Special Edition Industry Update

Important updates from the past 24 hours that include:
  • Province Announces New Restrictions in Light of Omicron Variant
  • Canada Reintroducing PCR Test for Any Length of Travel Abroad
  • Government Passes Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program Legislation (Bill C-2)
  • The Hardest Hit Coalition Thanks the Federal Government for Supporting Bill C-2
  • Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program Overview

Province Announces New Restrictions in Light of Omicron Variant

In a press conference today, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's provincial health officer, announced new restrictions in response to a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases, brought on by the new Omicron variant.

The new measures will be in place Monday, December 20, 2021 until January 31, 2022, at 11:59pm.

Additional measures announced and clarifications include:
  • Limiting indoor, personal gatherings, including in rental and vacation properties to the household/residents plus 10 individuals, or one additional household maximum if all are aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated;
  • Requiring the BC Vaccine Card for organized events of all sizes, that includes and ensuring the QR code is scanned at events;
  • Seating requirements and restricting movement between tables at food and liquor-serving premises, and reinforcing the need to wear masks when not seated;
  • Limiting venues of 1,000 individuals or more to 50% of the seated capacity with reinforced masking requirements and scanning of the BC Vaccine Card QR code;
  • Pausing all sports tournaments while the order is in effect; and
  • All New Year’s Eve organized gatherings and events will be restricted to being seated-only events, with no mingling or dancing allowed.
  • Please note, restaurants and bars can still have regular service on New Year’s Eve. There will not be any restrictions on alcohol sales or capacity for New Year’s Eve.

The revised Public Health Orders containing this information have not yet been published but will be updated at the following links when available -- Order on Gatherings and Events; Order of Food and Liquor Serving Premises. The BCHA will publish updated orders once they are made available.

For full details on current restrictions within BC, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/info/restrictions

We recognize that many of you will have questions on what these developments mean for you and your business and that this is especially dis-heartening in advance of the holiday season. We encourage you to share your questions and concerns by emailing questions@bcha.com.
Canada Reintroducing PCR Test for Any Length of Travel Abroad
Last month, the federal government announced it was dropping the negative test requirement for fully vaccinated Canadians returning home from short international trips under 72 hours.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced today that the federal government is reintroducing the requirement for a pre-arrival negative COVID-19 test for all travellers entering Canada regardless of how long trips are. The new measure will begin Dec.21 and will apply to all Canadians re-entering the country from trips abroad less than 72 hours.
Government Passes Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program Legislation (Bill C-2)
Yesterday, the senate passed Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19, which is the legislation behind the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP). With added concerns and restrictions due to the Omicron variant, this is a significant win for the hotel industry and will offer critical support needed.

In short, this $3B support package will deliver targeted subsidies to hard-hit businesses through:
  • The Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, wage and rent subsidies to hotels, with a subsidy rate of up to 75%. See below of technical overview.
  • The Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program, which would provide support through wage and rent subsidies to other businesses that have faced deep losses, with a subsidy rate of up to 50%.
  • A Local Lockdown Program, which would provide businesses that face temporary new local lockdowns up to the maximum amount available through the wage and rent subsidy programs.
  • An extension of the Canada Recovery Hiring Program until May 7, 2022, for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10% and increase the subsidy rate to 50%.

Please see below for a technical overview of the Tourism & Hospitality Recovery Program. Please share this with your teams, and please keep us informed throughout the implementation process if our attention is needed on roll out issues.

We sincerely thank each and every person who contributed their voice to ensure that Bill C-2 would pass, along with the MPs and entire senate who pushed this support forward. We also would like to thank Susie Grynol and Beth Potter Co-Chairs of the Hardest Hit Coalition for their tremendous leadership.
The Hardest Hit Coalition Thanks the Federal Government for Supporting Bill C-2

Please join us in thanking all Members of the House of Commons and the Senate on social media, utilizing these pre-written messages and thank you video, for taking meaningful action to protect our sector.
Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program Overview

The Government has passed legislation to provide support to the Tourism and Hospitality sector through the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP). The THRP will arrive as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) programs wind down. As a reminder, CEWS and CERS programs ended on October 23rd, 2021, and the THRP applies retroactively to the 23rd of October.
What is the new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program?
The THRP is a targeted subsidy for the businesses in tourism, hospitality and events sectors. The THRP provides support through wage and rent subsidies of up to 75%. The THRP is expected to work similarly to the CEWS and CERS programs; applicants will provide evidence of revenue loss for reference periods that the government has designated from 2019. The program is proposed to continue until May 7, 2022. It is important to note that the subsidy rates are proposed to decrease by ½ from March 13 to May 7, 2022. The government has authority under the legislation to amend the program until July 2, 2022.

What are the eligibility requirements that businesses have to meet?
  • Businesses in the tourism, hospitality and events sectors that are included in the program must meet the two following criteria:An average monthly revenue reduction of at least 40 percent over the first 13 qualifying periods for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (12-month revenue decline); and
  • A current-month revenue loss of at least 40 percent.

What kinds of businesses are considered tourism, hospitality and event businesses?
The Government has provided a detailed list of businesses included in the program. The list can be found by clicking here.[1] 

Generally, it includes businesses such as hotels, travel agencies, tour operators, transportation companies, artistic and cultural events organizers, museums, zoos, conventions and exhibits intended for public viewing.
When will applications be accepted for the new program? When can I apply?
Details about how businesses can apply and when they can apply are forthcoming.
How does this program apply to seasonal businesses?
The Coalition co-chairs and others have advocated that the operation of THRP be amended or interpreted in a way that enables seasonal business full access to the program. The government understands that the program as currently designed leaves some gaps and we remain actively engaged with them to develop solutions.

What are the subsidy rates under the THRP?
For qualifying businesses (based on industry status and a 40% revenue loss over periods 1-13) the subsidy beginning October 24 (period 22) would kick in where there is a 40% revenue loss over the corresponding period from 2019 (as per the existing rules under CEWS and CERS). For a 40% revenue loss the subsidy rate would be 40% and would increase to where a 75% revenue loss would generate a 75% subsidy, which is the maximum rate. 

What are the significant changes relative to how CEWS and CERS operated?
Administratively, the programs will be similar with CRA providing the administration, although they need the additional step of ensuring the applicant falls within the list of eligible sectors. The equivalent to CERS (rent, mortgage, interest, insurance, property taxes) is enhanced from a maximum rate of 65% to 75% under the THRP. In addition, the affiliated entity cap has been raised from $300,000 to $1,000,000.