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Businesses may get COVID-19 relief loans as soon as Friday

NEW YORK (AP) — Small businesses seeking loans through the government’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief package could receive money as soon as Friday.

That prediction came Tuesday from senior administration officials who spoke to reporters about the details of the loan program.

Companies will be able to submit applications on Friday. Because the government is using an approval process that has been stripped down from the one used for traditional business loans, the money can be available to borrowers the same day, the officials said.

READ MORE: What you need to do to get your government stimulus check

The officials spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity because the details have not been officially made public.

The loans are available to small businesses ranging from sole proprietors and freelancers to companies with up to 500 employees.

The money is intended to help companies that suffered massive revenue losses due to the outbreak, including restaurants across the country forced to shut down.

The loans, which are being guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, provide for deferred payments and offer the prospect of forgiveness if the money is used to retain workers or hire back those who have been laid off.

Companies can borrow up to $10 million at an annual rate of 0.5% based on their payroll costs as well as their expenses for rent, mortgage interest and utilities. They will need to provide documentation of those expenses, the officials said.

All banks, credit unions and institutions in the farm credit system that are federally insured will be able to make the loans, not just the institutions that are current SBA lenders. The government will consider accepting non-bank lenders like online companies as program participants. It is expected that most borrowers will apply for the loans online.