Italian government approves new Covid-19 financial aid package

Italian government approves new Covid-19 financial aid package
Closed shops in Turin, Piedmont. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
Italy's government said on Monday it had approved a new stimulus package to shore up businesses affected by the latest round of anti-coronavirus restrictions.

The aid package, the fourth since the pandemic gripped the country in March, is worth €8 billion and delays tax deadlines as well as offering up to €1,000 for workers in badly hit sectors like tourism.

Small businesses that have suffered a significant loss in turnover can push back certain tax payments until the end of April 2021, as can shops, restaurants and hotels forced to close because of restrictions in Italy's 'red' or 'orange' risk zones.

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What's more, the so-called 'fourth relief decree' (decreto ristori quater) allows the government to exempt badly hit businesses from paying part or all of their tax and social security payments, though the details have not yet been decided.

Companies and individuals who were due to file tax returns or make payments by Monday, November 30th, will instead have until December 10th.

The package also offers a €1,000 lump sum to workers in tourism, the arts and leisure, and €800 for people working in sport, after cinemas, theatres, museums, gyms and pools were ordered closed nationwide and travel strictly limited.

Seasonal workers, door-to-door salespeople, temps and others doing precarious work will also be eligible for the payout, which follows similar emergency bonuses earlier this year.  

Other measures in the decree include setting aside funds for the conventions sector and a boosted police presence to ensure anti-coronavirus measures are respected.

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Italy's punishing lockdown of all its 60 million residents brought its first Covid-19 outbreak under control but, as in other countries, the number of cases has risen sharply in recent months.

Rome has sought to avoid another lockdown after the first crippled the economy, focusing instead on regional restrictions alongside a nationwide night-time curfew.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was set to meet with the heads of the country's 20 regions later on Monday to work out Italy's plan for the holidays, with health experts warning too much Christmas cheer would spark a third wave.


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