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Government Concludes Financial Support to Catering Sector - 20/2021

January 07, 2021

Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has following engagement with the Gibraltar Catering Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses now concluded the support package for the catering sector in respect of the period from December 18th to 27th December 2020.

As the incidence of COVID-19 in Gibraltar dramatically increased in mid-December, Government reluctantly and on very short notice announced the closure of all bars and restaurants at their busiest time of the year. This was based on Public Health advice at that time and was demonstrably the right decision for our community. Imagine where we would be today if those steps had not been taken.

On the 23rd December Government invited catering businesses to submit their claims for compensation. The completed claim forms have allowed HMGoG to formulate a financial support package that is fair but above all can be distributed quickly. Unavoidably, this package will be less precise than the previous BEAT schemes but this higher level of precision was forgone in recognition of the short notice and the one-off nature of the support.

The financial support package is in addition to the 30% Beat payment for December 2020 as well as the other measures of support previously announced. The Emergency support package consists of;

  1. a reimbursement of the costs of perishable goods lost by catering businesses as a result of the sudden and unexpected closure. Payment of this support will be made on or before 14/1/2021
  2. a one off payment to assist these businesses with the costs that they have faced upon closure, mainly staff costs but also including other expenses such as professional cleaning costs. Payment of this support will be made on or before 14/1/2021

These two payments are solely in respect of the period 18th – 27th December 2020.

Government’s ability to respond swiftly with these measures is primarily as a result of the mainly genuine and cooperative nature of the claims that have been submitted by Catering establishments.

HMGoG is pleased to confirm that 99% of perishable claims have been paid out at a rate of 100% of the claim submitted. This is testament to the measured way in which the vast majority of the claims have been submitted. HMGoG is most grateful to those catering establishments who have not claimed any perishables whatsoever and met the costs themselves, as well as those that have donated their perishables to charitable and other worthwhile causes.

The financial support package is being paid by way of grant, with the business being expected to apply the funds received towards their ordinary business expenses. HMGoG further expects that businesses who receive these funds will have paid their employees their contracted wages over this period.

HMGoG is working on a separate financial support package that will be available for all businesses that were closed down from 28th December 2020. This will apply to non-essential retail, hairdressers and beauty salons as well as catering establishments. HMGoG expects to announce further details on this support package shortly.

The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo MP QC, stated: “I am pleased that we are able to send out this financial support within such a short time frame; barely a matter of weeks after the closure announcements. People will now understand the good reasons we had for taking this action in the speed and the manner that we did, but we also recognize that catering firms were gearing up for their busiest period in the year and it is right that we should compensate them quickly for the losses that were unavoidable as a result of our decision. I now look forward to finalizing the financial support that we will be offering more generally to these and the other businesses that we regrettably had to close down on 28th December. I can confirm that having met with CELAC this week and considered all representations made I expect to announce the new measures of financial support for January 2021 at the press conference I will give at 4pm on the 8th January.”