Rio Theatre petitions BC health officials to let cinemas re-open

Jan 13 2021, 2:49 am

Vancouver’s Rio Theatre has started an online petition asking the BC government to allow cinemas to reopen.

The petition questions why restaurants and bars are allowed to stay open with precautions but arts venues are not. They accuse government officials of not offering theatres the same consultations and dialogue that the restaurant industry has had.

“Very frustrating to learn that Dr. [Bonnie] Henry meets “regularly” with members of the restaurant industry to help them plan future ‘events’, but has not responded to our repeated request for consult. How do we get a meeting?” the theatre tweeted Tuesday.

The Rio believes theatres have been miscategorized as “events” and forbade under current public health orders. The petition argues theatres should be classed as businesses operating within the food and beverage industry.

“Films are very different from community gatherings or ceremonial events such as weddings, or other similarly organized gatherings at churches or temples – our patrons do not congregate or socialize in large groups,” the petition says.

It adds guests usually attend movies in safely distanced small pods — the same way people visit restaurants.

What’s more, movie theatres are usually bigger than many bars and restaurants, which the Rio argues makes them safer. It points to other large indoor spaces currently open such as malls, and questions why movie theatres are considered less safe than that.

The petition has more than 6,000 signatures so far.

“The Rio Theatre is very important to the community of East Vancouver, and closures like this put the venue at risk of closing permanently.”

Health officials have not yet responded publicly to the Rio’s petition.


Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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