Lawmakers Reach Deal On Covid-19 Relief That Includes $15 Billion For Movie Theaters, Live Venues

Senate and House leaders announced an agreement on a nearly $900 billion Covid-19 relief package on Sunday that includes specific aid to struggling independent movie theaters and live entertainment venues.

The package allocates $15 billion for theaters and other cultural institutions, following months in which artists and entertainment industry trade groups expressed urgency for some kind of targeted relief, proposing legislation called the Save Our Stages Act. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the aid was included in the final agreement.

The text of the legislation has not yet been released.

Pelosi and Schumer also said that the relief bill will include provisions so that a wider scope of newspapers, TV stations and radio stations will be eligible for Paycheck Protection Program loans. That relief is aimed at smaller businesses, but a number of media outlets did not qualify because they are part of larger media companies. The bill is expected to include language to provide such loans to individual media outlets but not to their parent companies.

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The Paycheck Protection Program, meanwhile, will be replenished with an additional $284 billion for first and second loans, which will be forgivable if recipients meet a set of requirements for how the money is spent.

Other elements of the relief package:

Direct payments. Up to $600 per person will be provided, an amount that is about half the size of payments sent out earlier this year. Those who make up to $75,000 per year will be eligible for the full payments.

Unemployment insurance. Those out of work will be eligible for enhanced unemployment benefits of $300 per week on top of the typical level offered by states. The legislation extends a program that was passed in March, when a wider scope of workers was eligible, including freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors.

Congress is expected to vote on the proposal either later on Sunday or on Monday.

More to come.


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