Catalan government to provide up to €2,000 grants for freelancers with 'drastic' losses
Some 4,500 self-employed workers will be able to benefit from measure
On Tuesday morning the Catalan government announced that it will be providing some 4,500 self-employed workers with grants of up to 2,000 euros if they have experienced significant economic losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Labor minister Chakir el Homrani, in an interview with Rac1 radio station, informed listeners that freelancers will possibly be able to begin applying for the grant next week, but has not yet given specific dates.
El Homrani explained that the decree does not specify what kind of freelancer is entitled to receive the funds, but that instead authorities would be evaluating applications on a "case by case" basis as they are open to "any freelancer that can demonstrate a drastic and involuntary invoice reduction and who has had to halt activity for public health reasons."
All in all, the Catalan government will be allocating 7.5 billion euros for freelancers who have been forced to halt their work due to the covid-19 crisis.
At the same time, the Catalan authorities said they would pay the salaries and insurance policies of all employees in companies that work for the government.
Online teaching, reduced public transport, private health takeover
During a video press conference on Tuesday afternoon, government spokesperson Meritxell Budó said they would be setting up an online platform for teaching activities starting from next week.
Regarding public transport, Catalonia has seen a 75-90% reduction in demand. Service was being provided at between 40-100% service, depending, for example, on metro line or time of day.
The interior minister Miquel Buch said there was roughly half the usual amount of traffic entering and leaving the Barcelona area compared to a week ago, and that even compared to yesterday, the first working day of the state of alarm, there were 13% fewer vehicles on the road.
Meanwhile, the health minister Alba Vergés has said the government has taken over private health facilities and professionals, because of the increasing need for services.
"We are still waiting on medical material we should receive shortly - millions of masks and material our professionals need,” the minister explained.
Vergés went on to emphasize that is was "essential that people stay home," repeating a refrain that all in Catalonia have become very used to hearing.
Response from Spain
Vergés is also worried that emergency services could become overwhelmed in the coming days. "We've proposed a total lockdown to relieve care efforts for critical and semi-critical patients." the health minister said.
But at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon the Spanish president Pedro Sánchez ruled out a total lockdown for Catalonia. "The virus doesn't respond to borders, all of our measures are based of science," he said.