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

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 80+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in fatal Chemainus hit-and-run

Investigation expected to be lengthy and involved

The Cowichan Women Against Violence Society is planning on opening a child and youth advocacy centre. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Child and youth advocacy centre eyed for Cowichan

Cowichan Women Against Violence Society hopes to open centre later this year

CVRD to apply for a grant to improve a 4.85-kilometre section of the Cowichan Valley Trail near Shawnigan Lake. (File photo)
CVRD looks to improve section of Cowichan Valley Trail

District applies for $250,000 grant to widen, upgrade 4.8-kilometre section in Shawnigan Lake

Cowichan Valley writer Jennifer Manuel will headlining YakFest on March 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cowichan Valley writer to headline next YakFest on March 1

YakFest is a B.C.-based monthly women’s event held online via Zoom

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Most Read