UPDATE: Lights, camera, action: Cineplex to re-open Bridgewater cinemas this month

by Keith Corcoran

Movie-goers rejoice; the Cineplex cinema in Bridgewater re-opens this month and will start showing popular releases customers may have missed before big screens across Canada went dark due to coronavirus concerns.

"The experience when you're in the chair will be the same, but our priority is the health and safety of our employees and guests," Sarah Van Lange, a spokeswoman for the Ontario-based movie theatre chain, told LighthouseNOW.

Focuses on technology, capacity, and cleaning assume lead roles for Cineplex as it welcomes guests to the multi-auditorium complex on LaHave Street after months of planning for safe re-opening to the public. It's unclear how many Bridgewater Cineplex employees are being reinstated.

Like other entities, the company is following public health protocols and secured input from a third party infectious disease expert.

High contact surfaces and places were people congregate will be constantly scrubbed.

"Our theatre seats will be cleaned with a hospital-grade cleaner after each show time," Van Lange said.

Every other row of seats will be blocked off and the volume of public inside will be cut by as much as 80 per cent to meet physical distancing directives.

Start and end times of movies will be staggered to manage the flow of people in-and-out of the building. Employees will be present to usher audiences in-and-out.

Cinema-goers are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes before movie start times. If people arrive before that timeframe, they may have to wait outside, Van Lange said.

Reserve seating and an emphasis on cashless transactions are also among new measures.

"We will be accepting cash at one point-of-sale terminal for the foreseeable future, and that will be for the purchase of a gift card," Van Lange added. "So, at our concessions, you can pay for concessions with a gift card so that we can eliminate the handling of cash at point-of-sale."

Don't expect to soak your own popcorn with buttery goodness at one of the push-button dispensers. Cineplex workers will be doing it for you. "All the condiments and toppings will all be distributed through our team, versus having a condiment station which is what many of our theatres had," said Van Lange.

The video games area will either have some attractions functioning with physical distancing restrictions in place or they won't be operating at all. Van Lange said it depends on the cinema location.

For the next while, movie ticket prices are being slashed in hopes of getting people back to watching major motion pictures again. Regular admissions will be $5 with Tuesday "cheap nights" pricing dropped to $3.

All details of Cineplex's re-opening and changes can be found at www.cineplex.com on the internet.

LighthouseNOW was told June 25 the Bridgewater Cineplex would open July 3. This intent changed June 30 when LighthouseNOW was told the theatre instead would be opening sometime in July.

"With news of shifting release dates on a few major Hollywood titles, we will be taking a more phased approach with our reopenings across Canada. We anticipate that the majority of our theatres will reopen throughout the month of July, including our ... theatres across Nova Scotia," Katie Rankin, another Cineplex spokeswoman, said June 30.

After years of venturing beyond Lunenburg County to go to the movies, Bridgewater regained cinemas in 2004 under the Empire Theatres brand.

Cineplex re-branded the location in 2013 after acquiring about two dozen Empire Theatres cinemas in Atlantic Canada from Pictou County-based Empire Company.

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