Drive-Thru Cinema Owner Says Show Must Go On
PEMBROKE, ONT. – As golf courses, tennis courts and playgrounds reopened in Ontario over the long weekend in May, the owner of a drive-in theater wondered, why not him too?
“I was really surprised that we weren’t programmed until the first phase,” says Kevin Marshall, owner of the Skylight Drive-In in Pembroke.
Under current guidelines, its theater must wait until June 14 to reopen.
“All drive-thrus are allowed to be opened. You can go get a burger or a coffee and all that sort of thing. Even now, of course, you can golf, you can do all of these outdoor activities. “
Marshall says his drive-in theater is as safe, if not more secure, than the amenities that recently reopened, and had all of his plans in place to open for the season over the Victoria Day long weekend.
“Vehicles must be at least two meters apart. In this particular place, because of all the old messages for the old audio stuff that cars park between, you’re actually closer to four or five yards from each other. “
Marshall notes that even with so much space between vehicles, his drive-in still has a capacity of 150 cars.
“I mean, you have your family, you sit in the car, you go to the show, you watch the movie and you come home.”
Across from Skylight Drive-In is Country Home Garden, a garden center that also has a golf driving range.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” says owner Dennis Lapointe. “For example, where can you get social distancing and in two separate cars.”
Lapointe adds that throughout the confinement, he saw religious services take place at the drive-in. “People go there, they’re in their vehicle, they stay in their vehicle, and it’s no different going to a drive-through.”
Indoor cinemas are waiting even longer until they can reopen, which is not expected until the third stage of reopening, or July 26 within the current timeline.
Murray Adolph owns and operates the O’Brien Theater in Renfrew, and says he doesn’t want to help increase the number of cases the area was in good shape before.
“I think the infection rate was very low in Renfrew County,” says Adolph. “We have a large auditorium; it’s easy to drive people away in there. So I think it’s a pretty safe place to visit.
Marshall also runs the O’Brien Theater in Arnprior, an indoor theater that has stayed afloat thanks to the revenue generated from the drive-in. For now, Marshall will continue his preparations for June 14.
“Here you are sitting outside and you can do it with the family, I don’t know what the problem is.”