The European Commission has approved a proposed aid package worth €15.8 million to help hotels in Brussels ride out the latest coronavirus situation.
The package covers hotels and aparthotels, and includes direct grants of between €20,000 and €200,000 per establishment.
Hotels are suffering from the drastic reduction in travel, both business and leisure, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed on people travelling to other countries.
At the same time as guests are staying away, hotels still have to pay fixed costs like cleaning, power and rent, as well as at least a minimum of staff.
A week ago Bruzz reported that the Leopold Hotel Brussels EU, which would normally expect to be crowded out by business guests in town for the EU and other international institutions – 150 in rooms and suites and up to 500 in the conference rooms – currently had more staff present than guests.
Even in the height of the summer season, Brussels hotels registered occupancy rates of around 20%.
The purpose of the support plan, the Commission said in a statement, is “to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages that these companies are facing because of the restrictive measures imposed by the government to limit the spread of the virus, and to ensure continuity of their economic activity.”
The agreement is in line with the Commission’s relaxation of the rules on government aid to business, which is generally frowned upon as distorting free competition. However, the pandemic comes with extraordinary conditions which force governments to step in a bring some relief to suffering businesses.
The temporary framework allowing the relaxation of the rules has two general conditions: the aid to any single company must not be more than €800,000, and it must be granted no later than December 2020.