The opening of Phase 4 in Manitoba means movie fanatics were able to enjoy a flick on the big screen this past weekend for the first time in more than four months.
In the amended by province released on Thursday, both casinos and movie theatres were able to reopen at a 30 per cent capacity, which was down from the initial plan of 50 per cent.
Cineplex opened its SilverCity St. Vital and Scotiabank Theatre (Polo Park), and Landmark Cinemas welcomed back film-goers at Grant Park Mall.
“I’m excited. It’s been a long time since the movies have been open and it’s just another thing to do,” said a young boy attending Jurassic Park at Grant Park Mall.
But along with the excitement, comes hesitation for some moviegoers as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Manitoba.
Nicole Andino visited Grant Park over the weekend but due to concerns surrounding the pandemic, she won’t be taking her three kids to the movies anytime soon.
“Maybe in the next couple weeks, because they just opened. I’m just afraid that everyone’s going to be in there and they’re going to be bombarded,” said Andino.
Movie-goers will notice difference inside the theatre, from floor markings to uniformed safety officers, and frequent wipe-downs of public spaces.
“When you arrive at the concessions, there’s Plexiglas shields, the staff are all wearing masks and really just making sure by the way we schedule showtimes, you never end up with any congestion in the lobby and in the theater,” said Landmark Cinemas’ Chief Executive Officer Bill Walker.
Walker told Global News that he’d like to see the 30 per cent capacity limit on movie theaters increased.
“Thirty per cent in Grant Park is really not the same as 30 percent in Polo Park for example. We are lobbying to try to get that changed because ultimately with physical distancing as we’ve done in every other province, we can have up to 45 percent capacity and still maintain all of the physical distancing that you could ever want in the particular complex,” Walker explained.
Despite numerous protocol changes inside the theater, movie fanatic Scott Bouska said he planned to continue taking advantage of throwback favourite movies being played at theaters, as a result of numerous productions being halted amid the pandemic.
“We kind of did some research before we went and it seems like it’s going to be a pretty comfortable atmosphere so yeah not nervous at all, sad about the no refills,” he laughed.