COVID-19: B.C. to provide $50 million in grants to businesses affected by recent restrictions

The grant will provide businesses with up to $10,000 in one-time funding.

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The B.C. government has announced a $50-million “circuit breaker” relief grant to help businesses hit hard by recent COVID-19 restrictions.

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announced Thursday the creation of the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant for the estimated 14,000 restaurants, bars, gyms, fitness studios, breweries and wineries across B.C. impacted by the provincial health orders put in place March 30.

“I’ve heard how hard these new orders are on some sectors of the economy,” said Kahlon.

The grant will provide businesses with up to $10,000 in one-time funding to help with monthly fixed costs such as wages, rent, and insurance or to address unexpected costs arising from the provincial health orders, such as restaurants who lost money buying perishable food they weren’t able to use due to the closures.

The grant is targeted specifically to businesses affected by circuit breaker restrictions in effect until at least April 19.

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The restrictions shut down indoor dine-in service for restaurants, bars and pubs, as well as indoor group fitness activities at gyms and studios. Outdoor dining is still allowed, as are individual one-on-one fitness activities.

“We understand how greatly this group of businesses have been, and continue to be, impacted by the pandemic,” said Premier John Horgan in a statement. “This grant will provide the funds these businesses need to help them through this extraordinary time.”

The grant is open to eligible businesses that have been in operation since Feb. 1.

The amount of the grant depends on the number of employees, starting with $1,000 for businesses without staff to $10,000 for businesses with more than 100 employees.

Businesses that had been closed or had their license revoked due to non-compliance are not eligible for the grant, said Kahlon. “We are not going to be supporting bad behaviour.”

Applications for the circuit breaker business relief grant will open next week.

Funding from the grant will be taken from the $345-million Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program.

Industry groups welcomed news of the grant.

“We welcome this additional support as our 200-plus members across B.C. navigate the difficult weeks ahead,” said Ken Beattie, executive director of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild. “From patios to growler sales to direct support for small business, every bit helps.”

Miles Prodan, president and CEO of Wine Growers British Columbia, said the grant, along with other supports by the B.C. government, “will help the sector prepare for when we can again be fully open to welcome visitors.”

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(More to come).

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