British Columbia

B.C. doubling relief funding for eligible businesses still closed due to COVID-19

Businesses that were given public health orders to remain temporarily closed on Tuesday, including bars, nightclubs and event venues, are eligible to receive up to $20,000.

Businesses such as bars, nightclubs and event venues where full meals are not served, can receive up to $20K

The Roxy nightclub in Vancouver, pictured on June 16, 2021. Bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve full meals have been ordered to remain closed until Feb. 16. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

If you own a business in B.C. and found out this week you cannot reopen yet due to COVID-19, you could be eligible to receive up to $20,000 from the provincial government.

In a release Wednesday, the province announced it is extending the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant and doubling financial supports for eligible businesses that were ordered on Tuesday to remain closed until Feb. 16.

These businesses include bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve full meals, as well as event venues that had to close because of cancellations.

"We are still in a pandemic, as much as we would like to be over it," said Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry during a news conference Tuesday.

Henry said the decision to keep these venues shut is based on the current rate of transmission and hospitalizations, which have been at their highest point since the pandemic began due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

To help keep these businesses afloat, owners are now eligible for up to $20,000 in total funding, based on staffing levels at the time of closure.

A business with no employees can receive $2,000, a business with between five and 99 employees can receive up to $10,000 and those with 100 or more people on staff can receive $20,000.

People work out at Engineered Bodies Strength & Conditioning gym in Port Moody, B.C., hours before restrictions took effect on Dec. 22, 2021. On Tuesday, B.C.'s provincial health officer gave fitness facilities the green light to reopen on Jan. 20. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Also Tuesday, Henry announced that gyms and fitness centres across B.C. will be allowed to start gradually reopening as of Jan. 20 after being ordered to close on Dec. 22, 2021. These businesses will receive the original four-week temporary-closure grant of up to $10,000.

"While we are encouraged to see that many fitness activities will now be able to take place in a safe, controlled environment, we know there are still sectors directly impacted by these public health measures," said Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, Ravi Kahlon, in a statement.

"Together, we can move closer to putting this pandemic behind us."

Businesses that have applied for a COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant do not need to reapply. To apply for a grant, click here. Applications will be accepted until Feb. 28.

In December, the grant was estimated to cost the province $10 million. The new extension adds $4 million to the price tag.

On Jan. 7, Henry also ordered all B.C. businesses to reactivate their COVID-19 safety plans to help keep employees and communities safe during the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

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