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Going to the movies in Hamilton’s ‘new normal’

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Going to the movies in Hamilton’s ‘new normal’

For many, the experience of going to the movies is one filled with excitement, nostalgia and indulgence.

Nowadays, the notion of going to the movies will fill most people with trepidation.

On Friday (July 24) as Hamilton enters Stage 3 of reopening, local theatres are permitted to reopen and operators are working to ensure that customers and staff stay safe.

Playhouse Cinema, located on Sherman Avenue N near Barton, announced their intention to reopen to the public on Friday and they’ve done a lot during lockdown to help protect their patrons.

In a post shared to Facebook Monday, the cinema said that while they were closed, they undertook a number of renovations and upgrades in anticipation of our ‘new reality.’

They installed plexiglass at their box office, and concession stand and have even increased fresh air ventilation and upgraded HVAC filtration in the cinema.

“[We have] reduced seating capacity by 82%, from 277 seats to 50 seats,” Playhouse says in their Facebook post. “We have ensured ample physical distancing by cordoning off ‘no sit’ zones in the cinemas.”

Theatre staff have undergone training in enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices and they will be wearing masks and physically distancing.

The theatre has reduced the number of showtimes and there is a maximum limit of 50 people allowed in the building at a time (as per provincial Stage 3 protocols).

Playhouse is also asking customers to take several precautions themselves, including purchasing tickets and food combos ahead of time online, to keep their distance from other patrons and staff and wear a mask (in accordance with Hamilton’s bylaw and except when eating and drinking).

“We recognize that COVID-19 may be a fact of life for some time to come; however, this does not mean we should stop doing the things that are meaningful to us AS LONG AS WE DO THEM RESPONSIBLY,” Playhouse says in their post.

There is a long list of protocols and helpful advice for visiting Playhouse in their Facebook post, so it is advised that potential patrons read it carefully.

Playhouse and other local theatres, like most public spaces, will be asking people who are experiencing and kinds of symptoms of illness to stay home and staff will be screened before their shifts.

For those still anxious about visiting the theatre with other members of the public but who still crave the traditional cinematic experience, Playhouse does offer private movie screenings called ‘Private bubble cinema screenings’ where you can rent out the theatre for viewings with members of your social circle.

The Westdale has yet to formally announce their plans for reopening, but on their website earlier this month, they say they plan to reopen for Stage 3.

“The Westdale will safely reopen when the City of Hamilton moves into Stage 3 as recommended by the Province of Ontario,” The Westdale’s website says.

“The health and safety of our patrons and staff is our main priority. We will follow all regulations and recommendations set forth by the Province of Ontario and the City of Hamilton. This includes mandatory face coverings when inside The Westdale.”

The bigger theatre chains also have instituted more strict sanitization practices, physical distancing requirements, and ask patrons to buy tickets in advance or use contactless purchasing methods at the theatre. The availability of amusements (ie: arcades) will be limited and in some cases will likely not be in operation.

To learn more about going to the movies in Stage 3, follow The Westdale and Playhouse on social media or visit their websites.

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