Ontario Shutting Movie Theaters For 28 Days As COVID-19 Cases Rise

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, is shutting down movie theaters and other businesses for 28 days amid an uptick in COVID-19 infections.

The move, which takes effect at 12:01AM local time, sidelines a major driver of North American box office at the same time that theaters in New York and LA remain closed. Studios have shifted most releases to 2021 due to the pandemic-related closures, leaving U.S. theater circuits in a perilous state.

Canada throughout the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic has been in the opposite position as the U.S., with politicians putting aside policy differences to tackle the situation. Infection and mortality rates have been a fraction of those in the U.S., even when adjusted for population differences.

Along with movie theaters, gyms and indoor dining at restaurants in Toronto, Ottawa and other parts of the province will be suspended. There will also be prohibition on indoor sports and the maximum number of people allowed to gather in meeting and event spaces will be capped at 10.

“I can’t stress enough how difficult and painful it was to make this decision. My heart just breaks for these folks and I understand what this decision means to each and every one of you,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said during a news conference. “I can tell you I didn’t sleep last night. This weighs heavy on me.”

Even before the latest restrictions, the Toronto Film Festival’s 2020 edition in September marked a dramatic departure from splashy editions in non-pandemic times. Only local residents wereallowed to watch screenings in limited-capacity theaters. Out-of-town talent and industry figures largely stayed away due to rules requiring a 14-day quarantine for any visitors from the U.S. or other countries.

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