The National Association of Theatre Owners commended the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan agreement to provide economic relief to the exhibition business and other industries that have had to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate leaders and the White House reached a deal early Wednesday morning on a $2 trillion stimulus package, which includes a large increase in unemployment insurance and hundreds of billions of dollars to aid companies harmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“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 trade group said.
“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 bill expands unemployment insurance to cover freelancers and gig workers, a provision of interest to the entertainment industry, where work is often temporary. The bill also boosts unemployment checks by $600 per week for a period of four months, according to details that had been released earlier. The deal also provides $1,200 to most American adults, plus $500 per child.
The package also includes loans and loan guarantees for small and large businesses. NATO had urged Congress to pass the bill, arguing that theaters are at risk of going bankrupt without help.
“With this agreement, movie theaters can look forward with confidence to re-opening and once again serving their communities when this crisis has passed,” NATO said on Wednesday night. “While some details remain to be worked out, the broad provisions of the agreement help movie theaters and their workers in so many ways.”
NATO said the bill’s provisions include a $454 billion loan guarantee fund that provides access to capital allowing movie theaters and other businesses to pay their fixed assets while they are unable to generate revenue through normal operations.
According to NATO, the bill also includes expanded Small Business Administration programs that will allow small businesses to do the same, with several categories of expenses eligible for loan forgiveness; provisions allowing deferral of payroll taxes, expanded opportunity for loss carrybacks for businesses, and technical corrections regarding qualified improvement property; employee retention tax credit for businesses that keep people on the payroll despite closures or that see large sales losses.
NATO also said the legislation provides up to four months of direct aid to workers through extended and expanded unemployment insurance, including increases in the weekly dollar amount and eligibility for part-time employees and advanced tax deductions to workers payable now.