Germany extends COVID emergency aid for businesses until end of year

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is extending COVID-19 emergency aid to struggling businesses by three months until the end of this year, the finance and economy ministries said on Wednesday.

Companies whose sales linked to the pandemic have fallen by at least 30% can now apply for cash assistance of up to 10 million euros per month until the end of December, the ministries said. The government has also extended additional aid schemes to support businesses particularly affected by the pandemic as well as musicians, artists and other solo self-employed workers.

Aid was due to expire on September 30.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government has also agreed in principle to extend its short-time working, also known as Kurzarbeit, until the end of the year to protect employees from the impact of the pandemic. of COVID-19.

The cabinet is expected to pass the measure later this month.

Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis in Germany in March 2020, the government has supported struggling businesses with special loans and grants worth nearly € 120 billion.

In addition, the government has invested 38 billion euros through its partial unemployment scheme to protect workers from the shock of the pandemic, control unemployment and stabilize the disposable income of consumers.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is funding the measures with record new borrowing of up to € 240 billion this year and more than € 130 billion last year for which Parliament had to suspend strict debt limits within the constitution.

Scholz, the center-left Social Democratic candidate to succeed conservative Angela Merkel as chancellor in the September 26 election, has proposed to suspend the debt brake for a third consecutive year in 2022 to allow borrowing additional nearly 100 billion euros next year.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Gareth Jones

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