The Hollywood 3 Cinemas are the first to open in B.C. since the COVID-19 pandemic shut the industry down. (Ronan O’Doherty/ THE NEWS)

The show must go on

Pitt Meadows’ Hollywood 3 cinema is among first in province to open

After an almost three month hiatus, Pitt Meadows movie goers can enjoy a feature film in a theatre again.

As of June 12, Hollywood 3 Cinemas’ five locations, including the theatre on Lougheed Highway, have re-opened their doors to the public.

They are the first theatres in B.C. to do so.

READ MORE: Pitt Meadows film premiere offers hope to people with learning disabilities

Leana Hughes, the Pitt Meadows theatre’s assistant manager said their customers are very happy to be watching films on the big screen again.

“They’re also happy that the popcorn is back,” she added with a smile. “They were really looking forward to that.

“And they’re also pleased that we’re doing so much to keep it so clean and tidy and safe for everybody.”

Ensuring the cinema is a safe space has required many adjustments.

Owner, Moby Amarsi pointed out some of the new changes.

“There are marks on the sidewalk out front of the theatre ensuring physical distancing for those waiting to get in, and there are similar marks for customers waiting in line for tickets and concessions,” he said.

“Movie times have been staggered so people exiting the films will not get tangled up with customers entering, and there are pre-assigned seats within the theatres themselves.”

One positive adjustment that movie goers will love, is never having an abnormally tall person sitting directly in front of them. In order to maintain six feet of physical distance between ticket holders, seats are also arranged so customers do not have anyone sitting in front or behind them.

“We also have employees wearing face masks and gloves at all times,” Amarsi noted, “And ushers who enter the theatres will wear a full face shield for their protection and that of the customers.”

While he said the cleaning protocols were already pretty stringent, they have tightened up considerably.

Seats and armrests are cleaned between shows, as is the theatre’s bathroom.

Within the bathrooms, every second stall, urinal and sink has been blocked off, and all soap, taps and paper towel dispensers are automated.

In order to operate the cinema with all the new protocols in place, Amarsi said more employees were needed.

“We have 30 to 50 percent more staffing,” he said. “We have to – otherwise people will walk and sit where they want.”

It puts the theatre owners in a difficult financial situation, as they can only fill about a third of their theatres, while having to employ more staff.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Amarsi said.

“At this particular moment, you can’t look at economics. Right now we’re looking at customer service, customer safety and the safety of our staff.”

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