Businesses hit by the Omicron coronavirus variant have welcomed fresh financial support to help them recover, though some feel it is just ‘a drop in the ocean’.

People running businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sector in South Oxfordshire have been urged to apply for support from an Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant fund.

The Government has given nearly £1.5m to help support local businesses in the district. The aid is intended to help them recover from the hardships they have faced over the pandemic.

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Herald Series: Emma Cox, manager at The Dolphin

Traders suffered a drop in trade over Christmas and New Year, with restaurants, bars and pubs suffering cancellations, no-shows and closures due to staff having to isolate.

Emma Cox, manager at The Dolphin pub in Wallingford said: “I'm grateful for anything, but the help that they have offered is a drop in the ocean for what has been lost

" It will help to some degree, but there is a lot more help we could do with.

“I think everybody should apply for a grant. We lost a lot of trade and income just in the month of December.

"We were recovering, but then Omicron came along and people got scared again. It has been hard and it has been a struggle. We just have to keep going and doing the best we can do.”

Herald Series: The Town Arms

During this time, Mrs Cox said she and her staff had to think creatively to encourage people to come to the pub, as they could not rely only on walk-in customers.

She said: “It has been an adventure, good and bad. It would be nice if people could go back to normal now, not worry and enjoy the good old traditional English pub again.”

Jim Crowder and partner Jess Webber, run The Town Arms pub and B&B. Like many other businesses, the also had a very difficult December and welcome any help they can get.

Mr Crowder said: “I think the grant scheme is okay, but I don't know if it will cover all of what we missed in December.

“It would subsidise the lost revenue that I had that month. It might be just enough but it is still going to be difficult even with it.

“We were expecting a lot more footfall in December. But because people were encouraged by the Government not to go out, they became scared and were trying to be careful so not to ruin their Christmas. We had a lot of cancellations. The grant s to compensate for that.”

To be able to apply, eligible businesses must have been open and trading from a property where they are responsible for paying business rates on December 30.

Successful applicants could receive between £2,667 and £6,000 depending on the rateable value of the property.


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