The rate at which Covid-19 infections has increased is a cause of great concern. Eastbourne now has the highest infection rate in East Sussex, with more than 1000 people testing positive. This includes a new surge in those aged over 60. It is unlikely that the current wave of the virus has reached a peak and so the clear message at present is to stay at home if possible and only venture out if it is essential, irrespective of what the lockdown may technically allow you to do. On a more positive note, there are now three vaccination centres in Eastbourne. These have been setup by the NHS and I know that they have received offers from other potential sites. The faster the vaccinations are rolled out the safer we will all be.
I am pleased that coupled with the announcement that the country would be entering a third period of national lockdown the Chancellor has announced a further package of lockdown grants to support the retail, leisure and hospitality sector mandated to close under current Covid restrictions. The grant will be a one-off payment of up to £9,000 dependent on the rateable value of the business premises. For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under the payment will be £4,000. Businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 the payment will be £6,000 and businesses with a rateable value above £51,000 it will be £9,000.
There have now been a total of 10 different grant schemes since the first lockdown, which can make it difficult for businesses to understand what, if anything they might be eligible to apply for. Council officers are awaiting further on the detail of the new scheme and when businesses can start applying for the grant. Once this guidance is received details will be provided on the Council website. My thanks go to the Council staff responsible for administering these schemes. Many have been working extremely long hours in order to assist local businesses and ensure that these grants get to them at the earliest possible moment.
Looking to a brighter future, the Council’s Events Team are busy planning for the events that will hopefully take place in the summer and autumn. I confess that there is an element of hope over expectation at this stage, but if there an opportunity for events to take place they need to be planned well in advance. Hopefully the vaccination programme will be successful and later this year we can return to some form of normality. In the meantime