One-quarter of small businesses say virus shutdown has them on brink of permanent closure

(USA Features) About 25 percent of all small business owners say they are getting close to permanently shutting down after being deemed ‘non-essential’ during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to polling released Friday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one-in-four small businesses said they are less than eight weeks away from permanently closing while another 24 percent have already closed temporarily due to pandemic-induced shutdowns.

In all, about 54 percent of small businesses say they are either closed or expect to close temporarily in the next two weeks.

“This is an extraordinarily difficult time for small business owners across the country,” said Christel Slaughter, the chairwoman of the business group’s Small Business Council. “Many are facing significant disruptions, and as the data shows, many are on the brink of closure.”

The March 25-28 poll released by the chamber and by insurance firm MetLife shows that direct cash payments would be the most helpful aid small businesses could receive from the federal government, as part of a recently-passed $2.2 trillion relief effort.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday said that small business loans included in the coronavirus relief bill enacted late last week would be available Friday.

“As the poll results show, small business owners are looking for loans and financial aid to ensure they do not have to shut their doors or go bankrupt because of the coronavirus,” said Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the chamber

“American banks are ready to help, but they need clear guidelines from the administration,” Bradley said.

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