In view of the amendment to the Federal Infection Protection Act announced for next week, the German Retail Federation (HDE) is calling for targeted measures to effectively contain the third wave of Corona currently affecting the country. The HDE is critical of a possible further lockdown with store closures by means of regional “emergency brakes” (drastic closure measures in the event of high infection levels), also because open stores with a hygiene concept have been proven not to be a driver of the pandemic. However, the HDE welcomes the move toward a uniform legal framework throughout Germany as announced by the government.
After a year of the pandemic, the HDE believes that politicians should finally come up with targeted measures to combat the virus. What is required now is a fundamental reorientation of the Corona policy, replacing the general lockdown with an evidence-based concept of targeted individual measures linked to the actual proven sources of infection. According to a recent study by the Technical University of Berlin, infections occur primarily in people’s own homes; during private visits, at work or in schools. Should policymakers nevertheless again opt for a lockdown or the ”emergency brake” with radical business closures, all areas that have been proven to contribute to the occurrence of infections would need to be included. Otherwise, there is a risk of enormous follow-up costs without the actual goal of pandemic containment being achieved. In addition, HDE stresses the need for a binding opening strategy that clearly stipulates under what specific conditions the restrictions will be withdrawn.
The HDE is also calling for the monthly limit on the German government’s Bridging Aid III (currently max. €1.5 million, or €3 million for associated enterprises) to be removed and for the EU aid limit to be increased from its current maximum of €12 million. According to a HDE survey, three-quarters of the German retailers affected by the Corona measures have already received state aid. However, almost two-thirds are also still waiting for outstanding payments. The trade association has been fighting for months for the abolition of the caps at the federal and EU level to ensure that larger, chain retail companies also receive enough support to survive the crisis. In addition, the HDE is campaigning for the possibility of paying an entrepreneur’s wage for owner-managed stores. Otherwise, many businesses would face permanent closure.
Shortly before the German cabinet is set to approve changes to the Federal Infection Protection Act, a recent survey of more than 1,000 companies by the HDE highlights how critical the situation is for many non-food – or “non-essential” – retailers. According to the survey, 45 percent of respondents see their business existence in acute danger during the course of the year. Even those retailers who were allowed to receive customers with a negative Covid test recorded sales losses of more than 60 percent. In light of the precarious situation of many stores, HDE continues to call for improvements in government aid and opposes store closures above an incidence value of 100 (number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 7 days).
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