Just days after Ontario Tourism and Culture Minister Lisa MacLeod toured a Cineplex theatre to review its safety protocols, the Ontario government announced that all cinemas in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel have to close to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The government announced indoor restaurants, gyms, museums and casinos in the hot zones are also required to close until further notice.

In a statement on Friday, Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob says that new restrictions announced have forced them to close 22 theatres. Jacob says that Ontario’s decision to close movie theatres is disappointing and unfair.

“We are very disappointed with the Government’s decision to close our theatres. Our local theatre teams have worked exceedingly hard since our reopening to keep over half a million Ontario movie-lovers safe across the province,” he wrote.

“We feel that these forced closures, given our proven track record, are excessive and do not take into account for our teams’ efforts, of which we are very proud.”

Jacob says that the new lockdowns are unfair to theatres given their commitment to protecting public health and following public health orders.

“Our theatres have been open in Ontario since July 3 and in those 98 days of welcoming back movie-lovers, we have had zero cases of COVID-19 traced back to our operations,” Jacob says.

Cinemas were closed from mid-March until July as part of the wider lockdown of the Canadian economy. When Cineplex reopened this summer, theatre attendance was limited to 50 people.

On Friday morning, Ontario announced 939 new cases of coronavirus, with Toronto, Ottawa and Peel seeing higher rates of positivity on coronavirus tests than other regions.

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