Approximately 2,000 firms in Harju and Ida-Viru counties who have been hit hardest by the coronavirus restrictions are eligible to apply for the latest round of state support, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday night. The support will help to cover labor costs, from the beginning of next month.
Restrictions rolled out in both counties are more stringent than in the rest of the country, due to their higher coronavirus rates, and include the closure of all restaurants– except for takeaway purposes– bars, cinemas, theaters, sports centers and spas. The restrictions are set to run until January 17.
While the state offered support to firms similarly hit by the initial spring wave of the pandemic, this went directly to the employees themselves (though applications were conducted by employers). This time around, the support will be paid directly to and for the use of the employers themselves.
The support, to be channeled via the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) will be payable immediately, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, and follows an announcement at the end of 2020 that €16 million was to be set aside for the purpose.
Meelis Paavel, head of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, said the money granted to employers will be based on the salary fund for November, i.e. the last full month before the latest round of restrictions entered into effect.
Conditions include a bar on recipient firms making lay-offs either during the restriction period, December 28-January 17, or for a month thereafter.
The maximum rate of compensation for labor costs per employer is €180,000, which is sufficient to cover the wage costs at all bar the largest firms, social affairs minister Tanel Kiik says.
Other support measures are also open to companies hit by the pandemic, and the Unemployment Insurance Fund is also mulling providing a further €800,000 towards self-employed people in the same affected areas.
The government is also to consider the situation with those affected by coronavirus restrictions in the rest of the country.
Applications for the latest state support will be open to firms in Harju and Ida-Viru counties from February 1.
Editor: Andrew Whyte