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New grant schemes were announced last week which are aimed at assisting businesses in adapting their premises or business plan to adhere to government guidelines and successfully trade whilst observing social distancing.

Tourism Minister, Catherine Martin TD recently announced the launch of Fáilte Ireland’s €26 million COVID-19 Adaption Fund. In quick succession, Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD announced a new €5.5m call for the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme two days later.

The Adaption Fund

The Adaption Fund is intended to support businesses as they attempt to implement the Fáilte Ireland’s Guidelines to Re-Opening. The Adaption Fund will contribute to the structural adaptions required for fixed, visitor-facing premises or the cost of COVID-19 related consumables, such as PPE or hand sanitiser.

Funding is divided into two categories:

  • Strand A relates to funding for capital costs associated with the adaption of business premises in order to re-open. Capital is defined as expenditure on permanent or semi-permanent infrastructure with a lifespan of one year or more

  • Strand B relates to funding for consumables for businesses which do not have a significant visitor facing premises and/or only have expenditure on COVID-19 related consumables

Funding under the Adaption Fund is intended to be a retrospective contribution towards costs already incurred by businesses in re-opening in the aftermath of the pandemic.


Entitlement to funding is at the sole discretion of Fáilte Ireland. It is a minimum requirement that businesses applying must have complied with Fáilte Ireland’s Guidelines for Re-Opening and have completed the Fáilte Ireland COVID-19 Charter.

Businesses must be open at the time of application in order to be eligible for a grant under the Adaption Fund and must commit to remaining open for a minimum of 70 days between 29 June 2020 and 31 December 2020. In addition, businesses must have suffered a 25% or greater loss in turnover from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020 and must commit to retaining employees on the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The following businesses are eligible to apply:

Strand A

  • Accommodation providers included on Fáilte Ireland’s Statutory Accommodation Register 2020 or Non-Statutory Accommodation Listing 2020. Any accommodation provider such as a hotel, guest house, hostel or B&B must have at least applied for registration with Fáilte Ireland in order to be eligible for funding under the Adaption Fund.

  • Pubs/bars with a Publican’s Licence which are opening under the Government’s Roadmap for Re-Opening Society and Business.

  • Restaurants or cafés with a Wine Retailer’s Licence or a Special Restaurant Licence.

  • Visitor attractions, adventure centres, cruise hire companies, tourism equestrian centres, tourism golf clubhouses and tourism wellness centres.

Strand B

  • Activity or boat tour operators.

  • Accommodation included on Fáilte Ireland’s Statutory Accommodation Register 2020 or Non-Statutory Accommodation Listing 2020 which did not incur capital adaption costs under Strand A.

Hotel groups are eligible to apply for funding for up to ten premises/businesses under the Adaption Fund and an individual application must be made by each business.


Only standalone pubs with a publican's licence are eligible for funding under the Adaption Fund. Pubs and bars which form part of a larger entity, such as a train station, theatre or cinema, sporting venue or retail outlet are not considered ‘standalone’ and are not eligible to apply.


Only standalone restaurants and cafés with either a Wine Retailer’s On-Licence or a Special Restaurant Licence are eligible for funding under the Adaption Fund. Again, restaurants and cafés which form part of a larger premises may not be considered standalone and are not eligible to apply.

Golf clubs

Clubhouses of 18-hole golf courses may apply to the Adaption Fund in the event that they:

  • Engaged with one of Fáilte Ireland’s sales platforms, such as PGA Merchandise Show, Belfast Gold Promotion, between the years 2016 to 2020, or

  • Are members of North West Coast Links, South West Ireland, Club Choice or Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands Golf Marketing Group.

Golf clubhouses that have separate visitor-facing premises to a parent or co-located hotel are eligible for a separate premises grant.

Ineligible businesses

Businesses are not eligible to apply for funding under the Adaption Fund if:

  • Their primary function is not tourism

  • They do not have visitor-facing fixed premises likely to have incurred capital or consumable costs associated with re-opening to visitors (other than those outlined above), or

  • They have not incurred costs related to implementing Fáilte Ireland’s Guidelines for Re-Opening

Amount of funding available

Funding under the Adaption Grant is not intended to cover the entirety of re-opening costs incurred by businesses.

The maximum eligible grant amount will depend on the nature of the business, and some of the applicable funding limits in respect of Strand A funding are set out below.

Eligible Business Category

Maximum Eligible Grant Amount

Hotels (100 bedrooms or more)


Hotels & Guesthouses (Between 30 and 99 bedrooms)


Hotels & Guesthouses (29 bedrooms or less)


Holiday & Youth Hostels (100 bed spaces or more)




Pubs (serving food)


Pubs (not serving food)




How to apply

The closing date for applications to the Adaption Fund is 8 October 2020. Applications can only be submitted online via the Fáilte Ireland Trade Portal and businesses are required to complete the Fáilte Ireland COVID-19 Safety Charter prior to submitting an application for funding under the Adaption Fund.

Businesses can only apply for one grant per premises. For example, a hotel and bar operating from the same premises which has any shared or linked entrances or facilities should only make one application. Similarly, a visitor attraction or adventure centre with a licenced restaurant or café may only apply for one grant.

Restaurants and bars will be required to upload a copy of their licence when applying under the Adaption Fund.

As a condition of being granted funding under Strand A or Strand B business are required to retain evidence of the expenditure of grant monies in the form of invoices and receipts for a period of ten years to facilitate reviews by Fáilte Ireland.

The Online Retail Scheme

While Fáilte Ireland’s Adaption Fund attempts to support businesses in the provision of services to visitors on-site, Enterprise Ireland’s Online Retail Scheme aims to support retail businesses in enhancing their online sales and digital capabilities.

This scheme seeks to support Irish retailers with a pre-existing online presence by contributing to the cost of enhancing their online shop fronts. This is the second call of a scheme announced in July which provided funding for 180 businesses to enhance their digital capabilities and develop a more competitive online offering to customers.

Successful applicants will be awarded funding for up to 80% of eligible costs up to a maximum of €40,000.


Applicants to the Online Retail Scheme must:

  • Be an Irish owned business with ten or more full-time employees on or before 29 February 2020; and

  • Demonstrate the potential to sustain or create jobs, the potential to generate growth in online transactions and an ambition to internationalise their business in the future.

The scheme is targeted towards retailers and applicants must have a retail store and derive the majority of their revenue from retailing products directly to individual consumers. Where an applicant also engages in business-to-business transactions, the applicant must show that more than 50% of its revenue derives from business-to-consumer transactions.

Companies which are part of a group structure may only submit one application on behalf of the group.

Ineligible businesses

Applicants who have been approved for any other State or EU funding for the relevant project are not eligible for further funding. However, applicants who successfully received funding under the first call of the Online Retail Scheme can re-apply under the second scheme and be successful if the original project for which funding was received has been completed and a new project is proposed.

Car and vehicle dealerships are not eligible to apply for funding under the Online Retail Scheme. Additionally, businesses whose primary activity is the wholesale or re-sale of goods to other businesses or trade professionals are not eligible for funding.

Franchisees of retailers are ineligible for funding in the event that their franchisor provides material online support to the applicant.

Amount of funding available

Successful applicants can be awarded funding for up to 80% of the proposed project to be undertaken. The minimum funding available is €10,000 and applicants must therefore be committed to at least €12,500 expenditure on a project in order to be successful.

Eligible costs for which funding may be provided include:

  • The salary costs of a senior project manager to support an external support provider provided that the internal project manager’s salary costs do not exceed the costs of the external service provider

  • Fees of an external service provider to develop a digital strategy, and

  • Fees of an external service provider to enhance an applicant’s online presence or transactional website

Funding is not available for the purchase of hardware such as laptops or cameras, or for online advertisement campaigns.


The Adaption Fund and Online Retail Scheme both represent Government initiatives designed to support businesses operating in an unforeseen environment in the wake of COVID-19. Whereas the Adaption Fund will support businesses by compensating them for relatively short-term costs associated with opening their premises and resuming operations, the Online Retail Scheme seeks to provide funding for projects which could potentially reap long term rewards for successful applicants by improving their online presence.

It is interesting to note that food businesses which do not hold either a Wine On-Licence or Special Restaurant Licence are not eligible to apply. This effectively means that restaurants or cafes that don’t serve alcohol (or serve in accordance with another form of licence) will not benefit from the Adaption Fund. The rationale behind this is not clear as presumably these businesses are equally affected by the pandemic.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

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