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Cineplex to close theatres nationwide in response to COVID-19

Cineplex movie theatre. (via The Canadian Press)

Canada's largest movie exhibitor Cineplex Inc. says it's closing all of its 165 theatres nationwide until at least April 2 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The chain also plans to temporarily shutter entertainment complexes the Rec Room and Playdium effective tonight (March 16).

Chief executive officer Ellis Jacob says Cineplex leadership has closely monitored the escalating spread of COVID-19 in Canada, and believes "the time as come for us to do more."

Cineplex represents about 75 per cent of the Canadian film exhibitor market across the country.

The company had been reluctant to close down its operations in recent days, choosing instead to sell fewer tickets at each screening and clean surfaces more frequently. 

But federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu urged the public on Monday to cancel gatherings of more than 50 people.

Other independent theatres and a number of smaller movie chains have already announced plans to close their cinemas in recent days.