Theater owners applauded a massive $2 trillion relief package passed by the U.S. Senate last week, saying the sweeping legislation gives them a fighting chance of surviving unprecedented closures brought about the coronavirus pandemic.
“With this agreement, movie theaters can look forward with confidence to re-opening and once again serving their communities,” the National Association of Theatre Owners said in a statement as the package awaited passage.
As of late last week, virtually all the 5,500-plus movie theaters across the U.S. were shuttered because of the virus.
While there might be some changes before the package is signed into law, the broad strokes of the bill have the support of the White House and House of Representatives. Senate Republicans and Democrats, along with the White House, hammered out an agreement late Tuesday night. On Wednesday night, however, several amendments were offered that slowed down an actual vote.
The $2 trillion relief package would set up a $454 billion loan guarantee fund that would allow distressed businesses to pay their fixed costs at a time when no revenue is coming in.
There will also be expanded Small Business Administration programs that will allow smaller businesses — defined as having 500 employees or less — to do the same and, in some cases, be eligible for loan forgiveness. A majority of the country’s cinemas would fall under the definition of a small business, according to NATO.