Drive-in movie theatres have not yet been allowed to reopen since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, they are still waiting eagerly as the provincial government decides what public health measures will have to be implemented first before they may do so, according to CBC.
Drive-in theatres did not make the cut on phase one of Ontario's list of essential businesses that are allowed to reopen despite the face the fact that drive-in theatres in other provinces have since reopened and Ontario has allowed for drive-in religious ceremonies to take place.
"We are getting ready and we're trying to anticipate what [the provincial government] is going to ask us to do," said Kevin Marshall, owner of the Skylight Drive-In in Pembroke, Ontario.
Marshall is preparing several protocols that will ensure physical distancing measures are met as well as ways to limit customer-staff interactions. These may include Skylight patrons ordering their tickets online and plexiglass shields will be installed to separate the staff from customers at the concession booth. Additionally, the washrooms will be cleaned after each use.
The biggest challenge for Marshall and his staff will be enforcing the two-metre distance between people, he thinks.
"It's going to be very difficult to police people to stop them from getting out of their cars and sitting in lawn chairs and visiting with neighbours," said Marshall, he intends to hire additional staff for the summer months to help with this challenge.
Since religious ceremonies have been given the green light to gather in public, the Wesley Community Church congregated at the Skylight theatre, who allowed them to use their drive-in theatre so they could do a test run. A sermon was given there over the weekend.
Dave Bird, owner of the Port Elmsley Drive-In theatre, located between Smith Falls and Perth, has said he is making similar preparations at his theatre as well, such as no longer accepting cash.
"We've been doing a lot of work on altering the way we can serve people," said Bird.
The drive-in's snack bar which has been operated as a self-serve concession stand since 1953, has been transformed into an outdoor takeout window and snack will now be served by their staff.
"From what we can tell, we're able to check all the boxes for safety protocols," said Bird. "We were social distancing before it was cool." Bird said he was surprised that drive-in theatres wouldn't be an obvious choice as a business that could reopen in the age of physical distancing.
In Gatineau, Quebec drive-in theatres will open this weekend, according to an announcement made by Nathalie Roy, Quebec's Minister of Culture and Communications.