Local cinema happy to reopen, but frustrated concession sales are not permitted

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The manager of a local movie theatre is calling the Ontario's latest changes to COVID-19 restrictions bitter sweet.

Jennifer Eggett with Imagine Cinemas in Lakeshore says it's great to be able to reopen at 50% capacity, but the province is not permitting the sale of concession items — which she believes doesn't make much sense as restaurants are allowed to serve food.

She says popcorn and treats make up a large portion of the theatre's revenue.

"The concession deals are crucial to our business. Up to 65% of the ticket sales go right back to Hollywood. So that leaves us with such a tight margin. So we really rely on those concession sales really to survive in this business. We might have to look at some different takeout options that we can do because these sales really are crucial."

Eggett says, if done in a safe manner, patrons should be able to enjoy their snacks.

"It is very frustrating for our business. Honestly, it's kind of hard to wrap our heads around the fact that restaurants can reopen and you can have up to 10 at a table, masks can be off obviously, and you're consuming that food. Whereas you can't go sit in your own private seats and consume your concession items there."

She says the theatre has gone above and beyond what's asked when it comes to restrictions.

"Regardless of the capacity restrictions in the past, we've always maintained at least a one seat buffer because that's what our customers asked us for. So we've always gone above and beyond to make sure that you're not close to anyone. So, for us, it doesn't really line up the fact that we can't be consuming concession items."

On January 31, businesses like restaurants, gyms and cinemas can reopen at 50% capacity as part of the province's plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions over the next few weeks.

Eggett says the theatre in Lakeshore will likely open its doors to the public on February 4.

— with files from AM800's Kathie McMann

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