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B.C. movie theatres get ready to reopen Tuesday

Those yearning for popcorn and the luxury of watching the latest blockbuster on the big screen, take heart.

Movie theatres across B.C. are gearing up to reopen Tuesday, June 15 when Step 2 of the B.C. restart plan is set to come into effect.

Theatres were closed last November due to COVID-19 public health orders.

The loosening of restrictions means indoor organized gatherings of 50 people will be allowed with a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

The criteria for moving to Step 2, as set out by the government, include at least 65 per cent of the population above the age of 18 being vaccinated with at least one dose, and declining case counts and hospitalizations — both of which B.C. has met.

Corrine Lea, owner of the independent Rio Theatre in East Vancouver, said patrons are thrilled and tickets for the June 15 reopening are going fast — although she plans to welcome a lot more than 50 people.

Lea technically turned her business into a sports bar after theatres were shuttered, meaning health authorities approved the theatre for 125 patrons based on its physical dimensions. 

Patrons of the Rio Sports Bar watch hockey on the big screen. (submitted by Rio Theatre)

Lea said pandemic rules for theatres have lacked logic, because the only thing that changed when the Rio became considered a sports bar was what was on the screen. 

Since January, the Rio has been showing hockey, UFC, and even Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

“As soon as we became a sports bar, they increased our capacity because there’s different rules for sports bars,” she said. “Sports bars are allowed to have seating based on social distancing whereas theatres were given an arbitrary number of 50.

“I’d like [the health authority] to explain to me why a sports bar is allowed to have more seats than a movie theatre.”

On June 15, the Rio is showing Cinema Paradiso followed by The Big Lebowski.

On Twitter, the Cineplex Odeon chain said its theatre reopenings will feature Lin Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights, Peter Rabbit 2 and The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard starring Ryan Reynolds.

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