An event company owner has penned an open letter to the B.C. government, asking for it to consider re-allowing wedding receptions and events — with safety plans in place — after the company was denied funding.
Spotlight Events owner Paige Petriw says she applied for the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant, but was not given funding because her company was not ordered to fully close to comply with public health orders.
“It’s just a lack of consideration for the nature of our industry and the way our businesses are structured,” said Petriw in a phone interview.
Eligible businesses include bars and nightclubs that don’t serve full meals, gym and fitness centres and event venues that can no longer hold events due to cancellations.
Under current provincial health orders, indoor organized gatherings of any size are not allowed, including wedding and funeral receptions. Outdoor organized gatherings are allowed, but with some restrictions.
On Jan. 19, the government said it was extending the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant and doubling financial supports for eligible businesses that were ordered to remain closed until Feb. 16.
Company owners are eligible for up to $20,000 in total funding, based on staffing levels at the time of closure.
Owner of Pacific Fairytales — a company that specializes in children’s events and entertainment — Kirsty Provan says her company has lost around 75 per cent of its profit since the beginning of the pandemic.
Provan was also denied funding under the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant because her business wasn’t forced to fully close under the public health order.
Provan said she would like to see proof that events held at stadiums like sports games are less dangerous than a small event with 12 children from the same school class.
“What are the statistics that are showing that, that is actually much more dangerous than a stadium event?” she said.
The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation said in a statement on Sunday the grant program is designed to complement existing federal COVID-19 business supports including those that are available to businesses that remained open but experienced a drop in revenue due to the pandemic.
“We know this is a very challenging time for businesses — especially those businesses that were directly impacted by recent public health measures,” the ministry said in the statement.
Petriw said the industry is asking to “operate professionally managed indoor events and gatherings under specific guidelines and restrictions,” according to the letter.
The letter also called for the government to clearly define professionally managed events and non-professionally managed indoor gatherings and events, and to have specific restrictions put in place based on the type of event.
Petriw and Pravon said they hope the Ministry of Health will consider meeting with event companies to come up with a safe reopening plan that includes restrictions in accordance with the current public health order.
“We’re really on the brink of not many businesses being able to survive,” Petriw said.
CBC News also contacted the Ministry of Health to ask about plans to safely reopen the event industry, but did not hear back.
Businesses that have applied for a COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant do not need to reapply. To apply for a grant, click here. Applications will be accepted until Feb. 28.