Port Elmsley Drive-In gets green light to open during COVID-19 pandemic
The Port Elmsley Drive-In near Perth. (Photo courtesy: Facebook: Port Elmsley Drive-In)
OTTAWA -- The Port Elmsley Drive-In southwest of Ottawa is hoping you will be able to enjoy a double feature while sitting in your car next weekend.
The Ontario Government has announced that existing drive-in movie theatres can reopen across the province on Sunday. Drive-in theatres will also be allowed to open washrooms, with health and safety guidelines in place.
“We’re going to shoot for next Friday,” said owner David Bird, in an interview with CTV News Ottawa about a plan to reopen after the Ontario Government’s announcement Saturday morning.
“We haven’t had staff in yet. We have been working with ourselves a little bit to get things ready. We’re more or less ready, couple of computer systems and payment systems we need to nail down a couple of things.”
The Port Elmsley Drive-In is located on County Road 18 between Perth and Smiths Falls.
Bird says while he has not seen the Ontario Government’s plan for reopening the drive-in, he has been talking with the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit about a reopening plan for over a month
“Everybody locally was happy with it at the time.”
The owner of the Port Elmsley Drive-In will check in with the health unit to follow up on the plan and make sure it follows health and safety regulations during the pandemic.
To encourage physical distancing at the drive-in theatre, Bird says they will likely limit the number of guests in the snack bar and washrooms to one person at a time.
“We’ve altered our snack bar from self-serve indoors to takeout outdoors and everything is contactless – all the sale points, ticketing will be online ticketing.”
Bird says the Port Elmsley Drive-In typically employs seven to ten students a summer. He adds its “important” that the theatre can open for the summer.
“We’d certainly liked to cover some expenses. It is up in the air how strong a year it will be. I think it’s important to know we’re not dead in the water for the whole summer, I think we’ll be able to do some business.”
When asked what the first movie of the summer will be when the drive-in opens hopefully next weekend, Bird laughed and said “it’s hard to say.”
“The movie business doesn’t book until Monday or Tuesday each week. The best of times we often don’t know.”