By Luka Tskhadaia
Cineplex has shut down its cinema network.
Starting March 16, everybody who visits the entertainment company’s official website will encounter a notification banner. Once clicked, it takes the visitor to a webpage with the digital statement from President and CEO Ellis Jacob.
“Our team has been closely monitoring COVID-19 and concerns about the virus continue to escalate. The health and safety of our employees and guests is paramount and while measures like enhanced cleaning protocols and social-distancing policies were put in place, the time has come for us to do more,” says Jacob in the statement.
The message proclaimed the closure of all 165 theatres across the country until April 2. Every venue of The Rec Room and Playdium will also be closed. As of April 1, however, Cineplex has extended the temporary closures, for the forseeable future.
Moviegoers in the area of Etobicoke were disappointed, yet appreciating the company’s decision to support social distancing. Among them, Miguel Anthony, 16.
“I was looking forward to some of the premieres and now I’m a bit sad that they [Cineplex] are closing down and therefore cancelling all bookings. I thought that attending a movie theatre would still be an option if you wear a surgical mask and take a hand sanitizer with you. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Anyway, I’m glad that Cineplex is being responsible and doesn’t want people getting sick in its venues,” said Anthony.
In the earlier announcement, Cineplex had published a letter to its guests in their Twitter account, saying that new enhanced cleaning protocols, health and safety measures will take place.
Gibran Parekh, team leader at Cineplex Queensway, shared the details.
“Before we closed down, they said they are complying with all public health directives, and that they are modifying business practices to implement all applicable guidance from government and operational initiatives,” said Parekh.
The seating of each auditorium had been reduced by a minimum of 50 per cent (or even further) to allow the guests to have more space in the auditoriums, so they do not have to sit so close together. The VIP section also removed the preset plates and cutlery, so they were brought only upon request.
“Introduced Enhanced Cleaning Protocol, meaning that anything the guests or staff touch, needs to be wiped down with detergent and cloth,” said Parekh. (They specified detergent and not sanitizer, as sanitizer is food safe, so even though it kills germs harmful to us, it won’t kill this virus).
“This means that we had to wipe down all surfaces that are major contact points for both guests and employees and we had to complete it every two hours the entire day and sign off on it after completion [this included all counters, tills, PIN pads, door handles, as well as refreshing all utensils and other]. They also added additional contract cleaners to work overnight to wash and sanitize all guest contact areas,” said Parekh.
Employees were asked to handle tickets differently. All employees stopped ripping tickets and started to simply direct the guests. The concession lines were also spread out to maintain a distance between lineups to over two meters.
“All employees had to wash their hands after every task, or every 15 minutes, whichever came first,” added Parekh.
Cineplex team made an attempt of passing on the message of keeping things clean and safe to their customers.
“They also ran an onscreen ad to help educate and encourage guests to bring there garbage down at the end of the show,” said Parekh.
For more updates, go to the Cineplex site: https://www.cineplex.com/Corporate/PressRoom