Alongside the tough restriction measures that came into effect on Thursday, additional support schemes were announced by the ministers of finance and labour in a bid to cushion the inevitable economic blow.
Finance minister Constantinos Petrides said the scheme granting a lump sum to businesses that have fully suspended operation will be re-activated, in view of covering a portion of operational costs, including rent. To participate in the scheme, Petrides said businesses won’t have to apply, given that they had already been approved to participate in the labour ministry’s emergency schemes for businesses that were forced to suspend operation, that were in place between March 16 and October 31.
Businesses or self-employed persons that were forced to fully suspend operation or that marked a decrease in turnover of at least 80% from November 1, will be eligible to receive a subsidy that ranges from €500 to €3,000, depending on the number of employees.
Businesses that had suspended operation since March 16 will be eligible for a lump sum of €10,000 if they employ up to nine people, while businesses with over nine employees can receive a sum of €15,000.
Additionally, the interest rate subsidy scheme for new business loans was extended until June 30, 2021.
A six-month extension was also granted to the interest rate subsidy scheme for new mortgages.
On her part, the labour minister Zeta Emilianidou said thousands of businesses and employees have been supported so far, stressing that support will continue.
Emilianidou referred to another new scheme, involving grants for employees of businesses that have fully suspended operation.
Additionally, she said the unemployment benefit will be extended, and will cover 60% of salaries.
Emilianidou clarifies travel restrictions for businesses
The local business world was plummeted into a state of agitation on Wednesday night as the health minister had said that only workers of essential services, people needing to travel for medical reasons, or those needing to travel to and from airports, will be able to enter or leave the Limassol and Paphos districts that were placed in lockdown on Thursday.
While the health minister had not clarified what is defined as essential services, many questions had been raised by those affected.
On Thursday, local media listed essential services as those that ensure a continuous supply of electricity, water, telecommunications, as well as those that ensure the safe operation of aviation and air traffic control, hospitals, prisons, port traffic, and those that deal with the repair or maintenance of equipment of the National Guard, the police, and the fire service.
In addition to these, Emilianidou said that exceptions can be made for the transport of products and raw materials to businesses that remain in operation, given that a receipt can be shown upon inspection. Additionally, workers of sectors that are vital for businesses that will continue to operate, such as those in construction, the pharmaceutical industry, and courier companies, can also travel to and from Limassol Paphos. Further, divorced parents may travel to and from the districts under lockdown to visit their children.