Personen überqueren eine Brücke

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Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier commented today on the extension of COVID-19 assistance following deliberations at the Federal Cabinet meeting.

The press statement was given following today’s agreement between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on the modalities for extending COVID-19 assistance.

Companies in need of financial assistance will continue to receive support as the effective instrument of Bridging Assistance III Plus currently in place will be continued as Bridging Assistance IV for the period from January until the end of March 2022. Similarly, New Start Assistance Plus, which is available for self-employed persons, will also be extended from January to the end of March 2022. Christmas markets that are currently feeling the brunt of the pandemic will be granted greater options for assistance under the new Bridging Assistance IV programme.

This is what Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said today in Berlin:

"The COVID-19 situation is extremely serious. In recent months, we have been talking a lot about easing restrictions whereas we should have been talking about additional measures to contain the pandemic. But we have learned from the experiences gathered at the beginning of the pandemic. We have kick-started Germany’s economic recovery, which continue to pick up speed next year.

Currently, however, the number of infections is increasing exponentially and this is also having an impact on the economy. The Federal Government has therefore agreed to introduce a financial safety net for Christmas market stand owners, operators and businesses. It is now important that operators and businesses have the planning certainty they need to overcome this last financially difficult phase. We are therefore extending the proven mix of instruments comprising short-time allowance and Covid-19 assistance until the end of March 2022.

Our particular focus is currently on Christmas markets, as not only have families been looking forward to them, but companies have been preparing for them too. Therefore, Christmas market stand operators can now already receive Bridging Assistance III Plus, and more importantly, write off perishable and seasonal goods. We are also making it easier for exhibitors at Christmas markets to claim the equity grant under the new Bridging Assistance IV. So, in future, they will only have to prove that their business has seen a relevant drop in sales for one month.

The proven eligibility criteria for Bridging Assistance III Plus will, in principle, also be applied to Bridging Assistance IV and the assistance will be extended until March 2022. Companies will still have to prove that they have suffered a slump in sales of at least 30% compared to the corresponding reference month in 2019 and will be reimbursed most of their operating costs. At the recommendation of the Federal Court of Audit, companies eligible for Bridging Assistance IV will be reimbursed for up to 90% of their fixed costs in the event of losses in turnover of 70% or more. Under the Bridging Assistance III Plus programme, companies will continue to be reimbursed for 100% of their fixed costs.

We are also extending the New Start Assistance for self-employed persons until the end of March 2022. Own-account workers can continue to claim up to €1,500 per month in direct grants, i.e. a total of up to €4,500 for the extended assistance period.

As a further step, we are making full use of the new scope granted by the European Commission under State aid law within the new Temporary Framework of 18 November 2021. Specifically, this means that we are raising the maximum funding limits by €2.5 million.

Hardship assistance, provided by the federal states, will also be extended until the end of March 2022.

In addition to extending the coronavirus assistance, we will greatly extend the deadlines for applying for Bridging Assistance III Plus and for the final settlement of the grants."