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Economy Minister Diane Dodds has welcomed the announcement of a £213 million Covid-19 support package for businesses across Northern Ireland.

The Minister said: “The expectation is that individuals, businesses and the wider economy will feel the negative impacts of Covid for many months to come so I am pleased the Executive has agreed further support for local business and the manufacturing sector. This support will help many businesses across Northern Ireland receive much needed additional support to help sustain them and the economy.

The package agreed by the Executive today includes adaptions to current support schemes, delivering on schemes already promised and new interventions to support businesses.

“The allocation of £95 million for a High Street Stimulus Scheme will also be welcomed by those who wish to see an injection of spending in our hard hit high streets. The scheme will be similar to the schemes previously rolled out in Jersey and Malta. The delivery of a Northern Ireland wide High Street Stimulus Scheme will help to encourage people to shop local and visit local retailers putting much needed revenue straight into their businesses. My Department is currently developing this scheme which will be launched taking into account public health guidance.

“I recognise that there are sections of the business community who have been without support so the support for the recently self-employed and company directors is particularly welcome. Today’s allocations also recognise that licenced premises have been particularly impacted by the recent restrictions. £10.6 million will be used to support wet pubs which are experiencing additional financial hardship. The additional £5 million to support large Tourism, Hospitality, Non-Essential Retail and Leisure businesses enables the Department to deliver schemes totalling £15 million for this important part of our economy. The allocation of £4.1 million for a Bed and Breakfast, Guest Houses and Guest Accommodation Support Fund will help to support the tourism sector. As I have previously mentioned, the pandemic and the restrictions have led to a greater reliance on online shopping and the Executive has earmarked £3 million to help local businesses market themselves and grow their online sales.”

The Minister added: “My officials are continuing to work to bring forward the details of an extension to applications to the Covid Restrictions Business Support Schemes and these will be announced in the coming days.”