Tobago’s low vaccination rate keeps MovieTowne closed

Carlon Garrick, a maintenance employee of Movie Towne, Gulf City Mall, Lowlands, cleans in preparation for reopening earlier this week. PHOTO BY DAVID REID –

Cinema lovers in Tobago will have to wait longer to see their favourite movies on the big screen as MovieTowne has decided not to reopen its Gulf City Mall, Lowlands branch.

The cinema was expected to reopen as a safe zone for fully vaccinated patrons and employees on Thursday.

When Newsday visited the branch on Monday, a maintenance worker was busy cleaning in preparation to welcome back patrons.

But MovieTowne founder and chairman Derek Chin told Newsday on Wednesday, the low covid19 vaccination rate on the island coupled with the safe zone restrictions made reopening infeasible.

“Tobago doesn’t have enough vaccinated staff and the island doesn’t have enough vaccinated people to make it worthwhile,” he said.

“Because if your (fully vaccinated) numbers are like 20 per cent of the population the pool gets very small in terms of those that would come to the movies. Then we have a 50 per cent capacity, so we decided to watch and see if that develops and it would give us time to resolve our technical issues too.”

The Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development reported on Wednesday that 19,248 people have been fully vaccinated in Tobago. Tobago’s population is approximately 60,000.

Chin added, “We won’t even get 100 people to come, and we need at least 200 people to come per day to make reopening as a safe zone worthwhile.”In a statement earlier on Wednesday, MovieTowne said it “deeply regretted” the inconvenience caused and asked the public to stay tuned to its Facebook, Instagram and website pages for updates.