Along with the new restrictions imposed to curb the recent spike in coronavirus cases, the labour minister Zeta Emilianidou said Thursday that the Cyprus government agreed on a new batch of support measures budgeted between 130 and 150 million euros.
Emilianidou said the Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new bundle of measures to support the local economy over the next few months, during which experts expect the coronavirus pandemic to get much worse before it gets better.
The labour minister said that since March, emergency government support schemes have amounted to 530 million euros. During the first phase of the government’s attempts to cushion the economic blow of the pandemic between March and June, over 190,000 employees were supported, while between July and October when the pandemic saw a significantly flattened curve, the government continued to support affected businesses and employees.
As in the previous phases of government support plans, a prerequisite for the participation of employers is to not make any redundancies for financial or other similar reasons.
Emilianidou said the new batch will see subsidies covering 60% of the gross earnings of employees, with a monthly maximum set at 1,214 euros and a minimum at 360 euros. Businesses that have not fully suspended operation are also required to prove that they have a decrease in turnover to the tune of at least 40% compared to the corresponding period last year.
Tourism industry support scheme (November 1, 2020-March 31, 2021)
The government will be implementing two schemes to support the tourism industry, one focusing on hotel units and tourist accommodations, and another focusing on economic activities related to or affected by the tourism industry, such as travel agencies.
Both schemes will offer subsidies for over 97% of staff of businesses which have fully suspended operation, but in light of motivating continued operation, the schemes will offer hotel units or tourist accommodations that have not suspended operation subsidies that will cover 90% of their employees, and businesses linked to the tourism industry that remain in operation subsidies covering 65% of their employees, while this figure can increase to 100% for small businesses employing up to three people. Travel agencies in particular will be supported through subsidies covering 80% of their employees, while smaller travel agencies employing up to three people will see 100% of employee costs subsidised.
Schemes to support businesses forced to suspend operation
Businesses required to suspend operation by decrees issued by the health minister will see subsidies covering 97%-100% of their employees from November 1 and until the decrees expire.
Businesses whose turnover has seen a decrease of over 80% compared to the corresponding period last year due to coronavirus measures and which have not fully suspended operation can also participate in the scheme.
Scheme supporting particular economic activities
Another scheme will focus on businesses and employees of particular economic activities that have been hit by the pandemic, such as photo studios, day care centers, banquet halls. The government will subsidise 50% of employees if turnover has decreased over 40%.
Scheme supporting very small businesses
Recognising that very small businesses constitute the vast majority of businesses, the scheme will subsidise 100% of employees.
Scheme supporting unemployed persons
The scheme will extend the period of time unemployed persons are eligible to receive an unemployment benefit, with the period to be extended until December 2020.
Scheme supporting self-employed persons
If self-employed persons – whose businesses are registered with social security - have seen a decrease in turnover to the tune of at least 40%, the scheme will cover 60% of employee salaries, with a minimum amount of 300 euros and a maximum of 900 euros for a period of four weeks.
Support scheme for very vulnerable employees
For those employees in the private sector who fall under vulnerable groups defined by the health minister’s relevant decree, and their employer is unable for objective reasons to implement the recommendations of the health minister regarding working conditions, a sickness allowance will be provided for as long as decrees allow.