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    Coronavirus: temporary unemployment doubles in a week

    Credit: Belga

    The number of people on temporary unemployment has doubled in less than a week as a consequence of the Belgian government’s far-reaching measures in order to curb the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

    As public life comes to a halt and all businesses deemed non-essential must close until at least 5 April, many employees currently find themselves without a job. Up to 1,075 million people are now benefitting from the temporary unemployment system, Federal Minister of Economy Nathalie Muylle told the VRT on Tuesday. Less than a week ago, that number was around half a million workers.

    The temporary unemployment system aims to avoid a large number of bankruptcies and allows workers to receive 70% of their salary as well as an additional €150. Muylle estimated that this increase in citizens collecting temporary unemployment could cost the government up to €18 billion per month.

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    The shutdown measures will now also affect hairdressers, as was announced on Wednesday, after the far-reaching measures that went into action on March 18 initially allowed for hairdressers to remain open, which they were angry about. 

    As so many are being forced into temporary unemployment, businesses are starting to think creatively. Belgian brewery Alken-Maes, for example, has launched an online platform called Café Solidair, which allows people to pay forward what they intend to consume after the lockdown, and Deliveroo said that it would help restaurants as much as possible. The hotel, restaurant and café industry is being hit particularly hard by the far-reaching measures, which are expected to last until 5 April.

     

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times