Boosting businesses to funding freelancers: Here is how Switzerland is tackling its coronavirus-affected economy

Boosting businesses to funding freelancers: Here is how Switzerland is tackling its coronavirus-affected economy
Photo: VALENTIN FLAURAUD / AFP
Switzerland on Friday announced a range of measures targeted at boosting its flagging economy, which has taken a hit due to the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know.

On Friday afternoon, the Swiss government announced a range of measures targeted at helping the Swiss economy as well as curbing the spread of the virus. 

The total economic support provided by the Swiss government now totals CHF 40 billion, with Friday’s announcement of 32 billion francs adding to the existing CHF8 million pledge. 

READ: Switzerland bans gatherings of more than five people but curfew avoided

UPDATE: What you need to know about the coronavirus crisis in Switzerland

The goal of the economic measures are to ensure that the Swiss economy runs at at least 80 percent of capacity. 

Besides the economic announcements, the government also banned gatherings of more than five people under punishment of a CHF100 fine, as well as allowed grocery deliveries to take place on Sundays. 

Liquidity for businesses

A total of 20 billion francs has been placed on the table to help stressed businesses who face troubles obtaining transitional bank loans. 

Companies will be able to contact their banks from Monday, March 23rd onwards, in order to ask for a credit of up to 500,000 francs. In this case, the government will underwrite the loans and no review is required from the bank. 

For loans of more than 500,000 francs, the credit is guaranteed 15 percent by the bank and 85 percent by the Swiss government. 

Compensation is available for independently managed publicly accessible companies like bars and restaurants, as well as self-employed people like freelance artists who have to cancel events and performances as a result of the virus. 

The Finance Minister assured potential loanees that the interest will be “very low”. 

Companies are also able to defer payment of social insurance contributions without interest, as can the self-employed. 

Protections for parents and those placed in quarantine

Parents who need to stay home from work in order to care for their children who aren’t able to attend school will be eligible for compensation under the new measures. 

Similarly, anyone who has been forced to quarantine by a doctor and cannot complete their work will also be able to apply for compensation. 

Protection for tourism

The tourism sector will be supported by a loan fund of CHF530 million which has been made available to the industry through the cantons. 

The Swiss government believes that the fund can more accurately target the tourism industry when made available at a cantonal level. 

A Korean tourist in the Swiss resort of Zermatt. Photo: VALENTIN FLAURAUD / AFP

Employees and temporary workers protected

Temporary workers including apprentices will now be entitled to compensation for loss of work, matching existing protections for fixed-term workers. 

The government also removed the existing requirement that employees need to use up their overtime hours before they can apply for unemployment. 

Protection for freelancers and self-employed persons

The government also announced that freelancers and the self-employed would be compensated for work lost due to the spread of the virus. 

They will be paid 80 percent of their daily salary to a maximum of CHF196 per day. 

Renters given leeway – but no concrete measures yet

The announcement did not provide any specific aid for tenants, although the Federal Council indicated that more steps are likely to be taken to protect renters in the future. 

Until then, the government has encouraged tenants to enter into dialogue with their landlords to find common ground on the matter. 

Protection for culture and sport

Professional sports clubs will be eligible to receive a share of CHF50 million, while sporting organisations will also be eligible for a share of CHF50 million if they are in danger of going out of business. 

The Swiss cultural sector – which is defined as including performing arts, design, film, visual art, literature, music and museums – will be supported by CHF280 in emergency aid. 

Taxation

Default interest for the late payment of taxes, customs duties and incentive taxes will be waived until the end of 2020. 

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