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€200m paid in corporate subsidies, entrepreneurs’ group wants restaurants to re-open

A small-business group says the government should consider re-opening restaurants in the coming weeks.

Ravintola suljettu-lappu ravintolan ikkunassa.
Restaurants like this one in Helsinki's Kontula neighbourhood have been closed for three weeks, except for take-out sales. Image: Toni Määttä / Yle

The state has so far handed out some 200 million euros in subsidies to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make it through the corona crisis, reports the news agency STT on Sunday. Thousands of firms have received business support through Business Finland and regional economic development agencies, known as ELY Centres.

The government has promised nearly 1.5 billion euros in direct support from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment to alleviate the negative impact of the coronavirus epidemic on companies.

ELY Centres are responsible for supporting firms employing less than five people while larger ones should turn to Business Finland. Municipalities are also supposed to provide grants of 2,000 euros to self-employed individuals, but not all local authorities have begun distributing these funds.

Entrepreneurs’ group: Re-open Finland

Meanwhile the main entrepreneurs’ association, the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, is calling on the government to cautiously and gradually re-open society and the economy in the coming weeks if the status of the epidemic allows.

“If we don’t begin to remove restrictions quickly, the cost will become unreasonable both in terms of both the national economy and national health. Shutting down the economy spurs unemployment, which has wide-ranging effects, including on children,” CEO Mikael Pentikäinen said in a statement.

The group calls on authorities to consider carefully re-opening the restaurant sector over the next few weeks. It notes that Finland has about 10,000 restaurant firms that employ around about 50,000 people. Parliament decided in early April that restaurants will remain shut through the end of May, except for takeaway sales.

The Federation of Finnish Enterprises (Suomen Yrittäjät) represents more than 115,000 SMEs and their owners. Its website provides links to coronavirus advice for entrepreneurs in a variety of languages, including Kurdish, Somali and Mandarin Chinese.

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