COVID19: Government adds €150 mln for business, tourism, jobs

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After imposing an overnight curfew with catering establishments closing at 10.30 pm, the government has introduced more schemes worth €150 mln to support business, workers and the unemployed.

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou announced on Thursday, the government has approved special funding schemes to help out businesses and people hammered by the coronavirus outbreak.

Since the coronavirus outbreak in March, a total of €530 mln has been provided by the Labour Ministry in COVID emergency funds.

The schemes, according to Emilianidou, have supported more than 190,000 workers during the first phase of dealing with the pandemic between March and June.

“During July-October, when there was a significant retreat of the pandemic, the government continued to support a large number of workers and companies that were significantly affected, mainly in the tourism sector,” said Emilianidou.

The Minister said this time around over 60,000 employees plus those who are receiving unemployment benefit are expected to receive assistance under the new schemes.

In order for a business to be eligible for support, it must commit to not dismissing any staff.

The money is targeted at businesses, which have seen a reduction in turnover of over 40% because of the health decrees or have fully suspended their operations.

Funding will cover up to 60% of an employee’s salary with a ceiling amount of €1,214 a month and a minimum of €360.

The majority of them will run until January with the exception of the schemes addressed at the tourism sector.

Tourism Industry

Two schemes cover the tourism industry, which has taken a real beating this year. One is for hotels, and a second is for businesses and workers dependent on the sector, such as restaurants and entertainment establishments.

These schemes will run between November 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021.

According to Emilianidou, a hotel can receive subsidies for up to 97% of its staff if it has suspended its operations.

An incentive scheme to maintain economic activity will provide support for up to 90% of hotel staff and tourist accommodation which continue to operate, as well as up to 65% for the staff of companies related to the tourism sector.

This percentage can reach 100% of the total staff for small businesses that employ up to three employees.

The same applies to Travel Agencies with support extending up to 80% of the total staff or 100% for small businesses with up to three employees.

Businesses which have closed

Other businesses that have fully suspended their operation because of the decrees can also take part in schemes running between November 1 and the expiration of decrees issued or to be issued by the Health Ministry.

Such businesses can receive support for 97% or 100% of their staff depending on their size.

Financial support also covers other enterprises linked to those that suspended their operations but have remained open.

To participate, these businesses must prove that they have had over 80% reduction in their turnover to receive assistance for 80% of their staff.

Reduced turnover

Other schemes cover businesses that saw their turnover drop by 40%, eligible for help to 50% of staff. The same applies for the self-employed.

Small businesses employing up to three people will get support for all of them.

Emilianidou said the government has also extended the duration of unemployment benefits beyond the six-month legal limit so that those without jobs can continue to receive payment until the end of December.

For those employees in the private sector who fall into recognised vulnerable groups whose employer is unable to protect them at work, a Sickness Allowance will be provided for as long as the Health decrees last.

“The government has been quick to respond to the pandemic and take measures to protect the health of citizens supporting employees and businesses, so that every employee affected by the pandemic, has enough income to get by,” Emilianidou said.