President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion economic relief package on Friday that replenishes a depleted loan program for small businesses and boosts funding for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.
The package, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday and the Senate on Tuesday, earmarks $321 billion to replenish the loan program, $60 billion for the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. Of the $321 billion for the small business loan program, $6o billion will be set aside for small businesses without strong relationships with banks — many of whom have struggled to receive assistance.
As TheWrap reported last week, many movie theater owners — particularly those without a pre-existing relationship with the banks giving out the loans or those with employees who have applied for unemployment benefits — have faced confusion and delays in receiving assistance through the initial $350 billion small business loan program — which ran dry last week — that was part of Congress’ $2 trillion economic stimulus package passed in late March.
A spokesperson for the National Association of Theatre Owners told TheWrap last week that the initial loan program “has proven to be less useful than anticipated for businesses that are closed and can’t pay employees.” (NATO declined to comment on the new round of funding that passed in the House.)
Meanwhile, some of the businesses that have been able to receive funding, much to the scrutiny of other small business owners, have included major U.S. restaurant chains like Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack. (On Sunday, Shake Shack executives announced the company was returning the $10 million loan it received.)
In California, roughly 3.3 million people have filed unemployment claims since March 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Thursday. Nationally, more than 26 million Americans have filed claims over the past five weeks.