Ontario is temporarily closing cinema screens in major markets amid a resurgent coronavirus outbreak.
Cineplex, Canada’s largest cinema operator, said its Ontario theaters will shut down in two days as the Canadian province takes measures to crack down on a dramatic spike in infection cases due to the emergence of the omicron variant.
“Based on recent government directives, all 67 theaters in Ontario will be closed as of Wednesday, January 5, and will reopen as soon as we are allowed,” a Cineplex spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. Cineplex has also begun offering refunds to all customers that pre-bought tickets for upcoming film screenings.
Despite Spider-Man: No Way Home breaking pandemic box office records, Canada’s recently-imposed capacity and other cinema restrictions amid the Omicron variant surge have blunted key Christmas season ticket sales for local exhibitors like Cineplex. In 2020, Canadian cinema chains shut down their theaters as the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold, and then reopened their circuits as government-imposed lockdowns eased and Hollywood tentpoles once again hit the local multiplex in mid-2021.
The announcement of the latest cinema closures in Quebec and Ontario follows provincial health advisors recommending tightened restrictions for COVID-19 hot spots, which includes Toronto and Montreal, where the number of virus cases is surging.
The Ontario government is looking to stem a post-holiday surge in omicron variant infections to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed and schools able to reopen in mid-January. Investors shrugged off the latest theater closures for Cineplex as shares in the movie chain rose by 12 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $13.61 on Wednesday.