Omicron: Welsh Government reveals £120 million support for business affected by new restrictions

Businesses impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant will be eligible for the emergency financial support. Credit: PA

Businesses in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant will be eligible for emergency financial support under a new Welsh Government support package.

Economy minister Vaughan Gething has announced the details of the £120 million funding – which will be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses and their supply chains.

From 6am on Boxing Day, a revised version of alert level two is being introduced which will see groups of no more than six people allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.

The two-metre social distancing rules are set to return in public places and workplaces.

Outdoor events will be limited to 50 people, with 30 indoors – but numbers able to attend events such as weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and wakes will be determined by the size of the venue.

Wales will enter a revised version of alert level two from Boxing Day. Credit: PA

Under the latest package:

  • Retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses who pay non-domestic rates will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

  • Businesses will need to re-register their details online with their local authority in order to receive their payments.

This support is also being extended to non-essential retail, so that smaller shops and travel agents will be supported.

  • In addition, hospitality and leisure businesses and their supply chains will be able to apply for top-up funding from a new Economic Resilience Fund.

  • Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000 – with funding dependant on their size and number of employees.

  • Councils will also administer a discretionary fund for businesses and sole traders who do not pay rates.

  • The fund will provide £500 to sole traders, freelancers, and taxi drivers, and £2,000 to employing businesses in impacted sectors.

One South Wales based hospitality business owner is calling on the Welsh Government to "provide the assurance we need to safeguard jobs and to ensure our sector is not unfairly punished".

Bruno Nunes is the owner of Creative Hospitality Group which owns and operates a range of hospitality venues in Cardiff and Swansea including Peppermint and BrewDog.

“As an independent business owner in this sector with £75k in weekly payroll costs and 230 amazing people in my company, I have no answers for them”, he explained.

£120 million will be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses and their supply chains. Credit: PA

Bruno added: “From what we already know the funding package is far less than what we had before and no furlough to fall back on. The £120m earmarked for not just the hospitality sector but a range of other sectors is simply not enough.

“These measures simply drive gatherings in domestic settings without ventilation, without Covid Passes and without hygiene controls in place which will ultimately increase transmission.”

Speaking on the financial support, Vaughan Gething said: “We fully understand the continued challenges faced by businesses, however we are facing a very serious situation in Wales.

“A wave of infections caused by the new, fast-moving and very-infectious omicron variant is headed our way, this means taking early action to try and control its spread – and limit the impact on Welsh businesses.

The Economy Minister went on to say more than £2.2 billion had been provided to support businesses throughout Wales to help them manage through the difficult times.

“We will continue to monitor the impact of the spread of Omicron on businesses in Wales, and will consider whether additional emergency funding is needed in the new year.”