Government drafting compensation plan for companies closed by restrictions

On Tuesday, the government is set to decide specific support measures for companies that had to close their doors due to recent coronavirus spread alleviation restrictions. The current draft has companies receiving compensation for the three weeks until the end of 2020.

A government decision establishing stricter coronavirus restrictions in Estonia has closed up most of Ida-Viru County's service sector, starting from museums and sports clubs and finishing with hotels and spas. Just stores and churches are still open, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Monday.

Toila Spa was booked up to 85 percent for the holidays but now, the establishment is busy making repayments.

"There are 145 employees and we are currently making some food out to order and that's it. /.../ Peoples' wages are the greatest problem, that carries the most weight. But at the same time, it is winter, we need to heat the building, everything must be managed in a way that we could start back up on [January 4]," said Toila Sanatoorium board member Jaak Pruunes.

The tourism cluster of Ida-Viru County turned to the government in a letter, calling for a rapid decision on support measures.

"We have laid off 1,000 employees in the oil shale sector. If the tourism sector also has 1,500 employees and they are laid off, we are looking at a catastrophe," Ida-Viru County tourism coordinator Kadri Jalonen noted.

Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) said measures will look much like the ones established in spring. "Compensating people who have been sent home through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa). We have also looked at the possibility of compensating some fixed costs for companies that have to close temporarily," the finance minister said.

Jalonen commented: "Shutting down the accommodation sector for a month and reopening it will cost €4 million. In addition, there is catering and entertainment."

Helme said: "Initially, we are talking about single-digit millions, if we speak of Ida-Viru County. And again, we have to distribute it, one is salaries and the other is fixed costs. And if we are now looking at nationwide restrictions that we have done for hobby education and sports, then we need to proceed with a different mechanism, but we are looking for a so-called evidence-based one here as well."

The finane minister added that the specific capacity of support measures and the application procedure will be decided on Thursday or at least before the end of 2020.

Firstly, the government will look to pay compensation for three weeks until the end of the year. Pay-outs themselves will be left for the start of 2021.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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