Denmark announces support package for lockdown-hit restaurants

Denmark announces support package for lockdown-hit restaurants
A closed cafe in Odense. Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix
A financial support package for restaurants and cafes impacted by the partial coronavirus lockdown in Denmark has been praised in part by the industry, but others have called for a further-reaching response.

The government on Thursday agreed a provision for wage compensation for businesses affected by the partial lockdown currently effective in 38 Danish municipalities.

The compensation scheme pays for up to 75-90 percent of wages up to 30,000 kroner per month and enables restaurants to furlough table staff while keeping on kitchen staff, with businesses still permitted to operate takeaway services.

The deal will save jobs in the sector, according to a representative from Horesta, the interest organisation for the hospitality sector.

“Businesses in our sector are so dependent on staff and when there is no compensation, there’s no choice but to let them go. With this deal we can ensure that our staff don’t get a redundancy notice for Christmas,” Horesta political director Kirsten Munch Andersen said.

The agreement, between the government and employer organisations, was announced on Thursday morning.

Although it was praised by Munch Andersen, the industry representative also called the compensation package a first step to protecting the industry during the current lockdown.

“It is necessary to look at how compensation is secured for the expenses brought about by the lockdown.

“That is in relation to regular expenses as well the cost of things like raw materials that won’t be used,” she said.

December is usually a peak month for the industry, which enables it to get through quieter months in January and February under normal circumstances, she also pointed out.

Another industry interest group, SMVdanmark, was critical of parts of the deal. The organisation represents small and medium-sized businesses in Denmark.

Smaller companies may struggle to make up the difference, SMVdanmark’s CEO Jakob Brandt said.

“Once again, far too large a part of the bill will be sent to small business,” Brandt said.

“There should have been a solution whereby employees are compensated by the state, for example through the unemployment insurance [Danish: dagpenge, ed.] system, because it’s clearly not fair for companies to pay the wages of staff who aren’t working,” Brandt said in a comment.

READ ALSO: How will Denmark's partial lockdown affect Christmas celebrations?

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