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Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus (20 April 2020)

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Northern Ireland Executive Ministers and their officials have over the past 72 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds today encouraged businesses in the retail, tourism and leisure sectors that may be eligible for a £25,000 grant to apply online as soon as possible.

The £25,000 grant scheme is the latest support measure to be put in place to support local businesses during the Covid-19 health crisis.

It follows the small business support scheme, which has now issued over 16,300 payments of £10,000 to eligible local businesses and is also open to those eligible for industrial de-rating.

Minister Dodds explained: “The scheme will run over the next month and will deliver much needed funds to ease the cash flow problems of some of our hardest hit businesses. I assure businesses that as soon as applications have been verified, the grant will be paid – we will not be waiting until the end of the application process before starting to process payments. I urge anyone who thinks they are eligible for support under this scheme to visit nibusinessinfo and start the process now.”

Both grant schemes will close for applications on Wednesday 20 May.

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots revealed over £4.5 million had been redirected into rural communities to help around 50,000 vulnerable and isolated people to stay at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Departmental officials have been asked by Minister Poots to do all they can to ease the burden and worries of those in rural communities and rural businesses and to find new and innovative solutions to the unique problems created by Covid-19.

A total of £2.5 million has been secured for the 2020/21 Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme (TRPSI) and targeted at helping the most vulnerable in rural areas during the Coronavirus crisis, for the provision of food parcels, transport, mental health services and vital prescriptions.

Another £2 million in grant aid has been fast-tracked through the EU LEADER and Tourism projects and the TRPSI programme to rural businesses and the community and voluntary sector to ensure they can continue their work.

A new daily dashboard of statistics relating to Covid-19 was launched yesterday by the Health Minister Robin Swann.

The dashboard, which is available via the Department of Health’s website, complements information currently in the public domain and, together with statistics on deaths published weekly by NISRA, helps provide a comprehensive picture of the effects of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

The new dashboard provides a range of key statistics on the number of Covid-19 patient admissions and discharges, outbreaks in care settings; bed occupancy, ICU occupancy and gender and age breakdowns. The statistics are presented at a range of geographical levels including Local Government District and at Trust and hospital site. The information will be refreshed daily and new content will be added as appropriate.

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