The Estonian government has decided to support retail and service facilities that have been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak by partially covering their rent payments with a total of €4 million to be distributed by the Ministry of Finance through representative organizations.
"While the commercial sector has taken a severe economic blow as a result of the emergency situation, the restrictions were vital for stopping the crisis," Minister of Finance Martin Helme said in a press release. "The majority of retail facilities at shopping malls have been closed, which has in some cases resulted in a 90-percent decline in revenue. We decided that the state should help partially cover this loss."
With a large number of retail businesses operating in shopping malls, their rent payments continue despite loss of revenue, entailing large costs, which in many cases cannot be rapidly eliminated, Helme said.
The government has supported a proposal by the Estonian Traders Association according to which commercial businesses should be provided with rent payment aid equaling the reduction in rent by the owner of the rental space but by no more than 25 percent.
This means that if the owner reduces their tenant's rent by 25 percent, the state will provide an additional 25 percent compensation for the amount, so that the tenant only needs to pay 50 percent of their initial rent. If the property owner reduces rent by 50 percent, the state's compensation remains capped at 25 percent of the total amount, bringing the sum payable by the tenant to 25 percent.
The measure only applies if the property owner also reduces the tenant's rent.
Merchants, who are obligated to pay the remaining sum of their rent, must prove that their revenue has declined at least 30 percent or that their store has been closed by government order.
Editor: Marcus Turovski