Welsh government unveils £ 120million Omicron business support package

Businesses in Wales affected by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant will be eligible for emergency financial assistance under a new support program from the Welsh government.

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

Starting at 6 a.m. on Boxing Day, a revised version of Alert Level Two is introduced, which will allow groups of up to six people to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has unveiled details of support for businesses in Wales affected by the new restrictions introduced on Boxing Day (Ben Birchall / PA)

The two-meter social distancing rules are expected to return to public places and workplaces.

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

Under the latter package, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses that pay non-national rates will be eligible for a payment of £ 2,000, £ 4,000 or £ 6,000 depending on their assessed value.

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

This support is also extended to non-essential retail, so small shops and travel agencies will be supported.

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

Eligible businesses can apply for grants ranging from £ 2,500 to £ 25,000 – funding depends on their size and number of employees.

The boards will also administer a discretionary fund for businesses and independent traders who do not pay rates.

The fund will provide £ 500 to independent traders, freelancers and taxi drivers, and £ 2,000 to businesses employing affected sectors.

Mr Gething said: ‘We fully understand the challenges facing business, but we are facing a very serious situation in Wales.

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

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have provided more than £ 2.2bn in support to businesses across Wales to help them cope under difficult circumstances.

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