Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour, Dan Kersch, was a guest on RTL Radio’s “Background” show on Saturday.
According to Kersch, the state of emergency was not an ideal state, but an unfortunate state of absolute exception. In fact, he welcomed the fact that political civil society is questioning the current situation.
However, the minister from the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP) went on to say that from a practical point of view, the state council is debating which sector should be allowed to open next.
He stressed that these decisions were always based on sanitary considerations and potential collateral damage.
Kersch defended the government against criticism that it acted too cautiously by stating that Luxembourg’s figures were excellent as a result of the government’s strategy.
Kersch concluded that Luxembourg did indeed choose a cautious, but ultimately successful path.
He showed confidence that a new phase of opening could be decided on Monday, if all went well.
Kersch pointed out that Luxembourg’s situation is different to that of other countries because of limited space in hospitals and major movement of citizens and cross-border workers.
The Minister of Labour stated that the professional environment would look different after the crisis. Workers have adapted to the pandemic and are increasingly working from home. Kersch stated that this particular issue still needs to be debated together with the social partners. He stressed that it was important to weigh the worker’s right for leisure time against the employer’s wish to remain in control.
Kersch went on to say that one clear winner of this crisis was digitisation. Significant progress had been made in just a couple of months. The minister also expressed hope that this crisis could potentially bring different sides of society – among them the social partners – closer together. He added that the coalition government was certainly still very close. While there had certainly been debates, the end result was a provision package that held up.
The state has spent 741 million euros on short-time work until now. 330,000 salaries have been paid to over 14,000 companies. Kersch pointed out that without short-time work, unemployment numbers would have gone through the roof. He continued to say that everything had its price, including unemployment for family reasons and health insurance vouchers. Freelancers had also been sufficiently supported.
Kersch stressed that for this reason it would be necessary to do a cash check after the crisis.
He stated that layoffs were prohibited until 24 June. However, after the crisis companies should have the possibility to restructure themselves, even if this will be a major challenge. The minister commented that it was important to grant those who may lose their jobs further education or to "retrain" them if necessary. This would require a comprehensive "training package".
When asked about the issue of PE class in schools, Kersch referred to the explanation that it was impossible to separate children from each other during sporting activities. The necessary safety measures could therefore not be guaranteed. The LSAP-minister stressed that school was very different at the moment and it was a question of priorities. However, it will be a transition period.
This measure will be in place for one and a half months.
The minister stated that one positive point when it comes to sports is that many people had recently taken up exercising themselves.
Swimming pools were also in the same category as sports centres.
Kersch stated that it was difficult to know anything for certain at the moment, but everything would be done to open up as soon as possible.
The minister announced further details on Monday, and stated that it was possible that there would also be news in the area of sports.