More than 140,000 firms in Britain have applied so far for the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which went live on Monday.
The scheme allows British companies to apply for a grant to cover up to 80 per cent of a furloughed employee's wages, or £2,500 a month, whichever is lower.
Any UK firm with employees can apply for the grant provided they had set up a payroll scheme before 28th February 2020. Employers will pay their employees each month and then reclaim the money from HM Revenue and Customs online.
Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing on Monday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the grants would help to pay the salaries of more than a million people.
The system is designed to process up to 450,000 applications an hour, and employers can expect to receive the money within six working days of making an application, the government says.
Web-chat services and phone lines are currently available to help answer applicants' questions.
"People have come out of retirement, put aside their normal duties, and worked around the clock, from their kitchen tables and spare rooms, to get this new system up and running," Sunak said.
"This remarkable story of public service reminds us how many different people are playing a role in this crisis - and I'm very grateful to all of them, for everything they've done."
Sunak said that the primary aim of all new schemes being launched by the government is to "maintain as many people as possible in their existing jobs; to support viable businesses to stay afloat; and to protect the incomes of the self-employed to allow them to trade again."
Earlier on Friday, Mr Sunak announced that the government had decided to extend the CJRS until the end of June.
HMRC CEO Jim Harra told the BBC the system received 67,000 job claims from companies in first 30 minutes after going live at 08:00 on Monday.
"We have scaled our IT system to cope with the maximum number of claims that we could receive - there are well over two million Pay-As-You-Earn schemes and our system is big enough to handle a claim from every one of those," Harra said.
A recent study by Resolution Foundation found that the demand from employers for CJRS has been much higher than initially anticipated.
On Monday, the government also launched two schemes worth £1.25 billion to support innovative firms in Britain.
As part of the initiative, the government will launch a new Future Fund worth £500 million to ensure that high growth firms across Britain have access to the investment they need during current economic crisis.
The government also launching a separate scheme to offer £750 million of grant and loan funding to thousands of innovative firms in various sectors and regions across the country.
British MP David Davis urges the government to block Chinese attempts to seize control of Imagination Technologies
The government should try to bring about a purchase of the firm by somebody else in a Western country, Davis suggests
Computing examines the pandemic crisis and identifies key trends likely to continue long after the lockdown ends
Will Wallace, Partner at Interel, a European public affairs consultancy, asks how the relationship between big tech and government will change in the post-pandemic world
Huawei's lawyer told the court that the progress of the case could be delayed due to coronavirus outbreak
Huawei played a significant role in shipping prohibited US equipment to Iran, internal documents indicate
The goods shipped included HP computer equipment as well as software from American software firms