Businesses can now apply for the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant, a new program the Province has fast-tracked to support B.C. businesses ordered to temporarily close their doors due to recent public-health measures.
“This is not the way any of us wanted to start the new year with more strain on our businesses, families and communities,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Our government will be there to help hard-hit businesses that have had to shut down and get them some necessary support to help pay their bills. We can get through this together as quickly as possible by going back to the basics – bringing back our COVID-19 safety plans for all businesses, recommitting to our daily health checks and continuing to follow all public-health measures.”
Businesses that were ordered to fully close on Dec. 22, 2021, including bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve full meals, gyms, fitness and adult dance centres and event venues that can no longer hold events, can apply for relief grants of between $1,000 and $10,000. Funds from the program, which is expected to support more than 3,000 businesses, can help with expenses such as rent, employee wages, insurance, maintenance and utilities.
“There is no denying these are extremely challenging times for our industry,” said Sara Hodson, president, Fitness Industry Council of Canada. “Supports like the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant are very welcome at this time as many B.C. business owners need all of the financial supports available to us. The fitness and health industry has been committed to doing everything we can to keep people healthy and safe throughout this pandemic. We look forward to reopening and being able to once again provide the essential physical and health benefits of exercise to all British Columbians.”
The total grant amount per business will be based on the number of employees and follows a formula similar to the previous Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant that supported businesses in the spring of 2021. To apply for a grant, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/business-relief
This $10-million provincial program complements existing federal government programs, including the recently expanded Local Lockdown Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit.
The Local Lockdown Program provides wage and commercial rent support for businesses and other organizations, regardless of their sector, that have been affected by regional provincial health officer orders. This program is a way businesses, charities and non-profit organizations can be eligible for up to 75% of wage and rent support. The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit provides $300 a week in income support to eligible workers who are directly affected by a COVID-19-related public health order and who have lost 50% or more of their income.
“B.C. businesses have remained resilient throughout the pandemic and have adapted in more ways than one to keep people safe and healthy,” Kahlon said. “I continue to urge everyone to support local businesses where you can, and know that our business community needs us, as we need it. Let’s work together, and we will get through this once again.”
On Jan. 7, 2022, B.C.’s public health officer ordered all businesses to reactivate their COVID-19 safety plans to help keep employees and communities safe during the rapid spread of cases related to the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
For more information on the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant, including the application process and eligibility, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/business-relief
For more information on COVID-19 safety plans, visit: https://worksafebc.com/covid-19
For more information on B.C.’s COVID-19 recovery supports, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/economic-recovery/business-supports
For more information on federal supports, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#businesses
For information on industry-specific COVID-19 safety protocols, visit: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/covid-19/industry-specific-information
For more information on StrongerBC, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.