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Palace reels from curfews

Observer senior reporter

Thursday, October 01, 2020

PLANS by Palace Amusement Company — Jamaica's lone motion picture exhibitor and distributor — to reopen a drive-in cinema in response to the current pandemic caused by COVID-19 remain on track.

The Jamaica Observer understands that the company is working through the necessary paperwork, including licences, for such a facility as well as looking into the necessary technical requirements for the facility to be located on Dominica Drive in New Kingston.

However, while undertaking this development, the company continues to reel from the effects of the pandemic. It has been forced to shut down two of its movie houses — Palace Cineplex, located at the Sovereign Centre in Liguanea, St Andrew, and Palace Multiplex located at the Fairview Shopping Centre in the second city, Montego Bay. Cineplex is a two-theatre complex which seats approximately 350 and was a popular spot for the younger demographic. Multiplex houses four theatres and can accommodate 845 patrons.

A statement released by the company noted that the cinemas will close their doors on September 29, until further notice, due to low levels of patronage which have been exacerbated by the current curfews.

“It is with regret that we have made the decision to close Cineplex and Multiplex. Attendance has been severely impacted by the fluctuation in curfew hours and the spike [in infections from the coronavirus] as a result of community spread,” the statement read.

Patronage at these particular cinemas is reported to have plummeted to dismal levels in the past weeks. Traditionally, the later showtimes have proven more popular for local moviegoers and the Palace has been forced to abandon this showing in compliance with COVID-19 protocols and the islandwide curfew.

The curfew runs from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am and is slated to remain in place until 5:00 am on October 7, 2020.

Palace Amusement noted that it will continue to operate its flagship facility Carib 5 in Kingston as well as its newest movie house Sunshine Palace, which is located in Portmore, St Catherine, in keeping the guidelines of the necessary regulatory government ministries and agencies.