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Staff hit by bar and restaurant restriction will get benefits

Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Government last night admitted that a massive power cut had hit its ability to process benefits to workers hit by coronavirus restrictions.

A spokeswoman said some payments were processed yesterday for payment today.

But she added that “the power failure last Friday, impacted the Accountant General’s office’s ability to make some of these payments as scheduled”.

The spokeswoman said that the first benefits in the latest programme were processed for payment on December 16.

The Government said earlier that almost 130 people have received Government payments after they were forced to take time off work because of restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

More than 180 other applications were being assessed on Monday and payments were expected to be made soon.

A Government spokesman said: “We are doing all that we can to get people paid.”

He added that 313 applications were made to the unemployment benefits scheme by Monday and 128 had been paid.

He said “a further 181 applications were being assessed with payment to soon follow”.

The spokesman added: “We are pulling out all the stops to contact applicants and where necessary their employers to get the necessary information to support the requested payments.

“It is important that we receive all necessary information with applications and where inquiries are made that there is full co-operation with those public officers working on this programme.”

It is understood that the figures related to the scheme launched “to support those workers laid off as a result of business closures“ after the spike in Covid-19 cases.

The Royal Gazette asked if the numbers included people affected by mandatory quarantine requirements but there was no answer by press time.

A Government spokeswoman said last night that the first benefits in the latest programme were processed for payment on December 16.

David Burt, the Premier, said last night that an “initial benefit of two weeks or $1,000” was paid last week to people with completed applications that included “verification“.

He added: “Additional payments were made this week and those that have been approved will also receive a payment for the next two weeks as the restrictions have been extended.“

Mr Burt said on December 11 that the Unemployment Benefits Application website went live at 5pm that day.

He added: “Persons who have not been able to work due to closure notices or persons who have been served with an official quarantine notice and are unable to work remotely can apply to receive support.”

Mr Burt added that “verified full time employees” of bars and clubs affected by the restrictions would be eligible for $1,000 – “representing two weeks of the unemployment benefit”.

Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said on December 16 that 50 applications from bar and club staff had been approved.

He added that the Government would be “instructing the Accountant General to make payments to those individuals”.

Mr Dickinson said that people ordered to quarantine or isolate by the Ministry of Health who were "unable to earn their ordinary compensation“ could apply for 60 per cent of their remuneration up to a maximum of $500 a week.

He added: “At this time I can confirm that we have received 63 applications for this benefit that are under review and a further 37 that are awaiting employer input.

“We want to ensure that those persons in our community that need assistance receive it.”

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Published December 23, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 22, 2020 at 10:44 pm)

Staff hit by bar and restaurant restriction will get benefits

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