The National Association of Theatre Owners of California/Nevada has established a $1.25 million relief fund to assist employees of member theaters who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we all know, our industry is dependent on our employees for survival, and we want to do what we can to assist them during these challenging times,” said Milton Moritz, president and CEO of NATO of California/Nevada.

The funds will be divided proportionately among eligible member theaters based on the number of screens they operate, and will be distributed to employees who have worked a minimum of six months prior to the closing of the theater. The individual companies will determine how those funds are to be allocated among the staff.

“Movie theaters are an essential part of the community and it is our hope that these funds will in some measure help lighten our members’ employees’ financial burden imposed during the current crisis,” Moritz said.

The move was announced on Wednesday, two days after NATO and the Pioneers Assistance Fund created an initial $2.4 million fund to provide financial assistance to movie theater employees who need help due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The organizations said on Monday that the first part of the initiative is a grant program that will provide a stipend to any theater workers who meet specific criteria. The initiative’s second phase is being developed and will expand assistance to a larger group of people who work in the motion picture industry, in the event the current crisis continues for an extended period of time. Basic eligibility requirements for the first phase — titled the Pioneers Assistance Fund COVID-19 Emergency Grant — call for an individual to have worked in theatrical exhibition for a minimum of five years.

NATO represents the owners of more than 33,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and more than 32,000 additional screens in 102 countries worldwide.