A person wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past the independent Rio Theatre, displaying a COVID-19 related message on its marquee in Vancouver on Sunday, December 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A person wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past the independent Rio Theatre, displaying a COVID-19 related message on its marquee in Vancouver on Sunday, December 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canada’s movie theatre association calls out ‘absurdity’ of B.C. theatres closures

Vancouver’s Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday

A trade organization representing Canada’s movie theatres is calling on British Columbia health officials to explain why cinemas in the province can only open if they’re operating as restaurants or bars.

Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada, says COVID-19 guidelines that allow theatres to project sporting events on the big screen, but not movies, “highlights the kind of absurdity of what’s happening” in the province.

The frustration comes as B.C. leaders allow restaurants and bars to stay open, but forced movie theatres to close last November.

Vancouver’s Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday by pivoting its business to operate as a bar. The city’s Hollywood Theatre made a similar move in December.

READ MORE: With B.C. movie theatres closed, Rio indie cinema says it will reopen as a sports bar

Both rebrandings were applauded by the province’s health ministry in a statement that recognized “the arts and culture sector who have worked hard to find new ways to reinvent themselves during the pandemic.”

Bronfman says the movie theatre group takes issue with suggestions that movie theatres should be embracing “ingenuity in order to survive.”

“We’re not getting the answers as to why we can’t open,” she says.

“There’s a level of frustration and quite frankly desperation.”

David Friend, The Canadian Press

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