Small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic can now start applying for new, forgivable loans from the federal government.
"I encourage all small businesses that have 500 or fewer people, please contact your lenders. ... You get the money, you’ll get it the same day, you use this to pay your workers. Please bring your workers back to work. If you’ve let them go, you have eight weeks plus overhead," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
Besides employee salaries, small businesses can use the loans to cover their mortgages and benefits like paid leave and health insurance.
Nearly $350 billion is available through the Paycheck Protection Program. That money was allocated through the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed by Congress in late March.
But the Consumer Bankers Association says banks only received updated guidance on how to implement the program hours before the Friday launch. So it's asking small business owners to be patient when applying for their loans.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Americans will begin getting their direct payments from the stimulus package as early as the week of April 13.