After their movie houses have been closed for a month, with no immediate end in sight, Kevin Broderick, owner of the West Boylston Cinema in West Boylston, and Jim Perry, proprietor of the Elm Draught House Cinema in Millbury, both want to open their businesses as soon as they get the go-ahead.

But it might already be too late.

“Right now, there’s a real good chance we won’t open. That’s where it’s teetering right now,” Broderick said. “You’re running on a shoestring and somebody takes the sneaker away. You can’t run anymore. If the landlord says, ‘Hey, I want my money,’ I don’t have it. If the light company says, ‘Hey, we want our money,’ I don’t have it.”

In Phase 1 of the White House’s plan for gradual return to normalcy, movie theaters may reopen if they can “operate under strict physical distancing protocols.”

On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker said he is looking for 14 days of steady declines in positive coronavirus tests before the state can open up again.

As of Sunday, there have been over 1,700 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.

COVID-19 has been hard on independently owned, second-run theaters.

Perry said the Elm Draught House Cinema is struggling, but surviving.

“Am I going to be scared of what’s ahead? Yeah,” Perry added. “Am I going to have to go weeks without paychecks? Yeah. Am I going to have to work harder for less? Yeah.”

Because of the shutdown, Broderick had to lay off 16 part-time employees, while Perry had to dismiss four part-timers.

Broderick said it wasn’t worth applying for the federal government’s Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program loans being offered under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Perry said he applied, but didn’t get through the first round.

“If you’ve got 450 employees, you can get almost $2.5 million in assistance from the PPP,” Broderick explained. “If you’ve got seven full-time employee equivalents, you can’t get anything. It doesn’t behoove me to go take advantage of the PPP, to put my employees back on the payroll, because the benefits of doing that don’t outweigh leaving them on unemployment.”

“I have $20,000 in payables that I can’t pay right now,” Perry said. “I’m not going to borrow money just to keep people on the payroll. That doesn’t make sense. There’s no money coming in.”

Broderick said the government’s idea of small business versus his idea of small business is like the difference between “night and day.”

“The small business with 400 employees making millions of millions of millions of dollars a year, they’re the ones that have the politicians’ ear,” Broderick said. “All my friends have small businesses. None of us have heard from any elected official saying, ‘Hey, how’s it going? What would help you?’ Not one of them.”

And it’s not just the small independent movie houses that had to let workers go.

Mark Malinowski, vice president of global marketing for National Amusements, which owns the Showcase Cinema Worcester North and Blackstone Valley 14 Cinema de Lux in Millbury, said the company had to furlough some employees.

“Movie-going is an amazing thing,” Malinowski said. “But we want to make sure the health of our staff, the health of our customers, is our No. 1 priority.”

While they don’t have all their stringent safety protocol and procedures finalized, Malinowski said, National Amusements is strategically planning such measures as 50% capacity seating arrangements in each auditorium, no-contact seat bookings and payment options, a lot more intense cleaning operations, employee temperature checks, accessible disinfectant wipes for customers, protective barriers, and possible face mask use for workers and customers.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make it as safe as it can possibly be,” Malinowski said. “We want to open as soon as we can possibly open and it’s safe. And then the goal is to bring folks back. We’re working really hard to do that.”

Both Broderick and Perry think when they open up again, movie lovers aren’t going to come immediately flooding back.

“I’ll be able to say, ‘OK, we’re open for business. Come on in,’ ” Broderick said. “And people are going to be like, ‘Well, I don’t know if I really want to go to a movie theater right now, maybe in a couple of months. When it all really goes away, I’ll take a chance going into a crowded theater with 50-60 people.’ ”

Added Perry: “As soon as that ban is lifted, we’ll still have that fear factor. When your patrons walk through, they have to feel comfortable, because that’s going to make them come back again.”

James Ashley Lewis of Worcester is an avid moviegoer who can’t wait to see a film on the big screen again. But he admits that he’s a little wary about cinema safety.

“People’s irresponsibility towards others has become overwhelmingly apparent during this crisis,” Lewis said. “All the (disposable) gloves on the ground, it’s just one sign of that.”

When Lewis does return to the movie theater, he said he’ll probably do so while wearing a face mask.

“Maybe if I was alone in the cinema, I would take (the mask) off,” Lewis said. “I often go to the movies alone early and there’s not a single other patron in the cinema.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Effie Karas of Holden would go to the Showcase Cinema North or West Boylston Cinema four or five times per month.

“For me, the movies have served as a form of escapism from daily life, especially during these difficult times,” Karas said.

When it is deemed safe to do so, Karas said, she will return to theaters.

“I believe that strict guidelines will be issued by the state to ensure safety, but I plan to be prepared to go with a mask, gloves and disinfecting wipes,” Karas said. “I would expect the theater to implement physical distancing rules. Otherwise I would sit as far as possible from others.”