Switzerland: How can artists and musicians apply for coronavirus assistance?

As part of its coronavirus stimulus package, the Swiss government has made money available for people working in the arts and cultural sectors. Here’s how much is available - and how to apply.

Switzerland: How can artists and musicians apply for coronavirus assistance?

On March 20th, the Swiss government announced a rescue and stimulus package to businesses impacted by the coronavirus.

This fund, initially CHF42 million but later increased to CHF62 million, covers a range of sectors of the Swiss economy – including culture and the arts. 

READ: Who can apply for coronavirus financial assistance in Switzerland?

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

As reported by Swiss daily Watson on Monday, April 6th, this money has just now been made available to the public. 

The CHF280 million is broken down into CHF100 million for non profits, CHF25 million in emergency aid for workers in the cultural sector, along with CHF145 million in non-emergency compensation. 

Read on to see who is eligible and how much funds are available. Applications can be made at the following website in English, German, French and Italian. 

Companies in the cultural sector

Companies in the cultural sector can apply for financial aid to cover the cost of lost earnings due to cancelled/postponed events or projects. 

This is calculated at a max of 80 percent of the total loss – companies cannot apply for assistance regarding lost profits. 

Profit-based companies facing liquidity problems can apply for a loan to cover a maximum of ten percent of annual turnover. 

In addition, non-profit companies can apply for interest-free loans to a maximum of 30 percent of the company’s annual income. 

The loans must be paid back within five years. 

Employees in the cultural sector

Employees who are out of work will receive compensation of 80 percent of their wage. 

This is not just for permanent employees – it has also been extended to fixed-term and temporary employees.

Freelancers and self-employed persons in the cultural sector

Freelancers and the self employed also qualify for the financial assistance made available as per the stimulus payments. 

As with employees, this will again be calculated at 80 percent of their usual wage – up to CHF196 per day, calculated as a portion of a total of CHF40,000 per annum. 

For married persons the amount is set higher at CHF60,000, with an additional CHF10,000 added for every extra dependent. 

Freelancers and the self-employed will also be able to apply for compensation for events which were cancelled due to the coronavirus (scheduled between February 28th and May 20th). 

What exactly is the ‘cultural sector’?

The government has provided a fairly extensive list of who fits into the cultural sector – and who does not. 

Anyone fitting broadly into the categories of artist or musician – including DJs – are considered to be a valid part of the cultural sector. Graphic designers and jewellers are also considered to be a valid part of the cultural sector. 

Those who are not considered as artists include publishers, architects, manufacturers of musical instruments, photo laboratories and art dealers. 

Owners of nightclubs and discos also do not qualify. 

More information can be found here (in German). 

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”