The movie theater industry is asking Congress and the Trump administration for a bailout as theaters across the country face shutdowns in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
National Association of Theatre Owners, the trade group representing most theaters, is asking for immediate relief that the group said will help the industry and its 150,000 employees who live and work in “practically every congressional district” face the challenges represented by the pandemic, according to a Wednesday announcement.
John Fithian, president and chief executive of the trade group, told The Associated Press that the pandemic represents an “unprecedented challenge to the business.”
“We’re looking to Congress and White House to understand this is a cultural institution where people gather,” he added.
Fifthian did not specify a dollar amount the industry is seeking, according to AP, but said the industry could be saved by far less than the amount the airline industry is requesting.
The White House has proposed a roughly $50 billion bailout for airlines.
“We want our policy makers to know that at the end of this thing, when people have been cooped up in their house for several months, they’ll need a break to go out and do something collectively that’s affordable and fun and away from what they’ve just been through,” Fithian told AP. “But we still need to be viable.”
Major movie theater chains AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas said they would be closing their theaters amid the coronavirus pandemic.
States and cities across the country have ordered closures of entertainment venues, including movie theaters, as well as dine-in service at bars and restaurants in an effort to mitigate the spread of the growing virus.