By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Cinemas and entertainment destinations yesterday voiced optimism they will be able to re-open in July even though the Government’s latest COVID-19 emergency powers Order gives no date for this.
Chris Mortimer, Galleria Cinemas’ president, told Tribune Business he has not decided when the Mall at Marathon-based business will re-open as he waits to see what US movie studios, and those who distribute the films the company screens, are going to do.
Confirming, though, that he is eyeing a date “some time in July”, Mr Mortimer added that he has not been presented with any seating or capacity restrictions by the Minnis administration. “The government hasn’t released any capacity component to theatres,” he said. “I haven’t been in contact with the government; I’m just reading their reports just like everybody else.
“They haven’t specified anything specifically with regard to theatres. Everything else, like restaurants and those sorts of things that they have specifically made mention of, they haven’t said anything with regard to theatres.
“Between that and the determination on what the studios are going to do, especially now that the coronavirus is on the upswing again in a number of the top jurisdictions in the US, some of the studios have not yet fully committed to some of the dates for pictures they have scheduled to premier in July,” Mr Mortimer continued.
“We won’t know until the end of this month and the early part of July as to what the studios will do, and whether or not some of the movies they said will premier at the end of July will do so. But with the cases rising, they may decide not to have instances where you are going to have an increase in COVID cases due to the proximity of people congregating together.”
Rejecting the notion of replaying old movies, Mr Mortimer said: “The problem with playing old movies is that most people in The Bahamas have android boxes and Netflix, and people don’t necessarily watch old movies. Why watch an old movie for $10 when you can watch it at home. So I don’t think replaying old movies is a viable option.”
He added that he plans to bring back the majority of Galleria’s staff, and said: “More than likely the majority of the staff, if not all of the staff members that were there, will return.”
Leslia Miller-Brice, manager of Mario’s Bowling and Family Entertainment Centre, said: “I’m just waiting on them to approve entertainment facilities. I saw something where Fusion Superplex said they were opening in the second week in July, so I am not sure if I missed something. I didn’t get that memo, but we were squared to go.
“We have a training session that starts tomorrow. I’m just trying to confirm that all of the staff is still on board. They would have already sent us messages and e-mails that they are all interested in their jobs back, but at this time I really can’t say. Managers are meeting tomorrow [today], and we definitely will determine the way forward. We would like to bring everybody back for sure.”
Ms Brice said Mario’s Bowling and Family Entertainment Centre will open with fewer customers, adding: “We will go with 50 percent occupancy. We separated the bowling lanes, so it will be every other lane that will be used. We are going to put in guidelines where we have to take your temperature before entering the building, and that is required from everyone.
“We are also going to have sanitising stations throughout the building. We are definitely doing our part and, as it relates to the game room area, we have spaced out the games and we have taken out half of the games. So we are also going to have someone in that area, and their only job is to go around and sanitise when a child leaves a particular game.”
The government’s latest emergency powers order, though, states: “For the avoidance of doubt, the following businesses shall remain closed. Bars, discotheques, cinemas, cultural and entertainment facilities.” No date has been given for their re-opening.