As Montreal enters the newest phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the city’s arts community are worried that the latest restrictions could spell economic doom.
Vince Guzzo, president and CEO of the Guzzo Cinemas chain, said that as no documented cases of COVID-19 transmission occurred in Quebec’s movie theatres, the government’s decision to close them down for 28 days is “arbitrary and unwarranted.”
“We operated July, August, September in a pandemic and we got zero cases. Why are we being punished?” he said. “Once again, let’s go back and punish the people that are not respecting the rules.”
Along with bars, restaurants and movie theatres, live performance venues and museums are on the list of establishments being forced to shut their doors until the end of October.
But Mathieu Murphy-Perron of the Tableau D’Hote Theatre said the alert level red measures are overboard.
“Theatre institutions in particular have taken tremendous measures to make sure they can present theatre to audiences safely,” he said.
Murphy-Perron pointed to his theatre’s pop-up outdoor performances as a way to keep players and patrons safe.
“The fact is that the government has so clearly targeted cultural institutions, but not private commerce,” he said. “It makes it so that on Thursday, I could go to Chapters, but not my library. I could go to the mall but not the museum.”
Three days ago, the McCord Museum opened a new exhibit dedicated to fashion designed Christian Dior which was meant to run for three months. Pascale Grignon called it “surprising” that museums must close while other institutions remain open.
“From what I know, there was no case in any museum in Quebec and elsewhere,” he said. “In many countries in Europe, museums are still open even though these cases are coming up.”
Guzzo said the closures come at the worst possible time, when Quebecers need an escape from reality.
“I always say that I’m in the mental health space in that I not only raise money for mental health but I have a service that helps people’s sanity by entertaining them for a few hours by going to the movies,” he said.