Rio Theatre reopening as sports bar to dodge COVID-19 restrictions

Jan 20 2021, 3:17 am

Vancouver’s Rio Theatre is reopening as a sports bar this month to get around COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting cinemas from operating.

Restaurants and bars in BC are currently allowed to be open with limited capacity and COVID-19 precautions, but screenings, movie theatres, and theatrical performances are prohibited.

“Screw the arts. We’re a sports bar now,” reads the sign above the Rio.

It’s welcoming back patrons starting Saturday, January 23, to “catch the big game on the biggest screen in town,” it said in a tweet.

Buttery popcorn, grilled cheese, and alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase, according to the Rio’s website.

The independent movie theatre near Commercial Drive and Broadway has been shut since November when BC enacted new public health orders to fight virus spread during the second wave.

The Rio started a petition earlier this month calling on the BC government to revisit COVID-19 rules, arguing that allowing bars and restaurants to be open but not theatres is hypocritical.

Guests usually attend movies in safely distanced small pods — the same way people visit restaurants, the Rio’s petition says.

“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,” its online petition says.

BC’s current public health restrictions are set to expire on February 5. It’s not yet known if they will get extended.


Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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