Joel de Boer works behind the scenes at the Salmar Grand as Salmar Theatres’ manager. (File photo)

Joel de Boer works behind the scenes at the Salmar Grand as Salmar Theatres’ manager. (File photo)

Shuswap’s Salmar Theatres close doors indefinitely due to pandemic

Community-owned operation plans to do what it can to help employees

Like its larger counterparts, Salmar Theatres has closed its doors until further notice.

The doors on the Salmar Grand and Salmar Classic theatres were officially closed following the completion of their last scheduled showtime on Monday night, March 16.

“We are committed to the health and well-being of our team members, our guests and the community in which we operate,” states a message from management. “We will continue to adhere to the directives of federal, provincial and municipal health authorities and will reopen when it is deemed appropriate. We ask that you take care of yourselves, your families and each other during these uncertain times.”

General manager Joel DeBoer said Interior Health was contacted regarding the two shows Monday night, to provide clarification on the 50-person limit. DeBoer said it was unclear whether that would mean per theatre or for the whole Salmar Grand building.

IH said per screening would be acceptable, but DeBoer noted that fewer than 50 people were in the whole building.

“When we saw Cineplex and Landmark (cinemas) were going to look at closing, we thought that was the best decision moving forward,” he said.

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DeBoer said Salmon Arm’s community-owned theatres won’t necessarily be losing money as there won’t be the expense of movies. Although spring break is generally a busy time for screenings and concession sales, this year the number of patrons has already diminished considerably.

Roughly 27 employees work at the theatres, he said, just one of those full time.

“Right now it’s kind of up in the air what we’re doing. It will be a board decision. We’re looking at different options how we can help them.”

He said most employees are between the ages of 13 and 18, and most live at home. He said he doesn’t think the situation will be as hard for those who still live at home, but it could be tough for the older workers. He said management wants to do what it can to help.

As for how long the closure will last, DeBoer said it’s uncertain. He said Landmark and Cineplex are anticipating April 5 or 10, “but who knows what’s happening.”

Regarding new releases, DeBoer said Universal has decided to release some of its new films by bypassing theatres and going straight to Telus and Shaw, while others, such as Disney, will be delaying their release dates until theatres reopen.

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