As the Omicron variant of COVID causes worldwide infections rates to record breaking levels, government authorities in various territories continue to close or restrict the operation of movie theatres.
The European Union is looking anything but united given its patchwork of country-based health regulations. While Belgian cinema operators were able to push back hard enough to remain open after Christmas, those in Denmark and The Netherlands were not so lucky. Those countries are in the midst of what has been dubbed a “Christmas lockdown” closing theatres until at least the second week of January. Restaurants were allowed to remain open in Denmark, though can not serve food or beverages past 10 p.m., unlike in The Netherlands, where all non-essential businesses have been shuttered.
France, on the other hand, is an example of the restrictions cinemas are contending with to operate in territories such as Italy, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom. For the first three weeks of January movie theatres in France are not allowed to sell popcorn, candy or concessions to patrons. So, government authorities took half of any exhibitors business off the table, making it impossible to profitably operate, but theatres are technically allowed to remain open. France already requires a vaccine passport to enter cinemas and many other public venues, such as restaurants, which remain open.
Cinemas in Hong Kong are also locking their doors for at least two weeks, though restaurants remain open until 6 p.m. Keeping track of cinema closures in India has become a full-time job. Meanwhile, in Canada movie theatres in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec have been closed, causing the country’s largest cinema chain, Cineplex, to temporarily lay off 5,000 staff members. Theatres closed on 5 January with no date set for reopening.