The following is from a release by Rialto Cinemas, the owner and operator of the Cerrito Theater:
In the future will we be able to go to the movies?
Rialto Cinemas Cerrito has been an important part of the cultural landscape of El Cerrito from the day we opened our doors in 2009. But now, because of COVID-19, all of that is at risk. This theater is central to the El Cerrito downtown. We are an “anchor store,” we are at the heart of the community. We are a driver of our local economy and a boon to neighborhood businesses. But without more help from Congress, we fear for the future of our theater and our industry.
We closed for the sake of public health and are abiding by strict safety restrictions and guidelines as we plan our reopening. But even when we are able to reopen, it will be very difficult to sustain our business with limited capacity. We need more relief so that we can survive this crisis.
We call on Congress to urge Treasury and the Fed to DO MORE for businesses in distress, and to ensure that lending programs are designed and open to the businesses that need the most help. The requirements of the Main Street Lending Program effectively shut out theaters of all sizes. PPP loans helped some small theaters temporarily but the terms weren’t sufficient to protect shuttered industries. We need further action by the federal government to implement better loan programs under the CARES Act that help cinemas of all sizes.
In addition to full implementation of the CARES Act, we urge Congress to pass the RESTART Act. The RESTART Act will provide an essential lifeline to our business with seven-year loans covering six months of expenses. The loans are partly forgivable commensurate with the level of losses experienced by the borrower. This will give us the runway we need in order to build up our vital business again.
Without the relief offered by full implementation of the CARES Act and RESTART loans, there’s a strong chance we will have to close and our 30+ employees will lose their jobs. Our theater employs first-time jobholders, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable demographics often underrepresented in the workforce. If we are permanently shuttered, our employees will be deprived of their livelihood and all the stability that comes with it.
After this crisis is over, we will need the unifying experience that movie theaters provide more than ever. Join us to ask Congress to #SaveYourCinema and help all beloved neighborhood cinemas survive.
You can help by clicking on the following link and signing the on-line petition to Congress to pass the CARES and RESTART Acts: