A FINANCIAL support scheme for businesses in the North of ern Ireland affected by new Coronavirus restrictions has opened for applications.
The Department of Finance expects the fund to cost £35 m over four weeks.
Businesses required to close or that have had operations severely restricted are eligible to apply.
The fund has been available to businesses in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area since last week.
But the new scheme has been doubled and extended and includes businesses in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area forced to shut their doors for a second time since March.
Businesses there were subject to tighter restrictions before the rest of Northern Ireland and will have the updated payments backdated.
Under the scheme, businesses will receive the following amounts for every week these restrictions apply:
Small businesses (up to £15,000 net annual value) – £800
Medium businesses (£15,001 – £51,000 net annual value) – £1,200
Large businesses (over £51,000 net annual value) – £1,600
Eligible businesses include cafes, pubs, hotels, close-contact services like hairdressers and other businesses required to close such as cinemas, museums and galleries.
Indoor attractions have also been closed.
Finance Minister Conor Murphy said he has encouraged executive colleagues to bring forward proposals for sectors they have responsibility for to address pressures experienced by supply chain businesses and the self-employed.
“As an executive we must do all we can to support businesses including those who to date haven’t benefitted from existing schemes.
“This scheme has been designed to provide much needed support to the occupying business within a commercial property which has been required to close or severely restrict its trading as a result of the regulations – you don’t have to be the ratepayer to receive support.
“I’m pleased this scheme will also provide financial support to owners of bed and breakfasts; some of which pay domestic rates and haven’t received support until now.”
He added that he had written to the Treasury and “asked that urgent consideration is given to bringing forward the start date of the Job Support Scheme”.