Northern Ireland news

£40m grant scheme launched to aid 3,200 hospitality businesses

The north’s hospitality sector took a severe hit from the emergence of the Omicron variant in December
Jonathan McCambridge, PA

A £40 million grant scheme to support hospitality operators affected by the latest Covid restrictions in Northern Ireland has been launched.

The Department of Finance’s Land and Property Services has begun contacting hospitality businesses to confirm their details to enable the Omicron Hospitality Payment to be made.

In December Finance Minister Conor Murphy said his department would deliver the support package to hospitality businesses.

The Stormont executive imposed restrictions on the hospitality sector in an attempt to stem the sharp rise in the number of Omicron cases.

Over 3,200 businesses will be eligible for the one-off grant payment of either £10,000, £15,000 or £20,000 based on their rateable value.

Eligible businesses will include; restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bistros, snack bars, nightclubs, pubs, social clubs and private members’ clubs.

Businesses are being contacted by email if they previously received a payment previously under the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS).

The email will include a link to an online form, where businesses will be asked to confirm some relevant information and complete a declaration in order to enable payments.

Businesses have been asked to check their mailbox for this email, including junk mail folders.

If there has been no change in a business’s circumstances, the payment should be with the business within seven to 10 working days of their application, depending on how long the payment takes to clear through the banking system.

If circumstances have changed, Land and Property Services will need to carry out some further validation checks and gather some additional information, which will require additional time to process.

A process has been put in place to allow new hospitality start-up businesses or those that had not previously applied to LRSS to apply for the Omicron Hospitality Payment.

These businesses can apply by downloading an application form from the nibusinessinfo website.

Hospitality restrictions announced by the Executive before Christmas included the closure of nightclubs and the prohibition of indoor standing events.

For hospitality businesses remaining open, a series of added curbs apply.

Dancing is currently banned while a table service only policy was reintroduced, along with the “rule of six” limit on table sizes.

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