The Quebec government will compensate movie theater owners for lost concession revenue, Prime Minister Franois Legault said on Thursday, following a dispute he called “Popcorngate”.
The province has said cinemas may reopen on February 26 but can not sell food, in order to ensure people wear masks throughout the duration of the films to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Legault said Cinema chain owner Guzzo had threatened to stay closed because of the difficulty of making a profit without selling snacks.
“Mr Guzzo says he does not want to open cinemas – and he has a lot in Quebec – if we do not allow him to sell popcorn,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City.
“Public Health is telling us that … if you want people to wear their masks during the movie, of course, you can’t sell popcorn.”
READ MORE:Quebec cinemas may reopen, but not sell food and drink
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The Prime Minister said he will compensate the owners for the losses of the concession booths because he wants the theaters to remain open to give parents an extra activity to do with their children during the March holiday week.
Cinema owner Vincenzo Guzzo’s public criticism of the reopening plan has inspired the term Popcorngate, and the name has been chosen by commentators and politicians alike.
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Qubcois Party leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon posted a video on Twitter Wednesday – edited to include crackling cores and musical sound effects – of himself trying to keep a straight face while answering a reporter’s question about the conflict. of popcorn.
“Scientific data on why popcorn is a threat, we will never know because we have a (Department of Health) that never publishes data, never publishes in a transparent way why they are doing things,” St-Pierre Plamondon said. .
Popcorn Problem: Quebec cinemas are not allowed to sell food and drink
Legault said Thursday he was surprised when he got involved in a popcorn debate, adding that he understands cinema owners should be compensated for lost revenue.
“Was I expecting a Popcorngate in Quebec?” asked Legault. “(If) you told me that a few months ago, I would not have believed it.”
He said Guzzo had criticized him on Twitter, but added: “I can understand that part of the profits for cinemas come from popcorn.”
An announcement posted on the Cinemas Guzzo website suggested the chain was preparing to reopen on February 26th. “We are doing our best to serve you in the best possible conditions, so that you can have fun with complete safety,” it read.
Legault said theaters that play plays and other shows were kept closed because the industry said it preferred to continue receiving government assistance instead of reopening when people could not leave their homes after 8pm The prime minister said the sector the theater wanted to reopen when nightfall was set
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