjoy new movies once again.
“It’s really important that we get the theatres open. That’s the critical part,” she said.
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“We want to be able to make sure that we can get people in — that we can get them enjoying the theatre experience again. That’s what we’re focused on right now.”
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In a releaseLandmark Cinemas said it will be using a reserved seating system when they open their doors, and have increased the time between shows to help eliminate congestion in the lobby areas.
Both companies say cleaning practices have been enhanced in their theatres, and employees will be wearing personal protective equipment.
Movie theatres are among the facilities being permitted to open in the province’s Stage 4 — which initially included even further loosened restrictions on things like interprovincial travel, but after a negative response from Manitobans, the province scaled it back.
“While Manitoba’s response to COVID-19 has been led by scientific evidence and the advice of our public health professionals, we need to keep listening to what Manitobans are ready to accept and support at each phase of our recovery efforts,” said Health Minister Cameron Friesen on Wednesday.“I want to thank Manitobans for their valuable input and commitment to keep the virus at bay as we continue to take a balanced and measured approach at restarting our economy.”
Landmark says its theatres in Brandon and Winkler will open starting July 31, and Cinemax says it expects to open its three other Manitoba theatres in the coming weeks.
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