Over $5 billion in U.S. small business relief loans approved in first week: SBA

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese restaurant and barber shop in Harlem are closed, as retail sales suffer record drop during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan R Smith/File Photo/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Small Business Administration said on Tuesday it has approved over $5 billion in small business relief loans in the first week since reopening the Paycheck Protection Program under a new round of federal funding.

The loans, which convert to grants if borrowers follow guidelines including using the funds primarily to cover payroll, went to 60,000 businesses via 3,000 lenders, the SBA said in a statement.

In the last round of PPP loans in April, the agency approved more than $52 billion to 475,000 borrowers in the first day and a half.

The slower pace this time was in part by design: borrowing was restricted this first week to lenders specializing in underserved communities, including firms owned by minorities, women, and veterans, and to small lenders.

Starting on Tuesday the program - funded with $284 billion from December’s $892 billion pandemic relief package - is open to all lenders.

Reporting by Pete Schroeder in Washington; Editing by Franklin Paul and Matthew Lewis