Swiss Promise $10.5 Billion to Support Economy Hit by Virus

(Bloomberg) --

The Swiss government unveiled an emergency economic-aid package of roughly 10 billion francs ($10.5 billion) for workers and small businesses, saying the country is facing a “grave” situation as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

With large cultural events called off and the number of patrons in restaurants and bars restricted to control the spread of the disease, companies, employees and freelancers will be hit, President Simonetta Sommaruga said at a press conference on Friday.

“To them we say, we’re not abandoning you,” she said.

In loosening the purse strings, Switzerland is joining countries around the world boosting fiscal expenditure to allay the effects of the global downturn brought on by the virus. Neighboring Italy, the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe, will spend as much as 25 billion euros ($28 billion) on stimulus.

Swiss Promise $10.5 Billion to Support Economy Hit by Virus

Officials in Bern have allotted 8 billion francs for the ‘Kurzarbeit’ program under which companies suffering a slump can claim state funds to avoid laying off staff. The rules for applying have been relaxed to make money available more quickly. There’s also a bid to include people on temporary employment contracts.

For small and medium-sized enterprises, who generate the lion’s share of employment in Switzerland, up to 580 million francs in emergency bank loans are now available, the government said. On top of that, authorities are looking into liquidity assistance of as much as 1 billion francs for hard-hit companies.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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