CALGARY -- Cineplex Odeon had some strong words of disagreement with the decision by the province not to advance to Step 3 of the province's reopening Monday.

"We are extremely frustrated and disappointed with today’s announcement," the statement read. "This is devastating news to the more than 1,000 Albertans who make up our workforce across our 19 theatres in the province, all of whom are presently out of work."

Monday afternoon, Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro said that with hospitalizations on the rise,that the province would not be progressing to the next step of reopening.

Progressing to Step 3 would have loosened restrictions on adult and youth sports, places of worship, museums, movie theatres, art galleries, zoos, casinos and indoor social gatherings.

While hospitalizations remain below the 300 benchmark that's supposed to trigger the next step, the number has risen by 16 over the past week, to 280, data Shandro pointed to as a concern.

"This is a problem and a warning sign we must take seriously," he said, at the province's COVID-19 update. "It is absolutely necessary to help us avoid a third wave that will take more lives and once again put more pressure on the hospital system."


Cineplex questioned the risk provided by attending movies.

"There have been zero known cases of COVID-19 transmission in any movie theatre anywhere in the world," it said. "The seats face one direction and are reserved in advance in accordance with physical distancing requirements."

"The auditoriums are immense spaces with high ceilings, guest counts are controlled through showtime scheduling and patrons are encouraged to remain silent in addition to wearing masks."

 "There is no business that better lends itself to controlling customer flow, ensuring physical distancing, and providing Albertans with a much needed entertainment experience, given the fact that they’ve been stuck inside for months."

"Despite being indisputably one of the safest forms of public gathering, safer than any restaurant, big box retailer, or other indoor venue," it said, "the government of Alberta continues to shutter movie theatres for reasons they either can’t justify or just won’t disclose."

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported another 456 COVID-19 cases, including 110 of the B.1.17 variant, and a positivity rate of 6.1 per cent on Monday.

Sixteen per cent of Alberta's 6,176 cases are of the variant of concerns, Shandro and Hinshaw said.

"This is not the direction we want to be heading in as a province," Shandro said.

With files from CTV Edmonton