Ontario cinemas to open at 50% capacity next week

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The Ontario government will partially lift its restrictions on Ontario's movie theatres on July 16 as part of its reopening strategy.

Cinemas in Ontario will open their doors next Friday (July 16) – five days earlier than expected – after months of extended closures.

The Ontario provincial government announced today (July 9) that it will accelerate its reopening strategy and move into step three of their “Roadmap to Reopen” just over two weeks after entering step two.

The new restrictions allow for indoor venues such as cinemas and theatres to open at 50% capacity or a maximum limit of 1,000 people, depending on capacity levels.

The reopening strategy  – which began in early June – included parameters that in order to move into step three, the province would require between 70 to 80% of adults to receive their first vaccine dose and 25% to be fully vaccinated. According to the government, 77% of the population above the age of 12 has received a first dose and more than 50% have been fully vaccinated. In total, more than 16.6 million doses have been administered.

Last month, the federal government allocated $25 million in funding to exhibitors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through the $300 million Recovery Fund. Telefilm Canad is administering $16 million to “stabilize the Canadian cinema ecosystem and promote Canadian Cinema” through its Theatrical Exhibition Program. The remaining $9 million will go toward a promotional campaign to increase access of Canadian films in cinemas.

British Columbia re-opened theatres on June 15, Alberta on June 10, and Saskatchewan on May 30, while theatres in Quebec have open since Feb. 26. The pandemic-induced lockdown has left a serious toll on the industry, with box office revenue for in-month releases in Canada and the U.S. dropping 99.8% between May 2020 and May 2019, according to U.S. based film tracker Box Office Mojo.

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