Omicron Introduces New Wave of Restrictions for Cinemas Across Several Markets

Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

Updated: Wednesday, December 22

The emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant is introducing a new wave of operating restrictions for cinemas in several countries around the world.

In the North America market, Canadian cinemas in the province of Ontario had to scramble with a short notice order to institute 50 percent capacity restrictions and a ban on concessions sales on the Saturday of Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s opening weekend. This forced circuits like Cineplex and Landmark to add new screens and showtimes in order to best accommodate clients who had bought advanced tickets for those dates. Despite the unanticipated disruption, Spider-Man: No Way Home was still able to register the third-highest domestic opening weekend in North America.

In Europe, movie theaters in the Netherlands and Denmark—among the territories to have best recovered in cinema admissions—have been ordered to close until January 14 and 17, 2022 respectively. Cinemas in Ireland are subject to an 8pm curfew until the end of January 2022, with capacity currently capped at 50 percent. Cinema closures have also been confirmed in Slovakia and regions of Germany.

As of December 20, France’s Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, has stated that closures of cultural establishments—including cinemas—are currently not on the country’s strategy to battle the surge of Omicron Covid-19 cases.

In Asia, South Korea was forced to contend with a 10pm curfew for cinemas. The decreased number of showtimes in the country had a moderate impact on the opening weekend of Spider-Man: No Way Home in the country, where it opened to $23.7 million—slightly below Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

As Omicron infection rates continue to increase, Québec announced the mandated re-closures of several industries, including movie theaters, as of 5pm Monday, Monday 20, with Health Minister Christian Dubé citing “the increase of cases and hospitalizations” as necessitating the shutdown. The closure affected 17 Cineplex theaters, which has refunded all upcoming bookings at those theaters. Meanwhile, in British Columbia, movie theaters are at 50 percent capacity from Wednesday, December 22 through January 18.

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