Belgium extends relief package to independents in certain sectors

Belgium extends relief package to independents in certain sectors

Belgium’s federal government has confirmed that self-employed persons in the events, leisure, artist and entertainment sectors are eligible for a relief package meant to cushion the effect of the coronavirus crisis.

The minister in charge of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and self-employed persons, Denis Ducarme, announced on Saturday that he had sent a circular to his administration and social security funds confirming that these sectors continue to be eligible for the package, known as the “droit passerelle,” until further notice. They will continue to receive support as businesses under “compulsory closure, total or partial.”

The range of activities covered by the measure includes events, artists, night shops and shisha bars.

Under a law passed on 23 March 2020, entrepreneurs whose activities have been stopped or curtailed by measures meant to stem the spread of COVID-19 are eligible for the relief package, which includes a monthly financial allowance and the retention, for up to four quarters, of social rights such as reimbursed health care costs and incapacity, disability and maternity allowances.

Minister Ducarme met representatives of fair vendors, the events sector and wedding organisers on Wednesday, then followed up with the circular confirming that they all qualify for access to the relief package.

This access is possible without needing to demonstrate that their activity was totally or partially interrupted for a given period or that the interruption was linked to the COVID-19 crisis, as was required under the 23 March 2020 law, he noted.

“A vendor who has a small activity outside of a fair is also eligible,” the minister said.

The “droit passerelle” has been extended to 31 December 2020 for self-employed persons still unable to resume their activities due to the emergency measures decreed by the National Security Council against the spread of COVID-19, whatever the length of the work stoppage.

Self-employed persons wishing to receive the temporary assistance first need to contact their social security funds.

The Institut national d’assurances sociales pour travailleurs indépendants (Inasti – National Social Security Institute for Self-Employed Workers) has also set up a call centre, whose number is 0800/12.018.

The Brussels Times

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