The Quebec provincial government has announced today that cinemas will reopen as of February 7th, amid a “peak” in Omicron cases, according to Premier François Legault, Health Minister Christian Dubé, and Interim Public Health Director Luc Boileau.
Boileau emphasized that “there wasn’t a lot of cases linked to cinemas and theatres”, to justify its reopening, a week after restaurants are slated to reopen at 50% capacity as of January 31st. After the province implemented a second curfew, while vowing in the past never to do it again, a growing number of small businesses wanted to defy the province’s COVID measures and fully reopen on January 30th.
The pressure was mounting for the Legault government to reopen venues, especially after the Ontario government announced, last week, the reopening of restaurants and cinemas, both at 50% capacity on the 31st. Food and drink will not be allowed, for now, in movie theatres, while masks and proof of COVID vaccination will be required to enter at all times.
In Quebec, cinemas will also reopen at 50% capacity, with a maximum of 250 guests inside large auditoriums, with proof of vaccination required to enter and masks will be mandatory at all times. It is still unclear whether or not food and drink will be permitted to be sold at cinemas, but more will be known in the coming week.
The Quebec government, and ministry of culture, were feeling the pressure from the arts industry, particularly with Cinémas Guzzo CEO Vincenzo Guzzo being outspoken on the government’s “arbitrary” and “unjustified” closure of cinemas, especially when no outbreaks have been linked to movie theatres since the beginning of the pandemic. Guzzo also refused to reopen cinemas last February, after the government prohibited the sale of food and drink in any venues, creating the hashtag “Popcorngate” to convince the government to allow sales of popcorn and other snacks in cinemas.
Regardless of what happens with the food and drink situation, Quebec cinemas will be ready to welcome moviegoers again just in time for Jackass Forever, and maybe a re-release of Spider-Man: No Way Home.