Capitol Theatre has its hopes pinned on being open by mid-August and at this point can open any time it likes after the GNWT increased its maximum seating capacity in each screening room.

An update on Capitol Theatre’s planned reopening was pasted to the movie house’s Facebook page on July 15.
photo screenshot from Facebook

A Facebook post by the theatre’s management states that it had hoped that Yellowknife’s only independent three-screen movie house would have been “open by now.” However the post states that the GNWT Department of Health and Social Services “has severely restricted our capacity.”

The post also states that film release dates have continued to be pushed back and is therefore impacting when it can open.

“We hope to be open by mid-August with the tentative opening of new product, but it is likely with the pandemic still an issue in the U.S. that new films will continue to rescheduled to later dates,” states the message.

Chris Wood, the theatre’s general manager, declined attempts at an interview this week as he responded by email Wednesday.

“Hi, I have nothing to say at this time,” he wrote.

Umesh Sutendra, communications specialist with the Department of Health and Social Services, said the territory is in phase two of the Covid-19 Relaxing Emerging Wisely gradual reopening and, as such, there had been limited seating restrictions for seating movie theatres at 25 customers per theatre, effective June 12.

Capitol Theatre general manager Chris Wood declined to comment regarding the plans for the city’s three-screen cinema. The business has been among those that have been closed since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department of Health and Social Services has allowed the theatre, once it opens, to have a maximum of 103 persons in Screen 1, 80 persons in Screen 2, and 63 persons in Screen 3. NNSL file photo

Since that time, however, the GNWT did grant the Capitol Theatre its request to have some of these restrictions reconsidered “based on their own situation.”

This was done through an Application to Vary from Public Health Order Requirements Form, which goes to Protect NWT and which businesses can use to make adjustments.

“Capital Theatre did so and received an approval letter to have in each theatre to a maximum of 103 persons in Screen 1, 80 persons in Screen 2, and 63 persons in Screen 3,” Sutendra stated. 

“All screen theatre room limits must meet physical distancing of at least two metres among persons from different households.”

Other requirements 

The GNWT also requires other safety precautions to be put in place and it was unclear to NNSL Media where the theatre was at with these items.

The GNWT includes on its website a list of items that businesses like the theatre have to have completed before reopening that include a Workplace Risk Assessment, a Worker Hazard Assessment, and Exposure Control Plan. Much of this work has to be done in partnership with the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission.

Sutendra stated that the  GNWT is also requiring the theatre, once in operation, to ensure that customers waiting to enter the theatre or inside the lobby that they have to remain physically distant of more than two-metres between family groups and persons.

As well, there have to be suitable control measures for the lobby and snack concession so to ensure that proper distancing and hand hygiene is practiced.  There also have to be strict controls and monitoring in place for washroom use to ensure distancing by customers.

NNSL Media also attempted to reach employees of the movie theatre this week, but were unsuccessful in arranging an interview.


Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University...

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  1. I can hardly wait for the theatre to re-open. the manager and staff are super and I miss chatting with them on my way in and out of the movie. I will even buy popcorn on the return of the movies to Yellowknife!!!! Louise