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Commission approves €9.5 million Swedish scheme to compensate passenger ferries for damages suffered due to #Coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules an approximately €9.5 million (SEK 100m) Swedish scheme to compensate passenger ferry companies for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. Since mid-March 2020, the Swedish ministry of foreign affairs has put in place travel restriction measure necessary to limit the spread of the virus. Borders with several neighbouring countries were closed, including Denmark, Finland, Poland, and Norway.

All these events severely affected ferry companies having traffic to and from Sweden. These passenger ferry companies have been particularly affected by the outbreak as they were forced to reduce traffic, cancel lines and take vessels out of traffic, experiencing a dramatic decline in passenger numbers. In addition, all crew members of affected vessels have been placed on short-term lay-off. Under the scheme, the ferry companies will be entitled to compensation for damages incurred between 24 March and 31 July 2020, in the form of tax deductions on wage-related costs for seafarers.

The compensation will cover the damages calculated as the difference between the lost revenues from the ships lying at quay and the savings in their variable costs for the period when they were prevented from operating, compared to the same period in 2019. Sweden will compensate damages only in relation to the period for which the travel restrictions and borders closures are still effectively in place, while ensuring that damages can no longer be considered to be incurred when the ferry companies can operate again (i.e. when borders are reopened and/or the strict travel restrictions are lifted).

The Commission found that the scheme is in line with Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by member states to compensate specific companies or specific sectors for the damages directly caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the Swedish scheme will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is in line with EU state aid rules. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57710 in the state aid case register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Scotland extends hospitality restrictions until 2 November - PA Media

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Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland, which include the closure of pubs and restaurants in the central belt area and a curfew on indoor hospitality elsewhere, are to be extended until 2 November, PA Media reported on Wednesday (21 October), citing Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, write Sarah Young and Andy Bruce.

 

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Coronavirus risks running out of control in Germany, warns Soeder

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The leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), Markus Soeder (pictured), warned on Wednesday (21 October) that the coronavirus is at risk of spiraling out of control in Germany, writes Paul Carrel.

While Germany’s infection rates are lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating and hit a daily record of 7,830 on Saturday, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

“Corona is back with full force ... the second wave is here,” Soeder told the Bavarian state assembly, adding caution and prudence were required.

On Tuesday, residents in the Bavarian district of Berchtesgadener Land went back into lockdown, the first area in Germany to do so since April.

Soeder said he nonetheless wanted to keep open borders with neighbouring countries. Bavaria borders Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. He was also determined to keep the economy functioning and schools and nurseries open as long as possible.

“Our priority is to avoid a blanket lockdown,” he told the Bavarian state assembly, adding that he would introduce a “dark red” alert level with tougher restrictions for areas in Bavaria that have 100 new cases per 100,000 people over seven days.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was staying in quarantine at home until Oct. 29 after a bodyguard tested positive for the virus.

Steinmeier, whose role is largely ceremonial, has now twice tested negative for the virus, the spokeswoman added.

“There is light on the horizon,” said Soeder. “Of course, the vaccine will come, of course the situation will be very different in spring next year ... There is a tomorrow after corona.”

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Commission approves €2.3 million Czech scheme to support health SPA facilities affected by coronavirus outbreak in the Karlovy Vary Region of Czechia

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The European Commission has approved a CZK 62 million (approximately €2.3m) Czech scheme to support providers of SPA medical procedures and curative rehabilitation treatments in the Karlovy Vary Region (Czechia) in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme aims at mitigating the liquidity shortages that health SPAs in the region are currently facing due to the drop in the number of patients caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

This scheme complements a scheme to support health SPA facilities in the whole of Czechia that the Commission approved in August 2020  (SA.58018). The Commission found that the Czech scheme for the health SPA facilities in the Karlovy Vary Region is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the support (i) will not exceed €800,000 per company as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2021.

The Commission concluded that the scheme is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58198 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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