The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce has demanded a special fund “to help companies quickly and unbureaucratically” amid the spread of the coronavirus, which is threatening their existence. André Mücke, Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “The previous loans and public guarantees are not suitable for the scenario that the economy is currently experiencing.” Companies in Hamburg are dealing with financial precarity and particularly with pandemic planning, the employer’s duty of care, employees who are abroad, short-time work compensation, order and delivery bottlenecks, cancelled orders as well as claims for compensation foreseen by the Infection Protection Act. Public life is coming to a standstill in Hamburg and elsewhere with “bans on public and non-public events, closures of schools and day-care centres and as more and more employees are being sent home.
Joint action crucial
Quick thinking and acting beyond state borders is imperative, Mücke stressed, adding: “We are hoping for swift, clear concepts and a standard approach by all German states. Joint and decisive action is called for and needed. If a company is plunged into a crisis, all the departments have to pull together and master it jointly.” The loss of employee earnings, loss of rental income and insolvencies are among the biggest worries facing companies in Hamburg. “Entrepreneurs are dependent on immediate measures,” Mücke stressed.
Foreign trade facing huge uncertainty
Foreign trade is facing huge difficulties after Germany closed its borders its with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark from 8 am on March 16, 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus and gain more time. People crossing the borders without a valid reason are not allowed enter Germany. The measures do not effect the transport of goods or commuters. Requests from third countries or other EU states for medical products including face masks and disinfectants are mounting amid legal uncertainty about exports. The Chamber of Commerce has called for clear regulations to avoid uncertainty and ensure planning security.
The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce has also set up a corona hotline for its members. Initial information can be obtained on 040/3613 8130. Tax advice, information about the chamber’s advisory service and foreign trade as well as useful links can be found on www.hk24.de.
Senate in talks with states and German government
Hamburg’s Senate is following the course of the pandemic and its effects on the economy closely. It is holding talks with associations, chambers, funding agencies and the other states and the German government. “The impact of the coronavirus on companies and Hamburg’s economy remains difficult to assess at present,” said the website of the Ministry of Economics, Transport and Innovation. The site also provides information about offers of support. The Ministry of Health and Consumer Protection also offers tips on handling the virus and health precautions. Both Hamburg and the German government have a range of instruments at their disposal to help companies that have fallen on hard times as a result of the economic disruption caused by the corona crisis. At the same time, the German government and state governments are in constant talks to develop these instruments in a demand-orientated and unbureaucratic manner, if necessary. These include, for instance, liquidity support or short-time work compensation.