Flemish PM says that support will be given to industries hit by the COVID-19 measures

In an interview with VRT News the Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (nationalist) ,has said that his government will offer support to the hospitality and retail industries both of which will be adversely affected by the measures that will come into force from midnight on Friday to counter the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Mr Jambon was responding to calls by the hospitality industry federation Horeca Vlaanderen and the small business federation Unizo. 

Bars, restaurants and discotheques will remain closed during the coming weeks. All shops that don’t sell food or medicines will also be forced to remain closed during the weekends. The measures will have a negative impact on thousands of businesses.

Speaking on Friday morning, Mr Jambon told VRT News that "You understand that it was a priority to contain the spread of the virus. However, you don’t need to convince me that economic measures will also be required”.

However, Mr Jambon wouldn’t elaborate on exactly what measures will be taken. He also was unable to say how much any measures taken would cost. "But people in Flanders are used to us managing the public finances in a responsible way. So if we spend more in one area we will have to look at where savings can be made in another”.  

This is despite the National Bank of Belgium having called for the strict observation of budgetary prudence to be abandoned during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mr Jambon says that he has taken the National Bank’s words on board “If retail sector were to suffer serious economic problems this would be disadvantageous to the public purse. However, this is not an excuse to abandon prudence when it comes to the public finances. It is a question of finding a good balance”.