No drinks or popcorn allowed when Ottawa movie theatres reopen on Jan. 31

Movie theatres in Ottawa will be among businesses allowed to reopen to 50 per cent capacity on Jan. 31, but when they do, food and drinks will not be part of the show.

Movies and popcorn -- a duo that usually go hand in hand, but the province confirmed to CTV News Ottawa on Friday that serving food and drinks won't be allowed when restrictions ease.

"For us, that's a killer," said Josh Stafford, co-owner of the Mayfair Theatre.

"It's been a joke with cinemas since they began, everyone knows we're not really making profit providing entertainment, we're a popcorn dispensary."

In a statement to CTV News, Cineplex called the move "disappointing."

"We’ll keep our poppers warm so we are ready for when these unwarranted restrictions lift," said Ellis Jacob, President and CEO of Cineplex.

At the Mayfair Theatre, they can't understand how movie theatre popcorn and candy make people more vulnerable to an airborne virus.

"I don't want to throw any restaurants under a bus but it's strange they can serve food to people seated around a table but we can't serve food to people sitting social distanced all facing the same way," said Stafford.

"It's a big deal to have to shut that down," said Daniel Demois, co-owner of the Bytowne Cinema.

It puts the Bytowne in an awkward position; they've been selling take-out popcorn through the lockdown. When they reopen, they won't be able to sell it to customers at the theatre.

"It's been great, people have been very supportive of it, we will be doing that again this weekend and we're still deciding if we want to keep it open as take-out only once we open for screenings," said Demois

In a statement to CTV News, Landmark Cinemas said, "We are disappointed that we will not be able to serve food and beverage on re-opening."

Meanwhile, sports franchises like the Senators and the Ottawa 67's, who also won't be able to serve food or drinks, are pushing back against another month of just 500 fans in the stands.

"It's not ideal and not what we were hoping would happen but it is what it is," said Mark Goudie, CEO of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.

"Financially I think it doesn't really make sense for us to do it but operationally I think it does."

So while some are celebrating the cautious and gradual reopening, others are simply asking why the government is doing it this way.

"Since the pandemic started there's been inconsistencies with the rules, it's never really made sense," said Demois.