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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today announced a new Covid support scheme to help wet pubs forced to close by regulations.

The Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme (WPBSS) will provide £10.6m to drink-only public houses which were forced to close between July 4 and September 23.

The Minister said: “Public houses which serve drink only have suffered significantly due to the impact of the restrictions on trading imposed through the Health Regulations. Most hospitality businesses were able to re-open on 4th July after the first restrictions were eased, however, pubs that didn’t serve a main meal were required to remain closed until 23rd September - some 12 weeks longer. This is why I felt it was very important to provide this support scheme for wet pubs.”

Businesses meeting the following criteria will be eligible for the WPBSS:

  1. The business is named within the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

    and

    The business is eligible for the Department of Finance’s Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS);

  2. Businesses which have failed to comply with a prohibition notice under regulation 7 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020(b) would not be eligible for support under the scheme.
  3. The business was closed during the period 4 July to 23 September 2020. The applicant will be eligible to apply for the number of full weeks it was closed during this period.
  4. Only businesses that were fully closed during the 4 July to 23 September period are eligible, those businesses that operated at a reduced capacity are not eligible (for example those who offered a takeaway service only).
  5. Wet pubs which have an attached off licence service are eligible for support if the wet pub element of their business was closed.
  6. Businesses must have been actively trading before they were forced to close due to Covid-19 lockdown/ restrictions.
  7. Businesses that were subject to the conditions below are not eligible:
    • dissolved or about to be dissolved, insolvent or for whom insolvency action had been instigated; or
    • dormant, i.e. not trading but not insolvent.

The schemes will use datasets held by Land & Property Services, as well as an additional verification checks completed by DfE (including self-declarations relating to the qualifying period of time the business was closed and the submission of bank statements to evidence the relevant trading position). Payments will issue to eligible wet pubs without an additional application process.

Payments will be based on the Net Annual Value (NAV) rating of the business. The payment structure, which is consistent with that of the Local Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS), is set out below:

  1. Total NAV £15,000 and less: £800 per week x 12 weeks
  2. Total NAV £15,001 to £51,000: £1,200 per week x 12 weeks
  3. Total NAV over £51,000: £1,600 per week x 12 weeks

Details on when the scheme will open will be provided as soon as possible.