April 11, 2021

so will the new normal


MADRID

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The return to the new normality will come from next May 4 with commerce and hospitality at medium gas and some «small loopholes “of economic activity. The de-escalation in phases and over a period of between six and eight weeks will allow a phased deployment of the country’s economic activity, which will not be fully operational at once. Businesses like shops, hotels and hotels may reopen throughout this period but under strict hygiene and safety regulations to avoid contagion, and companies that can continue to telework until the end of June.

For example, in the phase 1 – there are no defined dates, but it could be from May 11th –, bars and restaurants can open their terraces with up to a third of its occupation, the hotels will be able to return to the activity but keeping their common areas closed and the small shop will be able to lift the blinds, but not the premises located in shopping centers. As Sánchez explained in a telematic press conference in Moncloa after the Council of Ministers, the de-escalation of unconfinement will be “gradual” and “asymmetric” and it will have four phases —from 0 to 3—, depending on how the pandemic evolves.

In the first phase, 0, will be allowed from next May 4 the opening of small premises and establishments by appointment for the individual customer service, such as restaurants with food delivery service without consumption on the premises.

Once in phase 1which will start on May 11, the partial start of more activities will begin, with the opening of small businesses but in conditions of “Strict security», A phase in which the shopping centers where the crowds are largest will be left out. Also at this time there will be the opening of terraces for bars and restaurants, with 30% occupancy limitation and of hotels and accommodation, with an initial phase of opening that will leave the common areas out of use and with rules and restrictions that will later be set by the Ministry of Health. The premises must also open with a preferential schedule for those over 65 years.

In the phases 2 will be when the opening of the interior space of premises with a capacity also of a third and only for table service. Also then leisure and culture will return, with cinemas, theaters and auditoriums with pre-assigned seats and the limitation of capacity to one third, and activity of monuments and exhibitions, conferences with a third capacity, while cultural events and shows can be held with less than 50 people.

Until phase 3 from the end of the lack of confinement, which will not arrive until late June, general mobility will not be relaxed, and in any case always under security measures. At this time, in the economic field, the capacity in commerce will be limited to 50% with the obligation that customers and workers keep the social distance of two meters. As for bars and restaurants, the restrictions will be more relaxed, but the minimum distance between consumers will remain mandatory.

ERTE and telework

Also until this last phase it is quite likely that the Ministry of Labor will maintain the recommendation of the telecommuting in all those companies whose employees can work remotely, as the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has advanced. In addition, beyond the de-escalation and the end of the alarm state, the measure that facilitates companies the ERTE by force majeure derivatives of the coronavirus.

Banking warning

Beyond the details of the de-escalation, the President of the Executive has taken advantage of the questions from the press to send a clear message to the bank and has assured that the Government monitors that the aid implemented they reach their recipients. “The Government has committed 100,000 million in ICO guarantees, more than ever in history,” the president has defended himself when asked about the businessmen’s requirements for greater liquidity. “We have also received complaints by freelancers and SMEs on the treatment given to them by certain banks, ”he said, to recall afterwards that they monitor the financial system so that the liquidity measures reach their recipients.

“To date, only 200,000 self-employed and SMEs have received an ICO line of credit, when demand is four times higher. About 900,000 have requested it. At this rate, some will get credit when they have the business or activity sunk, “said the president of the association of self-employed ATA and vice president of the CEOE, Lorenzo Amor.

The Government, through the ICO, has for now made available to companies 40,000 of the 100,000 million euros in committed public guarantees. Each financial institution can grant an amount equivalent to its market share in the business segment. Some entities, such as Santander, have already filled their quota. Asked about this Tuesday about the amount of these guarantees, the CEO of this bank, José Antonio Álvarez, has not assessed whether the 100,000 million will be sufficient, but he has said that “The important thing is that they be released”Because there are banks, such as Santander, that have a pending demand to meet.

The entities have also been criticized for linking, in some cases, the granting of these guaranteed loans, in which 80% of the risk is covered by the State, to the contracting of other products such as life insurance, something prohibited in the framework agreement between ICO and banks. In this sense, both the Bank of Spain and the ICO itself monitor that they are granted in accordance with these standards. But in addition, many freelancers and SMEs are complaining that many applications are being denied. In this regard, banks argue that prudent risk criteria are also being applied. Álvarez, for example, recalled this Tuesday that the risk of default on these loans is borne by the taxpayer and the entities and therefore, following professional criteria, it is normal for them to be denied.

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