Hospitality sector aid applications drop
The ministry for small and medium enterprises has paid out over half a billion euros in state aid
Luxembourg's battered hospitality businesses filed fewer applications for state aid last month than they did a year ago, Lex Delles, minister for small and medium-sized enterprises, told broadcaster RTL on Monday, despite the government gradually tightening access to the sector.
In November, the ministry received 76 claims for the government's two support schemes, compared to 500 at the same point last year when Luxembourg had closed down restaurants and bars and had a curfew in place, Delles said.
Since the pandemic began, Luxembourg has paid €531 million to businesses that have seen revenues drop because of government rules, supply problems and incapacitated staff. The government has extended the support schemes until February and companies can apply for them until mid-May, Delles said.
The government put further strain on the sector when it ordered restaurants and bars to close their doors at 11pm and customers to show that they either had a booster vaccine, or are double vaccinated or recovered and tested negative at the venue. The new rules came into force on Christmas Day, following a vote in parliament on 24 December, as Luxembourg is bracing itself for the impact of the more contagious Omicron variant.
Luxembourg has been gradually restricting access to leisure venues for the unvaccinated after first scrapping the possibility to show negative self-tests and PCR tests to gain entry.
To facilitate the testing on site, the government will provide 1.5 million rapid self-tests to businesses on Wednesday, Delles added. After this "one-shot" initiative, restaurants and bars will need to source their own tests, he said.
Bankruptcies remain below the pre-pandemic average, Delles also said. He did not say when government support for businesses would expire but warned of "unfair competition".