As theaters around the nation begin to close amid the coronavirus outbreak, employees at shuttered Alamo Drafthouse locations in Brooklyn and Yonkers have been furloughed until April 2, leaving staffers without pay and uncertain of health coverage. However, the theater chain has pledged to provide health insurance through the end of March to affected staff members, and is also putting together a charitable relief fund for temporarily laid-off workers. After March 31, Alamo will also cover the administrative and employee costs for staff to enroll in COBRA through the end of April, a representative confirmed to IndieWire. The announcement came after outcry from Alamo workers on social media.
In a statement, Alamo Drafthouse representatives said they “will assess the situation at the end of the 21-day furlough. For employees who are in dire financial need due to the coronavirus, we are mobilizing our charitable fund for relief. We fully intend to open again, but this situation is new and rapidly changing. If we aren’t able to reopen soon, we will have to rely on the federal aid programs that offer unemployment, health care, and testing.” See the full statement below.
Alamo also added, “Staff members are covered for our plan through the end of March and are immediately eligible for unemployment. Yes, to continue coverage, they’ll have to enroll in COBRA for coverage past March 31. Alamo Drafthouse has committed to paying the administration cost and employer portion of the COBRA insurance in the month of April so that employees on furlough should pay the same for their health coverage that they’ve always paid.”
The theater encouraged employees to consult the company’s headquarters if they’re experiencing something different.
The closure of Alamo locations is the latest in a wave of cancellations and shutdowns affecting the industry from top to bottom. Theaters in San Francisco have begun to close their doors entirely, and chains such as AMC and Regal have capped the capacity limit for ticket-buyers to 50-percent the normal rate in a given screening room. The BAM cinemas in Brooklyn have also announced temporary closure.
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