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Coronavirus: How movie, live theatres in Lethbridge are planning for Stage 2 reopening

The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting many facets of life, but the government of Alberta is in the midst of its reopening plan.

Stage 1 was launched in most of the province on May 14 and Stage 2 is expected to take place by June 19.

Stage 2 will bring opportunities for some businesses to open their doors and expand services, including theatres with restrictions.

Lethbridge theatre The Movie Mill has started offering private theatre rentals and has kept up its bi-weekly popcorn delivery.

President Leonard Binning said it has never had to close down in its 25 years.

“We’ve dealt with the H1N1 flu and a number of things,” he said Monday. “You just don’t expect to close your doors for three months.”

Once the theatre opens, customers can expect to see Plexiglas at the concession and certain theatre rows marked off with yellow tape to encourage social distancing.

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“I believe if we socially distance, we will not be able to exceed probably more than 30 per cent capacity,” Binning said.

Binning said showtimes will start earlier in the day, with 15-20 minutes in between. Patrons are encouraged to buy tickets online to avoid contact at the till.

Because no new movies have been released to the theatre in the last few weeks, some might be wondering what to expect in terms of showings.

“We had just gotten three or four big titles that didn’t have a chance to play and so we’ll start with those,” Binning said.

In the next six weeks or so, Binning said the theatre will be resorting to some older film franchises, including Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and James Bond.

As for live theatre, the situation is a little different.

New West Theatre, a non-profit company in Lethbridge, won’t be starting off as quickly as The Movie Mill.

It plans on hosting old-time radio plays as one alternative.

“Our New West Theatre ensemble is going to be performing these plays through our social media channels, to be viewed by patrons online,” said artistic director Kelly Reay.

In addition to the online performances, he said it plans on holding a drive-in play at Exhibition Park in August and will continue to offer summer camps for kids ages seven to 17.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to resume as originally planned come late fall, early winter,” Reay said.

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