VICTORIA — Businesses that were ordered to close last month because of public health orders in British Columbia to limit the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant can now apply for provincial relief grants of up to $10,000.

Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon says more than 3,000 operators could apply for the $10-million relief grant program, which provides between $1,000 and $10,000 to individual businesses.

Bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve full meals, as well as gyms, fitness centres and event venues, were among those ordered to temporarily close on Dec. 22, with a reopening date set for next Tuesday.

Kahlon says the grant can help businesses with expenses including rent, wages, maintenance, insurance and utilities.

He says the grant complements federal government programs that provide up to 75 per cent wage and rent support to businesses and $300 a week to eligible workers affected by public health orders.

But Kahlon says B.C. businesses that defied the health orders by staying open are not eligible to apply for the province’s grant.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2022.

The Canadian Press