And even if the nonpayroll threshold were lifted, restaurant owners have said the program still has other flaws. The loans were designed to last only eight weeks, with the expectation that businesses could reopen by then.
But the persistence of COVID-19, which has killed more than 70,000 Americans, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, means many businesses have stayed shuttered longer than expected — or must reopen at reduced capacity to abide by social distancing rules.
“No one expects restaurants to open in the next eight weeks,” said Naomi Pomeroy, who runs a small restaurant called Beast in Portland, Oregon. She spoke to reporters on a conference call last month urging a revamp of the program.
Several lawmakers said Wednesday they recognized that problem and were considering ways to address it. “The eight weeks is gonna run out before you know it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who also favors easing the 25 percent cap on overhead expenses. “Most restaurants and hotels are still going to have a problem staying in business.”
Pelosi echoed that view at a forum with small businesses on Tuesday. “I certainly think we have to extend the loan forgiveness period,” she said.