Switzerland Doubles Aid to Crisis-Hit Businesses to $11 Billion

Switzerland proposed an additional 5 billion francs ($5.6 billion) in financial assistance to companies that have seen business disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of its request to parliament, the government in Bern on Wednesday said the majority of those funds should be for small- and medium-sized businesses with annual revenue of as much as 5 million francs.

With new Covid-19 infections falling in Switzerland, the government is under pressure from business leaders and the nationalist Swiss People’s Party to relax restrictions and allow some firms to reopen.

Yet cases of mutated strains of the virus are on the rise, and the vaccine campaign got off to a slow start. Public health officials have cast doubt on whether the government’s target of getting everyone immunized by summer is achievable.

Proposed changes:
  • Adjustment to the maximum amounts for grants to busineses
    • These would be only given to companies with prospects for surviving long term
  • Amendment to furlough program, so claimants are eligible to receive funds for 24 months rather than 18 months
  • Talks with banks regarding revival of Covid-19 lending program are ongoing

Shops, museums and outdoor sporting facilities should be allowed to reopen from March, the government said, adding that a final decision would be taken next week.

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