Restaurants and retailers have applauded recent changes in the government’s $670 billion small business rescue program that make it easier for companies battling the Covid-19 pandemic to qualify for loan forgiveness. But the increased flexibility has come late for scores of small businesses that followed the Paycheck Protection Program’s original rules—and quickly used up most or all of their money.

Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Florida, Texas and other Sunbelt states have disrupted many reopening plans. The governor…

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