Catalonia orders rent cuts to save bars and restaurants closed in pandemic

Catalonia orders rent cuts to save bars and restaurants closed in pandemic
An empty terrace in Barcelona. Photo: AFP
Catalonia's regional government has ordered rents be slashed by half for businesses such as bars and restaurants that have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

The decree, approved by the regional government on Tuesday, is designed to help those businesses, including bingo halls, casinos and beauty salons, which were ordered to shut across the region last Friday for a period of at least 15 days  in a bid to curb coronavirus cases.

The decree states tenants have one month to reach an agreement with landlords to reduce their monthly rent after which point it will automatically be lowered by 50 percent from the day the tenant notified his or her desire to negotiate.

The discounted rent would apply only for as long as the business is forced to remain closed due to health crisis restrictions.

“The goal is to avoid the closure of businesses, the loss of jobs, and legal battles,” , Catalan government spokeswoman Meritxell Budo told reporters., adding that the government did not rule out eventually helping landlords affected by the rent cuts.

Businesses that remain open but were forced to reduce their allowed occupancy will have their rents cut by the same percentage that they had to curb their capacity, such as 50 percent for gyms and 70 percent for shops.

The regional government also approved a package of €40 millionin grants to businesses forced to shut, as well as guarantees of €20 million.

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