Movie Towne Cinema in South

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Despite getting the all-clear to open, cinemas across the country remained closed yesterday leaving many disappointed.

Outside Movie-Towne at C-3 Mall and Caribbean Cinemas at South Park Mall, there was no sign of activity.

Speaking to Guardian Media, MovieTowne’s owner Derek Chin said discussions were underway with all cinema owners to decide the best course of action as it relates to reopening.

“The situation remains challenging. We are awaiting word on other cinemas in terms of an overall decision,” he said.

Saying there were seven independent cinemas, owned by four players—MovieTowne, Caribbean Cinemas and Imax, Chin said once discussions are concluded, a statement will be issued.

“At the end of the day, we can safely say we will not reopen the cinemas until further notice. They will remain closed and at the end of the day, we will have a public announcement which will explain everything,” he said.

Earlier this month, Chin announced the permanent closure of MovieTowne in Price Plaza, Chaguanas. He also expressed disappointment that despite their repeated pleas to the government to allow cinemas to reopen, they have remained closed, noting that the restrictions on cinemas were unfair.

Chin also said that staff was facing a difficult time.

Contacted for comment, president of the Confederation of Business Chambers Jai Leladharsingh said the decisions to open the cinemas without concessions was illogical.

“The policymakers and senior technocrats don’t understand the calibration of the business sector. This comes out of a lack of consultation. The cinemas make their money out of concessions so to not have any eating or drinking in a cinema is unreasonable,” he said.

He added, “Not much profit is made from the ticket. To keep the business viable, they want to maintain the 50 per cent capacity and allow people to buy things in the concessions and only then it would make sense in terms of profitability.”

Leladharsingh also said it was “highly unreasonable for the restaurants to be closed.”

“They should implement the health protocols in restaurants to allow for the masks and hand sanitising. With proper social distancing, it could be done,” he said.

Under the latest COVID-19 guidelines, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said cinemas, theatres and members’ clubs will be allowed to return to 50 per cent capacity. However, all persons must wear masks. Under the new guidelines, Rowley said the consumption of eats and drinks will not be allowed in any of those places which can now open from 8 am to 10 pm.