Toronto

Ontario movie theatres to allow 50 people per screening

Movie theatres in Ontario will now be able to seat 50 people per screening rather than in an entire building, as was outlined in the province's original guidelines for Stage 3 of its reopening plans.

Occupancy limits that were once capped at 50 per building now increased

Movie theatres in Ontario reopening Friday will now be able to seat 50 moviegoers in one screening, with no restrictions for how many screenings are happening in a building at once, according to newly-approved provincial guidelines for COVID-19. (Evan Mitsui)

Movie theatres in Ontario will now be able to seat 50 people per screening rather than in an entire building, as was outlined in the province's original guidelines for Stage 3 of its reopening plans.

"Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, movie theatres/cinemas may now apply the current indoor gathering limit of up to 50 people on a per theatre/auditorium basis, subject to all individuals being able to maintain 2 metres physical distancing," a spokesperson for the Minister of Health confirmed via email Thursday. 

However, the statement notes that access to the arcade and game rooms remains prohibited. 

On Thursday, Minister of Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod announced via Twitter that she had spoken with the CEO of Cineplex to inform him that movie theatres may now open in accordance with COVID-19 protocols approved by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Cineplex announced today that 25 of the province's theatres will be reopening across the province Friday as part of Stage 3 reopening plans.

The occupancy limit rise comes after the movie theatre chain raised concerns to the province, saying that operating under restrictions of 50 people to an entire building would not make financial sense.

Last week, Cineplex chief operating officer Dan McGrath told CBC News that the company had been in conversations with the province's health ministry to revise their guidelines in hopes that movie theatres could get some wiggle room.

"Unless we can get 50 people per auditorium, we'd be operating at a loss," he told CBC Toronto. 

According to the province, the following public health measures must be implemented by movie theatre/cinema operators:

  • Posting of signage to remind workers and patrons to avoid coming to work if unwell.
  • Ensuring physical distancing and management of flow of people from arrival at parking lot/entrance to exit from the theatre.
  • Ensuring and enhancing cleaning/disinfecting throughout the cinema.
  • Reinforcing safe food handling practices, and ensuring concession stands follow provisions in the regulation (i.e., no self-serve food options, no refill provisions).
  • Ensuring employee face covering or PPE requirements are consistent with provincial requirements (including requirements for food handling).

About the Author

Sara Jabakhanji

Reporter, CBC News

Sara Jabakhanji is a digital reporter with CBC News and graduate of Ryerson's School of Journalism. You can reach her at sara.jabakhanji@cbc.ca or find her on Twitter @sarajabakhanji

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