German official says aid package from gov’t first step in fighting COVID-19 impacts

German Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday that the aid package announced by the government on Monday was an initial step in tackling the coronavirus impacts.

The Finance Ministry announced an aid package to combat the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday. The authorities agreed on various measures to build a “protective shield” for families, employees, the self-employed as well as large, medium and small companies.

The self-employed and firms with up to five employees in Germany would receive a one-time payment of up to 9,000 euros (9,680 U.S. dollars). At the same time, a stabilization fund, for which 500 billion euros (540 billion U.S. dollars) were planned, would support large companies throughout the crisis.

After a video conference with representatives of leading German research institutes and economists, Altmaier said that in order to prevent job losses, the aim was to ensure support to be “available as quickly as possible”. He also stressed that further measures would need to be implemented to “lead us out of the crisis”.

Germany was in a “very difficult economic situation” and economic losses would “probably” be higher than that in the 2008 financial crisis, said Altmaier.

German Bundestag is scheduled to pass the bill in a fast-track procedure on Wednesday and to introduce an emergency regulation for the debt brake that would allow the government new loans of 156 billion euros. (1 euro = 1.08 U.S. dollars)