Railway in Utrecht, Netherlands. Image: courtesy of ProRail

Dutch firms affected by coronavirus compensated

Small to medium-sized companies in the Netherlands that are in financial difficulties due to the corona crisis can apply for a bridging loan from Monday onwards. This loan is largely guaranteed by the government. This was reported by the Dutch State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs.

The country announced far-reaching measures late Sunday afternoon, calling for the closure of schools and daycare, restaurants, sport schools and other gathering points. Events with more than 100 people were already prohibited. Schools and daycare remain open for those whose parents work in vital industries. The transport sector is categorised as a vital sector when it includes the transport of fuels such as coal, oil, petrol and diesel and food items.

State aid

Keijzer speaks of a first step that immediately makes 300 million euros in extra financing available for entrepreneurs. The state secretary announced the measure last week, but then said that it might not take effect until the end of March. According to Keijzer, the scheme is “essential for the liquidity of smaller entrepreneurs who miss out on income or production due to the coronavirus”.

The Cabinet is also considering providing additional support to self-employed persons without staff. This measures has been under discussion, as self-employed persons are indeed the group that have chosen not to have a permanent employment contract. However, Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs said that the statutory safety nets, such as social assistance, are available for the self-employed. That special assistance may be granted more generously, says the Ministry of Social Affairs. The cabinet hopes to say more about this in a few days. (ANP)

Dutch measures

In the Netherlands, events with an audience larger than 100 people were prohibited on Friday 13 March. Many logistics fairs and exhibitions that were on the agenda this spring have been cancelled. The overall advise in the country is to work from home as much as possible. Over the weekend, the government decided to step up these measures with the closure of schools and many social gathering places.

This is in response to the growing number of corona infections, which exceeded 1100 people over the weekend. Twenty people had died from the virus on Sunday.

Economy decline

The European Commission expects the economy of the European Union to shrink by around 1 percent this year due to the negative effects of the outbreak of the new coronavirus. In February, the EU economy was still forecast to grow by 1.4 percent this year.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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