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This is France’s new €110 billion coronavirus emergency plan

The French government has released a new list of economic measures to help the country through the coronavirus crisis. The total emergency plan now amounts to €110 billion.

This is France's new €110 billion coronavirus emergency plan
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe laid out the new plan on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Prime Minister Eduard Philippe announced the new measures on Wednesday, two days after the nationwide lockdown was extended until May 11th.

“This unprecedented health crisis requires answers as big as the shock we are under,” the PM said.

The government had €110 billion ready to tackle the economic and social consequences of the coronavirus, he added.

France was swift to announce measures to alleviate the negative economic impact sparked by shutting down most of its economic activities by keeping the country at home.
 
But the current budget represents a significant increase from the €45 billion initial plan from mid March.
 
Of these €8 billion have been earmarked be used on health expenses, half of them to buy masks.
 
The rest of the money will go to business and workers. Here's what is on offer;
 

Hospitals 

Hospital workers in France have protested over low pay for years, organising protests and street rallies to alert decision makers to their long workdays and modest salaries. But the coronavirus crisis really turned the spotlight towards the country’s hospitals.

“They are on the front line day and night,” Philippe said. “We all know what we owe them.”

Hospital workers in the hardest hit areas – along with workers in hospitals that received patients from these areas – would therefore get a €1,500 bonus, the PM said.

Hospital workers in the rest of the country would receive €500. The bonuses will be tax-free.

The PM also said health workers would see their overtime hours “recalculated” up to 50 percent. 

 

Ehpad

Carers in the country’s Ehpad (nursing homes) would also get a bonus, and the PM said there were ongoing discussions with the establishments over how much.

READ MORE: How coronavirus torn through France's elderly nursing homes

Public sector employees

Public officials who have to continue to work during the lockdown will be granted a bonus that could go up to €1,000, according to the new plan.

About 400,000 public officials should be eligible for this bonus package.

Police officers, customs officials or teachers who have taken care of the children of health workers are some of the professions included here.

Low-income families

The PM also promised that, starting from May 15th, the government would ensure financial emergency help to low-income families.

 

Households on the income top-up benefit known as RSA (revenue de solidarité active) or ASS (allocation de solidarité spécifique) would get €150 each, plus 100 extra per child.

Partial unemployment

To encourage companies to keep their employees on the payroll, the state has said it will foot most of the wage bill.

Employers can declare chômage partiel (partial unemployment) for their employees.

The new emergency plan has increased the budget for the country's crisis unemployment scheme by €4 billion, up from €20 to €24 billion in total.

This reflects a massive increase in the number of people enrolled on the scheme, from some 4 million just a few weeks ago to over 8 million people today.

 

If companies qualify for the scheme their workers will get 84 percent of their net salary during the period they are not working, while those earning minimum wage (€1,219 net a month) get their whole salary reimbursed. 

The measure only covers those earning up to 4.5 times the minimum wage (€4,607.82 net a month).

The benefit (indemnité) is paid by the employer who is then reimbursed by the state. Workers on a temporary (CDD) or permanent (CDI) contract whose company hit by the crisis will be covered, but interns or apprentices are not.

READ MORE: How to access partial unemployment in France

Help for self-employed workers

The government had already launched a financial help package for self-employed people and small business owners who have lost out during the coronavirus crisis.

This has increased from €1,500 to €3,500, and consists of two different packages of  €1,500 and €2,000 respectively.

The government initially said about 600,000 businesses would be eligible for this financial help, 160,000 in the restaurant sector, 140,000 non-food related shops and 100,000 in the tourist sector.

More than 900,000 businesses have applied for this aid.

For more details on this click here.

Other social measures

Businesses and self-employed will also be able to suspend payments on rent, gas and electricity.

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