On Thursday my schedule allowed a matinee of the new Scream movie out at Bayers Lake.
I went to the 12:35pm show. I had a look at the seat map on the Cineplex site before I left home. An hour before the screening time I could see the whole auditorium was free. By the time I got there, I noted two other people were in an auditorium that could easily seat 100 people.
That’s not uncommon in these days of Covid.
Because the seats are all assigned, it gives audiences the opportunity to decide if it’s a reasonable risk to go sit in the dark and watch a movie for a couple hours. The required distance between patrons means even if other people are in the room, you’re never going to be sitting within three seats of anyone else unless they’re in your party.
If there are more people in the auditorium than I’m comfortable with, I don’t buy a ticket. I will often wait until I get to the cinema to make the purchase, just in case.
If you don’t think that risk is worth it, I get it. I really do. Given the seemingly ubiquitous spread of omicron, growing numbers of people in the ICU, I totally understand why going to the movies would be pretty far down the list of priorities for whatever you choose to do with your extracurricular time and cash. With so many films available on streaming services, why take the risk?
What I’m saying, for what it’s worth, is that over the past couple of months I’ve been to the cinema at least once a week, and I’ve never felt unsafe.
With our shifting health and safety regulations, for the most part cinemas have managed to stay open here through the pandemic. They’re rolled with the restrictions of attendance and social distance and kept on screening movies.
Here’s the deal in Nova Scotia:
“Movie theatres can operate at 25% of the theatre’s capacity up to 50 people with social distancing and masks. Masks can’t be removed at any time, even to eat or drink while seated.” (For more on those regs, go here.)
There’s no popcorn, no beverages, no concessions sold at all. The hallways are practically vacant, and so are the auditoriums. And yet the staff comes into the screenings and reminds punters who haven’t gotten the message, even in a room where only two or three seats are filled, to keep masks on at all times through the screening.
Given all of this, on the balance of trying to stay safe while also allowing for the occasional respite from the pandemic related stress and anxiety, I’ll keep going to the movies so long as cinemas are open. In our bleak second Covid midwinter, it’s a huge benefit to my mental health.
Showing in cinemas now are blockbusters including Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sing 2, The Matrix: Resurrections, Encanto, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and The 355. Award season features in cinemas now include West Side Story, House of Gucci, Licorice Pizza, and The Tragedy of Macbeth.