Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak more than larger companies, as self-isolating consumers are causing sales to dry up. Without the deep pockets to weather an extended downturn, they face the prospect of being wiped out. (AMZN -0.22%) announced it will create a $5 million relief fund for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $7 million in annual revenue near the e-commerce giant's Seattle offices. Applicants for a grant will need to estimate how much money they expect to lose in March and will need to provide some sort of record to back up the claim.

Hostess with tablet at entrance to small restaurant

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Giving its neighbors a helping hand

In writing about the creation of the relief fund, John Schoettler, Amazon's vice president of global real estate and facilities, said, "As we all adapt to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, we know that we have an important role to play in keeping our employees and residents safe and healthy, and in supporting the local businesses that are our neighbors."

Amazon will work with a third-party to administer the grant applications and distribute funds. Applications will be reviewed in the second half of March and the funds will be disbursed in April.

The e-commerce giant previously announced it would subsidize a full month of rent for tenants in buildings it owns while also paying the wages of the more than 10,000 hourly employees in its offices during the time it has recommended employees work from home.