by Dries Torreele
From Monday 2 November, our country will enter another, stricter lockdown period. This will be accompanied by various new and far-reaching measures. The proposals include a generous range of support measures for entrepreneurs in the catering industry and other sectors. In summary:
These measures generally concern all entrepreneurs in the catering industry who will be forced to close down for a month from 19 October. We will distinguish between federal and regional support measures.
Entrepreneurs in the catering sector can apply for the following support measures:
Hospitality businesses in Flanders that must stay closed in the coming month will receive a premium from VLAIO. This compensation amounts to 10% of the turnover for the reference period in the previous year. A cap of EUR 11,250 applies for hospitality entrepreneurs with fewer than ten employees. For hospitality entrepreneurs with more than ten employees, the limit is set at EUR 22,500.
The Brussels Capital Region will pay out a EUR 3,000 premium specifically for bars, which may be expanded to include restaurants as well. No enterprise is entitled to more than five premiums. The Brussels municipalities will issue their own separate premiums for bars and restaurants as well.
Entrepreneurs in Wallonia who can demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 60% in 2020’s third quarter (compared to the same period in 2019) were already entitled to compensation amounting to 15% of the turnover with a cap between EUR 3,000 and 24,000. The current proposals provide for an additional EUR 3,500 premium for businesses with no employees. For larger hospitality businesses that do employ staff, this could rise to as high as EUR 10,000.
For self-employed entrepreneurs who are not obliged to close down, but still suffering loss of turnover, the restart benefit has been extended until the end of December. To qualify for this support measure, you must be able to demonstrate a decline in turnover or orders in the quarter preceding that month of at least 10% compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
The double bridging right is intended for hospitality entrepreneurs who are subject to mandatory closure. This includes brewers who only supply hospitality businesses and are thus directly affected by the enforced closure, for example. The double bridging right may be expanded to cover the event and cultural sectors, as well as fairground workers and similar.
Additionally, the Federal Government will guarantee end-of-year bonuses for employees who became unemployed due to force majeure.
There are no specific legal provisions in place for these support measures as yet. We must wait until the government offers greater clarity. Once the supplementary support measures are finalised, we will inform you of the exact conditions and application process.
In our opinions, we rely on current legislation, interpretations and legal doctrine. This does not prevent the administration from disputing them or from changing existing interpretations.
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