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Catering sector welcomes Government’s rescue package after Christmas closure

by Johnny Bugeja

The Gibraltar Catering Association said it is “satisfied” with the financial rescue package offered by the Gibraltar Government as local bars and restaurants were closed in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, met with GCA President Gino Jimenez on Monday afternoon after further measures were introduced, including the full closure of bars, restaurants and cafes.

The Gibraltar Government yesterday announced that a claim form will be available for catering establishments to apply for compensation for the cost of perishable goods they were unable to use due to the closure last Friday.

A spokesman for No.6 Convent Place said many of these businesses would have stocked up on perishable goods in the run up to a busy period, and the Government aims to compensate for these goods by mid-January for businesses that have “followed and fully complied with the Covid rules and regulations”.

“The Chief Minister has been very helpful towards us and the financial assistance will still need to be defined in finer detail, but we are satisfied with that,” Mr Jimenez said.

“This time around the Government has consulted with us and have taken things on board and we are happy with the direction in which this is going.”

“We are satisfied that they have our best interests at heart. The framework is ready but we are just waiting for the finer details and no employee will stay without a salary.”

The Government said it is also considering providing further financial support for these businesses in meeting their staff costs during this period of disruption and closure.

This was a welcomed announcement to Mr Jimenez, who said it would not be fair on employees in the industry to lose out on this income simply because the business was not open.

“The one-page claim form has been circulated to various business representative groups, namely the Gibraltar Catering Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses,” the Government spokesman said.

“All catering businesses are encouraged to complete the form, even if they do not have any perishable goods to claim as this will assist Government in formulating other financial support measures that are presently being considered.”

“Completed forms should be returned by email to beatcateringsupport@gibraltar.gov.gi by no later than December 31, 2020.”

“The Gibraltar Government is also considering providing further financial support to specifically support these businesses in meeting their staff costs during this period of disruption and closure.”

“The information provided in the claim forms will assist the Gibraltar Government in quantifying and targeting the support required, in a manner consistent with and complimentary to the BEAT Covid financial support currently being provided.”

“This support will include contributions to the payment of salaries in keeping with the BEAT Covid mechanisms.”

In order for the claims to be processed quickly and efficiently, the Government is requesting that the claim form be completed using Excel (where possible), and by the due date.

Claims not received by this date may not be considered.

The Minister for Business, Tourism, Transport and The Port, Vijay Daryanani, said: “Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar is committed to compensating and supporting businesses operating within the catering industry as we have done from the outset of this pandemic.”

“This requires a careful analysis of their costs, some of which are mitigated by the various measures that we have already announced previously.”

“These measures that apply to the catering sector, such as rent discounts and rates waivers, will continue until March 2021.”

“This form will allow us to analyse the other costs incurred and the amounts foregone by the catering industry over what would otherwise have been amongst the busiest weeks of the year for most of them.”

“A further announcement will be made once Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar determines the most efficient way of assisting this industry.”

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank Gino Jimenez and his colleagues from the Gibraltar Catering Association who continue to volunteer their time to work with us to deliver genuine and targeted support to their members.”

“That has always been our goal and it continues to be despite the challenges we face.”

On last Friday’s protests outside No.6 Convent Place, Mr Jimenez said he did “not condone it”, saying that as President of the GCA, he cannot support “anything that is illegal”.

He said described this as a last-minute event organised “in the heat of the moment”, adding that the association had no role to play in this even though some GCA members were present.

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