The United States could reopen in May, or "as soon as the president feels comfortable with the medical issues" behind the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and airlines could start hearing about their grant applications on Friday, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"We are (doing) everything necessary so that American companies and American workers can be open for business, and that they have the liquidity that they need to operate their business in the interim," Mnuchin told CNBC's Jim Cramer Thursday.
His comments followed a Federal Reserve announcement that it had rolled out a broad, $2.3 trillion effort aimed at helping local governments, as well as small and mid-sized businesses, in an effort to keep the economy intact.
Mnuchin added that since last Friday, when small businesses were able to begin obtaining loans through the most recent $2.1 trillion coronavirus relief package, banks have done a great job getting the money out.
"I want to encourage all small businesses that if they don't get a loan today, there will be money," said Mnuchin. "We asked Congress for another $250 billion to make sure every single small business has money. But I would say the big news for today is that we have been working around the clock with the Federal Reserve."
Meanwhile, Mnuchin said he hopes to give airlines "preliminary information" about their applications for government funding beginning Friday.
Last Friday, several major airlines said they had applied for federal aid aimed at covering their payrolls, and grants were approved as part of the relief package. The bill also had offered some $29 billion in loans for passenger and cargo airlines, while giving grants the first priority.
“It is our objective, to make sure that I’ve said this is not a bailout, but airlines have the liquidity to keep their workers in place. So that’s the next big thing we’ll be rolling out,” Mnuchin said.
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