VICTORIA — More help is on the way for British Columbia businesses forced to stay closed for at least another month as the province tries to contain the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

A statement from the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation says businesses, including event venues, bars, nightclubs and lounges, that don’t serve full meals are now eligible for grants of up to $20,000, based on staffing levels.

The funds, which double the amount available to those businesses, can be claimed through the provincial COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant.

Businesses ordered by the provincial health officer to remain closed at least until Feb. 16 are eligible for the larger amount, while those that have since been allowed to reopen can claim up to $10,000.

The province says the $4-million extension of the grant program complements existing federal assistance, including the Local Lockdown Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, which provide wage, rent or income support to those affected by pandemic-related closures.

Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, says the province has increased the funding because some sectors are still affected by public health measures.

“Our government will continue to support these businesses, as we have in the past. Together, we can move closer to putting this pandemic behind us,” Kahlon says in the statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2022.

The Canadian Press