A Cineplex Odeon theatre is pictured in North Vancouver, on May 15, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A Cineplex Odeon theatre is pictured in North Vancouver, on May 15, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Cineplex CEO says cinemas ‘could help in a big way’ as potential vaccination sites

Plans for vaccination sites are still very much in flux

The head of Cineplex Inc. is ready to turn Canada’s multiplexes into temporary COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Ellis Jacob, CEO of the country’s largest movie theatre chain, says he’s reached out to provincial public health agencies nationwide to suggest his company “could help in a big way” as a space for distributing shots.

In Ontario, those talks have also involved Premier Doug Ford, Jacob said in an interview.

And he says while no decisions have been made, he believes health leaders were “very interested and receptive” to the idea.

Plans for vaccination sites are still very much in flux as officials balance vaccine availability and provincial approvals with choosing locations that make logistical sense.

Loblaw Cos. Ltd.-owned Shoppers Drug Mart and other pharmacies are among companies seeking approval as mass vaccination sites.

READ MORE: Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

But preliminary plans for a vaccination rollout have been hampered by supply setbacks.

In Toronto, for example, a massive clinic was opened at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in January before it was shut down two days later due to vaccine shortages.

Jacob says once vaccination distribution picks up, he believes Cineplex theatres in smaller markets could be especially helpful because they’re spaces that can accommodate people “all the time” and are familiar to local residents.

“Most people know their local theatres so it makes it easier than somebody saying, ‘Hey, come to this particular place,’ which they’ve never heard of,” he added.

“So I think we could ramp it up and get going in a couple of days, as long as we know what they need and what the conditions are.”

Cineplex, which reported a steep fourth-quarter loss of $230.4 million on Thursday, has been grappling with a massive shutdown of its chain due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The movie theatre company says the loss amounted to $3.64 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31 compared with a profit of $3.5 million or six cents per diluted share in the last three months of 2019.

Revenue totalled $52.5 million, down from $443.2 million a year earlier.

Cineplex announced earlier this week that it reached a deal with its lenders to further amend its credit agreement as it struggles through the financial impact of the COVID-19 virus on its operations.

It said the amendment allows for the suspension of financial covenant testing to continue until the fourth quarter of 2021 under certain conditions.

These include the completion of a minimum $200-million financing of second lien secured notes by March 31. Net proceeds must be used to repay debt, including $100 million that would be a permanent repayment.

David Friend, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire Chief Roger Hollander supervises the filling of the 100 Mile Outdoor Ice Rink. Hollander and the 100 Mile Fire Rescue are currently looking for new members. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile House)
100 Mile Fire Rescue seeks new recruits

Annual recruitment drive runs until the end of February.

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

100 Mile Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire at 93 Mile Thursday, Feb. 25. No one was injured. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press).
100 Mile Fire called to early morning blaze at 93 Mile

One person was evacuated from the home.

Sarah Carter and Melody Watkins say that understanding bullies behaviour and helping those victimized are the keys to reducing bullying. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
PSO students tackle bullying

Pink Shirt Day PSO is about making sure victims of bullying are not alone.

Rather than just celebrate Pink Shirt on one day the members of the Cedar Crest Society wore pink shirts for the entire week to show their support for their clients and 100 Mile Students. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Spreading Kindness

At the Cedar Crest Society, Pink Shirt Day became Pink Shirt Week.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read