Health and council officials are appealing to residents to double their efforts in fighting the spread of coronavirus after latest statistics confirmed that Bridgend County Borough is now the third highest place in Wales for positive cases.
Council Leader Huw David said: “Cases across the county borough have trebled in size with 1,100 new cases in less than 10 days. With covid-19 infection rates rising steeply across all of our communities, the First Minister has today warned that a further national lockdown may be necessary if figures do not fall.
“With limited intensive care beds left available throughout the region, NHS staff and services are being really stretched. This is an exceptionally challenging time, and this has already been recognised by Welsh Government with their recent announcement on closing schools earlier than planned.
“Now more than ever, people need to take the pandemic seriously and act to protect their friends, family, neighbours and themselves.
“Covid does not go away just because it’s Christmas, and everyone needs to play their part. Think about your actions and the consequences they might have. Don’t put yourselves or your loved ones at risk – wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands, and follow the guidance.
“Preparations are underway for the rollout of the new vaccine, but this will take time to implement, and should not be treated as an immediate return to normality.
“We are all in this together, so please, give us your support and do all that you can to keep Bridgend County Borough safe.”
Announcing that an updated pandemic control plan will soon be published, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “If rates keep on rising and the pressure on the NHS continues unchecked, we will have to consider a move to the next alert level – level four – immediately after the Christmas period.
“This is not inevitable. We can all take steps to control the spread of coronavirus by reducing the number of people we are in contact with and mix with.
“This virus thrives on our normal human behaviour – whenever and wherever we come together and spend time with friends and other people, we can pass on or catch the virus.
“Taking action now to reduce the number of people we see and mix with can help determine what happens after Christmas.
For more information about ways you can get a Covid-19 test, call 119 or visit the coronavirus page at the Welsh Government website.
Grants launched for firms affected by hospitality restrictions
The first part of a new Welsh Government fund has been launched today, December 11 to support traders that have been directly impacted by the national restrictions put in place on the hospitality sector.
The £160m Restrictions Business Fund, which is being delivered by local authorities, consists of two separate grants – the Discretionary Grant, which launches today, and the Non Domestic Rate Grant.
The Discretionary Grant involves a £2,000 grant to help businesses that have been forced or required to close as a result of the restrictions which started on December 4. Businesses can also apply for the funding if they can demonstrate that the restrictions will result in at least a 40 per cent reduction in their turnover for December as compared to December 2019 (or September 2020 turnover if not trading in December 2019).
This includes supply chain firms linked to the hospitality sectors and retail businesses that can demonstrate a material impact to their enterprises as a result of the additional restrictions. Businesses can apply via the Bridgend County Borough Council website from today, December 11.
The council’s deputy leader Hywel Williams said: “The Restrictions Business Fund has been launched by the Welsh Government to support businesses that have been directly impacted by the additional restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19 on Friday, December 4.
“The purpose of the grant is to provide businesses with cash flow support and to help them survive the economic consequences of the restrictions introduced. Businesses cannot apply for the Discretionary Grant and the Non Domestic Rate Grant.
“Where businesses have submitted applications, the council aim to process them within 30 working days from the date an application has been received when it has been correctly completed with any relevant supporting information.
“I would urge all eligible businesses in Bridgend county borough who have been affected by this latest set of measures to apply.
“We kindly ask businesses not to contact the council to check on the progress of an application – we understand the importance of ensuring these applications are assessed as quickly as possible with the funding issued, and that process can be delayed when dealing with businesses checking on their status.”
All applications will be considered on an individual basis and payment of the grant is at the discretion of Bridgend County Borough Council.
Where required, businesses can check their eligibility and apply for the grant relevant to their circumstances on Bridgend County Borough Council’s Welsh Government business support webpage.
Applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis. This may lead to applications not being appraised after they have been submitted if the fund is fully committed. Applicants will be notified of this by email.
Non Domestic Rate Grant
The Non Domestic Rate Grant is available to businesses who occupy a business premises and are liable to pay business rates. It involves:
- a £3,000 cash grant payment for hospitality businesses with Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) qualifying hereditaments with a rateable value £12,000 or less
- a £5,000 cash grant payment for hospitality businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000
- a £5,000 cash grant payment for hospitality businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value between £51,001 and £150,000
These grants will be available to hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses and their supply chain and retail businesses with qualifying SBRR properties that can evidence (on a self-declared basis) greater than 40 per cent reduction in turnover as a result of the new restrictions.
From today, December 11, automatic payments worth just more than £500,000 are being made to businesses who occupy a business premises, are liable to pay rates and both received a grant through the recent lockdown funding and are affected by the current restrictions.
For any businesses who occupy a business premises, are liable to pay rates and who are affected by the current restrictions but did not apply previously for the lockdown non domestic grant fund, they can apply via the Bridgend County Borough Council website in the near future. More information will be released shortly.
For those businesses who then occupy a business premises linked to the hospitality sector or certain retail businesses and are able to demonstrate a material impact to their trading activity as a result of the current restrictions, they can apply via the council website in the New Year. More information will be released shortly.
Economic Resilience Fund Sector Specific Support
If you are not eligible for the above grants you may be eligible for the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) Sector Specific Fund.
This fund is targeted at hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses or supply chain companies that are affected as a result of the current restrictions with a greater than 60 per cent impact of turnover.
Eligible businesses will have to be employing staff via PAYE, and either VAT registered or (exempt from VAT) with turnover above £85,000, or limited companies with turnover above £50,000.
Businesses who have accessed the Restrictions Business Fund could also apply for this fund if they met the eligibility requirements.
A triage tool is available on the Business Wales website for businesses to check their eligibility for the fund and it will open to applications on the week commencing January 11.