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Washington, D.C. — A national survey of small business owners finds Main Street entrepreneurs overwhelmingly support extending enhanced unemployment benefits and mask mandates, and say a national plan for opening safely would give them a better chance at long-term survival--views that break sharply from the Trump Administration’s handling of the pandemic.

“The administration is failing to lead on containing the virus. It has bungled small business relief packages and politicized the wearing of masks, putting millions of small business owners and their employees at risk,” said Frank Knapp, Jr., co-chair of Small Business for America’s Future. “As always, small business owners are very practical. They see the need for following science and the need to continue putting money in the pockets of the two-thirds of workers who lost their jobs because of the pandemic and have not been rehired. The grave concern is that the lack of Washington leadership could result in their businesses closing again putting their future in further jeopardy. We need action. The future of our Main Street economies depend on it.”

The survey of small business owners in Small Business for America’s Future’s network, fielded from July 10-17 with more than 1,544 small business respondents, found that 80% of small business owners expect Covid-19 to disrupt business for the rest of 2020, if not longer, informing their views on the handling of a number of long-term health and economic issues. The survey found:

Strong support for extending unemployment benefits

• 56% support extending enhanced unemployment benefits, which are set to expire on July 31

• 56% are concerned letting enhanced unemployment benefits expire will harm consumer spending

• Just 20% say employees are not returning to work because they make more money on unemployment

Vast support for a national plan to reopen safely and mask mandates

• 68% say we need a nationwide plan for reopening safely

• 66% say such a plan would give businesses a better chance at surviving the pandemic

• 77% support government orders mandating masks in businesses, 58% strongly support it

• 87% say business owners have the right to deny entrance to customers without masks

• 76% are willing to close or comply with health recommendations that contain the spread of Covid-19 even if it reduces customer traffic if they have government support such as grants or long-term, low-interest loans to help their businesses and employees survive financially

Widespread economic pain

• 27% have considered closing their business permanently due to Covid-19

• 21% are facing the possibility of bankruptcy due to Covid-19

• 58% have taken on debt due to Covid-19, nearly half (49%) have taken on $50,000 or more in debt, 30% have taken on more than $100,000 in debt

• 56% have spent money on reopening expenses related to Covid-19

Small business owners hold government officials, people who won’t follow health guidelines responsible for closing again

• 29% blame people who don’t follow health guidelines such as wearing masks or practicing social distancing

• 27% blame the president and his administration

• 25% blame state and local officials

• 16% blame the media

• 3% blame other groups

“This is a crisis of leadership. The lack of a national plan to reopen safely has led to a resurgence of the virus. Business openings across the country are being rolled back. Unemployment benefits for our employees are about to run out. It has hurt me and many other small business owners I know,” said Candace Combs, owner of In-symmetry Spa in San Francisco. “We need action. Without more unemployment benefits and small business grants people are going to walk out their front door when this is all over and it's going to be a ghost town. All the small businesses you know and love will be gone.”

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