TORONTO — Ontario movie theatres will be back in business on Friday as the province moves into Step 3 five days earlier than planned, but the reopening doesn’t mean crowds will be packed in for summer blockbuster season.
Instead, cinemas will be permitted to operate at a maximum of 50 per cent capacity, to a limit of 1,000 people within the entire building, a decision one industry advocate calls “arbitrary and unreasonable.”
The Movie Theatre Association of Canada (MTAC) issued a statement saying Ontario’s capacity restrictions for theatres “have no basis in any scientific analysis” and “unfairly stigmatize cinemas,” which they say haven’t seen a documented COVID-19 case traced back.
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The organization has pushed for cinemas to reopen for months, highlighting a lack of consultation from the province or consistency across the country.
The MTAC says Alberta and Saskatchewan currently have no capacity limits on their theatres while Quebec allows 250 people in an auditorium. British Columbia’s rules fall in line with Ontario’s 50 per cent limit.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical health officer, explained on Friday that while the reopening plans move forward, he remains concerned about the presence of the Delta and Lambda variants. The Delta strain is currently dominant in the province.
Movie theatre reopenings will give Ontario audiences their first chance to see Marvel’s “Black Widow” on the big screen and the latest “Fast & Furious” entry “F9” outside of drive-in theatres.
The province’s multiplexes have been closed longer than any other jurisdiction in North America with locations in the Greater Toronto Area shuttered for nine months.