£11m in funding on the way to help NI cities and towns bounce back from Coronavirus

  • A total of £11m in funding has been announced to help businesses in towns and cities across Northern Ireland adapt and re-open as lockdown restrictions ease.

    The Department for Communities has announced plans to invest £10m in the creation of a new Capital Covid-10 Recovery Revitalisation Scheme to help boost larger towns and city centres across Northern Ireland, with a further £1m from the Department of Agriculture for smaller towns and areas.

    Businesses have begun to re-open their doors as lockdown restrictions are easing in Northern Ireland, but city centre footfall isn't recovering quickly as shoppers have to deal with the various measures designed to keep people safe. There are now socially distanced queues outside busy shops, and many stores weren't designed with this in mind.

    The new funding is designed to help local councils provide a safe environment for shoppers and workers in city centres and large towns, and may be used to help stores adapt to current distancing and capacity restrictions. Examples of measures that might be taken include awnings or canopies to keep shoppers dry while queueing, heaters for those queueing on cold days, outdoor seating areas, and digital screens and signage.

    The first round of funding will provide £6m across 11 councils, each of which will decide how to apply that funding to its area best to have an immediate impact. Another £5m will be issued later in the year to tackle any longer-term adaptations identified, including environmental improvements or the creation of pop-up spaces.

    Minister Ní Chuilín commented on the funding: "As restrictions have lifted, I appreciate that the current environment still presents very real challenges for businesses who are working hard to deliver for their staff, customers and community. Many have demonstrated their resilience and this funding I am announcing today will help reassure traders, shoppers and visitors that our town centres are open for business again in a safe way."

    Source: Written based on press release

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