PEMBROKE, ONT. -- As golf courses, tennis courts, and splash pads reopened in Ontario over the May long weekend, the owner of a drive-in movie theatre was wondering, why not him, too?

“I was really surprised that we were not scheduled until phase one,” says Kevin Marshall, owner of the Skylight Drive-In in Pembroke.

Under current guidelines, his theatre has to wait until June 14 to reopen.

“All the drive-thrus are allowed to be open. You can go and get a hamburger or coffee and all that sort of stuff. Even now of course you can go golfing, you can do all those outdoor activities.”

Marshall says his drive-in theatre is as safe, if not safer than the amenities that recently reopened, and had his plans all in place to open for the season over the Victoria Day long weekend.

“Vehicles have to be at least two metres apart. At this particular place, because of all the old posts for the old audio stuff that cars park between, you’re actually closer to four or five metres apart.”

Marshall notes that even with that much space between vehicles, his drive-in still has capacity for 150 cars.

“I mean, you’ve got your family, you’re sitting in the car, you go to the show, you watch the movie, and you go home.”

Across the street from the Skylight Drive-In is the Country Home Garden store, a garden centre that also has a golf driving range.

“I don’t believe it’s right,” says owner Dennis Lapointe. “Like, where else can you get social distancing and in two separate cars.”

Lapointe adds that throughout lockdown he has seen church services taking place at the drive-in. “People go over there, they’re in their vehicles, they stay in their vehicles, and it’s no different than going to a drive-in.”

Waiting even longer until they can reopen are indoor movie theatres, not scheduled until Step Three of reopening, or July 26 under current timeframes.

Murray Adolph owns and operates the O’Brien Theatre in Renfrew, and says while he doesn’t want to contribute to any rising case counts, the region has was in good shape previously.

“I think the infection rate has been very low in Renfrew County,” says Adolph. “We have a big auditorium; it’s easy to distance the people in there. So, I think it’s been a pretty safe place to visit.”

Marshall also runs the O’Brien Theatre in Arnprior, an indoor theatre that has stayed afloat thanks to the revenue brought in by the drive-in. For now, Marshall will continue his preparations for June 14.

“Here you’re sitting outside and you can do it with the family, I don’t know what the problem is.”