BEAT COVID-19 4.0 – New Measures Announced to Support Local Businesses
The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has announced a new series of BEAT COVID measures to support local businesses and to help ease the financial burden caused by the pandemic over the coming months. The new measures came into effect on 1st December and will continue until 31st March 2021. In an address to Parliament, the Chief Minister said that these were designed “to protect jobs and our economy as best we can.”
“These measures are timed to assist business through what we hope will be the last period of serious disruption as we turn a new leaf and emerge from the pandemic-induced slump.”
The new scheme, BEAT 4.0 will enhance BEAT 2.0 and BEAT 3.0 and will continue to be paid as a grant which will but it will be increased from 20% to 30%.
The Chief Minister stated that the Gibraltar Government recognises that the longer the pandemic goes on, the harder that trading has become for businesses. The total amount that a business receives will be based on the amount calculated from the first BEAT payments during the first lockdown.
Businesses which were able to participate in previous BEAT schemes will have already received emails to enable them to confirm their participation in BEAT 4.0 and they had until midnight on Friday 18th December to confirm their participation. The first round of BEAT 4.0 payments will have been made to businesses in the week commencing 21st December.
Apart from the December payment, all remaining payments will be made at the end of each relevant calendar month as with previous BEAT payments. The Chief Minister also announced that the employee termination threshold will be increased from 30% to 50% for wholesale, retail, hotel, bar and restaurant sectors. These sectors will also benefit from a rates waiver between 1st January and the 31st March, while the rates discount of 25% will continue to apply to all businesses. The additional rates discount and waiver does not apply to supermarkets and pharmacies. The commercial rent discount scheme and the moratorium period for insolvencies have also been extended.
The Chief Minister (CM) added that Gibraltar is going through times of uncertainty and stated that “Christmas hospitality will not be so strong in the industry this year,” adding that there will be fewer tourists coming to eat or shop and that retailers will most likely be less active, despite the local captive audience.
“The long-term, economic consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic are highly uncertain to our community.”
Despite ‘severe pressure’ on the economy, the CM hoped that the ‘mass vaccination’ campaign could help kick-start the fight. “It is by keeping our economy on this life-support system that we can avoid a longer term increase in our welfare spending. We will continue to work together to support our business community in a prudent and responsible manner.”
The CM concluded by saying that: “We have many challenges to navigate, each with their own difficult consequences and we will measure our response appropriately. Together I am confident that we will all see better times to come.”