Despite receiving permission to continue private screenings, the Kamloops Film Society has been forced to once again pull the plug on the projector at the Paramount Theatre.
On Wednesday (March 3), Interior Health informed the society that operates the downtown theatre that it must stop holding private screenings, which were only available for up to six people from a single household.
The theatre has a COVID-19 safety plan in place and was abiding by health guidelines, only offering private screenings after receiving permission from Interior Health in early February.
KFS executive director Dusan Magdolen said he is disappointed in the decision, especially after receiving approval from the health authority.
"We made our case and said, 'Hey, we have a 500-seat theatre. If a family can be around a table at a restaurant, why can't they be in the theatre?'" he said concerning his call to Interior Health earlier in the year.
Magdolen said Interior Health seemed receptive to the idea and, after the request was sent to higher-ups, the theatre was approved to hold the screenings shortly thereafter.
"We could have spaced out a lot more people than that, but at least it was something," he said.
Magdolen said the society's request apparently prompted other groups and theatres to seek the same approval to host similar events, which may have led to the province intervening and countering Interior Health's approval.
"I don't know if that's the reason, but it still doesn't make logical sense to me that people can go to a restaurant or pub and sit around a table, but they can't go into a 500-seat theatre and have it all to themselves," he said.
The province currently prohibits all events, which are defined in a public health order issued by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. By the order, an event is defined as any gathering of people in any place public or private and includes a "movie" or "film" specifically. It does not make exceptions for people of the same household.
Wage and rental subsidies offered by government are helping keep the society operating in the interim and Magdolen said the society is "OK at the moment," but there is concern about how things will shake out once people are allowed to return to theatres.
The film society was barely able to hold its annual film festival in 2020, limiting capacity to the provincially mandated 250-person gathering limit very early in the pandemic.
News about the format of this year's festival will be announced by the society later this week or early next week, Magdolen told KTW.