Spain’s central government announced a fresh €4.2 billion ($5.1 billion) financial aid package for businesses on Tuesday, as the Health Ministry announced 10,654 new coronavirus infections.
This is the 13th day in a row that Spain’s two-week infection rate has increased, although the pace of acceleration has slowed down this week.
Another 260 people died of COVID-19, down by 128 from the same day last week, while active hospitalizations remain relatively stable.
Some regions, including Catalonia, are bracing for another possible crisis in hospitals as infections increase and intensive care units are nearing 30% occupancy by COVID-19 patients.
Catalonia has recently moved to put limits on the hospitality sector so they can only open during lunch and breakfast.
The aid package has been announced for struggling businesses in the hospitality, tourism, and retail sectors.
It aims to “clearly reduce operating costs of businesses in these sectors,” Treasury Minister Maria Jesus Montero told a press conference.
Part of the plan means landlords with more than 10 properties in urban centers, who have not agreed to a discount with tenants operating in these sectors, will have to cut the rent in half until May.
Landlords will be partially compensated with tax credits and other financial incentives to lower the rents.
More loans will also be made available to struggling businesses, which will be allowed to delay tax payments.
Still, many industry groups say the help is too little too late. According to the Hospitality in Spain association, between 85,000 and 100,000 bars and restaurants are expected to close permanently by the end of the year.
The government also greenlighted a new law that will ban evictions of vulnerable people from their homes until the state of emergency is lifted in May.
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