BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As many small businesses have struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, several have applied for the Federal Personal Paycheck Protection program loans.

Many small business owners, however, said the program has been full of obstacles, and they worry that it doesn’t go far enough.

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Ally Vitale owns The Bar Method Baltimore, a fitness studio in Locust Point.

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She said the PPP loans have covered employee pay and some rent and utility costs, but will likely only cover expenses until July. Vitale believes she won’t go back to business as usual until at least the fall.

“I think for a lot of businesses, the PPP is kind of a stopgap to an eventual closure,” Vital said.

A big problem for Owner Amanda Rothschild, of Charmington’s in Charles Village, is the rule requiring 75 percent of the loan going to retaining or rehiring employees.

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“If it’s only used for to pay your employees’ payroll, that’s great,” she said. “But it puts the burden on the business to provide unemployment.”

Rothschild said she’d like to see the program evolve and help businesses find longterm solutions to adapt to a world starting to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would like to see assistance on business consulting, for adding deliveries systems,” Rothschild said.

Many businesses are waiting to see what moves legislators make next to help businesses, as the state slowly enters recovery.

“Beyond kind of July, there’s just so many questions for so many owners,” Vitale said.

Business owners can have the PPP loans forgiven if they use them for payroll as the rules dictate, but many are pushing for a change so they can cover other costs.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Stetson Miller