Nearly 5,000 Employees Laid Off at Cineplex After Ontario Closes Movie Theatres

Cineplex Inc. says it has temporarily laid off nearly 5,000 part-time employees because of mandated closures of its Ontario movie theatres to tackle the surge of the Omicron variant.

Spokeswoman Sarah Van Lange says Canada’s largest movie chain will get its employees back to work “once and for all” as soon as the restrictions are lifted.

New COVID-19 public health measures announced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Monday resulted in the closure of 67 Cineplex theatres along with indoor concert venues, museums, galleries and other attractions.

The provincial restrictions also require restaurants and bars to halt indoor dining and cease selling alcohol after 10 p.m.

The policies meant to curtail the province’s soaring COVID-19 cases are expected to remain in place until at least Jan. 26.

The Toronto-based company said it would offer full refunds to customers who had booked tickets in advance.

Cineplex is not the only company worried about layoffs as news comes out that Ontario business owners were fretting about the future of their companies as workers braced for layoffs after the province levied new COVID-19 measures forcing some to close their doors temporarily and others to limit visitors.

The latest public health measures announced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Monday require restaurants and bars to halt indoor dining and cease selling alcohol after 10 p.m. starting on Wednesday.

Retail settings, including shopping malls and personal care services, must reduce their capacity to 50 percent, while indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries and other attractions are required to close.

The policies meant to curtail the province’s soaring COVID-19 cases are expected to remain in place until at least Jan. 26, but businesses fear even three weeks of closures will result in lost income and layoffs and exacerbate existing labour shortages and mounting costs.

“I’m just in the middle of nowhere right now. I am really disappointed,” said Andy Page, the owner of Tomyum Restaurant and Wine Bar in Toronto.

“Every day I open my eyes and I see a whole bunch of bills just waiting for me to pay and a lot of people ask me why I still carry on. To be honest, it’s because I have no backup plan.”

More weeks closed will mean the bills — already high from rising inflation rates — will mount even further and Page will have to work harder to retain the staff he managed to hire in a tight labour market.

The Ontario government tried to ease some of those financial tensions on Monday with an expanded rebate program for businesses affected by the new slate of closures.

Certain businesses ordered to close will be reimbursed for 100 percent of property tax and energy costs, it said, while ones required to reduce capacity to 50 percent will receive a rebate payment for half those expenses.


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