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Florida restaurants depending on stimulus for survival

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Small businesses would be able to rehire their employees for up to 10 weeks under the federal stimulus at no cost to the business.

Under the $2 billion federal stimulus package passed by the House and signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, small businesses will be able to borrow up to $10 million.

It will allow 10 weeks of salaries, rent, utilities and mortgage payments to be forgiven from the loan.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association believes it’s the only way many of their members will survive.

“So, this is going to be a huge way to put our industry back on the map again. Get people back employed, and get back up and running, hopefully very soon," said Carol Dover, CEO of the association.

But employees can’t have it both ways.

“So if you are going to apply for unemployment, then you are not eligible for this loan," said Dover.

The stimulus is likely to put 1 million already unemployed hospitality workers back on the payroll, taking some of the burdens off an overburdened unemployment filing system. Even with the stimulus, the association said some restaurants won’t survive.

“Businesses, many of them will not rebound. Some won’t rebound now, which is very unfortunate. But I think is this goes past June, you will see many of Florida’s small business rebound,” said Dover.

Small businesses are being told to check with their local bank to begin the loan process.

The federal stimulus interest-free loan is available to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. When it comes to restaurant franchise locations, each franchise can have up to 500 workers.

The legislation also requires restaurants and lodging establishments to keep their employees on the payroll until the end of June to have that money forgiven.