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The Italian government has brought in measures to help self-employed workers and to stop companies from laying off employees due to the financial fallout of the coronavirus crisis in Italy.
Many businesses have been forced to close as the country fights to control the biggest coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
A sign on a closed shop in Milan states that business is suspended due to the emergency quarantine measures. Photo: AFP
The financial rescue plan signed into law in a government decree in mid-March is 72 pages long and contains 127 points in total.
While it's impossible for us to go into all of these points in detail, here are the parts Italy's international residents most need to know about – and the information we have so far about how your family or business can benefit.
You can read the full official text of the decree (in Italian) here.
Payments for the self-employed
Self-employed and seasonal workers such as tour guides can apply for a 600-euro payment for the month of March to help protect them from the fallout as business dries up.
Applications opened on April 1 via the INPS (social security office) website – however, there were so many applications on the first day that the website crashed.
The self-employed who have to take time off work to look after their kids can also receive “parental leave” payments that cover up to half of their declared monthly incomes.
For more details, speak to your accountant or see the INPS website.
In a later decree, the government also released some 400 million euros for mayors to give out in in the form of food vouchers to those who can't afford groceries. They are to be distributed by local authorities to those who are most in need.
The vouchers are intended only for those who have no income and are unable to afford even basic necessities, and are likely to be means-tested.
Mayors have said they will set up access points where the vouchers can be distributed, though the specifics will no doubt vary from one municipality to another. For more information, see your comune's website.
Around Italy, charities are also setting up food banks and food distrbution shcemes for those in need, often in cooperation with municipal authorities. Information on such schemes should also be available on your local comune's website.
Companies are prohibited from laying off workers for the next two months without “justified objective reasons”, the decree states.
The government will also cover 100-euro bonuses for lower-paid employees, which are to be paid directly by employers along with regular wages in April.
Childcare costs and parental leave
Families are to be issued 600-euro vouchers to go towards the expense of having to hire babysitters to look after kids that will be out of school at least until April 3.
Parents can apply for these payments via the INPS social security office website.
The Italian government said on Wednesday that its month-long shutdown of everything from kindergartens to private universities might run well into next month.
Rent and mortgage payments
While there have been reports that mortgage payments would be suspended, not everyone will be able to benefit from this measure.
The self-employed and freelancers with mortgages can ask to have their payments suspended for up to 18 months if they can prove that their incomes fell by at least one third. However, banks do not necessarily always agree to this.
Commercial rents can aso be suspended.
The government is compensating shop owners for forced closures by offering them tax credits to cover 60 percent of their March rent payment.
Residential rent payments however are not mentioned in the decree.
Suspended tax and insurance payments
A variety of taxes are being suspended for sectors and professions deemed most affected by the crisis.
An existing list of at-risk professionals has been expanded to include everyone from truck drivers and hotel staff to cooks and clerks.
A restaurant owner stands outside his closed business in Rome. Photo: AFP
You should ask your employer or accountant for full details of exactly what you may be eligible for.
The worst affected sectors business can suspend payments of social security and welfare contributions and compulsory insurance payments.
Sectors and businesses deemed most at risk according to the decree include:
- Tourism businesses, including travel agencies and tour operators
- Restaurants, ice cream shops, bakeries, bars and pubs
- Theatres, concert halls, nightclubs, discos and games halls
- Sports clubs
- Rental services (such as car or sports equipment rental companies)
- Nurseries and educational services
- Museums, libraries, archives, monuments
- Sports facilities including gyms and swimming pools
- Amusement and theme parks
- Lottery and betting offices
The government expects to start collecting these taxes again in May.
A variety of other measures include four-month tax privileges for Italy's sports federations, and 130 million euros set aside to support film and cinema in the country.
A large part of the 25-billion-euro fund will be used for healthcase and emergency services, ministers said. As well as funding for intensive care beds and equipment, this includes 150 million euros towards paying overtime for health workers.