Restaurants, bars, and food carts will soon be able to sign up for additional pandemic relief under a federal program aimed to keep hard-hit small businesses afloat.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Saturday that the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund will allow establishments to apply for up to $10 million in cash per business, including up to $5 million per location.

"With the launch of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, we’re prioritizing funding to the hardest-hit small businesses—irreplaceable gathering places in our neighborhoods and communities that need a lifeline now to get back on their feet," the federal agency's administrator, Isabella Casillas Guzman, said in a statement.

Under the newly announced guidelines, a slew of business types are eligible: restaurants, food carts and trucks, caterers, bars, bakeries, breweries, and wineries. The fund is the latest round of COVID relief passed under the American Rescue Plan.

"We're also focused on ensuring that the RRF program's application process is streamlined and free of burdensome, bureaucratic hurdles—while still maintaining robust oversight," Guzman added. Recipients do not have to repay the money provided it is used for eligible expenses before March 11th, 2023. The cash can be used on payroll—including sick leave—as well as rent, mortgage payments, utilities bills, construction of outdoor seating, and more.

About $9.5 billion in funds is set aside for businesses with revenues under $1.5 million in 2019, with allocations differing depending on that revenue. Priority will go towards small businesses owned by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged business owners, namely, people of color. During the first three weeks of the program, the administration will look at applications exclusively from these priority groups.

The program aims to ensure funds are allocated to small businesses suffering the most—those that are truly small businesses and owned by people who are a part of historically under-resourced groups. The early rounds of a forgivable loans program, called the Paycheck Protection Program, was harshly criticized for being out-of-reach for some small businesses and inequitably distributed.

The launch-date for the application portal of the new funds has not yet been announced.

First, the SBA will undertake a seven-day pilot period to address technical issues with the application process and conduct outreach and training. Businesses who will participate in the pilot will be randomly chosen from existing borrowers under the forgivable loans program from last year that are in this new fund's priority groups. The businesses won't receive money until the application portal is made public.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition, the Brewers Association, and the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., welcomed the new guidelines as a way to help out independent bar and restaurant operators as well as Black-owned restaurants.

The chambers president, Ron Busby, Sr., said in a statement: "In addition to historically having less operating liquidity and revenue than almost any other small business demographic, Black-owned restaurants received significantly less stimulus funding during the COVID-19 pandemic, heightening challenges and leading to disproportionate closures."

To learn more about the application requirements, head to the SBA's program guide here. For Spanish, click here. You can check out a sample application here.