South Korea under a de facto lockdown in unfazed winter outbreak of Covid-19 on top of the arrival of a variant virus amid delayed import of vaccines is handing out up to 3 million won ($2,729.6) to small business owners and self-employed whose businesses have been forced to shutter.
According to a new economic relief program drawn up by the ruling Democratic Party and the government on Sunday, the government is seeking to provide relief funds of up to 3 million won to small merchants and self-employed people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The grants are similar to those doled out in state’s second relief package between September and November plus rent subsidies.
Small businesses will receive up to 2 million won to stay in business during suspension and another 1 million won in rent subsidy, according to the new plan. Bars, singing rooms, and gyms that were forced to close doors due to the tightened social distancing rules will be granted 2 million won plus 1 million won in rent support. Restaurants, cafes, PC rooms, performance halls, hair salons, discount stores, and study cafes that are under business restrictions such as in operating hours will receive total 2.5 million won.
The relief cash – which will be announced as early as Tuesday – is expected to be distributed to 2.91 million businesses by January next year.
The new package will also include raising tax credit rate to landlords that voluntarily lower rent fees for small businesses from current 50 percent to 70 percent, which means that landlords will receive up to 70 percent of the reduced amount in tax.
The government is also seeking to provide low-interest loan support to small business owners and allow them a three-month grace period from January for electricity payments, employment insurance fees, and occupational health and safety insurance fees.
On Sunday, Noh Young-min, presidential chief of staff, announced that the country will be ready to begin vaccinations in February next year, starting with medical staff and the elderly.
The government also decided to keep the current 2.5 social distancing level in the capital area and level 2 in non-capital areas until Jan. 3 despite the steady surge in infection cases.
The country reported 808 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, raising the accumulated caseload to 57,680, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
The KDCA on Monday also confirmed that a new variant spreading fast in the United Kingdom has been found for the first time in specimens of three Koreans that tested positive for Covid-19 after entering the country from the European country on Dec. 22.
By Lee Ji-yong, Lee Suk-hee, Yang Yeon-ho, and Lee Eun-joo
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