Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) : New support measures in the Brussels-Capital Region

Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) : New support measures in the Brussels-Capital Region

The Government of the Brussels-Capital Region today decided on new measures to support the sectors most affected by the emergency measures decided following the Coronavirus crisis. Following the extension of these emergency measures until 3 May 2020, it was decided to extend the deadlines for certain regional support measures but also to supplement this with economic measures for specific sectors for a total budget of 300 million euros.

Among these, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region has decided:

  • to grant aid of 3,000 euros to all operators of taxis and chauffeur-driven cars, a budgetary effort estimated at nearly 4,500,000 euros;
  • to introduce a compensatory premium of 2,000 euros (for a total budget of 102 million euros). Following the one-off premium which was intended for shops and businesses which were forced to close, the Brussels government decided to grant a compensatory premium. This is intended to support entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises (between 0 and 5 FTEs) who are experiencing a significant drop in activity due to the measures taken to combat the spread of Covid-19. This is an important step because it was essential for the government to broaden its support for those who keep our Brussels economy alive, and help them get through these weeks that have been made difficult due to a significant loss of turnover. The terms for granting this compensatory premium are being defined;
  • to extend the one-off premium to certain sectors (for a total amount of 10.9 million euros). The one-off premium as adopted by the Government on 7 April 2020 and aims to support active establishments that are affected by an obligation to close (by ministerial decree of 18 March 2020) will be extended to video cassette and DVD companies (NACE 77.220), car washes (NACE 45.206), bookshops (NACE 47.620) and estate agents (NACE 68.311);
  • too extend the time limit for payment of road tax and registration tax. More specifically, it is an extension of the deadline (which is currently 2 months) by an additional 2 months in order to give taxpayers breathing space in these difficult times. Brussels residents and Brussels businesses will therefore have 4 months to pay road tax, and where applicable, registration tax. The extension of the payment period to 4 months will apply to notices of assessment sent until 30 September 2020 inclusive.
  • to extend the notice periods for private tenants and student tenants. In these difficult times, it was necessary to take measures to arrange the ending of leases in order to resolve any legal uncertainties and to support Brussels tenants facing these difficulties. The Government has therefore decided to relax notice periods in an exceptional and temporary manner:
    • for residential leases: a suspension of notice periods taking effect on 16 March 2020 and for the duration of the home lockdown measures. The tenant nevertheless remains required to pay rent for the accommodation he/she continues to live in during this period of suspension.
    • for student leases and short-term leases linked to student accommodation: a reduction in the notice period to one month. Student tenants obviously remain liable for rent during this reduced notice period. These exceptional measures will obviously not apply if owners and tenants have concluded another type of agreement;
  • to grant an exceptional premium to help in the payment of rent and support the most vulnerable tenants who are suffering from a loss of income. The terms of this grant are being prepared and will be presented for approval at the next Council of Ministers session;

  • to extend by one month, the ban on gas and electricity outages, that is until 30 June 2020 inclusive;

  • to authorise all regional administrations to transfer, free of charge, any of their own downgraded and decommissioned computer equipment to non-profit associations in order to be reconditioned and distributed. Indeed, the health crisis we are going through has become a striking indicator of the digital divide that affects our citizens. Containment measures have exploded teleworking, distance learning, virtual social contact and therefore the need to use computer equipment on a daily basis. The regional administrations have many computers, tablets, printers, etc. that are downgraded and no longer used. Some of this equipment, after being reconditioned, is likely to have a second life, in particular via networks of social economy enterprises or, for example, by being transferred free of charge to educational establishments, nursing homes, operators of professional training and non-profit organisations of a social nature. This opportunity is a means for the Brussels government to reduce the digital divide;

  • to extend the suspension of planning deadlines, public inquiries and conciliation committees until 16 May 2020. The health situation which justified introducing the suspension of deadlines remains unchanged and its evolution is still uncertain. Following the extension of the measures aimed at limiting the spread of Coronavirus, it is therefore advisable to extend by one month the time limits provided for in article 1 of the Brussels-Capital Region government’s decree on special powers relating to the temporary suspension of the mandatory and appeals deadlines set in all of Brussels' legislation and regulations or adopted under it, until 16 May 2020.

  • Finally, as part of the development of public spaces, the Brussels Region, in collaboration with the municipalities, plans to develop a number of temporary pedestrianised streets, residential zones and temporary routes for cyclists. The objective is that cyclists and pedestrians have priority over cars and that the maximum speed is limited to 20 km/h. Bruxelles Mobilité (Brussels Mobility) will create residential zones where necessary so that essential journeys can be made on foot or by bicycle in complete safety and at a sufficient distance.

Source: press release of the Brussels-Capital Region- 16th April

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