Companies applying for coronavirus relief funds must certify that the loans are necessary and that they cannot tap other sources of funding, the SBA said. By definition, public companies have access to the capital markets. For instance, Shake Shack returned the $10 million it got through the PPP after it sold $150 million in new shares.


The change comes as a second round of funding for PPP, after the initial $350 billion was depleted last week, is set to be approved by lawmakers later Thursday. The program is set to get $310 billion in fresh funds, and industry executives have said that even this amount will likely last only days. There is no guarantee that lawmakers will approve more money for the program after that.

While the spirit of the PPP, a key component of the Trump administration's $2 trillion-plus economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, was to help small businesses, the rules during the program's initial round allowed large restaurant and hotel companies to apply for loans of up to $10 million.

When that happened, and companies including Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Potbelly Sandwich Shop were revealed to have used the program, small business owners became incensed.

The backlash deepened as companies worth more than $100 million in the stock market successfully applied for relief. Companies including DMC Global, Wave Life Sciences and Fiesta Restaurant Group won the loans, according to a Tuesday research note from Morgan Stanley.

Lenders including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have borne the brunt of the critique as small business owners claimed that bigger companies got preferential treatment when applying for the lifeline.

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