COVID-19: Dunbar Theatre in Vancouver to stay open as long as it can during pandemic

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      Movie theatres have been closing their doors because of COVID-19.

      In Vancouver, one independent movie house is determined to stay open as long as it can.

      Dunbar Theatre, which is located at 4555 Dunbar Street, will continue screening, according to owner Ken Charko.

      Charko explained that he is doing this because of his employees.

      “What I'm trying to do is I'm trying to stay open long enough to give my staff a cheque,” Charko told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      Charko said that he wants to ensure that his employees can buy food, pay the rent, and take care of their families.

      Because of the pandemic brought about by the novel coronavirus that was first detected in China in late 2019, public gatherings are now limited to 50 people in B.C.

      Charko said that Dunbar Theatre is letting in only between 30 to 40 people per screening.

      Charko said that this will ensure compliance to the two-metre social distancing requirement during the pandemic.

      Charko said that Dunbar Theatre is big enough to accomplish this.

      “If someone sits in a seat, they're identified and then after they're done, we clean them,” Charko said.

      Charko said that the theatre may later move to having one seat occupied by only one patron per day.

      “The next day, someone can use it,” Charko said about this prospective measure.

      Charko also said that starting Friday (March 20), Dunbar Theatre will be handing out free pop and popcorn.

      According to Heritage Vancouver, Dunbar Theater is “valued as one of the last remaining neighbourhood theatres in Vancouver”.

      It was completed in 1935, and is “also valued for its association with film producer J. Howard Boothe, a pioneer of British Columbia’s film industry”.

      Heritage Vancouver notes that Boothe moved to Vancouver in 1918 after managing several theatres in Winnipeg.

      “Known to be acquainted with the Hollywood stars of the time, including Charlie Chaplin, Boothe ran the Dunbar Theatre with his son Frank through the 1940s, when it was purchased by Odeon as their first local theatre in Western Canada,” Heritage Vancouver recalls.