Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Minister of Health Paulette Lenert held a press briefing about the recent coronavirus developments and the national exit strategy earlier this Wednesday.

Key points

  • The recent virus developments are positive and give hope, Xavier Bettel and Paulette Lenert agreed. Despite new infections remaining low, Bettel stressed that "the battle against the virus" is not over yet. In his words, it is a "path of responsibility and solidarity" that we need to embark on to defeat the pandemic.

  • Xavier Bettel unveiled further support packages for ailing companies and businesses that were hit hard by the restrictions. This new "relaunch plan" boasts a €700-800 million package in addition to the previous financial aids. There will for instance be a recovery and solidarity fund to lessen the blow to badly affected sectors such as HORECA and tourism. Cross-border workers will also receive a voucher for an overnight stay in a Luxembourg hotel or accommodation in order to support local tourism and the hotel industry. Companies counting up to 250 employees will receive a direct financial aid of €1,000 per employee in June, €750 per employee in July, and €500 in August. This financial aid is non-refundable and tax-free. Short-time working schemes are also maintained in sectors that were severely impacted by the pandemic.

  • Landlords of commercial premises will receive significant tax advantages if they reduce rent prices for shops and other businesses. The government also decided that rent prices for private individuals cannot be increased until 31 December. There will also be a legal framework to maintain leave for familial reasons. Students will also be happy to learn that deadlines for financial support applications (Cedies) have been postponed.
  • Xavier Bettel explained that the government was joining efforts with the Chamber of Deputies, opposition parties, and other key players such as trade unions to bring to life a new pandemic law for Luxembourg before the state of emergency expires on 24 June.

  • Minister of Health Paulette Lenert explained that the recent developments give reason to be cautiously optimistic. She reiterated the importance of respecting hygiene and social distancing recommendations to prevent the worst-case scenario of a second infection wave. The temporary care centres in Ettelbruck and Grevenmacher will close on 29 May due to dwindling patient numbers. The advanced care centre in Esch (Rockhal) will presumably close on 15 June. The same holds true for the one at Luxexpo. Lenert stressed that the infrastructure would remain in place so that the centre could reopen if need be. 

  • It remains unclear whether or not restaurants and bars will be able to reopen on 1 June. More details are expected next Monday. 

  • There is no concrete update on potential border reopenings in France and Belgium. 

Earlier we covered the press briefing with live ticker updates.