Companies that defied COVID-19 closure orders are not eligible for BC grants


Close to 3,000 companies that were forced to shut down just before Christmas are eligible for grants ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 10,000, based on their number of employees.

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BC companies that defied a public health order to close last month will be disqualified from receiving financial support from the province.

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Close to 3,000 companies that were forced to shut down just before Christmas are eligible for grants ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 10,000, based on their number of employees.

Applications for the COVID-19 closure grant opened Wednesday, but provincial economic recovery minister Ravi Kahlon said companies that refused to close would not be eligible for the grant.

“I know the majority of companies do the right thing, and even they do not like the fact that there are companies that defy orders when others obey the rules,” Kahlon said. “So my message to them is, ‘Thank you for following the orders.’ And to those who are not, ‘Unfortunately, these grants are not available to you.’”

Kahlon said his ministry has set up an audit system to ensure companies that have defied orders will not receive a grant.

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The $ 10 million program was announced on December 22, two days after the province’s health worker, Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered gyms, gyms, nightclubs, bars and lounges that do not serve meals to close, in an attempt to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant.

The CEO of the Associated Beverage Licenses of BC, Jeff Guignard, said the order came at the worst possible time.

“These closures happened during our busiest season, the holiday season, and this revenue is helping us through the slowest season, which is January and February,” he explained. “A nightclub, Cabana, had to cancel reservations for $ 120,000 on New Year’s Eve, and the owner told me he was refunding a $ 5,000 deposit when he got the news that he could apply for a $ 5,000 grant.”

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After the order was made, at least two gyms in Kamloops and one in West Kelowna continued to operate. They were fined $ 2,300 each under BC’s COVID Related Measures Act.

Guignard said he is not aware of any bars or nightclubs defying the order, but he is disappointed the province will disqualify companies that did.

“Some of the people who opened up and breached orders – it’s not because they’re bad citizens. It’s because they’s financially desperate. So getting the right supports in place ensures that does not happen.”

Guignard said the appropriations, which are not linked, are a welcome “stopgap” but not enough to ensure that now-closed companies will survive. He said they are counting on the federal government’s “Local Lockdown” program, which provides subsidies of up to 75 percent of wages and rent.

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“The provincial grant alone is not enough. However, the federal support is absolutely crucial and a big part of what should help these companies get through.”

Guignard said the pandemic has already forced 1,200 of the province’s 8,000 pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants out of operation, and just as many risk permanent closure this year.

“We’re two years into this, and financially, emotionally and psychologically, people are at the end of their ropes,” he said.

There were 2,859 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in BC on Wednesday and six more deaths. The province reported 500 people in the hospital, 102 of whom were in intensive care.

Earlier this week, Henry said the continued rise in hospital admissions means the restrictions set to expire next Tuesday will “remain in place until further notice.”

Kahlon said he would consider changes to the program if Henry extends the closures.

“If these health orders are extended for any reason, we will certainly ensure that the support that companies need for the extra time is available.”


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