Movie Theaters Request Government Aid for Relief Amid Coronavirus Shutdown

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it is having major ramifications on the theater industry. As of Tuesday, most of the theaters in the United States are temporarily closing all locations across the country in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as abide by various guidances to limit the numbers of people who can gather. With many theaters closed for an indefinite amount of time and many films delaying their release for the few that remain open, the economic hit is going to be considerable. Now, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) is asking the government for relief in the stimulus package currently being discussed by Congress.

"The business model of the movie theater industry is uniquely vulnerable in the present crisis," a statement from NATO said (via Deadline)."As we confront this evolving and unprecedented period, we call on Congress and the Administration to ensure that America's movie theater industry and its tens of thousands of employees across the country can remain silent."

At the time of this article's writing, the White House is proposing a huge, $1 trillion-plus stimulus package to help offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. That package, if approved, would include direct payments to many Americans as well as loans to industries that are particularly hard hit industries, such as the airline and hospitality industries.

The movie theater industry isn't the only one seeking relief, either. the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is also asking Congress to include entertainment workers in any relief package as well.

Realistically speaking, movie theaters may well need some relief. With all of the upheaval in the entertainment industry and the closures of theaters not to mention the potential long-term impact of various production delays on films and other projects, the industry may see major impact long after social distancing and other preventive measures end. A report from Imperial College suggests it could take upwards of 18 months or more for things to begin to approach a return to normal as it may take that kind of time to truly stop the spread of the coronavirus -- or at least create an effective vaccine.

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"The major challenge of suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package – or something equivalently effective at reducing transmission – will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more) – given that we predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed," the report reads.

What do you think? Should movie theaters be included in a relief package from the government? Let us know in the comments below.

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