Cabinet extends support for firms hit by crisis amid raft of measures

Photo: The.Grim.North, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Czech government has extended one plank of its Antivirus progamme supporting businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis. Companies that have been forced to close will have salaries paid up to the amount of CZK 50,000 a month, including contributions, the minister of labour and social affairs, Jana Maláčová, said on Wednesday.

Previously firms that were subject to Covid-19 restrictions could receive 80 percent of the earnings of staff at factories that were shut or quarantine compensation of up to CZK 39,000 of the so-called super gross salary.

The country’s arts venues were ordered to shut from Monday, while restaurants, bars and cafés have been closed from Wednesday (though they may serve takeaway).

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs estimates that the fresh round of compulsory closures will hit up to 200,000 people.

The Antivirus programme had been due to end at close of October, though both unions and employers had called for it to be extended until the end of 2020.

For entrepreneurs affected by new government measures aimed at combatting the spread of coronavirus, the Ministry of Finance will automatically defer all VAT, income tax and road tax payments from Wednesday until the end of the year, the minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, announced.

Alena Schillerová | Photo: Michaela Danelová,  Czech Radio

Fitness centers, gyms, indoor pools, saunas, spas and zoos were forced to suspend operations last Friday. Galleries, castles, chateaux, museums, cinemas and theatres have had their doors closed sinc Monday.

Finance Minister Schillerová says that if entrepreneurs expect a tax loss for this year, they can claim a refund of income tax paid in the previous two years up to the amount of this loss and will have money in their account within 15 days of applying.

Her officials also said that beyond the measures adopted on Wednesday, entrepreneurs could continue to use some measures within the “liberation package”, which was introduced during the spring wave of the pandemic.

These include, for example, a blanket waiver of the administrative fee for submitting applications to the tax or customs office and a blanket waiver of VAT on the free supply of basic protective equipment, for which the obligation to declare tax arose between October and December.

Additionally, entrepreneurs who have been ordered by the government to close or reduce operations will be able to apply for a contribution toward commercial rent in the third quarter.

The state will contribute 50 percent of the total rent for this period, with the maximum amount of support set at CZK 10 million.

Tour bus carriers will receive up to CZK 1 billion from the state to cover losses from the crisis. The compensation, which will be paid per seat and day, has also just been approved by the government.

Artists and other culture workers will be able to apply for a grant to continue the COVID Culture program. CZK 750 million has been set aside for this assistance.

Arts Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said that a one-off form of CZK 60,000 crowns would go to individuals by the end of the year, while entrepreneurs may apply for up to CZK 10 million in compensation.