Movie Theater Owners Praise $2 Trillion Senate Stimulus Package

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Ahead of what is expected to be the Senate’s passage of a $2 trillion relief package related to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) is praising the stimulus for its inclusion of a loan guarantee fund that will aid movie theaters in weathering the closures prompted by stay at home orders and other shutdowns during the pandemic. The movie theater industry is one that NATO had been vocal in asking to be included in the stimulus package last week when it was first discussed by Congress.

In a statement (via Deadline), NATO praised the agreement and broke down how the $54 billion loan guarantee fund would be useful to the theater industry.

“We applaud the bipartisan agreement reached in the Senate today to provide relief to movie theaters their employees and so many other public-facing industries that have had to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read. “With this agreement, movie theaters can look forward with confidence to re-opening and once again serving their communities when this crisis has passed.”

Details of the bill continue to be worked out, but there are some general provisions that the statement was particularly praising of, such as the loan guarantee fund that will give movie theaters and other businesses access to capital to pay fixed costs, expanded Small Business Administration programs to do the same with many categories of expenses eligible for loan forgiveness, and up to four months of direct aid to workers through extended and expanded unemployment insurance.

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“With this aid, movie theaters can get through this crisis confident in being able to re-open, knowing their vital, trained workforce is able to weather this pandemic and have jobs waiting for them when it is safe to reopen,” the statement continued. “We are grateful for the work of Congress and the Administration and those, in and out of the entertainment industry who have supported our efforts on behalf of this industry that is so central to our culture and civic life. We look forward to its quick passage in the House and signature by the President.”

The movie theater industry has taken a major hit during the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, AMC Theaters, one of the first major movie theater chains to close their doors ahead of the pandemic, furloughed 600 of their remaining staff in the home office in Leawood, Kansas, meaning that 98.5% of the chain’s entire workforce has now been temporarily laid off. Another theater chain, Regal, has also furloughed roughly 24,000 of its 25,000 employees.

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