An employee fills a bag of popcorn in the concessions area inside a Cineplex Cinemas movie theater.
As the coronavirus outbreak forces theater chains to shutter in order to help stem the spread of the virus, the National Association of Theater Owners is asking Congress to provide relief measures for its 150,000 employees.
“The business model of the movie theater industry is uniquely vulnerable in the present crisis,” NATO wrote in a statement Wednesday.
It did not quantify how much aid it is seeking.
The trade group represents more than 33,000 screens in 50 states and has asked the federal government for loan guarantees to help the industry through a time when moviegoers are not able to travel to theaters. The association has also asked for tax benefits to assist theater owners who are still paying their employees and to make up for their losses.
The executive board of NATO has already authorized $1 million to be drawn from its own reserve in order to aid movie theater employees who are out of work because of the closures.
COVID-19 has crippled the entertainment industry, causing studios to postpone film releases, or rely on online distribution, and movie theaters are expecting closures for as long as 12 weeks.
Correction: The National Association of Theater Owners is asking Congress to provide relief measures for its 150,000 employees. It has not specified an amount.