City of Utrecht Entrepreneurs and coronavirus

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April 10, 2020 | Many entrepreneurs and self-employed people are seriously affected by the novel coronavirus. Now that the measures are extended to 28 April 2020—and it will be a long time before things get back to normal—we know and are hearing from you that the situation is dire for many entrepreneurs. We have had extensive contact with business owners in the city in the past weeks; we understand your concerns and continue to look for opportunities to help you in this difficult time.

The following is a summary of the new measures we have taken, along with updates on earlier measures.

New measures


Event fees

In addition to the government measures, it has been decided that organisers of events which cannot or could not take place as a result of the coronavirus will not have to pay any fees, unless they are insured for these costs or if they plan to reschedule the events for later in the year. We will also not make any charges for the related costs of noise and alcohol dispensations and the rental of municipal land. The organisers of these events will be notified shortly. We are looking into which organisers want to reschedule their events for later in the year, and under what conditions we can cooperate. We are taking into account the capacity of the various municipal and emergency services, but also the people's need to enjoy public spaces again in the future.

Waste collection

Entrepreneurs who have had to shut down due to the coronavirus are now not utilising commercial waste collection services. To relieve these companies financially, we are offering the option to suspend commercial waste collection until 1 July 2020 at the latest. The companies concerned in the municipality of Utrecht will receive further information about this goodwill scheme.

Opening hours for the food industry and supermarkets

Many shops and supermarkets in Utrecht are already open from 10.00–22.00 on Sundays and public holidays, as they already have a dispensation. We are also calling on other supermarkets and retailers in the food industry to make use of extended opening hours as much as possible, as this allows the visitor numbers to spread out over the day. Find more information on applying for the dispensation.

Credit options for start-ups and scale-ups

Start-ups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs often don't meet all the conditions for eligibility for the previously announced support measures. The province of Utrecht also voiced concerns in this regard. We are happy to announce that the government has decided to release €100 million for bridging loans for these types of businesses. As a province, we are in close contact with the government regarding the regional implementation. The aim is to open the scheme starting from the first week of April. The regional development agencies (RDAs) will issue the credit. We are discussing the implementation with RDA Utrecht. The expectation is that the scheme will be available by the end of April.

Updates on earlier measures


Emergency Employment Bridging Measure

The government previously announced the temporary Emergency Employment Bridging Measure (NOW). Under the NOW scheme, employers can continue to pay employees with a fixed or flexible contract if they suffer a loss of turnover due to the coronavirus measures. The scheme is implemented by the Employee Insurance Agency. Applications have been open since last Monday. For more information, please visit the UWVs website.

Compensation for Businesses in Affected Sectors

Applications for the Compensation for Businesses in Affected Sectors COVID-19 (TOGS) can now be submitted to the RVO. The TOGS is intended for businesses that suffer direct damage as a result of various government measures to contain COVID-19. On 7 April, the Cabinet decided to supplement the TOGS scheme further, allowing more types of businesses to make use of it. Affected businesses can receive a one-off payment of €4,000 to help pay their fixed costs.

Taxes, levies and fees

Generally speaking, the municipality of Utrecht is lenient in the collection of taxes, levies and fees. For more information on the collection of municipal taxes and coronavirus measures, please visit the BghU website.

The municipality is extending the payment term for almost all debtors—e.g. tenants leasing from the municipality—from 30 to 180 days.

The payment period for terrace taxes has also been extended to 180 days. Incidentally, businesses in the hospitality industry will only have to pay tax on terrace space used in 2020, and the tax will only be imposed later in the year.

Tozo

On 17 March, the Cabinet announced the relaxed BBZ scheme: the temporary bridging scheme for independent entrepreneurs (Tozo). The Tozo consists of income support for living expenses and/or a loan for operating capital.

Affected entrepreneurs in Utrecht (including self-employed people) are signing up en masse. We have already received 11.000 applications (as of 10 April 2020) for Tozo. The municipality is working hard to process and answer hundreds of emails and thousands of applications. The first few hundred advances were paid out at the beginning of this week.

Self-employed people who have run up deficits due to the coronavirus measures can apply for a loan for operating capital. The largest loan is €10,157 at 2% interest. The maximum loan duration is 3 years. You do not have to begin repaying the loan until January 2021. This government scheme is still being elaborated upon. We will do our best to implement it as quickly as possible once more information is available. Keep an eye on the municipal website for more information.

General


Temporary coronavirus alliance

The Economic Board Utrecht (EBU) has joined forces with municipalities, the province of VNO-NCW Midden, MKB Midden Nederland, Platform Ondernemend Utrecht, Startup Utrecht, RDA Utrecht, Utrecht Marketing and a growing group of regional companies, establishing a temporary coronavirus alliance to quickly and selflessly respond to questions raised by entrepreneurs and businesses in the Utrecht region. The alliance aims to offer concrete and extra help from, for and by companies from the EBU network and beyond. If you have a request for help you cannot figure out yourself, or if you can offer help to other businesses in need, visit: https://www.economicboardutrecht.nl/corona

Sign up for the entrepreneur panel

In these unprecedented times, the municipality would like to know which problems the entrepreneurs of Utrecht face and whether you feel that the municipality is supporting you sufficiently. This knowledge will enable us to improve our policy and service. To that end, we are starting an online entrepreneur panel.  Entrepreneurs in Utrecht can sign up for the panel at www.startvragenlijst.nl/ondernemerspanel. If you take part, you will receive a questionnaire by email 4–6 times a year.

In closing

We are communicating with entrepreneurs throughout the city every day, and will continue to do so. We appreciate your opinion. We are seeing many entrepreneurs creating ways to offer products or services, and that you are making a great effort to comply with the 1.5 metre rule. At the same time, many Utrechters are making creative efforts to continue supporting Utrecht businesses. These efforts are not going unnoticed and are greatly appreciated.

We are doing our best within our options to offer more schemes and flexibility to entrepreneurs. Those options have led to the measures we have listed so far. If we decide to take new (added) measures, we will let you know. For now, we wish you all the best.