New funding will be available to businesses in British Columbia affected by the latest measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, but the economic recovery minister says those who break the health orders need not apply.
The B.C. government has established a $50-million fund for about 14,000 businesses, such as restaurants, bars and breweries, that have been affected by the provincial health officer’s orders, which end on April 19.
Businesses are eligible for up to $10,000 in a one-time payment to cover expenses like perishables, rent or employee wages.
Relief measures will be welcomed by Vancouver Island restaurants including the Gorge Pointe Pub, which has seen its capacity go from 188 customers pre-pandemic to just 22 on the patio.
“We’re certainly not making any money staying open right now, we are basically being open to employee people,” said owner Mike Joss.
Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon says the pandemic has been particularly hard on small businesses, including the local restaurant scene.
Kahlon says, however, businesses that refuse to follow the provincial health orders or had their business licences pulled are not eligible for the funding.
Applications for the relief funding — being dubbed the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant — open next week.
Despite the financial boost coming from the government, some restaurants feel it might not be enough.
“How far does $10,000 go?” Paul Hadfield, owner of Spinnakers Pub said. Hadfield, who closed operations after a staff recently tested positive for COVID-19, said his decisions are impacting approximately 60 employees.
While most operations have listened to the recent government orders, some have refused and Kahlon criticized those businesses.
“I’m overwhelmingly disgusted by these handful of businesses,” he said. “We are not going to be supporting that behaviour.”
Bridgitte Anderson, president of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, said many businesses “were shaken by the sudden order to close or stop in-person services.”
In a statement, she said the additional support is welcome.
“Moving forward, should the B.C. government consider additional measures or new restrictions, we encourage them to work closely with the business community and ensure clear criteria are established so businesses have the opportunity to plan ahead and understand how they will be impacted.”
With files to the Canadian Press.