A fund to help businesses affected by new restrictions will open this week- and South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is urging local eligible businesses such as pubs and restaurants to apply.


However, the local MSP fears that the level of the grants available won’t “scratch the surface” of the losses businesses in every part of Ayrshire will face as they were hit by the same level of restrictions as big cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh.


The new grants are part of a £40m package announced by the Scottish Government last week. It will include a Coronavirus Restrictions Fund which will provide one-off grants of up to £3,000 to bars, restaurants and other businesses required to close by new restrictions, including those in the NHS Ayrshire and Arran area.


Other businesses will have access to a smaller discretionary hardship fund administered by the local council with grants of between £1000 and £1,500, to support some businesses that can remain open but are directly impacted by the restrictions – including those in the direct supply chains of firms that are closed and other businesses such as soft play centres.


The current restrictions in Ayrshire mean that until at least Sunday 25 October inclusive, all licensed premises such as pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes – but not hotels with residents – will be closed indoors and outdoors, although takeaways will be permitted.


Cafes without an alcohol licence are allowed to open until 6pm. Cafes with a licence will also be able to open, but alcohol cannot be sold.


Commenting on the new grants Colin Smyth said, “The new fund will open this week and be live until 3 November, so I would urge eligible businesses across Ayrshire and Arran to apply as soon as possible”.


“However, given the scale of the losses businesses in the area are going to face over the next couple of weeks, I fear that the level of the grants just won’t scratch the surface of the losses”.


“It is also not clear when the grants will be paid out and there is deep concern from pubs and restaurant owners I have spoken to in Ayrshire that the restrictions in some shape or form may continue beyond 25 October when they are supposed to come to an end.”

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