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Government Finalising Package of Support for Affected Businesses

Dr Dorothea Hazel-Blake and Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell in the ZJB Radio studio for the March 25, press conference.

The Cabinet for the Government of Montserrat is working on a package to support the loss of revenue for the island’s business sector.

On Thursday at 6PM, the island is to go into a 14-day shut down with only essential businesses permitted to be open. Restaurants, bars, venues for large gatherings such as churches, tourism-related business are to remain closed. The new order restricts gatherings to four people or less except for funerals, where up to 15 people are allowed.

In a live streamed press conference on Wednesday, Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell, who is also minister of finance, said a team is fine tuning a package for assistance to support the private sector. He acknowledged that finances will be an issue as they are coming to the end of the budget year and the new budget has not yet been approved.  He said his ministry is in constant dialogue with the Department for International Development on providing additional assistance. “The UK assures us that they will support us. In the meantime we are utilising resources available to us at this time. Garnishing what we have so we can have a package to deliver.”

All departments have been asked to curb spending so that funds can be reallocated towards the Ministry of Health and fighting the spread of COVID-19 on island.

Private sector companies are being asked to complete a business impact assessment on how the COVID-19 disruptions have affected them. The completed form, prepared by the Trade Division, will help the government to understand the financial impact of the virus on local businesses. Complete and submit.

In responses to questions from the press, who joined via Skype, the premier said his government recognises that the fallout for the island’s senior citizens and vulnerable could be significant. To that end, they are putting together a paper to identify the actions to be undertaken to provide for the vulnerable, senior citizens and those who are alone while on quarantine. These could include mobile shopping services, meal preparation and delivery.

A crowdfunding campaign to raise 50,000 pounds for supporting the island’s fight against the virus has been set up on Go Fund Me. Check it out here…