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New relief funding coming for businesses ordered closed

Ravi Kahlon

VICTORIA – British Columbia businesses that were mandated to temporarily shut down through public health orders because of surging COVID-19 cases will be eligible to receive a new one-time relief grant of up to $10,000.

The COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant will supplement federal support programs and provide funding to help affected businesses alleviate some financial pressures and help with expenses including rent, employee wages, insurance, maintenance and utilities.

“We’re all exhausted by COVID-19, but unfortunately COVID-19 is not done with us,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, in a news release. “As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, we are coming together to ensure those hardest hit businesses will receive much-needed support. The COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant will directly help businesses through these difficult times. I encourage everyone in B.C. to support impacted local businesses, including businesses that have been forced to close by buying gift cards and memberships for future use.”

The grant was fast-tracked by the province following new restrictions announced by the provincial health officer on Dec. 21, 2021, and will cost an estimated $10 million.

Businesses ordered fully closed include:

* gyms, fitness and adult dance centres

* bars, lounges and nightclubs

* event venues that can no longer hold events

Relief grants of between $1,000 and $10,000 will be provided to eligible businesses based on their number of employees, following the similar formula to the previous Circuit Breaker Relief Grant that supported businesses in the spring of 2021.

Applications for the grant will begin in January 2022. More information on how to apply will be made available over the next few weeks, with the application process open until the end of February 2022. Business advisors will be able to support and direct applicants through a dedicated call centre that will be set up in early January by the Province and Small Business BC. Businesses will also be able to email questions to: covid@smallbusinessbc.ca

The provincial COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant program is in addition to the federal government’s expansion of its Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and the Local Lockdown Program for workers and employers across the country who are affected by new capacity restrictions and closures.

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