Last week ministers announced that business-related coronavirus support schemes would be extended from April to June.
This includes extensions to the Visitor Attraction and Events Scheme 2, the Visitor Accommodation Support Scheme, the Business Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme and the Fixed Costs Support Scheme, which provides financial assistance to cover things, such as rental costs, associated with running a business.
The Co-Funded Payroll Scheme, which covers part of staff wages, will also be extended until June for businesses affected by the winter circuit-breaker. This includes hospitality, events and non-essential retail.
Rob Ritchie, owner of Stage 2 Productions, which supplies and operates technical equipment for large-scale events, said that while he was pleased with the extension of the support until June, some schemes needed to be extended further to cater for specific industries.
Under the government’s roadmap for easing Covid restrictions large-scale events will not be permitted until 14 June.
‘Although events can resume from June, our revenue will not go from zero to 100 just like that. Events take time to plan and it could be a further two months from June until we get back to normal,’ said Mr Ritchie. ‘Support for our industry needs to carry on past June. I am not saying it has to be at the same level, but the government should not turn the tap off straight away. The support should be tapered until we get back to a normal working capacity.’
He said the support received from the government throughout the pandemic had been ‘inadequate’.
‘There has been a lack of understanding towards our industry throughout the pandemic and it took too long for the support to arrive,’ he said. ‘We now need to make sure the support is not cut too soon.’
James Robertson, owner of The Event Shop, has welcomed the extension of the schemes.
He said: ‘Obviously it is great to know we will be covered whilst restrictions continue to ease. However, I hope that come June it does not just fall off a cliff edge. I appreciate the level of support will reduce but we will still require it in some form whilst we build back up our business after having it decimated by the pandemic.’
Mr Robertson said he was beginning to receive bookings for this summer as people felt more confident about things returning to normal.
He added: ‘The date in June for easing the final lot of restrictions is the big one. Once we get there I think we can look forward to a very exciting back half of the year. The only thing that could derail our progress is the opening of borders. Hopefully this is kept under control and businesses in the Island can thrive once again.’