COVID-19: Vancouver cinemas temporarily close, with some offering online streaming options

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      While cinemas in B.C. had reopened after the first lockdown earlier this year, the latest provincial health orders mean that they will be facing another reduction in revenue.

      As part of B.C.’s attempt to reduce the steep climb of COVID-19 cases in the province, all social gatherings have been ordered to close, which includes the screen exhibition industry.

      After confusion about provincial health orders announced on November 19, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry clarified on November 23 that her orders do include cinemas and movie theatres, and that they must close.

      She also stated that the orders, which will continue until December 7, apply to all indoor and outdoor gatherings, even those that had been previously approved.

      Accordingly, cinemas that had remained open over the weekend have had to issue notices that they are now temporarily closed.

      The Vancouver International Film Centre has cancelled screenings at Vancity Theatre until December 7. However, the centre still offers numerous film titles that can be streamed on VIFF Connect.

      Located nearby, the Cinematheque has also done the same, and has suspended ticket sales for their theatre until December 7.

      However, the Cinematheque also offers an array of films that can be streamed online, including selections from the ongoing European Union Film Festival and classic titles from international auteurs such as Federico Fellini, Wong Kar-Wai, Yasujiro Ozu, and more.

      East Vancouver’s Rio Theatre has temporarily gone dark but plans to reschedule screenings and events when they are permitted to do so.

      The Dunbar Theatre, which continued to sell snacks during the initial lockdown, is continuing to sell snack items like fresh popcorn (as well as doughnuts on Fridays and Saturdays). 

      The Dunbar Theatre has also provided a link to an online form letter that concerned citizens can send to politicians to ask them to help save independent cinemas that are struggling to survive during the pandemic.

      Meanwhile, Cineplex, which offers online movies to watch at home, previously confirmed COVID-19 cases at the following locations in the Lower Mainland:

      • an employee who last worked at Fifth Avenue Cinemas in Vancouver on October 30;

      • an employee who last worked at Cineplex Cinemas Strawberry Hill in Surrey on November 4;

      • an employee who was last at Cineplex Cinemas Langley on November 11;

      After each confirmation, Cineplex closed each location for disinfection, worked with local health authorities for public health investigations, and instructed any exposed staff members to self-isolate at home.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.