After considering easing up on a number ofrestrictions, the Manitoba government decided on Tuesday it would only make modest changes to public health orders, frustrating those left out.
Bill Walker, CEO of Landmark Cinemas Canada, had high hopes for his Manitoba-based movie theatres after the province last week floated the idea of allowing big indoor venues, such as concert halls, theatres and casinos, to reopen with capacity limits.
However, the new public health orders, which come into effect on Friday, do not include any changes to those venues.
“We understand governments being cautious,” Walker said. “What makes this frustrating is that we feel our industry is miscategorized.”
Unlike most businesses, Walker said movie theatres have the unique ability to have all guests sitting quietly, far apart from one another for almost their entire visit.
He said theatres also have the advantage of controlling how many people enter and exit the spacious buildings at a time.
“We say, ‘Hey, the most popular movie is at 7:10, so what we’re going to do is we’re not going to put any movies in before 7:10 and we’re going to leave a bunch of time after 7:10,’” Walker explained.
The Manitoba government also decided to not loosen restrictions on indoor dining in restaurants, although it was being contemplated.
Currently, the province only allows guests to eat inside a restaurant with members of their household.
Kevin Monk, co-owner of The Toad in the Hole, said lifting that rule would’ve made a big difference in his bottom line.
“In Osborne Village, where we’re located, most people live alone, so literally 90 per cent of the tables that come in are singles,” Monk said. “Most of our tables are built for four or more.”
The province decided to make only minor changes to the public health orders because of concerns over rising variant case numbers and the need to keep stability in the province’s health-care system.
The changes to current orders include:
- increasing gathering limits at outdoor public places to 25 from 10 people;
- increasing gathering limits at weddings and funerals to 25 from 10 people;
- maintaining the capacity limits for retail stores at 50 per cent, but expanding the in-store limits to a 500-person capacity, whichever is lower, with other public health measures still in effect; and
- relaxing rules for drive-in events to allow people to leave their vehicles while still observing public health measures.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said additional changes to the orders may be considered after spring break, Passover, and Easter.
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