Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. boosts ‘circuit breaker’ business aid as COVID-19 ban drags on

Hotels, motels eligible as well as restaurants, bars, fitness centres

The B.C. government is expanding its latest business relief grant program after indoor dining, fitness and recreational travel has been restricted to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The “circuit breaker” grant fund is now extended to hotels, motels and qualifying AirBnB-type accommodations, Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon said Monday. Accommodation businesses have pledged to turn away out-of-region guest bookings as part of the latest travel ban between the Lower Mainland, Interior and Vancouver Island that took effect Friday.

The “circuit breaker” order banned indoor dining and group fitness as of March 31, and has been extended to May 25 along with the travel restrictions. A $50 million compensation fund was established to pay affected businesses up to $10,000 based on the number of employees, and that has been extended and expanded to up to $20,000 with $75 million from the large pandemic contingency funds included in the April 20 B.C. budget.

Hotels, motels and eligible short-term accommodation businesses can apply for a $25 million share of the fund, if they are registered as businesses in B.C. The program has also been extended to “high-intensity fitness facilities that were partially or fully closed as a result of the provincial health officer’s orders issued in November 2020 and updated on March 31, 2021,” the ministry said in a statement.

The fund is available for applications on a first-come, first-served basis and remains open until June 4 or when the funds run out. Businesses that previously applied for or received the first round of circuit breaker grants do not need to apply again.

RELATED: Got your first vaccine before April 6? Register for second one

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