The Brussels government released €111 million in aid for sectors badly affected by the coronavirus, including the restaurant and café industry along with their main suppliers.
Other areas of the economy to receive the aid include tourist accommodations, nightlife, and the events, culture, sport and tourism sector.
“The actors of our economy, which has been hard hit by the health crisis, were counting on this premium,” said Rudi Vervoort, Minister President of Brussels. “We continue to support them and we want to make this premium operational quickly in order to provide a little oxygen to the entrepreneurs in our region who need it most.”
The aid comes at a time when one in three small businesses in the Belgian capital is currently experiencing severe financial problems, along with one in five self-employed persons.
The money was released on Thursday and intended to support the sectors that “significantly contribute to the image of the Brussels-Capital Region as an international capital,” according to a press release from Vervoort’s cabinet.
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“In these sectors, activities could not yet be resumed or are still strongly influenced by the measures taken to combat the spread of the virus. They are de facto at a standstill,” said the press release.
The scope of the aid was expanded - both in terms of offering more money, and in adding sports halls to the list - after numerous meetings and talks with industry representatives, as well as small business owners and employees in Brussels. Following those discussions, the money being offered was increased by 25%.
“We want to give our essential sectors, which have suffered greatly and for a long time as a result of the corona-measures, the best possible chance of a proper restart after this unprecedented crisis,” said Sven Gatz, Minister of Finance and Budget.
The government is implementing specific criteria for the aid in order to have a more targeted approach that helps businesses and self-employed people with identified needs and difficulties.
In short, companies that can demonstrate greater losses will be eligible for a greater amount of aid.
Depending on the sector concerned, the aid amounts will fall within the following ranges: €6,250 to €45,000 for those in the hospitality (or its suppliers), events, culture, sports, and tourism sectors; €6,250 to €62,500 for tourist accommodations; and €75,000 to €125,000 for nightlife.
“This new premium shows that the Brussels Government stands behind the hardest hit companies and the self-employed to help them through the crisis,” said Barbara Trachte, State Secretary for Economic Transition. “We will also be there to support the men and women who run these businesses when they restart their activities.”
The Brussels Times