The idea is simple: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
Businesses can apply now, and the program will be available through June 30, 2020.
This program is specifically designed for any small business with fewer than 500 employees. That includes sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed people, as well as private non-profit organizations or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19.
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Restaurants, bars and pubs have been hit especially hard by the pandemic and government-imposed bans on on-site dining.
But the SBA says small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible at the individual store and location level if the store employs less than 500 workers.
"This means each store location could be eligible," the SBA says in an explanation of the program. (That explanation can be found at this link.)
Businesses can apply at a variety of lenders — at any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.
Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program, the SBA said.
Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.
There is more information about the program at sba.gov.