Cineplex, MEC lay off thousands as coronavirus pandemic shutters stores, theatres

Mountain Equipment Co-Op and Cineplex Inc. have laid off thousands of employees as the companies closed stores and theatres as instructed by various governments in an effort to stem the transmission of COVID-19.

MEC, which announced March 18 it was closing its 22 Canadian stores until March 30, sent a notice to its full- and part-time store staff informing them of temporary layoffs.

“I think, like all retailers, right now we’re operating in a bit of a period of uncertainty,” said chief executive Phil Arrata.

He doesn’t know when the company will be allowed to open its stores or with what — if any — restrictions, such as limiting the number of customers inside at a time or reducing store hours.

“And, so that’s really the question mark we have is, at this point in time, we don’t believe that we’ll be given the opportunity to reopen our stores as is on March 30 without some guidelines.”

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