ATHENS – Some businesses who got state funds after being closed during a 10-week lockdown that began in March in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19 won't have to pay them back, keeping the money.
The New Democracy government, said Kathimerini, is going to make the loans become outright grants from some 17.5 billion euros ($20.54 billion) in aid given companies as well as workers laid off during that period.
A Finance Ministry source not identified told the paper it will be only for companies in special categories and in areas with additional local lockdowns because they are hotspots for the Coronavirus, as well as the culture and exhibition sector.
So far, however, there haven't been plans to subsidize artists and musicians left without work and who have no income and aren't allowed to perform during the still-raging pandemic because of health protocols keeping people safe social distances.
Alternate Finance Minister Thodoros Skylakakis told Parliament that there's a “significant share” of the loans that won't have to be repaid but didn't say how it would total, the government getting some 70 billion euros ($82.14 billion) in COVID-19 aid in loans and grants from the European Union.
Companies that don't qualify and have to repay the loans will likely get more favorable terms, with a grace period until the end of 2021 and then 40 monthly installments with a low interest rate too.
Despite a second wave of COVID-19, the government hasn't moved for another country-wide lockdown, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis trying to stave off further damage to the economy and prevent more business closings and rising unemployment.