Alberta entered Stage 2 of the “Open for Summer” reopening plan on Thursday.
Some of the eased restrictions allowed places like movie theatres, galleries and museums to reopen their doors to one-third of fire code occupancy.
In Lethbridge, The Movie Mill wasted no time.
“It’s so exciting,” owner and operator Leonard Binning said. “Lots of work had to be done. Lots of cleaning, scrubbing, retraining staff, but we’re excited. And I think people are excited too.”
A group from Raymond Junior High was one of the first to enjoy the movie experience again.
“Thrilled,” said Amelia Quinton. “As soon as they found out we were coming, they were so excited.”
It was a field trip the education assistants and support staff were eager to go on as well.
“My first thought was, ‘Can I come?'” laughed Jill Paxman. “Please pick me.”
Some public health restrictions are still in place: staggered showtimes to limit gathering in the entrance, two seats between each cohort, enhanced sanitization, and masks stay on unless eating or drinking.
The Movie Mill closed its doors on Dec. 12 — almost six months ago to the day.
“To be perfectly honest, it’s been depressing,” said Binning.
“It’s been difficult to stay motivated, it’s been difficult to motivate our staff, but now hopefully we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Hopefully we can get back to what we like to do: share movies with the public.”
But across the city, things look different for the Galt Museum.
“What we decided to do was be very pragmatic and, to be quite honest, cautious,” said CEO and executive director Darrin Martens.
Fort Whoop Up and the Galt Museum will stay closed for the month of June, despite being able to open under Stage 2.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we welcome our visitors back into our spaces for a short time, then we have to close down again.”
Outdoor tours will be offered in the meantime at both locations. It gives visitors a different perspective of what the museums have to offer, said Martens.
“Last year, we had zero community spread through our institution. So we’ve set the bar really, really high.”
The Galt Museum and Fort Whoop Up will reopen its indoor exhibitions on July 1, with a special surprise.
“I’m happy to share with your readers that we will offering complimentary admission to the Fort and the Galt,” said Martens. “Pre-registration will still be required.”
Stage 3 of Alberta’s ‘Open for Summer Plan’ will take effect two weeks after 70 per cent of eligible Albertans over 12 receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
By Thursday, the province was at 67.8 per cent.