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How freelancers and small businesses can apply for coronavirus payments in Germany

Are you a freelancer, self-employed or have a small business? Here's where to apply for financial help if you're affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Germany.

How freelancers and small businesses can apply for coronavirus payments in Germany
A shop in Berlin displaying a closed sign. Many businesses are affected by the corona crisis. Photo: DPA

The coronavirus pandemic is having massive economic consequences, with many people in Germany and beyond losing their jobs or facing financial difficulties.

In fact, experts estimated on Monday that social distancing measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which include closing non-essential shops and shutting down public life, will slash German 2020 economic output by 2.8 to 5.4 percent before a rebound next year.

“The German economy will shrink significantly in 2020,” the so-called “Wise Men” expert panel (SVR) said, with the exact size of the impact “depending on the extent and duration of health policy measures and the subsequent recovery, reported AFP.

The federal government and Germany's 16 states have vowed to provide cash to people affected.

Here's an overview of how to apply for it if you're a freelancer, self-employed or small business. States may offer different procedures and payments. Please contact your relevant authority for more information.

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How do you know if you’re eligible?

You must be registered with a German tax office and carry out work from a German permanent establishment/address or a German management headquarters.

Scope of immediate aid: self-employed people and companies with up to five employees can apply for a non repayable one-off grant of up to €9,000

Companies with up to 10 employees can apply for a grant of up to €15,000. Both sums are valid for three months.

Proof of cash difficulties: The applicant must confirm that he/she has encountered financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Companies must not have already been in financial difficulties on December 31st 2019.

Application deadline: Applications must be submitted by May 31st 2020 at the latest.

READ ALSO: Buy from The Local's readers – help each other through tough times

What's the application procedure?

The Emergency Aid Programme (das Soforthilfe-Programm) involves a bureaucratic application procedure but aims to ensure a rapid payout.

The information provided in the application must be correct – false information may constitute fraud and lead to criminal prosecution. Applications can soon be submitted electronically to the responsible contacts in the state where you live.

It's important to note that you must submit your applications to the competent authority in your federal state.

Here's an overview of where to apply and who to contact for more information.

READ ALSO: Bundestag approves historic coronavirus rescue package

BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG:

Application to and preliminary assessment by Industrie und Handelskammern (IHK) and Handwerkskammern (HWK), approval through L-Bank. For more information and to apply, visit this site.

BAVARIA:

Moderated by district governments and the City of Munich. For more information and to apply, visit this site.

BERLIN:

Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB). For more information and to apply, visit this site.

BRANDENBURG:

Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg (ILB). For more information and to apply, visit this site.

BREMEN:

BAB Bremer Aufbau Bank BIS Bremerhavener Gesellschaft for Investment Promotion and Urban Development mbH. For more information and to apply, visit this site.

HAMBURG:

Hamburg Investment and Development Bank (IFB Hamburg). For more information and to apply, visit this site.

HESSE:

Kassel Regional Council. For more information and to apply, visit this site.

MECKLENBURG-WESTERN POMERANIA:

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania State Development Institute (LFI-MV). For more information and to apply, visit this site.

LOWER SAXONY:

Lower Saxony Investment and Development Bank – NBank. For more information and to apply click here.

NORTH RHINE-WESTPHALIA:

District governments of Arnsberg, Detmold, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Münster. For more information and to apply, visit this site.

RHINELAND-PALATINATE:

Investment and Structural Bank RP (ISB). For more information and to apply, visit this site.

SAARLAND:

Saarland Ministry of Economics, Labor, Energy and Transport. For more information and to apply, visit this site.

SAXONY:

Saxon Reconstruction Bank – Development Bank (SAB). For more information and to apply, visit this site.

SAXONY-ANHALT:

Saxony-Anhalt Investment Bank. For more information and to apply, visit this site.

SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN:

Investitionsbank Schleswig-Holstein (IB.SH). For more information and to apply, visit this site.

THURINGIA:

Thuringia Reconstruction Bank. The acceptance of applications and preliminary tests are also carried out by the IHKn and HWKn. For more information and to apply, visit this site.

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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