xi's moments
Home | Europe

German business groups voice anger over lockdown

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-02-18 09:28

A sign indicates to wear a face mask as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues at Unter den Linden street in Berlin, Germany on Dec 18, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Business groups in Germany have expressed their anger about the government's decision to extend COVID-19 restrictions to March 7, and over the "significant delays" in distribution of support payments.

Pressure from Germany's business community is growing for a way out of one of Europe's longest shutdowns, but economy minister Peter Altmaier on Tuesday dashed hopes, saying the country could not risk another wave of infections.

In a virtual meeting with representatives of 40 industry associations, Altmaier, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said that Germany was proceeding with caution "for fear of new coronavirus variants in neighboring countries", Reuters reported.

Politicians have raised the prospect of a potential easing of some restrictions after that date, but only if variants do not spread widely in the country, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, known as DW.The relatively strict lockdown measures are in contrast to Germany's neighbors France, Italy and Austria, where non-essential shops have reopened, and in cities such as Madrid in Spain, where restaurants and cafes are operating, a Financial Times report said.

The delay in the distribution of aid payments has caused dismay, with many businesses saying they are still waiting for compensation for November, which is when the new lockdown began.

Guido Zollick, head of DEHOGA, the German association of hotels and restaurants, was quoted by the Financial Times and others as saying that "businesses are growing increasingly desperate, and angry "and that "more and more fear for their existence".

During the meeting, Altmaier announced new emergency "hardship" payments for businesses and self-employed people, and said large companies with revenues of over 750 million euro ($905 million) would now be able to request aid.

Figures show that Germany has paid out 6.1 billion euro in emergency pandemic payments since November, The Irish Times said.

DW quoted the president of the German Employers' Association, Rainer Dulger, as saying that a "comprehensive overall approach" for the entire country was "still necessary".

The Financial Times noted a survey by EuroCommerce that found that in 19 of 31 European countries, all shops are now open, "even in places with much higher infection rates and numbers of deaths from COVID-19 than Germany".

In a separate report, the finance broadsheet said European countries are "preparing to scale back their unprecedented support measures for workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic".

According to its analysis of national statistics, the paper said by the end of last year, "more than 6 million jobs across leading eurozone economies" were still being supported by government furlough programs.

It said this is "fuelling economists' calls for greater urgency" in helping them find work in "other industries".

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349