The COVID-19 crisis has been a human and commercial disaster of unprecedented scale. We cannot escape the cruel way that it has impacted upon everyone’s lives and businesses. We can only bend our heads in thought and meditation.

However, we now need to lift our eyes to the stars and look to the future as we prepare for the so-called “New Normal”.

In order to support our clients and contacts build and implement their strategies for a fight back, we have developed this no-cost aid – The COVID Restart Tracker.

Which countries are currently on lock down? When can shops, cafes, restaurants reopen?

International franchisors who operate across multiple countries, are finding it difficult to keep track of local regulations as they adapt and change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To make this easier, we have used our international reach via our offices and local contacts to create the COVID Restart Tracker. It covers multiple jurisdictions and asks key questions regarding the status of lock down that will inevitably impact all sectors. Our goal is to stimulate positive and strategic thinking on how and when businesses can plan their gradual return to business as usual.

The COVID Restart Tracker will constantly change and adapt to try and best meet the needs of our clients’ and contacts and in due course will be delivering a deeper level of information and support. If you would like more information about any of the issues or jurisdictions covered by the tracker please contact us: [email protected].

 

Key
 Status
  Lockdown applies
  Lockdown restrictions being eased
  No Lockdown

franchise map

*Information in the map and below updated as at 04. May 2020, content updated frequently.

Australia

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes. (Although restrictions are easing)

  • Australia's states and territories each have their own regulations and orders in place to effect a lock down. The Federal Government has made recommendations for the easing of restrictions, and each state and territory will implement an easing of restrictions as they see appropriate.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • At a state and territory level some restrictions are being lifted. While the Federal Government has released a three step plan to move out of lockdown, each state and territory will implement its own regulations in line with their local conditions.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No franchise specific laws have been amended

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes. While many retailers have been shut, as restrictions on gathering ease more stores are re-opening.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Each state and territory is implementing a relaxation of the lock down orders on its own timetable. For example, in NSW, food and drinks premises such as restaurants, cafes, pubs or small bars have restrictions on the number of people who can consume food or drink on the premises, and have additional obligations in relation to recording name and contact details for customers.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes. In NSW for example, cafes and restaurants can do take away/home delivery. Small bars are permitted to do home delivery

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes - subject to criteria

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes - but through the businesses employing them

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

On 7 April 2020 the National Cabinet announced a mandatory code of conduct applying to small and medium commercial tenancies impacted by COVID-19. Each jurisdiction will introduce its own legislation to implement the Code.

Local Contacts

Lynne Lewis - Bird & Bird LLP


Belgium

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • The country closed all restaurants, cafes and party venues as of 14 March 2020. As of 18 March 2020, the whole country entered into lockdown:
    • All schools, non-food retailers and gyms are closed.
    • Only pharmacies and food retailers are allowed to open, subject to security measures.
    • Homeworking is mandatory for all professions where it is possible. For the others, social distancing measures are mandatory. If these measures cannot be respected, the enterprise needs to shut down.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Since 18 April 2020, DIY stores, garden centres and tree nurseries are allowed to open, subject to security measures.
  • The Security Council has announced a progressive de-confinement as of 4 May 2020, organized in different stages and subject to security measures (the detail of which is not yet known):
    • 4 May : reopening of several businesses and stores
    • 11 May: reopening of most stores
    • 18 May: progressive reopening of schools
    • 8 June: progressive reopening of the sector of hotels, restaurants, bars, cafés, etc.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

No.

  • The reopening of haberdasheries and fabric shops is planned as of 4 May 2020, given their importance in the production of masks.
  • The reopening of most stores is planned as of 11 May 2020.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

  • A progressive reopening of that sector and other (such as movie theatres) is planned as of 8 June 2020.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Take-away and delivery are allowed, provided that social distancing measures are respected and queues are limited.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

The government has taken several measures to provide assistance to businesses, such as:

  • temporary unemployment benefit for force majeure until 30 June 2020, increased by 65 to 70%
  • implementation of a delayed payment plan for VAT, social security contributions, payroll tax and corporate income tax
  • regional measures, e.g. allowances for businesses
  • measures regarding insolvency: temporary moratorium on creditor's legal and contractual remedies, immunity from being subject to precautionary or enforceable seizure, suspension of enforcement proceedings against the company's assets.
  • mortgage credit aid: deferral of payment or extension of the term of credit is possible for businesses facing difficulties in paying their mortgage credit following the Covid-19 crisis.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

The government has taken several measures to provide assistance to employees and self-employed persons, such as:

  • temporary unemployment benefit for force majeure
  • reduction of advance payments for self-employed persons
  • deferral or exemption from payment of social security contributions for self-employed persons
  • replacement income in favor of self-employed persons
  • regional measures, i.e., allowances for self-employed persons
  • mortgage credit aid: deferral of payment or extension of the term of credit is possible for self-employed persons facing difficulties in paying their mortgage credit following the Covid-19 crisis

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

  • This depends from the circumstances and/or the contractual terms.
  • First thing is therefore to check the contract: it may provide for a specific regime (hardship clause, force majeure clause).
  • Absent such a governing clause, the parties are always free to renegotiate the contract. However, this entails both parties being willing to renegotiate the contract. Indeed, there is no(t yet) such thing as a doctrine of hardship under Belgian law, which would allow a party to suspend/arrange the execution of the contract due to circumstances which upset the balance of the contract.
  • The Belgian government has decided to temporarily protect debtors whose continuity is affected by the coronavirus crisis by i.e. imposing a stay on creditors’ right to enforce debts or to terminate existing agreements early on the basis of shortcoming. This also implies that lease agreements cannot be dissolved unilaterally or by the courts based on the non-payment of rent (except when the lessor can demonstrate that e.g. the tenant's business continuity is threatened by reasons other than in relation to the coronavirus pandemic).
  • While this argument is the subject of a controversy, it could be argued that - because of the lockdown measures - the lessor (temporarily) cannot ensure the right to undisturbed enjoyment of the leased property to the tenants. This may qualify as a force majeure or fait du prince event, which would suspend the obligations of the lessor. Even if, in principle, the payment of the rent is not rendered impossible for the tenant, based on the so-called theory of risks, the financial risk is borne by the party which is freed by the force majeure event (in the present case: the lessor). This may constitute a basis for the commercial tenant to justify that no rent is due. However, as mentioned, this argument is controversial.

Local Contacts

Jean-Christophe Troussel - Bird & Bird LLP

 

Brazil

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

  • Firstly, it is important to highlight that, in Brazil, the social isolation measures and restrictions to shops and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic are being issued and imposed by the state and municipal authorities. In view of this, it is not possible to provide an accurate response that is applicable to the whole country.

  • That said, most states in Brazil are adopting only “social isolation” rules, which began on March 11, 2020, when the Federal District suspended classes and events that needed government licenses and permits to take place.

  • Recently, most states have also issued mandatory rules for wearing protective masks at all times when leaving home.

  • Notwithstanding the above, as the number of cases of COVID-19 infections and victims is still increasing in Brazil, and the rules of "social isolation" are being less followed by the population, 6 of the 26 Brazilian states have already adopted lockdown restrictions, including Rio de Janeiro.


Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

N/A

  • The Brazilian President has rallied for the end of “social isolation” restrictions.

  • In this sense, some states are discussing and implementing an easing of these “social isolation” restrictions. For instance, the city of Blumenau, in the south of Brazil, has already allowed shopping centres to operate normally, following some security measures.

  • However, as already mentioned above, as the number of cases of COVID-19 infections and victims is still increasing in Brazil, some states are considering to implement, or have already implemented, lockdown restrictions.


Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • No amendments have been made to the Brazilian Franchise Law due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • For information purposes, a new Franchise Law came into force on March 26, 2020 (Brazilian Federal Law No. 13,966 of 2019), but it has not relation to COVID-19.


Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Several federal decrees issued by the Brazilian President have defined 57 activities and services as “essential”, which are therefore authorised to operate.

  • Some examples of such services are: (i) health care; (ii) public and private safety; (iii) production, distribution, sale and delivery, either in person or by e-commerce, of products for health, hygiene, among others; (iv) beauty salons and barber shops; (v) gyms.

  • However, despite such federal decrees, in Brazil, each State or Municipal Government can decide on the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore can determine which non-food retailers should be closed and which can still operate in each city and state.


Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

  • As a general rule, restaurants, cafes and bars are not allowed to be opened for dining in.

  • However, in some states, restaurants/cafes/bars are permitted to be open with capacity restrictions.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • As a general rule, restaurants, cafes and bars are allowed to operate take-away and delivery services

  • Restaurants, cafes and bars are adopting special safety and hygiene measures for take-away and delivery.


Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The Brazilian Federal government has issued several Provisional Measures and has created rules to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Such measures include the offering of emergency credit lines, the  possibility of reducing wages and working hours, more time for companies to collect the Severance Indemnity Fund for employees (FGTS), more time to pay federal taxes and the relaxation of some labour rules (such as home office, vacation and hour bank rules).


Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Brazilian President sanctioned a law that establishes the payment of 600.00 Brazilian Reais for three months to informal workers, unemployed, self-employed, individual micro-entrepreneurs and individuals that contribute to the Social Security fund.

  • For families where the woman is solely responsible for the payment of the household expenses, the monthly amount paid will be adjusted to 1,200.00 Brazilian Reais.

  • The Brazilian Federal government stated that such aid is expected to benefit 54 million people and will cost approximately 98 billion Brazilian Reais.


Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

  • The Brazilian Federal government has not provided any official support or relief specifically targeted at commercial tenants.

  • Demands regarding relief for commercial tenants are being requested in Court. The Brazilian court is analysing the particularities of each case and, based on that, granting or rejecting the requests.

  • After negotiating with the Brazilian Association of Shopping Centers (Abrasce), the Brazilian Association of Shopping Tenants (Alshop) issued a note on 03/23/2020 stating that: (a) the rent amount due in March will be charged proportionately and negotiated in the future; (b) the payment of rent will be suspended while malls are closed; (c) the collection of condominium fees will be eased and reduced; and (d) the amount of promotion fund will be renegotiated in each project, with the possibility of a temporary reduction of up to 90%.

  • Currently under discussion is Bill of Law #1179, which provides for the Emergency and Transitional Legal Regime of Private Law legal relations (“RJET”) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • It establishes, among other provisions, some rules about leases which restrict the chances of preliminary eviction for actions filed as of March 20, 2020.
    • This Bill is subject to change however - which may be in relation to the review of residential and/or commercial leases.

Local Contacts

Paula Mena Barreto - CMA Law


Cambodia

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

  • Cambodia was on lockdown from 24:00 Thursday April 9, 2020 to 6:00 Thursday April 16, 2020.

  • While the lockdown was effective, traveling from one province to another, and entering and exiting Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s capital city) was prohibited.

  • Solely for implementing this lock down, Phnom Penh was considered as part of Kandal province (an area surrounding Phnom Penh), so traveling within and between Phnom Penh and Kandal Province was permitted.

  • The lock down was supposed to end on 24:00 Thursday, April 16, 2020, but the government lifted the lockdown early (6:00 Thursday, April 16, 2020) to ease traffic jams.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

  • The lock down has now ended

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • Cambodia has not amended its local franchise laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • All business are allowed to be open as normal with the exception of several businesses and activities.

  • As a COVID-19 preventive measure, Cambodia put temporary bans all kinds of sports and fitness activities that involve gathering together, fitness centres, massage and spa businesses, entertainment clubs, KTVs, cinemas, concerts, beer gardens, museums (including the Royal Palace), and all religious gatherings.

  • These bans are indefinite, and they will probably be lifted when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Restaurants and cafes are open as normal.

  • It is unclear if bars are captured by the COVID-19 bans on certain businesses referred to in the answer above but it has been reported that a number of popular bar areas have been shut down.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Cambodia has not issued any restrictions on take-away and delivery services.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • On April 2020, the National Bank of Cambodia requested all banks and financial institutions to consider offering their customers financial relief, such as reducing credit-related fees and waiving any penalties until December 2020 to lessen their financial burden.

  • On March 27, 2020, the National Bank of Cambodia issued a directive to all banks and financial institutions to restructure loans in order to maintain financial stability, support economic activity, and ease the burden of debtors facing major revenue declines who may find it difficult to repay loans during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Clients in tourism, garments, constructions and transportation sectors should be prioritized.

  • Various other tax reliefs have been provided to business affected by COVID-19, particularly those in the aviation sector, tourism sector, and the manufacturing sectors (textile, garment, footwear, bags and hand bags).

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • On April 8, 2020, Cambodia’s Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training issued an instruction to its staff not to impose any late penalties on non-Cambodian workers who want to renew their 2019 foreign work permits but have failed to meet the initial renewal deadline, effective until further notice.

  • On April 7, 2020, Cambodia’s Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training released an urgent notification to postpone the Cambodian New Year holiday and require all employers and employees to treat April 13 to April 16, 2020, as regular working days. As a compensation, 5 days of holiday will be given to employees at suitable time when COVID-19 is no longer a risk.

  • On March 23, 2020, the Ministry of Labor and Vocation Training called for an update of contact numbers of all workers in Cambodia to ensure that the ministry can contact them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training announced available financial packages to help employees suspended because of COVID-19. Suspended employees in the textile, garment, and footwear sectors are entitled to a flat benefit of USD 70 (the government would pay USD 40 and employers would pay USD 30) every month. On the other hand, suspended employees in the tourism sector will receive a flat benefit of USD 40 from the government monthly, while their employers have the discretion to pay an amount of wages to employees on a voluntary basis and based on the employers’ actual financial position.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • Cambodia’s Prime Minister has urged the private sector to reduce or defer rental fees, but no legal requirement to do so is yet in place.

  • Cambodia’s Ministry of Education Youth and Sports suggested landlords and commercial banks should reduce rent for educational institutions to lessen financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19.

  • Note that relief is not mandatory.

Local Contacts

Thomas Joseph Treutler - Tilleke & Gibbins

 

Canada

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • Though the federal government has not instituted mandatory closure orders, all provinces and territories in Canada have declared states of emergencies or public health emergencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which either require a partial closure of businesses or mandatory closures of all non-essential businesses.

  • Most provinces have banned large public gatherings, restricted the size of social gatherings and closed public schools to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

  • In addition to provincial measures, many municipalities have implemented emergency orders and by-laws regulating physical distancing. For example, the City of Toronto has implemented by-laws banning organised social gatherings of more than five people, restricting short-term rentals only to individuals in need of housing during the emergency period and prohibiting people from remaining closer than 2 metres to any other person who is not a member of the same household, in parks or public squares.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

No.

  • Some provinces, including Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, have released plans to ease lock down restrictions, but only New Brunswick has actually eased some lock down restrictions, reopening parks and beaches in the province.

  • Most lock down restrictions planned to be eased in stages, which can take several weeks to months to implement.

  • Provinces and territories continue to urge all residents to avoid all non-essential travel outside the province or territory.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • In Canada, six provinces have enacted franchise statutes that regulate the offering of franchises and the franchise relationship. In the four other provinces, and territories, franchises are governed by general contract law principles.

  • There have been no amendments to the provincial franchise laws in Canada in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

No.

  • In most provinces, non-food retailers, such as clothing stores, are considered non-essential and have been required to close their stores.

  • However, big-box retailers and convenience stores that sell groceries and food in addition to non-food items have been permitted to stay open.

  • Some retailers are permitted to continue operating through online sales, are permitted to deliver products and in some provinces, are permitted to offer curb-side pick-up.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

  • In all provinces and territories, restaurants, bars and cafes are prohibited from allowing on-premises dining.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • In all provinces and territories, restaurants, cafes and bars are prohibited from allowing on-premises dining, but restaurants and cafes have been permitted operate on a take-out, drive-through and/or delivery basis only.

  • In addition, some provinces, including Ontario and Prince Edward Island, have amended regulations to allow some restaurants, cafes and bars to deliver alcohol with a food order.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The Government of Canada has announced and implemented a COVID-19 Economic Reponses Plan, part of which provides various types of support to businesses.

  • Some of the support the federal government is providing to businesses includes a wage subsidy which generally covers 75% of wages of eligible employees, access to guaranteed credit, access to loans including interest-free loans to small businesses, part of which is forgivable if certain conditions are met, and rent relief for certain commercial businesses.

  • In addition to federal government support, many provinces are supporting businesses, largely through tax reductions and deferrals and lowering energy costs.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • The Government of Canada has implemented the Canada Emergency Responses Benefit (“CERB”), which provides eligible workers, including employees and self-employed individuals, up to C$500 per week for a maximum of 16 weeks.

  • The CERB is available from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020, with a possibility of it being extended as the situation evolves.

  • To be eligible for the CERB, a person must have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 and have not made more than $1,000 in income for a period of at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week benefit period being claimed. Individuals who are eligible for Employment Insurance benefits or who have exhausted certain Employment Insurance benefit may also be eligible for the CERB.

  • The CERB is available to those who have lost their job because of COVID-19, are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19, are taking care of others that are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19, and/or are taking care of children or other dependents because their care facility is closed due to COVID-19. The CERB is not available to those who voluntarily quit their job.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • While not yet available, the Government of Canada, in partnership with all provinces and territories, has announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program (“CECRA”), which when implemented will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

  • CECRA will be structured as a forgivable loan for qualifying commercial landlords and is intended to create a mechanism whereby 50% of commercial rent that would otherwise be owed by eligible tenants will be paid by the provincial/territorial and federal governments. The remaining 50% will be covered by the landlord and the tenant, with each contributing 25%.

  • To be eligible for CECRA, tenants must be small businesses paying less than C$50,000 a month in total rent and must have ceased operations or experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenue.

  • To qualify for CECRA, landlords are required to reduce their rent for eligible tenants by at least 75% under a rent forgiveness agreement and agree not to evict eligible tenants while the agreement is in place.

Local Contacts

Larry Weinberg - Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

 

China

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

1. China is continuing to expedite the recovery of production capacity in almost all industries.

2. Restrictive measures are being further relaxed.

3. A lock down policy is not expected to be implemented in the near future.

4. Certain areas of Beijing were put into lock down and Beijing is bringing in tough new measures (i.e. tests and quarantines) to control the latest outbreak of virus linked to a wholesale food market.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

N/A

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

1. For some retail stores, customers still have to have their temperature taken before entering.

2. To ensure safety, wearing masks is strongly recommended if not required.

3. Customers may have to show a digital QR code on their smartphones to indicate their 'health code'.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

1. In most places, customers have to have their temperature taken before entering restaurants/cafes/bars.

2. To ensure safety, wearing masks is strongly recommended if not required.

3. Customers may have to show a digital QR code on their smartphones to indicate their 'health code'.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

1. Delivery persons have to record their temperature readings on a daily basis for most restaurants/cafes/bars.

2. Delivery persons must wear masks.

3. Contactless delivery is offered/implemented in most places to avoid face-to-face contact.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

1. Tax relief policies are available depending on the particular industry.

2.Rent reductions may be applied by eligible companies.

3. For small and medium sized enterprises, and all the enterprises in the Hubei province, mandatory company contributions to pensions, unemployment and work-related injury insurance have been waived from Feb. to Dec. 2020.

4.For large enterprises and others non-governmental organisations, mandatory company contributions to pensions, unemployment and work-related injury insurances have been reduced by half from February to April, 2020.

5. Mandatory company contributions to medical insurance has been reduced by half from February to June, 2020. Social insurance and tax payments can be deferred to the end of June.

6. Refunds of 50%-100% of 2019 of unemployment insurance contributions are available to eligible companies.

7.Enterprises engaged in manufacturing key support materials for epidemic control and prevention are allowed to apply for a full refund of the increment of accumulated input-VAT.

8. Companies can obtain a training subsidy for conducting online/offline occupational training.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

Employees: N/A
Self-employed individuals:

1.Tax relief

2.Rent reduction to be applied by eligible companies.

3. The loan terms for epidemic-hit enterprises can be extended and these enterprises may apply for deferment of repayment of the principal and interest amounts payable from January 25 to June 30 2020.

4. Credit protection is available, and overdue loan repayments for the period of January 25 to June 30 2020 will not be subject to penalties.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

1. Local government has various measures to support commercial tenants, for example, by rent reduction and tax relief.

2. Many commercial real estate owners have promised to cut the rental cost for the commercial tenants.

3. Property tax and urban land use tax on landlords has been reduced/ exempted to encourage landlords to reduce or exempt rent for tenants.
 

Local Contacts

Sven-Michael Werner - Bird & Bird LLP

Czech Republic

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

  • No, although there is still a number of measures limiting to a certain extent the free movement of individuals.

  • The state of emergency was lifted as of 18 May 2020 and the state borders are now partially open.

  • Czech citizens and foreigners residing in the Czech Republic are allowed to cross the borders; upon they return they are required to undergo 14-day self-quarantine or provide a certificate that they are COVID-19 negative (subject to certain exceptions).

  • Cross-border workers (commuters) are allowed to cross the border on a daily basis, but need to provide a certificate stating they are tested negative for COVID-19 every 30 days.

  • Both EU and certain third-country foreigners may enter the country under specific conditions.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Yes, the Czech Government accelerated its plan to release the restrictions; the last stage of the plan was re-opening of the remaining businesses (including restaurants and cafes) on 25 May 2020.

  • The re-opened businesses must, however, observe a number of special hygienic measures, including limited opening hours for restaurants and similar businesses.

  • Remaining restrictions will be assessed during June depending on the current epidemiological situation.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

  • In the Czech Republic, there is no legislation dedicated specifically to franchising.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Yes, most non-food retailers are permitted to be open as of 11 May 2020.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Yes, as of 25 May 2020.

  • They may, however, be open only from 6 am to 11 pm (except for take-away sale which is not limited).

  • Customers must be seated so that there is a distance of at least 1.5 meters between them, except for customers sitting at the same table. The staff must wear face masks all the time, the customers must wear face masks when moving around the restaurant premises (e.g. to bathrooms, when ordering food).

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • The distance of 1.5 meters should be observed in the waiting area.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs released a financial support programme "ANTIVIRUS" for the employers affected COVID-19 and the governmental measures.

  • On the basis of this programme, employers (affected by the closure of operation resulting from the anti-epidemic measures and/or quarantine imposed on an employee) may be provided with financial support from public funds in the amount of 80% of the super-gross wage (amount paid by the employer, including social security and health insurance contributions) up to the maximum amount of CZK 39,000. This part of the ANTIVIRUS programme will run until the end of May 2020.

  • In case of related economic difficulties, employers may be provided with financial support from the public funds in the amount of 60% the super-gross wage up to the maximum amount of CZK 29,000. This part of the ANTIVIRUS programme has been prolonged until the end of August 2020.

  • Recently, the Government has also introduced a new proposal under which employers employing less than 50 employees who have not received financial support from the ANTIVIRUS programme (and subject to further conditions) would not have to pay social security contributions and contribution to the state employment policy for the period from June to August 2020.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • The care-giver allowance may be increased from 60% to 80% of the average pay, retrospectively from April 1 until 30 June 2020.

  • Sole traders, who are negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak, can apply for financial support amounting to CZK 500 per day from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

  • Sole traders are not obliged to pay the minimum social security and health insurance contributions, state employment policy and pension contributions for a period from March to August 2020.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • A landlord cannot unilaterally terminate the lease solely on the ground of the lessee's default in paying the rent during the "protection period" (until 31 December 2020).

  • A lessee is obligated to prove that the default occurred in the "relevant period" and mainly due to the constraints arising from the extraordinary measures during the epidemics, which had made it impossible or materially difficult to pay the rent.

Local Contacts

Vojtech Chloupek - Bird & Bird LLP


Denmark

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Lock down restrictions have gradually been lifted.
  • A few restrictions remain, e.g. a ban on assemblies of over 100 people.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

  • There are no specific franchise laws in Denmark.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes (with several caveats)

  • Non-food retailers are allowed to open but are subject to guidelines, i.e. on hygiene, ensuring a distance between customers, setting up awareness posters.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes. 

  • Restaurants and cafes are allowed to sell food or drinks for consuming on the premises.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

The Danish government has put several aid packages in place for businesses.

  • Highlights include:
  • Compensation on fixed costs
  • Salary compensation schemes
  • Extended limit for the state-guaranteed loan scheme for large companies and SME’s
  • Relaxation of certain corporate and accounting duties, e.g. extension of the deadlines to submit annual reports and conduct annual “general meetings”
  • SME’s who have paid VAT for the second half and fourth quarter of 2019 may apply to be reimbursed with an interest-free loan.

On 15 June 2020 a political agreement was reached regarding the gradual “phase out” of the various aid packages.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Employers: A salary compensation scheme is in place until 29 August 2020.
  • The headlights are:
    • The scheme covers monthly paid and hourly paid employees as well as employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement and employees who are not.
    • The Danish state provides salary compensation of 75% to 90% of the monthly salary for employees who are sent home due to extraordinary economic downturn due to COVID-19 situation This is applicable for companies who would otherwise terminate: (i) at least 30% of their staff or (ii) at least 50 employees. It is a requirement that the company does not terminate any employees while receiving salary compensation.

For self employed individuals, there is a compensation scheme in place until 8 August 2020. Thereafter, self-employed individuals will be entitled to unemployment benefits on more lenient terms. 

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • The Danish government has agreed to cover some fixed costs (such as rent). The relief for commercial tenants will expire on 8 July 2020.

  • Up until that point, companies will receive compensation for documented fixed costs if they have experienced a decline in turnover of 35-60% and they have fixed costs equivalent to at least DKK 12,500 during a three-month period. Such companies will be granted 25% compensation on fixed costs.

Local Contacts

Jesper Langemark - Bird & Bird LLP

 

Finland

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

There is no complete lock down, but a strong recommendation from the government to stay home and schools work remotely etc.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Schools will reopen on 14 May
  • The government is expected to announce more easing of restrictions week commencing 4 May

Have local franchise laws been amended?

N/A

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No, closed at least until the end of May.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

Takeaway and delivery from restaurants is permitted

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes the government is providing support to businesses

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes the government is providing support to employees and self employed individuals

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No general reliefs, but many landlords have confirmed that relief will be provided

Local Contacts

Jori Taipale - Bird & Bird LLP

France

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • Yes, the country has been in lock down since 17 March - meaning that trips are limited to very specific cases (i.e. (i) work if the person cannot work from home, (ii) medical reasons, (iii) one hour of physical activity in a 1km radius from home, (iv) buying basic necessities, (v) assistance to vulnerable persons or childcare, (vi) participation in missions of general interest at the request of the administrative authority and (vii) judicial or administrative summons.

  • People may only leave their homes if they have a certificate specifying the reason for their trip from the 7 exceptional circumstances described above.

  • All stores, shops, cafes, bars, restaurants - with the exception of shops selling basic necessities and tobacconists - are closed.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

No.

  • Restrictions have been ongoing since 17 March and got more stringent over the past 6 weeks.

  • The lockdown will in principle end on 11 May – meaning that (i) people will be able to leave their homes within a 100km radius from home without a certificate specifying the reasons for their trip and (ii) stores except cafes, bars and restaurants can reopen.

  • Despite the end of the lockdown, bars, restaurants, museums and concert venues will remain closed. Fairs, festivals and other events with a large audience are also prohibited until further notice.

  • The French Government announced that if the number of new cases/critical cases is not “satisfactory” on 11 May, the lockdown will remain in force.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • No – and there is in any case very few regulations that applies specifically to franchise under French law.

  • However, and although it is not specifically aimed at franchise agreements, an Order 2020-306 of 25 March 2020 imposed a moratorium on the application of any penalties, constraint or termination resulting from the failure of one party to comply with a contractual deadline during the entire so-called "health emergency" period (until 23 June – could be extended until 23 July but still to be decided) – and in particular, any penalties incurred shall be deferred, at the end of the moratorium period, "for a period, calculated after the end of that period, equal to the time elapsed between 12 March 2020 or, if later, the date on which the obligation arose, on the one hand, and the date on which it should have been executed, on the other hand".

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

No.

  • No – except for tobacconists (buralistes selling various types of goods/services including prepaid phone cards, cigarettes, loto tickets, tax stamps) and pharmacies

  • Non-food retailers will in principle able to be open as from 11 May at least until 2 June – which is a milestone date announced by the Government - when the situation will be reassessed. However, stores authorized to reopen will have to respect strict specifications. They will have to limit the number of people at the same time in the store in order to ensure that the rule of a minimum distance of one meter between two persons is respected. Wearing masks is recommended for staff and customers and could be made compulsory by store owners.

  • Shopping centers of more than 440.000 square meters (40.000 square meters) will remain closed until further notice. This will have a major impact on large retailers

  • Cafes, bars and restaurants will not be able to reopen on 11 May and will remain closed until further notice.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

  • No, except for take-away and delivery activities

  • The Government announced that it aims at reopening cafes/bars/restaurants by mid-June but no date has been made official and more information should be available in the following weeks, likely by 2 June.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes

  • The government has enacted a health recommendation guide that requires delivery operators to ensure that delivery is contactless, in order to provide maximum protection for meal preparers, deliverers and customers. The guide states that delivery must be contactless: (i) A meal recovery area must be set up by the restaurant, separate from the kitchen, to ensure the recovery of the meal without contact between the person(s) responsible for preparing the meal and the person responsible for its delivery ; (ii) The deliveryman deposits the open bag and the restaurant staff places the meal directly into the bag ; (iii) When the meal is delivered, the delivery person warns the customer of his arrival (by knocking or ringing the bell); (iv) The deliveryman leaves immediately or moves a minimum distance of 2 meters from the door, before the customer opens the door.

  • The guidelines state that food delivery platforms shall remind restaurants, delivery personnel, and customers to take the necessary precautions: barrier gestures (washing your hands very regularly, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or into a handkerchief, etc.). Although the guidelines are unclear on who must provide the following necessary precautions to deliverymen, it seems that platforms have to remind the following to deliverymen: (i) while waiting in front of a restaurant, delivery personnel must ensures that the safety distance of 1 meter between them is respected, (ii) the customer must be warned upon arrival and the deliveryman must leave immediately or moves a minimum distance of 2 meters from the door after dropping off the meal and the delivery equipment must be cleaned regularly, (iii) persons with symptoms of COVID 19 must not work, (iv) delivery equipment must be regularly cleaned using disinfectant wipes or a cleaning product corresponding to the NF or EN 14476 standard.

  • Concerning restaurants – the guidelines specify that (i) barrier gestures (washing your hands very regularly, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or into a handkerchief, etc.) must be applied at all times, (ii) any staff member who is symptomatic (fever or feeling of fever, cough, breathing difficulties) should not work, (iii) bags containing meals must be properly closed and (iv) surfaces and cooking utensils must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • Ordinance No. 2020-306 provides for an extension of the deadlines expired during the period of the state of health emergency and is applicable in particular to any tax matters. Time limits for tax returns (Corporate Tax, VAT, Income Tax, etc.) are not affected by the Ordinance

  • Companies can request, without providing further justification, a 3 month deferral for the payment of their forthcoming direct taxes that are due. Only the following taxes are included within the scope of this measure: corporate tax (instalments), payroll tax, business Property Tax (CFE), business value-added local contribution (CVAE). Companies need to complete a special form and send it back to their respective local tax Centre (“SIE”). If a deferred payment is not sufficient to overcome their cash difficulties, companies can request a discount on their direct taxes. The scope of the taxes concerned is the same as for deferred payment. A discount will only be granted in case of serious difficulties that make a deferral of tax payment insufficient. These difficulties must be justified by the company.

  • It is possible for companies to obtain accelerated repayment of tax credits which should normally be refunded in the course of year 2020.

  • Companies may temporarily cease their activity or reduce employees’ working time in the period of the crisis, without the employees’ consent, while guaranteeing employees a financial compensation of 70% of their gross salary for hours not worked, which will represent more than 80% of their net salary due to favorable social security treatment. Companies which obtain the express or implicit authorization of the administrative authority will get financial assistance from the State in order to be able to pay employees

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • See above (last bullet point under question 7) concerning the state guaranteeing employees a financial compensation of 70% of their gross salary for hours not worked in case of reduction by an employer of its employees’ working time due to the crisis.

  • Concerning self-employed individuals, a solidarity fund to help very small businesses, self-employed, micro-entrepreneurs with a turnover of less than 1 million euros and that meet various criteria is proposed and these people can apply for this aid of up to €1,500 through the French tax website. Those people experiencing the greatest difficulties may obtain additional aid of €2,000 on a case-by-case basis.

  • For those who are not eligible for the solidarity fund aid above, an aid scheme depending on the situation of the self-employed professional is also proposed and may take the form of financial assistance or exemption from specific tax contributions.

  • Finally, in April, self-employed workers in the craft/trade sector will benefit from "compensation for loss of earnings". This exceptional aid will depend on the level of contributions of each person to the supplementary pension scheme for self-employed, up to €1,250 net of taxes and social security contributions.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • An order n° 2020-316 of 25 March 2020 allows for the postponement of the payment of commercial and professional rents through the paralysis of all the mechanisms that can be invoked by lessors to obtain the payment of rents, including guarantees. However this order applies to a very limited number of companies, i.e. those that (i) have been banned from opening to the public or have suffered a loss of turnover of at least 50% during the concerned period, (ii) have started their activity before 1 February 2020, (iii) have not ceased trading on 1 March 2020 (iv) have a workforce of less than or equal to 10 employees (iv) have a turnover of less than €1 million in the last closed financial year (for new companies that have not yet closed a financial year, the average monthly turnover must be less than €83,333 over the period between the date of creation of the company and 29 February 2020 (v) pay their their manager up to a maximum amount of 60,000 €.

  • Also, see point 3 above (second bullet point) concerning the moratorium on the application of any penalties, constraint or termination resulting from the failure of one party to comply with a contractual deadline during the entire so-called "health emergency" period.

Local Contacts

Alexandre Vuchot - Bird & Bird LLP

 

(Lock down restrictions will be eased on 11 May)

Germany

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • In most of the federal states in Germany, it is only a partial lock down, i.e. (i) the closure of all non-essential shops, (ii) strict social distancing measures and banning any social contact among more than two people in public and (iii) national borders to Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, France and Switzerland are closed for touristic purposes (commuters and transports can be let through).

  • Stricter restrictions apply in the states of Bavaria and Saarland (i.e. residents are not permitted to leave their homes without good reason).

  • The wearing of masks in public transport, shops or other public facilities as from April, 27, 2020 is required by the most state governments.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • All German states are beginning to slowly ease restrictions. Non-essential retailers whose shops are up to 800sq metres (8,611sq ft) have already been allowed to reopen since April 20, along with car/bicycle dealers and bookstores (irrespective of their size) though they must practise strict social distancing and hygiene rules.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

N/A

  • There are no specific amendments to franchise laws in Germany. But Germany does have a recent amendment to franchising related provisions. In Germany, the so-called “Law to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in civil, insolvency and criminal procedure law” (referred to as “COVID-19-Mitigation Law”) has recently been implemented which provides for amendments and additions to a large number of provisions under civil and insolvency law (e.g. suspension of debtor’s obligation to file for insolvency, restriction of creditors’ right to apply for the opening of insolvency proceedings) that affect the franchise relationship.

  • However, beyond the new COVID-19-Mitigation Law, the question whether an existing Force Majeure-clause in the franchise agreements or other legal provisions under German law, might be applicable to the current corona crisis with the consequence that no or only reduced continuing franchisee fees are temporarily owed, should be considered open. Whether a German court would take this position in an individual case cannot be predicted with any certainty given that there haven’t been any precedents in German case law.

  • Given the uncertainty of the legal framework outlined above and in the spirit of partnership and Fair-Play Franchising, some franchisee systems in Germany are now taking an amicable approach, e.g. granting time-bound consent to their franchisees’ closure requests and offering financial relief to them (e.g. deferral of continuing fees payment, partial waiver of advertising/marketing payments at least for this period until 30 June 2020).

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Shops for daily needs such as drugstores, petrol stations, or pharmacies are permitted to be open.

  • As from April 20, 2020, (nonessential) retail shops with a sales area of up to 800 sqm have been allowed to reopen with hygiene precautions. So are car showrooms/dealers, bike shops and bookshops, irrespective of their size.

  • All other retailers remain still closed subject to the legislation of the local federal states.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

Despite the easing of restrictions on (nonessential) retail shops as from April 20, 2020, bars, cafes, restaurants will all remain closed. Restaurants and cafes can sell take away food or offer delivery services only.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

The regulations in Germany allow takeaway and delivery from restaurants/cafes/bars.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

 

Yes.

The German government has adopted aid programs for all the businesses graduated according to company size. 

  • The German government is setting up a €50 billion emergency aid programs to support small businesses. These funds will be used to provide one-time grants to cover operating costs for three months. The grants do not have to be paid back. 

     

  • KfW, a government-owned promotional bank, has implemented the so-called “KfW instant loans” for medium-sized enterprises subject to certain company-related conditions. The credit volume per company is up to 3 monthly turnovers, with a maximum of EUR 800,000 euros for companies with more than 50 employees, and a maximum of EUR 500,000 euros for companies with staff of up to 50 people.

     

  • The German government is establishing an Economic Stabilization Fund that is targeted in particular towards large companies and provides large-volume loans. This fund seeks to complement KfW’s funding schemes.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Employees
    The German government has expanded its short-time work scheme, which provides compensation to certain workers whose working hours have to be reduced. Short-time work is the temporary reduction of working hours with a corresponding reduction in pay. Compensation for short time work is paid by official employment agencies as a partial replacement for the wages that workers lose due to temporary work shortages.

  • Self-employed individuals
    As already described above (see answers to question 7), the German government has adopted COVID-19 emergency aid programs (one-off payments) to help the small businesses including self-employed persons bridge liquidity bottlenecks.
     

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • The COVID-19-Mitigation Law protects commercial tenants against termination. According to the COVID-19-Mitigation Law, the non-payment of rents due for April, May and June 2020 does not entitle the landlord to terminate the lease until June 30, 2022, provided that the non-performance is due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The rental payment obligations themselves are not directly influenced by the law. In this respect, the COVID-19-Mitigation Law only prevents termination due to default of payment. However, in practice, some franchisees have so-called business rental contracts with the Franchisors and their rental payments are always subject to the actual sales turnover (i.e. no sales, no rent). This of course has nothing to do with any relief programs provided by the government.

Local Contacts

Jiri Jaeger - Bird & Bird LLP

 

Please note: As a general comment, since Germany is a federal country, there are local differences between each of the 16 states. We are giving you some general rules across the most federal states in Germany.

 

Hong Kong

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • Any Hubei residents, and non-Hong Kong residents who have visited the Hubei Province in the past 14 days are denied entry to Hong Kong.
  • All non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong; and all non-Hong Kong residents coming from the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan will be denied entry to Hong Kong if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Starting from late May, schools have resumed their classes by three phases. Currently, all of the city’s kindergarten, primary and secondary students, except those in Kindergarten 1 and 2, have returned to schools.

  • Karaoke lounges, party venues, bathhouses and nightclubs have been allowed to reopen from 29 May 2020.

  • All hearings and trials have generally resumed, and all court and tribunal registries have re-opened.

  • The number of persons allowed in a group gathering in any public place has been increased to 50 with the effective period from 19 June 2020 to 2 July 2020.

  • On certain scheduled premises including amusement game centre, fitness centre, place of public entertainment, party room and karaoke establishment, the limit on the number of persons at each facility/group/room at these premises is increased from 8 to 16 persons, while the number of persons allowed to be seated together at one table in clubs or nightclubs is increased from 4 to 8.

  • Live performance and dancing is allowed to resume at catering business and scheduled premises, but persons working at the premises and performers must wear masks all the time except when there is some form of partition or adequate distancing which could serve as effective buffer between such persons/performers and customers.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

N/A

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

There are currently no measures which restrict or prohibit non-food retailers to be open.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • For catering businesses, the limits on the number of persons at each table at catering business have been removed while the limits of 4 persons at each table at bars/pubs have been relaxed to 8 persons. Other requirements and restrictions on catering business premises will be maintained:

    • tables available for use or being used by customers within any catering premises must be arranged in a way to ensure there is a distance of at least 1.5 metres or some form of partition which could serve as effective buffer between one table and another table at the premises;

    • a person must wear a mask at any time within any catering premises, except when the person is consuming food or drink on the premises;

    • body temperature screening on a person must be conducted before the person is allowed to enter the catering premises;

    • hand sanitiser must be provided at any catering premises for any person at the premises.

  • The above directions are to be effective until 2 July 2020.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • With various social distancing and stay-home measures in place, the food delivery market has become more popular, with increasing number of eateries including high-end restaurants registered as restaurant partners with delivery platforms such as Deliveroo and Foodpanda. Even luxury hotels have introduced their own delivery services.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The HKSAR Government (the "Government") has introduced various measures under the first and second rounds of Anti-Epidemic Fund (AEF) and the 2020-21 Budget (pending approval by the Legislative Council) to help sectors which have been closed or affected due to Government measures (e.g. tourism, catering and the arts and culture sectors, conventions and exhibitions business etc.) to tide over current difficulties through one-off grants, cash subsidies, rental waivers, etc.

  • To ease cash flow of businesses, a special 100% concessionary low-interest loan will be introduced to SMEs under a scheme known as the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme for which the Government will provide 100% guarantee. The "principal moratorium" will be extended from 6 months to 1 year, and the Government will increase its guarantee commitment from HKD$20 billion to HKD$50 billion.

  • Other measures include reducing profits tax by 100% in Year of Assessment 2019-20 subject to a ceiling of HKD$20,000, waiving business registration fees in 2020-2021, waiving registration fees for annual returns charged by the Companies Registry for 2 years, providing electricity charges subsidy and waiving water and sewage charges etc.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • The Government will provide wage subsidies to eligible employers who undertake not to make workers redundant during the subsidy period, and to spend 100% of the subsidy on paying wages for their employees. Wage subsidies are to be disbursed to employers in two tranches, with the first before end-June 2020.

  • The Government will grant a one-off lump-sum subsidy of HKD$7,500 to about 215,000 self-employed persons who have made MPF contributions in the past 15 months.

  • The Government will invest HKD$6 billion to create around 30,000 jobs in the public and private sectors for people of different skill sets and academic qualifications, benefitting professionals and technicians, fresh graduates, middle level and grassroots workers.

  • In terms of job advancement, the Government encourages staff to learn new skills by, among others, providing matching grants of HKD$100 million for skills upgrading training programmes to staff in the public and private sectors.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • The Government will provide 75% rental concession to eligible tenants of government premises and eligible holders in respect of tenancies on government land from April to September 2020. Businesses which have completely ceased operation will receive a full rental waiver.

  • The Government urges public bodies such as the Housing Authority, the Housing Society, the Urban Renewal Authority and the Airport Authority to provide their commercial tenants with rental concessions and appeal to landlords in the private sector to reduce rental.

  • The Government will provide a waiver amount of 75% of rental fees for venues under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for the period from April 2020 to September 2020.

Local Contacts

Hank Leung - Bird & Bird LLP

Hungary

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • On 11 March 2020, in Government Decree No. 40/2020. (III. 11.), the Hungarian Government declared “a state of emergency” in the territory of Hungary. This means that during such period and with parliamentary approval the Government is entitled – with certain limitations, eg. fundamental rights – to take any measures necessary in order to eliminate the consequences of COVID-19.

  • Certain restrictions were introduced by the Government and mainly effected the freedom of movement, however, currently these restrictions are being eased. During the restriction period, people were only allowed to leave their homes for due reason, such as going to work, performing occupational duties, pursuing necessary economic, agricultural activities, etc. Permitted activities included the use of healthcare services, people were also allowed to leave their homes for individual leisure-time and sporting activities as well as for walking.

  • The restrictions also effected the operation of shops, restaurants, bars, cafes. In respect of the opening hours, for any establishment save for food retailers (supermarkets/shops), pharmacies, drogeries and gas stations the opening hours were restricted to the interval of 6:00-15:00. Starting from 18 May 2020, this restriction does not apply in Hungary.

  • Currently everyone is required to minimize social interaction, not including those sharing a single household, people should keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters from one another everywhere, including especially in shops, and on public transports.

  • Recently mandatory rules apply for wearing protective masks at all times when entering any shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and public transport.

  • Foreign citizens, having no residency in Hungary are not allowed to enter the country; there are certain exceptions applicable to foreign citizens who are required to regularly cross the border of neighbouring countries due to their work duties.


Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • The Hungarian Government eased the restrictions in two phases.
  • The first phase started on 4 May 2020, when strict restrictions remained in force in the most infected areas, in particular the capital city, Budapest and its surrounding agglomerate, but elsewhere, shops could reopen without time limitations, terraces and outdoor seating areas of restaurants and cafes could reopen, and people could visit outdoor beaches.

  • The second phase started on 18 May 2020, when the Government eased the restrictions in the most infected areas, Budapest and its surrounding agglomerate, and allowed shops to reopen without time limitations, terraces and outdoor seating areas of restaurants and cafes could reopen, and people from the most infected areas could also visit outdoor beaches.

  • However, practicing social distancing and wearing masks remained compulsory in shops and on public transportation.

  • Measures allowing elderly to shop during their designated hours (9:00-12:00) also remained in force. (See question 4. below)

  • The Government is consulting regularly with epidemiologists and revisits all protection measures every two weeks.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No. 

  • The Hungarian Government has not implemented franchise-specific measures, nevertheless franchises may benefit from certain measures introduced by the Government.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Starting from 4 May 2020, all non-food retailers are permitted to be open without time restriction in areas outside of Budapest and its agglomerate area. 

  • Starting from 18 May 2020, all non-food retailers are permitted to be open without time restriction in Budapest and its agglomerate area.

  • The restrictions protecting customers over 65 years of age remains in force. This means that the age group over 65 may only and exclusively visit food retailers, pharmacies, drogeries and market places from 9:00-12:00. During this time, no other customers are allowed on the premises.

  • As a general rule, people must keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters. Companies, shops and supermarkets should introduce measures independently to guarantee that people can keep the prescribed distance, such as floor markings etc.


Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Starting from 4 May 2020, restaurants, bars and coffee shops can open their outdoors serving area and starting from 18 May 2020 may open their indoors serving area but only in areas outside of Budapest and its agglomerate area.

  • Starting from 18 May 2020, restaurants, bars and coffee shops may open their outdoors serving area in Budapest and its agglomerate area.

  • It remains compulsory for the staff to wear masks in both indoor and indoor areas.


Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • During the restriction period restaurants, bars and coffee shops in general remained open, with certain mandatory restrictions. This means that no customers were allowed in the premises (be it inside or outdoors) and supply of foods and beverages were possible only by means of delivery and take-away.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The Government has imposed a moratorium on all loan repayments for individuals and companies until the end of 2020. Short-term business loans are extended until 30 June 2020. The interest rate on all new consumer loans will be capped at the Central Bank’s base rate plus 5 percent maximum.

  • Ease in administrative obligations of companies had been introduced, including amendments to decision-making rules of companies to ensure an uninterrupted operation during COVID-19, a prolonged deadline for filing financial statements for closing the previous financial year until 30 September 2020. Also corporate tax and local taxes are due on 30 September 2020.

  • Preferential loans are available to companies for investments. The Hungarian Export-Import Bank introduced COVID-19 Compensation Programs, including working capital loans where the interest rate is 0.1 percent for small businesses that apply for it within a year.

  • One of the Government’s main focuses is on preserving jobs. Among other measures, the Government introduced “Kurzabeit”, a legal framework for reduced working time and the related State subsidy scheme. Under this scheme, the Hungarian State undertakes to subsidise 70% of employees’ unpaid salary (subject to certain conditions) for 3 months provided the employer employs the employees in reduced working time instead of making them redundant, and agrees to maintain the employment of the subsidised employee for a certain period.

  • As a second step, the Government will allocate a separate budget to investments for creating new jobs. Further, employers in specific sectors, such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment will be exempt from paying payroll taxes until 30 June 2020.


Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • The Government has introduces several measures and reliefs for employees and self-employed individuals. These include in particular a moratorium on all loan repayments for individuals and companies until the end of 2020. The interest rate on all new consumer loan interest rates are capped at a maximum of the Central Bank’s base rate plus 5 percent.

  • Not only employers, but employees are provided a reduction in their required tax contributions, including a moratorium on pension contributions, also health insurance premiums will be capped.

  • Sole proprietors and businesses registered to pay the Itemized Tax for Small Businesses (KATA) – preferred scheme for self-employed individuals – are exempt from monthly tax payments until June 30 2020. T primarily affects those in the service sector, but does not apply to all occupation types but to the exhaustive list set out in Government Decree.  

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • In the most effected sectors, such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment, culture, sports, etc. set out by Government Decree, unilateral termination of commercial lease agreements as well as increase of rental price is prohibited until the end of the state of emergency. This applies to any termination notices, but the parties can freely agree in a mutual termination of lease agreement.

  • However it is up to the parties to reduce or release the rental fee through negotiation based on their contract and general rules of the Civil Code.

  • The lease term of state owned premises shall be extended until the end of the state of emergency based on the unilateral written declaration of the lessee.

  • Evictions and forfeiture of property are suspended until the end of the state of emergency.

Local Contacts

Bálint Halász - Bird & Bird LLP

India

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.*

Have local franchise laws been amended?

N/A**

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

No.***

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

No.****

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

No.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

Local Contacts

Nipun Gupta - Bird & Bird LLP

 

*Partially
**Numerous laws that could impact on franchising arrangements have been modified
***In the most recent relaxation, in a non-hotspot area standalone establishments of non-essential goods are not permitted to open.
****Some measures, but not financial

Indonesia

Is the country currently in lock down?

No. Indonesia is currently implementing a Large-Scale Social Limitation.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

As above.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

Not during this period. The latest amendment to the current franchise legislation was the issuance of the Ministry of Trade Regulation No. 71 of 2019 on Franchise which supersede the previous Ministry of Trade Regulation No. 53/M-DAG/PER/8/2012

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

No, they can only operate delivery and take away.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

Yes restaurants can operate takeaway and delivery.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

Local Contacts

Risti Wulansari - K&K Advocates

 

Ireland

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

Although the country is still in lockdown to some degree, a significant easing of restrictions is due to come into effect from 29 June.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

Ireland is currently in Phase 2 of its roadmap to the lifting of restrictions, with Phase 3 commencing on 29 June. As the number of new cases of Covid-19 and related deaths has dropped to a manageable level, the roadmap has been accelerated with Phase 3 now including the easing of measures which were originally envisaged to come into effect in Phase 4 (20 July). These include:

  • People can travel anywhere in Ireland.

  • All sporting activities can recommence subject to a limited number of spectators. Sports clubs and swimming pools can reopen.

  • Adult education services and childcare facilities can reopen.

  • Cultural and religious outlets and facilities can reopen.

  • Mass gatherings will be limited to 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.

The above are all subject to compliance with safeguarding measures.

It remains that anyone who can work from home should continue to do so.

All non-essential overseas travel should be avoided and anybody arriving from overseas is expected to self-isolate for 14 days.


Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • No. Ireland does not have a specific "Franchise Law".

  • Franchises are subject to the same corporate and commercial laws as other businesses in Ireland.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • From 29 June wellbeing services, gyms, cinemas, leisure facilities, hairdressers and all remaining retail services and commercial activities can open so long as they adhere to work protocols and health guidance.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes but on a restricted basis.

The following may reopen to customers, subject to social distancing and other safeguarding measures:

  • cafés and restaurants providing on premises food and beverages
  • pubs and hotel bars operating as restaurants

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • Microenterprises can access COVID-19 Business Loans of up to €50,000. These loans include 6 months interest free and a repayment moratorium during that time.
  • A €450 million Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme is available for eligible businesses.
  • Manufacturing and international trade services businesses who are vulnerable but viable can avail of the Sustaining Enterprise Fund of up to €180 million. There is also a similar fund available for small enterprises for short term working capital injections of up to €50,000.
  • The Restart Grant is available and will give direct grant aid to micro and small businesses to assist them with the costs associated with re-opening and re-employing workers following Covid-19 closures.
  • The Trading Online Voucher is a grant designed to assist small business to help them to set up trading online.

  • The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme will be available to support retail companies to enhance their digital capability. 

Full details and information on the supports can be found here

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Employees of businesses that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Short-time Work Support.
  • Enhanced Illness Benefit Payment is available for workers who have been advised to self-isolate or who are diagnosed with Covid-19 and cannot work as a result. 

  • Self-employed individuals can avail of the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or may be eligible to claim Jobseeker's Allowance in certain circumstances.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No. 

Local Contacts

Damian Maloney - Beauchamps

 

Italy

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • Movements between regions are not allowed, except for work, health and other emergency purposes and for returning home/place of residence

  • Schools and universities are closed and a number of activities are still suspended

  • Safety measures, including social distancing and face masks in indoor places that are open to the public, have to be adopted

  •  Italian Regions can apply stricter rules (e.g. in certain regions including Lombardy and Veneto the use of face masks also outside is mandatory; certain regions including Piemonte have postponed the restart of certain activities)

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Movements within the same region are allowed

  • From 18 May 2020, the most of commercial activities can restart

  •  Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces issued guidelines for the re-opening of economic, manufacturing and recreational activities

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • Italian franchise law (Law no. 129/2004) and Ministerial Decree no. 204/2005 have not been amended

  •  Law Decree no. 18/2020 (“Cure Italy Decree"), converted into Law no. 27/2020, Law Decree no. 23/2020 (“Liquidity Decree") and Law Decree no. 34/2020 ("Relaunch Decree") provide for measures supporting businesses, including franchisors and franchisees

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Retailers have to ensure social distancing of at least 1 meter and staggered entry to the stores and avoid that customers stay into the stores more than necessary

  • Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces guidelines provide for certain additional measures to be adopted by retailers

  • Measures include physical distancing of at least 1 meter between customers and the mandatory use of face masks by customers

  •  Electronic payments have to be preferred and safety measures at the cash desks, including physical barriers or face masks, have to be adopted

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Permission to be open for dining in is subject to each region's assessment on the basis of the epidemiological situation (e.g. Piemonte region has postponed the re-opening for dining in to May 23)

  • Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces guidelines provide for certain specific measures to be adopted by restaurants, cafes and bars

  • Measures for dining in include physical distancing of at least 1 meter between customers, table disposition ensuring 1 meter distance between customers or physical barriers between tables, prohibition of buffet

  •  Restaurants are encouraged to request booking for dining in, keeping data of customers for 14 days and not allowing more customers than the seats available into the restaurant 

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Take-away and delivery services are allowed in all regions

  • Safety measures, including social distancing of at least 1 meter and precautions for packaging and delivery, must be adopted

  •  In case of take-away and delivery services, customers are not allowed to consume products inside or near the restaurants, cafes or bars

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • Italian government allocated €155 billion to support businesses, workers, families, healthcare, schools, universities

  • Non-refundable relief for businesses with a turnover of up to €5 million

  •  Tax incentives of 20% for recapitalization, tax credit of 50% of capital losses and an SME Fund for subscribing bonds or debt securities for businesses with a turnover of between €5 and €50 million

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Law Decree no. 18/2020 (“Cure Italy Decree"), converted into Law no. 27/2020, and Law Decree no. 34/2020 ("Relaunch Decree") provide for economic and financial measures to support families, workers and businesses

  • Under certain conditions, allowances are granted to self-employed individuals

  •  Enhancement of the Wage Guarantee Fund 

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • Tax credit equal to 60% of the amount of real estate rental expenses is granted under certain conditions
  • Tax credit equal to 30% for business branch leases is granted under certain conditions 

Local Contacts

Claudia Ricciardi - Bird & Bird LLP

 

*But limited. (Lock down restrictions will be eased starting from May 4. From May 18, Italy may see have additional changes.)

Laos

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • The Prime Minister of Lao PDR issued Order No. 06/PM on the Reinforcement of Measures for the Containment, Prevention, and Full Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic on 29 March, which imposed strict lockdown measures in Lao PDR. The lockdown measures have been extended until 3 May by means of a Notification which was issued by the Prime Minister of Lao PDR.

  • On 1 May, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued Notification No. 524 to relax the lockdown measures. The government has imposed "an in-between" period from 4 May until 17 May where the situation will be assessed. Thereafter, the government may relax or continue the strict lockdown measures that it has previously imposed. However, the following remains banned:
    • Travel between provinces (but there are some exceptions which depend on the purpose of the travel).
    • Entertainment services, bars and beer shops, cinemas, karaoke, massage parlours and spas, casinos, night markets, fitness centres, indoor sports complexes, and outdoor team sports and other sporting competitions that attract crowds and participants of more than 10 people (where social distancing rules cannot be implemented).
    • Holding of events with large crowds, celebrations and parties or any gatherings of more than 10 people (where social distancing rules are not possible and the risk of contamination is high).
    • All domestic and international borders are shut to the public.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • On 22 April, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce issued a Notification which listed a number of factories that are allowed to resume operations.

  • On 1 May, the PMO issued a Notification providing the following relaxations:
    • People residing in Laos are now allowed to leave their home and travel within their province, as required.
    • The government has also agreed to relax some measures relating to public and private sector operations. Prevention measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 must continue to be observed, e.g., social distancing of 1 metre, washing hands, use of alcoholic gel, wearing a mask, conducting body temperature checks, and proper cleaning in the working premises. However, working remotely is still encouraged.
    • Public training and meetings are authorised, provided that participants respect the 1-metre social distancing requirement and the other preventive measures as detailed in the bullet above.
    • Large private factories and investment projects can operate, however, they must be inspected by the relevant authorities first.


  • Most education institutions will re-open on 18 May, but institutions such as universities will remain closed until further notice.
    • Foreign nationals who are working and studying in Laos may return to their home, as originally planned. With regard to Lao students and Lao labourers who need to go abroad in order to pursue/continue their study/work, they can do so as long as authorisation is granted by the destination country.
    • All domestic and international borders remain closed to the public, but the Notification provides exceptions for individuals who have been granted written permission from the Task Force and for the transportation of goods.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • Laos has no laws/regulations specifically dedicated to franchises.
  • Laws/regulations which address franchises have not been amended.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • There are no specific bans on the retail sectors, except for bars and beer shops, along with the night markets, which are to remain close.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Restaurants and cafes are permitted to open; however, bars are not yet permitted to open.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Restaurants/cafes/bars can continue their operations for take-away and delivery services.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The Bank of Lao PDR has issued guidelines to provide relief to debtors who are affected by the current crisis. The Decision does not however include mandatory obligations for the commercial banks to provide this relief. Accordingly, commercial banks are strongly encouraged to:
    • Revise debt structures of affected debtors by agreeing to new instalments for principals and interest, and to revise interest rates to reflect the conditions/circumstances of the debtors in the COVID-19 crisis. Accordingly, debtors should be granted a grace period of at least one year to pay the principals and interest.
    • Provide new loans to debtors and those affected by the virus outbreak in order to help them maintain their business operations.

  • On 2 April, the Lao Prime Minister issued a Decision providing:

    • Tax relief measures with respect to income tax for the period of April to June, which shall be applicable for monthly salaries below LAK 5 million (approx. USD 550).
    • Deferment of payments for affected businesses, including normal contributions to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), which shall be in effect for the months of April to June.
    • Profit tax exemptions for micro-enterprises from April to June.
    • Exemption from customs duties, tax, and related official fees on medical devices and other products related to the prevention and control of COVID-19 (e.g., masks, sanitizers, medical equipment, and other necessary items).
    • Postponement of tax obligations for eligible business operators in the tourism industry for the period from April to June 2020.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

No.

  • There are no measures specifically targeting employees and the self-employed. However, the measures relating to business support are also extended to employees and self-employed individuals.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

N/A

Local Contacts

Thomas Joseph Treutler - Tilleke & Gibbins

Malaysia

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • On 16 March 2020, the Malaysian government imposed a two-week movement control order (“MCO”) starting from 18 March 2020. The MCO has been subsequently extended for a third time into the fourth phase from 29 April until 12 May 2020.

  • On 1 May 2020, the government announced a relaxation of the MCO to a conditional movement control order (“CMCO”) to be implemented in the fifth phase from 3 May 2020 until 12 May 2020. The CMCO has been extended by another 4 weeks into the sixth phase until 9 June 2020.

  • The MCO sets out six major restrictions as follows:-

o   prohibition of mass movements and gathering nationwide, including religious activities, sports, social and cultural events and closure of all houses of worship and business premises, except for supermarkets, public markets, grocery stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities;

o   restriction on overseas travel for Malaysians and mandatory health checks and self-quarantine of 14 days for returning Malaysians;

o   restriction on entry for foreign visitors and tourists;

o   closure of all kindergartens, public and private schools;

o   closure of all public and private institutions of higher learning; and

o   closure of all government and private premises except for essential services.

  •  The MCO prohibits all land travel except for purchasing, supplying or delivering food, daily necessities, medicine or dietary supplements, seeking healthcare or medical services, performing official duties or performing duties in relation to essential services. Interstate-travel requires a police permit.

  • Throughout the second and third phase of the MCO, any travelling for purchasing, supplying or delivering food, daily necessities, medicine or dietary supplements or seeking healthcare or medical services is restricted to 10km radius from the place of residence and individual travelling, except that in the latter case one accompaniment is allowed.

  • From 27 March 2020, specific locations as follows where large clusters were detected, were subjected to a stricter enhanced movement control order (“EMCO”) for 14 days in order for the government to conduct a thorough Covid-19 test on all residents and to curb the spread of the virus from these areas:-
  • From 27 March 2020, certain specific locations were specified where large clusters were detected, which were subjected to a stricter enhanced movement control order (“EMCO”) for 14 days in order for the government to conduct a thorough Covid-19 test on all residents and to curb the spread of the virus from these areas.

  •  The EMCO imposes six major restrictions as follows:-
  1. restriction on all residents and visitors to leave the area;
  2. restriction on non-residents and visitors to enter the area;
  3. closure of all businesses within the area;
  4. provision of basic food supplies to the residents by the Social Welfare Department;
  5. establishment of a medical base within the area; and closure of all roads to the area.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • In order to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (“MITI”) had on 10 and 16 April 2020 announced the easing of restrictions on several economic sectors, allowing them to resume operations in stages during the third phase of the MCO subject to application. These sectors include the following:

    • automotive industry;
    • machinery and equipment;
    • aerospace industry;
    • construction projects and services related to construction works;
    • science, professional and technical services including research and development;
    • social health services including registered traditional and complementary medicine practitioners;
    • hardware shops, electrical and electronics shops in the wholesale and retail segments; and
    • laundry services.
  • The approval to operate is subject to compliance with the standard operating procedures that have been established for the respective sectors, healthcare guidelines prescribed by the Ministry of Health (“MOH”) and other related enforcement agencies and strict movement control of employees..

  • In the fourth phase of the MCO, MITI allows economic sectors which had been permitted to operate at limited capacity during the first three phases of the MCO, to carry on businesses at full capacity from 29 April 2020 subject to the established standard operating procedure in their respective sectors and the healthcare guidelines.

  • Further, the government slightly relaxed the MCO under the fourth phase by allowing travelling for food, daily necessities, medicine or dietary supplements or healthcare or medical services beyond the 10km radius limit besides permitting two people from a family to go out and run errands for food, daily necessities, medicine or dietary supplements.

  • On 1 May 2020, the government announced the CMCO to be implemented in the fifth phase from 4 May 2020 until 12 May 2020, which has been extended into the sixth phase until 9 June 2020, to ease certain restrictions with the objective of reopening the economy in a controlled manner.

  • The CMCO allows majority of economic sectors and businesses activities to resume operations subject to conditions and standard operating procedures, except those that involve mass gatherings and physical contact where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as entertainment centres, barber shops, beauty salons, etc. as specified in the list of prohibited activities which will be updated from time to time. Each private vehicle is allowed to carry a maximum of four family members while public transports are only permitted to carry half of their normal capacity. The restriction on inter-state travel has been relaxed by allowing those who need to make trips to and from work and those who have been stranded due to the MCO to return home.

  • Whilst public gathering and interstate travelling for non-work purposes remains prohibited, following the extension of the CMCO, the government now allows gathering and visits amongst neighbours and close family members within the same state in conjunction with Hari Raya Puasa, Pesta Kaamatan and Gawai Dayak Day up to a maximum of 20 people per day on the first day of each festival subject to the size of a house besides permitting spouses living in separate states to travel to each other’s residence.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

Yes.

  • The government introduced amendments to the Franchise Act 1998 (“FA”) via the Franchise (Amendment) Act 2020 (“2020 Act”) to ensure conformity with the current developments of the franchise business in Malaysia. It has been published in the Gazette on 6 March 2020 after receiving its Royal Assent on 20 February 2020 but has yet to come into force.

  • One of the major changes under the 2020 Act is the new requirement for a foreign franchisor to register its franchise separately under Section 6 of the FA which presently only applies to a local franchisor, after obtaining the Registrar’s approval to sell its franchise in Malaysia or to a Malaysian citizen under Section 54 of the FA. This requirement was introduced by extending the scope of application of Section 6 of the FA to foreign franchisors. To enable the smooth transition to the new FA, the 2020 Act further allows all foreign franchisors who had previously obtained the Registrar’s approval under Section 54 of the FA, to be automatically registered under Section 6 of the FA. We anticipate that the Registrar would adopt similar practice in dealing with pending or future foreign franchise applications in view that the level of information and documents required for an application under Section 6 is almost identical to Section 54.

  • The introduction of the double registration requirement means that foreign franchisors are now bound by the post-registration obligations under the FA which presently only apply to local franchisors, namely the pre-contractual disclosure of the franchise agreement and supporting documents which have been approved by the Registrar including the amendments thereto (Section 15 of the FA), the submission of an annual report within 6 months from the end of financial year of the franchise business (Section 16 of the FA) and the submission of a financial statement of a promotion fund which has been endorsed by a registered public accountant within 30 days after the conclusion of the last financial term (Section 22 of the FA). This amendment serves as a wake-up call for foreign franchisors to take steps to comply with the post-registration obligations.

  • The 2020 Act imposes a limited period of effectiveness to be determined by the Registrar (“period”), for franchise registration which presently has no limit in time unless cancelled by the Registrar or terminated by the contracting parties. Franchisors are required to renew their franchise registrations for a further period within 30 days from the expiry date subject to payment of renewal fees and other terms and conditions imposed by the Registrar which may include compliance with the post-registration obligations, and display a certificate of registration at the business premises.

  • The 2020 Act requires the terms of extension to be included in a franchise agreement. It follows that franchisors are required to provide separate a separate extension term which is usually shorter than a renewal term, for franchisees to recoup on their investments. However, this amendment would unlikely affect franchises which had been registered prior to the 2020 Act as it has always been the Registrar’s practice to require terms of extension to be provided in a franchise agreement.

  • The 2020 Act removes Section 18(3) of the FA which renders a franchise agreement that does not comply with the prescribed requirements null and void. Nevertheless, non-compliance with the requirements of a franchise agreement remains an offence under the FA.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Retailers of essential daily needs are permitted to be open throughout the MCO. These include the retail operations selling daily necessities by anchor tenants in shopping malls, grocery stores or convenience stores within a specialty store and supermarket section which sells daily necessities within a departmental store.

  • Retailers in the pharmaceutical and clinical industry are also permitted to remain operational throughout the MCO.

  • In order to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19, the MITI slightly relaxed the MCO by allowing retailers of hardware, electrical and electronic to operate during the third phase of the MCO. The approval to operate is subject to compliance with the standard operating procedures that have been established for that sector, healthcare guidelines prescribed by the MOH and other related enforcement agencies and strict movement control of employees.

  • Following the CMCO, the majority of economic sectors and businesses activities are permitted to resume operations beginning 4 May 2020 subject to conditions and standard operating procedures, except those that involve mass gatherings and physical contact where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as entertainment centres, barber shops, beauty salons, etc. as specified in the list of prohibited activities which will be updated from time to time.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

  • Restaurants/cafes/bars were not permitted to be open for dine-in or eat-in before the CMCO was announced.

  • Following the CMCO, eateries such as restaurants, cafes, food courts, hawker centres, food stalls and kiosk can resume operations beginning 4 May 2020 subject to conditions and standard operating procedures which include the following:-

    o business hours are to be between 7am and 10pm;
    o dining tables must be arranged with two metres distance between each table;
    o ensuring one-meter distances between customers when making purchases;
    o putting up a notice with the number of customers allowed each day and for each table with a maximum of 4 people per table; and
    o taking temperatures of employees and customers and recording their names and contact numbers.

  • However, pubs, bars and night clubs which operate under an entertainment licence, are to remain closed.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Restaurants/cafes/bars are allowed to operate take-away, delivery and drive-thru.

  • Eateries and food delivery services were only permitted to operate from 8am to 8pm starting from 1 April 2020 before the CMCO was announced.

  • Following the CMCO, they can operate take-away and delivery from 7am to 10pm.

  • However, pubs, bars and night clubs which operate an entertainment licence, are to remain closed.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • On 27 March 2020, the government announced the PRIHATIN Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (“PRIHATIN Package”) valued at RM250 billion. Some of the main measures to assist businesses are as follows:-
    • an automatic 6-month deferment or suspension on conventional loans or Islamic financing payment obligations (except credit card) for eligible small and medium enterprises (“SMEs”) beginning 1 April 2020 while corporate borrowers/customers may make a request for a moratorium on loan or financing payment with their respective banks;
    • various initiatives and financing facilities for SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs, including the following:-
      - RM5 billion Special Relief Facility for SMEs to finance working capital;
      - All Economic Sector Facility fund of RM6.8 billion to enhance access to financing for SMEs;
      - RM700 million Micro Credit Scheme for micro-entrepreneurs;
      - the BizMula-i and BizWanita-i schemes for SMEs operating less than 4 years to finance up to RM300,000;
      - RM5 billion guarantees with a guarantee up to 80% of the total financing for SMEs that face difficulties in obtaining loans;
      - RM300 million Automation and Digitalisation Facility as incentives for SMEs to automate processes and digitalise operations to increase productivity and efficiency;

    • RM50 million guarantee scheme with a guarantee of up to 8-% of the loan amount for financing working capital requirements;

    • RM5.9 billion Wage Subsidy Programme to subsidise employers who are experiencing more than 50% decrease in their income since 1 January 2020, RM600 per month for 3 months for each employee earning less than RM4,000;

    • a deferment of monthly income tax instalment payments for all SMEs for 3 months beginning 1 April 2020, with other affected sectors allowed to revise the amount of income tax imposed in the third, sixth and ninth instalments during the basic accounting period.

    • an exemption of 6% service tax for hotels for 6 months beginning March 2020;

    • a tiered-discount on electricity bills for 6 months beginning April 2020 with rates ranging between 15% and 50% according to electricity usage; and

    • free internet services with a value of RM600 million to all customers from 1 April 2020 until the end of the MCO.


  • On 6 April 2020, the government further announced the Additional PRIHATIN Economic Stimulus Package (“Additional PRIHATIN Package”) worth RM10 billion. Some of the additional measures to assist SMEs are as follows:-

    • an enhancement of the Wage Subsidy Programme by additional RM7.9 billion for the 3-month wage subsidy to be tiered between RM600 and RM1,200 per month according to the size of the company;

    • RM2.1 billion Special PRIHATIN Grant for eligible micro enterprises;

    • abolition of 2% interest rate for the Micro Credit Scheme;

    • an additional tax deduction equal to the rental discount for landlords of private business premises who give rental discounts to SMEs;

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • The government introduced the following measures to assist employees / self-employed individuals:-

    • a reduction of the minimum EPF contribution by employees from 11% to 7% beginning 1 April until 31 December 2020;

    • a payment of RM200 to all Bantuan Sara Hidup recipients scheduled for May 2020 to be brought forward to March 2020 with an additional RM100 to be paid in May 2020;

    • a one-off cash assistance of RM600 each to taxi drivers, tourist bus drivers, tourist guides and registered trishaw drivers;

    • a monthly cash assistance of RM600 under the Employee Retention Program for a maximum of 6 months for employees earning less than RM4,000 who are required to go on unpaid leave from 1 March 2020.

  • Additional measures were further introduced under the PRIHATIN Package which include the following:-

    • a 3-month suspension on premiums for insurance or family takaful policies for contributors whose source of income is affected by Covid-19;

    • RM10 billion Bantuan Prihatin Nasional being a one-off cash assistance to be tiered between RM500 and RM 1,600 according to the monthly income or monthly household income of the individual;

    • a one-off cash assistance of RM500 to e-hailing drivers;

    • an automatic 6-month deferment or suspension in conventional loans or Islamic financing payment obligations (except credit card) for individuals beginning 1 April 2020;

    • free internet services with a value of RM600 million to all customers from 1 April 2020 until the end of the MCO.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • SME retailers who are operating on premises owned by government-linked companies are given a waiver or discounts on their rental.

  • The government also encouraged owners of private premises to provide the same convenience by offering rental discounts or waiver to SME tenants during the MCO and three months thereafter with the benefit of additional tax deductions equal to the amount of the rent deduction for the months of April to June 2020.

Local Contacts

Lee Lin Li & Chong Kah Yee - Tay & Partners

Mexico

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • Depending on the state of the Mexican Republic, different measures are being taken towards lockdown, depending on the category granted to each state, the measures are different.

  • The Government has developed a signaling system: red, orange, yellow and green:

    • Red: only essential activities can take place,

    • Orange: essential and certain non-essential activities can take place, but companies have to comply with certain measures and restrictions,

    • Yellow: many activities can take place but up to a certain capacity and complying with the measures provided by government, and

    • Green: All activities can take place.

The signaling system varies between red and orange in different regions of Mexico. 

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • The entire country remains in lockdown (red), but depending on the state (and the colour granted under the signaling system), there are different measures being implemented, such as, certain activities considered as non-essential can start operations, restaurants are open to the consumers but with several restrictions (mainly regarding the percentage of people they are allowed to enter, among others).

  • Each state is issuing rules that companies must comply in order to start business operations, but only if the conditions are favorable.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Depending on the state of the Mexican Republic, certain retailers may open (for example, in Jalisco shopping malls may be opened up to 25% of capacity), but in Mexico City retail business remains in lockdown.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Depending on the state of the Mexican Republic. In some states it is still forbidden, but in other states, restaurants can be opened up to a certain capacity and subject to other restrictions in terms of distance between consumers and sanitisation, among other things.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Restaurants, cafes and bars are allowed to have a take-away and delivery service

Is the government providing support to businesses?

No.


Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

No.


Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • Mexican law establishes that when a force majeure event occurs, the breaching party may claim that the circumstances in the agreed obligations in a contract cannot be performed due to such lack of foresight. The foregoing means that the breaching party may have the right to request the affected party to modify the obligations set forth in the relevant agreement in order to be able to comply with the agreement.

  • Also, tenants in a lease contractual relationship may request relief in the payment of the rent from their lessors, or even request the early termination of such lease, depending on the state of the country where the leased property is located, since leases are governed by the local Civil Code applicable in each state of the Mexican Republic.


Local contacts

Jorge Mondragón - Gonzalez Calvillo SC

Myanmar

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications Department of Civil Aviation issued a notification stating that all international commercial passenger flights will be denied landing permission at all Myanmar airports with effect from 11:59 pm, March 30, 2020, until 11:59 pm, May 15, 2020.

  • On April 16, 2020, Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports restricts gatherings of more than five people at one place. Only certain activities are allowed, e.g., shopping at a supermarket within county boundaries, limited to one person and a driver per household per visit and working at a company or a factory.

  • On April 19, Myanmar imposed a night time curfew in the Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyarwaddy and Sagaing administrative regions.

  • All businesses are mostly allowed to be opened, but the government has encouraged people to implement stay-at-home and work-from home policies.

  • On April 19, 2020, the Government announced prevention guidelines version 3.0 for workplaces, factories and construction sites that open for business amidst the Covid-19 outbreak.

  • The guidelines highlighted government guidance on shielding and promoting hygiene and sanitation. For workplaces, an employer shall allow an employee to work-from-home if an employee is able to complete their assigned tasks at home. However, if it is unable to implement a work-from-home arrangement for an employee, an employer is encouraged to arrange for protection measures at workplace for ease of business operation amidst the outbreak, e.g. to keep a 6-feet distance between each employee, to adopt work rotation arrangements, and to instruct employees to wear masks on a daily basis, etc.

  • A construction site is also not allowed to have more than 50 workers and the operator is obliged to strictly follow the hygiene recommendations provided under the announcement.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

No.

  • Authorities were struggling to keep residents at home during the annual 10-day water festival holidays on 10-19 April. The government canceled the celebration of water festival and Myanmar New Year.

  • Lock down restrictions affect currently operating factories and establishments as there is no proper coordination between the government and the private sectors.

  • Several notifications created significant confusion with vague details.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

N/A

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • All businesses are mostly allowed to be opened, but the government has encouraged people to implement stay-at-home and work-from home policies.

  • Government guidance on shielding and the promotion of hygiene and sanitation referred to in the answer relating to lock down above will apply.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

  • Restaurants/cafes/bars are prohibited to operate a dine-in service due to the restriction of gathering of more than five people at one place according to the announcement of Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports on April 16, 2020.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Myanmar has not implemented any restrictions on take-away and delivery services.

  • Government guidance on shielding and the promotion of hygiene and sanitation referred to in the answer relating to lock down above will apply.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • On March 18, 2020, Myanmar’s Ministry of Finance and Industry announced measures to remedy the economic consequences caused by the COVID-19 by establishing the COVID-19 Fund to provide a 1-year loan at an annual interest rate of 1% to CMP business, hotel and tourism business that have been suffered from COVID-19, including the relief of tax payment obligations.

  • On March 20, 2020, Myanmar’s Social Security Board announced that it will allow employers to make social security payments quarterly, instead of monthly, due to the hardship businesses are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • On April 27, 2020, the Government announced the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan containing all action plans and available policy instruments to recovery post-COVID-19. The action plans include the postponement of corporate income tax payments up to September 2020 and the permission given to commercial banks to restructure and reschedule existing loans extended to SME business.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • The Central Bank of Myanmar announced several directives regarding the reduction of interest rates to counter the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and to encourage the development of the economy for employees and the self-employed. Currently, the minimum interest rate for bank deposits is set at 5% per annum and the maximum interest rate for secured loans is set at 10% per annum.

  • The COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan also promotes microfinance institutions to have full access to low-cost funding and provides cash or lending support to smallholder farmers who have lost sales revenue or remittance income to support input purchases in time for monsoon planting.

  • The Government has exempted electricity tariffs for all households (excluding embassies and international organizations) up to 150 units per month.


Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

  • Myanmar has not announced any relief for commercial tenants in the private sector. It depends on the consideration and agreements agreed upon between a lessor and a lessee.

  • However, according to the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan, the Government has exempted lease fees charged to affected firms that have leased state-owned factories for manufacturing that have made progress in their line of business, and have made regular payments in the past three months for 3-6 months on a case-by-case basis.

Local Contacts

Thomas Joseph Treutler - Tilleke & Gibbins

Norway

Is the country currently in lock down?

No, but certain restrictions apply:

  • Requirement of a one meter distance between civilians in public (not including close relatives in the same household).

  • Recommendation of no gatherings of more than 20 people (regardless of whether indoor or outdoor).

  • Persons who have been contaminated, are sick in general or have been quarantined (i.e. have been in contact with contaminated persons etc.) are prohibited from using public transportation, or go to stores or work. People who have been contaminated are also prohibited from going on walks.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Kindergartens and schools for certain age groups reopened on 20 April and 27 April, respectively.

  • Schools were reopened for grades 5 to 10 on 11 May.

  • Hairdressers, health related services such as opticians, chiropractor, physical therapists, psychologists, private cosmetic surgeons and similar businesses were allowed to reopen on 27 April (provided they follow certain strict criteria's relating to inter alia cleaning, number of customers at the same time etc.

  • Restaurants, bars, cantinas and similar are allowed to be open provided they can arrange for a 1 meter distance between customers.

  • Public events with up to 50 persons is allowed as of 30 April 2020. Public events with up to 200 persons is expected to be allowed as of 15 June. Culture and sporting events with more than 500 contestants have been prohibited until 1 September 2020.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

N/A

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Non-food retailers are permitted to be open provided they can secure a 1 meter distance between customers.

  • Hairdressers, health related services such as opticians, chiropractor, physical therapists, psychologists, private cosmetic surgeons and similar businesses were allowed to re-open provided they follow certain strict restrictions relating to inter alia cleaning, number of customers at the same time etc.

  • Amusement parks are expected to be allowed to reopen as of 1 June.

  • Gyms are allowed to reopen as of 15 June provided satisfactory infection control.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Provided they sell food and can arrange for a 1 meter distance between customers.

  • No more than 50 customers are allowed in the restaurants, cafes and bars at the time, still provided a 1 meter distance between customers.

  • Bars and cafés that do not sell food (i.e. only alcohol) are permitted to reopen on 1 June.

  • There are certain local restrictions (on municipality level), including inter alia that it was illegal for bars, restaurants and cafes to sell alcohol in Oslo municipality until 6 May 2020.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • No restrictions relating to take-away and delivery services. 

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The Norwegian government provides a guarantee for 90% of new bank loans to both SMB and larger businesses.

  • Governmental arrangement to cover up to 80% of the inevitable and permanent costs (i.e. rent, electricity, accounting etc.) for businesses with a qualified revenue loss due to Covid-19. Businesses that have been forced to shut down due to government regulations may be granted compensation for up to 90% of its inevitable and permanent costs. Compensation is calculated based on the following formula: compensation = revenue loss (compared to the same month last year) in percent x inevitable constant costs – an own share (the own share being NOK 10 000 for businesses not forced to shut down due to government restrictions) x an adjustment factor (being 0.9 for businesses shut down by the government and 0.8 for other businesses).

  • Certain industry specific subsidy schemes, including to the airline businesses, privatized kindergartens etc.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • The Norwegian Government will cover full salary for employees that have been temporarily laid-off 18 of the first 20 days of the lay-off. From day 21 temporarily laid-off employees are entitled to daily unemployment benefit. (The employer is obligated to pay full salary the first two days).

  • The number of days working parents may stay home for child care with full pay has been doubled (from 10 to 20 for employees with one or two kids, from 15 to 30 for employees with 3 or more kids

  • For self-employed individuals the Government has established a subsidy scheme to cover up to 80 % of lost income, given that the income lapses for a period of more than 16 days.

  • The Norwegian Government has in the Revised National Budget (made public 12. May 2020) proposed that unemployed and temporarily laid-off persons approaching the maximum period for daily unemployed benefit should be allowed to retain the benefit until October 2020. The same prolongation is proposed for unemployed persons receiving work-clarification money. In the Revised National Budget it is also proposed to prolong the period companies may temporarily lay off employees until the end of October (originally the maximum period is 26 weeks during an 18-month period). The purpose of these proposals is to compensate the unemployed who now face a very difficult labour market and companies with temporarily laid-off employees do not have the opportunity to take back to work at the moment. The Government has further announced that they are monitoring the situation in the labour market closely and will make further measures if necessary.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

  • Not directly but the Government has established a subsidy scheme where businesses can apply for coverage of fixed costs, including rent, during the COVID-19-outbreak.

Local Contacts

Kjetil Vagen - CLP

 

Poland

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

Poland is currently in lockdown. In the period from 14 to 20 March, there was an epidemic emergency in Poland, and from 15 March a sanitary cordon was introduced on the Polish borders, significantly limiting border traffic. Since 20 March, in accordance with the ordinance of the Minister of Health, the state of epidemics is in force in Poland.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

The government announced 4 stages of easing the lock down restrictions. First stage was applied on Monday 20th April. The ease was limited to opening public spaces such as: parks, promenades, boulevards and beaches, therefore walks in public spaces have been made possible. In addition some limitations on commuting were withdrawn and more people were allowed to enter closed spaces like groceries or pharmacies (open shops). Currently there is no deadline for the announcement of the next stage of easing further restrictions.

  • On 4 May the second stage was introduced whereby shopping centres and hotels and other accommodation may open (with restrictions).

  • Some rehabilitation and cultural institutions, libraries, museums and art galleries may open.

  •  The government has announced that the next stage of easing of restrictions will start on May 18th.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

The government supports companies operating in Poland during the lockdown, nonetheless franchise laws (there are hardly any in Poland) specifically have not been amended. Currently, there are no official notifications announcing forthcoming changes in that sector.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Non-food retailers are permitted to be open.

  • Shopping centres were reopened on May 4th.

  • Shopping centres can allow all shops to open and operate with the exceptions of: physical activity areas (gyms, halls and playgrounds, trampoline parks), game zones and cinemas.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

Restrictions apply to the regular operations of restaurants, cafés or bars. All restaurants, cafés or bars may only provide takeaway and delivery services. It is not possible to serve meals or drinks on site.

Hotel restaurants may serve meals to hotel guests to their rooms.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

Many restaurants have changed their business models and currently offer pre-made meals for delivery, as well as i.e. pre-mixed cocktails or freshly baked bread, seafood etc. Restaurants operating take-away must implement various security measures, such as decontamination of the order pick-up point, as well as handling food in disposable gloves and keeping a safe distance from the customer. Food delivery services, such as Pyszne.pl, Uber Eats, Wolt or Glovo are free to operate.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The government has introduced economic support in the form of an anti-crisis shield. The shield is a comprehensive package of government actions to counteract the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The package entered into force on 1 April 2020 and was extended by the so-called 2.0 shield on 17 April with additional solutions. The government is currently working on another extension: so-called 3.0 shield.

  • The package consists of solutions prepared by the government to protect the Polish state and citizens from the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It is based on five pillars:
    • Protection of jobs and safety of workers;
    • Financing entrepreneurs;
    • Health care;
    • Strengthening the financial system;
    • Public investment. 

Some information by lawyers from Bird & Bird Warsaw Office, on the current situation in Poland focused COVID-19 impact on business can be found here: 

https://www.twobirds.com/pl/news/articles/2020/poland/200406-wplyw-pandemii-covid-19-na-sektor-it, https://www.twobirds.com/pl/news/articles/2020/poland/200409-covid-19-zalety-restrukturyzacji,

https://www.twobirds.com/pl/news/articles/2020/poland/200320-alert-covid-19-zus

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • The anti-crisis shield offers solutions supporting employees and self-employed individuals. In order to prevent employee redundancies, the government has declared wage subsidies for every job at risk. Aid is available to entrepreneurs in two cases:

    • during the period of economic downturn;
    • during a reduction in working hours.

  • The government also introduced a one-off benefit from the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) in the amount of up to PLN 2080 gross for the self-employed and those working on the basis of a contract or work order. Other solutions provided for in the anti-crisis shield for different forms of employment depend on the structure of the company. The self-employed can benefit from reductions in social security and tax benefits. People running sole proprietorship businesses (the self-employed) may benefit from the solutions provided for micro-businesses, i.e. a one-time, non-returnable microloan up to PLN 5000 to maintain the functioning of the company.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • Some solutions were introduced to suspend rents for commercial premises. Among them: a temporary termination of a lease, rental or similar agreement for space in shopping malls. Temporary expiry of the lease, rental or other similar agreement by which the commercial space is put to use during the ban on operating in commercial facilities with a sales area of more than 2,000 square meters. Parties to a lease, tenancy or other similar agreement for the use of space can benefit from this opportunity.

  • There is also the possibility of a grant of relief by the executive body of a local government unit, i.e. full or partial redemption, deferral of payments, distribution in instalments of receivables from lease, tenancy and use of real estate of local government units, for the period of an epidemic or epidemic hazard.

  • Currently, there are no time limits for the above - in the case of a request to waive the recovery of debts, there is a prerequisite for the deterioration of financial liquidity due to negative economic consequences due to COVID-19.

  • All entrepreneurs and persons not conducting business activity are entitled to take advantage of the relief.

Local Contacts

Kuba Ruiz - Bird & Bird LLP

Russia

Russia has not declared a state of emergency. Instead a high alert regime has been introduced by all Russian regions with respective local measures applicable to their respective territories. The responses below relate to local measures introduced in Moscow but similar measures apply in other Russian regions.

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

• A regime of self-isolation was declared in Russia at the end of March 2020 and currently is in place until and including 11 May.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

No.

  • Easing the regime of self-isolation in Moscow and other Russian regions depends on the spread of COVID-19.

  • In late April 2020, the Russian President Vladimir Putin commented that the lifting of the regime of self-isolation in some regions may begin after 11 May if the epidemiological situation is favourable. Having said this, as of May 4, 2020, Moscow reported record 5,795 new cases of COVID-19 which increased the total number of cases in the city to 74,401. The Moscow Mayor, Sergey Sobyanin commented on 2 May that lifting the regime of self-isolation will only be announced if the growth of the number of COVID-19 cases stops. As Moscow has not yet reached the peak, no measures of easing should be allowed.

  • The head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being Anna Popova has also recently commented that the regime of restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 can be eased after 12 May if individuals comply with the restrictions. If there are breaches, the regime of self-isolation may be tightened and extended until June. Announcements should be made by 11 May.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • Russia has no specific franchise laws and all franchising activities are governed by the Russian Civil Code. There have been no amendments to the applicable articles of the Russian Civil Code as a result of COVID-19.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

No.

  • In Moscow, the operation of non-food retailers is generally suspended except for: (i) pharmacies, (ii) retail facilities which sell communication equipment including mobile phones and tablets and enter into communication services contracts, (iii) specialized retailers selling medical products (equipment), pet products and optical stores, (iv) retailers selling essential non-food products, the list of which is approved by the Mayor of Moscow, (v) distance sale retailers.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

  • Restaurants, cafes, bars and other catering businesses operated in Moscow are not permitted to be open except for those which serve employees of the legal entities.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Provided that the customers do not enter the premises, restaurants, cafes, bars and other catering businesses in Moscow are allowed to operate take-away and delivery.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The Russian Government has introduced a number of measures to support businesses from sectors of economy affected by COVID-19. The list of such sectors of economy is approved by the Russian Government and includes air transportation, airport activities and transportation by motor transport activities; leisure and entertainment; fitness and sports activities; tourism and hotel business; catering; continuing education including that provided by non-governmental educational institutions; conferences and exhibitions activities; household services provided to consumers (repair, laundry and dry cleaning services and hair and beauty salons; dental practice and retail (non-food products) (the "affected businesses"). The measures introduced to support the affected businesses include, among others:

    • concessional loans to support and maintain employment: the loan is provided for 12 months under 0% interest rate for the first six months (but no later than 30 November 2020) and then under a percentage rate no higher than the rate at which the lending bank received preferential refinancing from the Central Bank of Russia. The maximum amount of loan is determined based on the formula: the minimum wage taking into account district coefficients, percentage premiums and insurance premiums to be multiplied by the number of employees and by 6. The eligible business has, among other things, to operate in at least one of the affected sectors of economy for at least one year and at the date of entering into a loan agreement such business should not be subject to bankruptcy proceedings and/or its activities are not suspended;

    • government grant to partially compensate for losses: from 1 May 2020, the affected businesses are entitled to apply for government grants to partially compensate for their losses including losses for preservation of employment and remuneration of employees for April and May 2020. The grant is calculated on the basis of the number of employees and the minimum wage (which is currently 12 130 roubles). To be eligible to apply for a grant, an affected business shall, among other things, prove that it has retained at least 90% of its staff compared to the number of employees in March and that the business is included on the unified register of small and medium-sized enterprises;

    • introducing further grounds for deferral in or payment by instalments of taxes and social security contributions (individual measures): such grounds include decrease in income by more than 10% and/or income tax loss for the reporting periods of 2020 if there was no loss for 2019. Depending on the scope of the reduction in income, occurrence of losses and the category of taxpayer, deferrals in payment may be granted for one year, nine, six or three months. The term for payment by instalments may be determined at the taxpayer's discretion within the provided limits and generally may not exceed three years;

    • extending the deadlines for filing of tax declarations/reports and payment of taxes and social security contributions: the deadlines for payment of a number of taxes and social security contributions have been extended to three, four or six months. Deadlines for filings which are due in March - May 2020 are extended for three months for all taxpayers, including the affected businesses;
      o deferral of payments under loan agreements for small and medium-sized affected businesses: as part of the government programme, deferral is granted in relation to loan agreements entered into before 1 April 2020 and applies for a period of up to six months (the "deferral period") but in any case prior to 31 December 2020. Deferral applies to payment of the principal amount of loan which should not be payable during the deferral period and payment of interest which should be charged during the deferral period at a preferential rate about 1/3 of the amount of interest provided for in a loan agreement and payable either (i) during the deferral period or (ii) after the deferral period in equal instalments during the remaining term of a loan agreement or (iii) interest may be included into a principal amount of loan;

    • bankruptcy moratorium: a six-month ban on filing of bankruptcy petitions by creditors has been introduced in relation to, among others, the affected businesses; and

    • reducing acquiring commissions for the online sale of goods: Bank of Russia has reduced the acquiring commissions for online purchases to up to 1% for a period from 15 April to 30 September 2020 (previously, the acquiring commissions varied from 1.2% to 2.2% depending on the type of payment card or product category). The reduction in commissions is provided to retail and service outlets in relation to sale of food, medicine and other medical products, clothing and consumer goods. Reduced acquiring commissions apply to household appliances, electronics and communication devices if the sum of the purchased products is worth up to 20,000 rubles.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Initially, the Russian President signed a decree declaring the week commencing Monday, 30 March to Friday, 3 April 2020, a non-working week (subject to certain exceptions).

  • Subsequently, the non-working period was extended to 30 April and later to and including 11 May.

  • The Russian Ministry of Labour commented that the non-working period should not constitute public holidays or days off work and employees should be entitled to full salary. The Russian Ministry of Labour also confirmed that employees may continue working during the non-working period remotely from home with payment of the full salary unless the parties agree in writing to reduce regular working hours and/or salary during the period of working from home.

  • Self-employed individuals who are registered as individual entrepreneurs are treated as small and/or medium-sized businesses and the measures outlined in the answer to the question regarding support for businesses will apply equally to such individual entrepreneurs, if they qualify as affected businesses, subject to certain exceptions which may be more favourable to individual entrepreneurs (for example, they may have more choice in relation to payments under loan agreements during the loan holidays than companies).

  • Self-employed individuals who are not registered as individual entrepreneurs may be entitled to a limited number of measures (for example, getting loans at preferential rates or benefiting from extension of expiry date of licences/permissions for conducting certain business activities for one year if they expire during the period from 1 March to 31 December 2020).

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • Small and medium-sized affected businesses which rent federal property are entitled to an exemption from rental payments for the period from April to June 2020.

  • The Russian Government has recommended that similar measures are implemented in relation to the property of the Russian regions and local municipal authorities.

  • Tenants who are affected businesses and rent property from other landlords and tenants of the federal, regional and municipal property may also rely on the government's alternative tenant support measures which apply to all landlords. The latter imposes an obligation on landlords to provide a deferral in payments under rent agreements which were entered into prior to high alert regime due to COVID-19 for the period until 1 October 2020. Those tenants who cannot use rented premises due to the specific restrictive measures imposed by local authorities are also entitled to request a reduction in rent fees.

Local Contacts

Anna Shashina - Bird & Bird LLP

 

Saudi Arabia

The information below is correct as at 11 May 2020

Is the country currently in lock down?

Partial

  • Lockdown restrictions have been gradually eased over 3 stages. The Government plans to lift all restrictions from 21 June.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Partial lifting of a 24-hour curfew

  • Resumption of some commercial and economic activities.

  • Select public places have reopened with reduced capacity.

  • Restrictions preventing large gatherings (precise numbers may vary) are in place

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • Saudi Arabia was due to introduce the commercial franchise law in April 2020.  However there not yet been any guidance issued by the authorities on the implementation of the law or the Implementing Regulations in final form.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Some shops and malls will be allowed to reopen or resume their work.

  • Select businesses may be required to remain closed pending the relaxation of restrictions.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Restaurants, cafes will be permitted to reopen as part of the phased 3-stage relaxation of lockdown.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • The serving of food in restaurants and cafes via food delivery services continues.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GZAT) announced a number of measures to assist businesses overcome difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic such as

    • extending the due date for filing tax returns that are due from 18 March 2020 – 30 June 2020 for 3 months,
    • suspending fines for late payments during the same time period, etc.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Under the private sector employment guidelines:

    • Private sector employers can reduce working hours and salary payments over the next six months.
    • Any reduction cannot be made for longer than six months and cannot exceed 40% of an employee's salary.
    • Private sector employers may not terminate employees during this six month period.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

  • Any relief by landlords would be a matter for negotiation between the landlord and the commercial tenant.

Local Contacts

Melissa Murray - Bird & Bird

 

Singapore

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • On 19 June 2020, Singapore entered Phase 2 of the re-opening process. Restrictions on the movement of persons within the community have been eased, but safe distancing measures are still in place to minimise close contact amongst individuals. It is required that masks continue to be worn in all public places.

  • Many businesses have been allowed to resume operations at their physical premises. Sports and recreational facilities have also reopened for public use, and schools will resume daily lessons from 29 June 2020.

  • However, certain venues/activities where large numbers of persons are likely to come into close contact (especially in enclosed spaces for prolonged periods of time) will not yet be allowed to reopen/resume. These include religious services and congregations, entertainment venues, as well as large cultural venues and large-scale events.


Have local franchise laws been amended?

  • Singapore does not have franchise-specific legislation or registration requirements. General contract laws govern the relationship between franchisors and franchisees.

  • Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, temporary relief is provided to individuals and businesses which are unable to perform their contractual obligations due to the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak through a statutory moratorium on the enforcement of rights and obligations relating to certain contracts to be performed on or after 1 February 2020 and for contracts that were entered into before 25 March 2020.

  • To trigger the relief measures, the non-performing party must serve a notification for relief on (i) the other contracting party; and (ii) any guarantor or surety for the contractual obligation. Any disputes on suspension of obligations may be referred to an assessor for determination.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes. 

  • Retail businesses, including those providing personal health and wellness services, healthcare services, as well as tuition or other private enrichment classes (except singing or voice training classes), will be allowed to reopen at their physical premises.

  • However, businesses owners must continue to comply with safe management measures, such as ensuring a one-metre distance between each group of patrons. Retail outlets with high human traffic must also restrict capacity, and prevent crowds or long queues from building up. Businesses that fail to put in place effective safe distancing measures may be required to close.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes. 

  • Restaurants and cafes are allowed to resume dine-in services, as long as there is no live music, television screening or any other forms of public entertainment at these venues. Sale and consumption of alcohol must also cease by 2230hrs daily. Bars have not yet been allowed to reopen their physical premises.

  • Business owners must also ensure that safe management measures continue to be in place. These measures include limiting each group size to no more than five persons, ensuring at least one-metre spacing between groups of diners or customers in queues, and implementing contact tracing and temperature taking for all customers. Businesses that fail to put in place effective safe distancing measures may be required to close.


Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Take-away and delivery services can continue, as long as baseline sanitation and hygiene measures such as temperature taking and frequent sanitisation continue to be observed. Reasonable steps should also be taken to ensure that delivery personnel observe at least a one-metre spacing at all times and do not cluster together.

  • As far as possible, collection and delivery should be spaced out and contactless – for example, by placing food orders at designated locations for pick-up by delivery personnel. 

 

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The Singapore Government has been providing financial support to businesses, through property tax rebates, rental waivers, and cash flow support. Grants are also available to support capacity building, especially for employee training and digital solutions which facilitate telecommuting. Wage subsidies are available (up to 75% for businesses that are not yet able to resume operations), to encourage employers to keep their employees.

  • Sector-specific support has been targeted at industries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis – e.g. tourism, aviation, aerospace, construction and MICE organisers, including enhanced wage and rental subsidies.

  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore is working with FIs to offer options for individuals and SMEs to lower their short term repayment obligations for their secured loans and to stay insured despite facing difficulties. Cost of business loans is also intended to be lowered further through the MAS' funding to banks and finance companies (at an interest rate of 0.1% to eligible FIs) and through MAS increasing its risk-share of loans under certain SME lending schemes to 90%.

  • Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, the monetary debt threshold for corporate insolvency has been temporarily raised from $10,000 to $100,000. The time period for responding to a statutory demand has also been lengthened from 21 days to 6 months.

  • To support the nationwide move towards digitisation, the Singapore Government will provide pay-outs to F&B and retail businesses to finance the costs of implementing e-payment systems, e-invoicing, and business process or e-commerce solutions.

  • Financial support will be made available for promising start-ups, to encourage matching private investments that can help sustain start-up innovation and entrepreneurship activities.
     

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Additional pay-outs are available for middle to low income Singaporeans who have lost their jobs or are placed on no-pay leave due to COVID-19, union members, and families who require urgent support.

  • Eligible self-employed Singaporeans will receive three quarterly cash pay-outs on top of allowances to encourage skills upgrading. Additional pay-outs are available to self-employed persons of lower income. In particular, taxi and private car hirers will receive special relief payments monthly to tide them through this period.

  • A platform has been set up to support employers in providing traineeships to fresh graduates entering the labour force, as well as mid-career workers seeking to upgrade their skills and start new careers. Wage incentives are available to encourage employers to hire those who have completed the relevant reskilling and traineeship schemes.

  • Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, the monetary debt threshold for personal bankruptcy has been temporarily raised from $15,000 to $60,000. The time period for responding to a statutory demand has also been lengthened from 21 days to 6 months.

  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore is working with banks and finance companies to help borrowers with their repayment obligations under existing residential mortgages, by deferring repayment of the principal or both principal and interest up to 31 December 2020. It is also possible to extend the tenure of the mortgage by the duration of the deferment period, to lower the monthly instalment amount following resumption of regular payments.

  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore is working with insurance companies to allow more flexible payment schemes for insurance policies. Individuals with life and health insurance policies whose premiums fall due between 1 April and 30 September 2020 are allowed to defer payments for up to six months. Individuals with general insurance policies (e.g. property and vehicle insurance) may also apply to their insurance companies for flexible instalment payment plans.

  • Several financial institutions have also started offering complimentary COVID-19 insurance cover to its customers.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  •  A 100% property tax rebate has been made available for tenants in all non-residential properties. The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act mandates that the landlord must pass this benefit on to the tenant, whether by way of payment or offset of rental fees.

  • Additional rental relief is also available for SME tenants in private non-residential properties, as well as commercial tenants in public non-residential properties.

  • A tenant who becomes unable to pay rent on account of cash-flow issues due to COVID-19 may obtain a statutory moratorium for temporary suspension of rent payment. A notice for relief must be served on the landlord, and any guarantors or sureties. Once the landlord receives such notice, it is precluded from taking action against the tenant for non-payment, including the following: (a) continuing or commencing court and insolvency proceedings due to the non-payment, (b) exercising a right of re-entry or forfeiture due to the non-payment, or (c) terminating the lease due to non-payment of rent and other monies. Such relief is available only for contracts where rent falls due on or after 1 February 2020, and for contracts that were entered into before 25 March 2020.

Local Contacts

Lorraine Tay - Bird & Bird LLP

 

South Africa

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • As of 1 June 2020, the South African government implemented further measures to ease the lockdown measures in place and open more sectors of the economy. South Africa has now entered alert level three of the lockdown.

  • South Africa will however soon enter an advanced level three lockdown, which is further easing of restrictions.A date has however seemingly not been set on when the restrictions will further be eased.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes, the following restrictions will be eased once SA enters the advanced level three lockdown:  

  • Commercially accredited licensed accommodation, such as hotels will be permitted to be operate, subject to strict guidelines regarding sanitation and social distancing. This excludes home sharing accommodation such as AirBnB.

  • Restaurants will be allowed to offer sit-down services, subject to strict guidelines regarding sanitation and social distancing, including the limitation of the capacity in restaurants.

  • Entertainment such as cinemas, theatres and casinos will be permitted to operate, subject to strict guidelines regarding sanitation and social distancing.

  • Personal care services, including the beauty industry and hairdressers will be permitted to operate, subject to strict guidelines regarding sanitation and social distancing.

  • Conferences and meetings for work and/ business purposes will be permitted, subject to strict guidelines regarding sanitation and social distancing and in line with the restrictions of public gatherings.

  • Non-contact sport such as golf, tennis and cricket will be permitted, subject to strict guidelines regarding sanitation and social distancing. Contact sports will only be permitted for training purposes.

  • Travel between provinces is will remain prohibited without a valid permit to do so.

  • Exercise in organised groups and gyms will remain prohibited. Exercise in public places is permitted (except spaces that are to remain closed during this period).

  • The wearing of face masks is compulsory in all public spaces.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

The following non-food retailers and service providers will be permitted to trade, once SA enters the advanced level 3 lockdown, subject to restrictions and guidelines:  

  • Casinos

  • Hotels, lodges and the like

  • Conference facilities

  • All on-site consumption of food and drink facilities

  • Theatres and cinemas

  • Museums

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

As it stands, only in as far as home delivery and collections of take away food is concerned. Bars are not permitted to operate except for the provision of take away and collection services. Alcohol remains prohibited.

However, once the advanced level three lockdown commences, sit down services will be permitted, subject to restrictions, guidelines and limitations on capacity.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

All similar businesses are permitted to operate collection and delivery of take away services.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

A short summary of the available relief to businesses is set out below:

  • The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has provided relief to film practitioners affected by the lockdown. This funding applies to producers already registered with the NFVF.

  • After negotiations with government, most banks have extended payment holidays on loan repayments to businesses.

  • The Department of Tourism has created a relief fund for SMMEs in the tourism industry.

  • Extension to the Employment Tax Rebate (ETI) Programme have been implemented. The ETI provides a rebate to employers for each employee between the ages of 18 and 29 and which earn within certain thresholds. The payment of these rebates have been extended to employees up to the age of 35, the amount payable in terms of the rebate have been extended and the payment date has been moved to facilitate payment during the lockdown period in order to assist eligible businesses.

  • The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has provided for the deferral of provisional tax payments for businesses with a turnover of under R50 Million per annum.

  • SARS has also announced that all businesses liable for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax may defer up to 20% of this payment until August 2020, this deferral is free of interest.

  • The Business growth and resilience facility (BGRF) was created by government to assist businesses supplying and manufacturing essential items during the COVID – 19 pandemic. Access to the BGRF is subject to certain prerequisites set out by government.

  • The SMME relief finance facility (SMMERF) was also set up to provide financial assistance to SMMEs for a period of six months from 2 April 2020. Access to this assistance is subject to certain prerequisites set out by government.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

A short summary of the available relief to employees is set out below:

  • The COVID-19 temporary employee/employer relief scheme (TERS) was created to provide emergency relief to enable employers to pay employees who are temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 crises for a period of three months from April 2020.

  • The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) short time / reduced working time programme allows employees to apply for ‘income replacement’ on a sliding scale up to a maximum amount. This relief could remain payable for a period of up to 12 months.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • Certain measures were announced by government to assist commercial tenants and provide competition law exemptions, these are:

    • rental payment suspensions and/or rental discounts;
    • limitations on the eviction of tenants; and
    • the suspension of or adjustment to lease agreement clauses which restrict certain tenants rom undertaking reasonable measures to protect the viability of their businesses during the lockdown.

  • In addition, the Property Industry Group has created a relief package for retail tenants. This package is only available to members who were in good standing with the Group before the commencement of the lockdown and provides relief to tenants by ensuring that the tenant will not be evicted for a period of two months, provided that no staff is retrenched during that period.

  • While the fund is primarily aimed at assisting SMMEs, assistance will be provided to larger businesses where funding is available.

Local Contacts

Eugene Honey - Adams & Adams

Spain

1. Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

The Spanish government has passed the fifth extension of the state of alarm in congress, meaning the emergency measures in place due to the coronavirus crisis will now last at least until June 7.

2. Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

The De-escalation depends on the phase were each region of Spain is according to the Government decisions in this respect. For all the territory, children and the parents (or child cares) can get out of their houses and, individual sports activities and short family walks are allowed. For those regions that already have moved towards phase 1: (i) for restaurants/cafes/pues, the terraces of the premises can be opened, limiting the number of tables allowed to 50% and (ii) the shops can also open with a limited capacity of 30% of the premises and provided that a minimum distance of 2 meters between customers is guaranteed. When this is not possible, only one customer will be allowed to stay. Shopping centres and shops with premises over 400 metres are excluded from this phase.

3. Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

4. Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Please see question 2.

5. Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Please see question 2.

6. Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

7. Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

Among other measures, the Spanish government is offering the guarantee of financial obligations of business vis-à-vis banks in financing incurred because of the COVID-19 situation (note that this measure is limited and subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions); payment of taxes for SME and self-employed individuals have been postponed; payment of social security contributions in sectors especially affected by the COVID-19 has been postponed; social security contributions whose payment should take place during a period of temporary collective suspension have been reduced up to 100% (depending on the number of employees).

8. Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

Aside from "social" measures and those measures referred to in section 7 above in respect of self-employed individuals and among others: employees dismissed or in a temporary collective suspension proceeding are to receive unemployment benefits although they do not comply with all the requirements and the unemployment benefits received during the state of alarm will not account to determine the maximum number of months during which such individual can received the benefits.

9. Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

In the absence of ad-hoc agreement, commercial tenants that are considered SMsE or self-employed individuals and whose landlord is a "large landlord" (i.e. any individual or entity that owns more than 10 real estate properties or more than 1,500 square meters) are not obliged to pay the rent during the state of alarm and 2 months thereafter provided that the activity of such tenant is suspended or highly affected because of the COVID-19 (certain thresholds are to be met), being the payment of such rents deferred during the remaining term of the agreement and up to 2 years.

Local Contacts

Lourdes Ayala - Bird & Bird LLP

Sweden

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

  • Sweden is not in lock down, but new recommendations and regulations have been issued to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in Sweden.

  • Sweden has issued an entry ban to the EU via Sweden until 15 June. The entry ban essentially applies to all foreign citizens travelling to Sweden from all countries except EU Member States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Swedish citizens are not affected by the entry ban. EU citizens and people who have a residence permit in Sweden may still enter the country for the purpose of returning to their homes and people with particularly urgent needs or who are to carry out essential functions in Sweden may enter the country.

  • To reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, Sweden also depends on people and businesses voluntarily following the advice issued the Swedish authorities.

  • All businesses and other operations in Sweden are obliged to act to decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

  • People are encourage to keep a distance of at least an arm's length to each other at all times, stay home when unwell and to not travel unless necessary.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

N/A.

  • Sweden is not in lock down. However, the Swedish authorities do not plan on easing the regulations that have been issued to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 at the moment.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

• Franchisees are obliged to follow the same recommendations and regulations as other businesses.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • All businesses in Sweden are permitted to be open.

  • All businesses in Sweden are obliged to act to decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19. For example, business may be obliged to limit the number of people allowed at the premises at the same time, find alternatives to queues at the checkout or mark the distance between people queuing on the floor.

  • Employers are encourage help their employees by, for example, adapting the workplace to reduce the risk of employees being exposed to infection, ensuring that employees can work from home when possible, adjusting work hours so it is possible for employees to not travel at rush-hour and by avoiding unnecessary travels.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Restaurants/cafes/bars must ensure that there are no crowds of people in queues, at tables or along buffets or bars. For example, restaurants/cafes/bars cannot operate across a bar where many people gather closely while waiting to order or be served. All visitors should be seated when eating or drinking.

  • Visitors must be able to keep their distance from each other. An arm's length can be used as a guidance for how far apart guests should stay.

  • The same regulations are applied for indoor and outdoor vendors.

  • Restaurants/cafes/bars that do not follow the regulations ensuring there are no crowds on the premises may be ordered to close.
 

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Business are allowed to operate take-away and delivery as usual provided that people waiting, collecting, or paying are not crowded together.

  • Businesses operating delivery have increased since the COVID-19 outbreak in Sweden, mainly in Stockholm.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

Sweden has passed a number of new regulations to support business affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, for example:

  • A system for short-term layoffs has been put into place and will remain throughout 2020, providing employers with economic support from the government for reducing their employees' working hours instead of terminating the employment. Employers' wage costs can be halved, with the central government covering a larger share of the costs. The system can be applied retroactively from 16 March 2020. Companies that make disbursement of dividends are generally not eligible.

  • General payroll taxes are reduced for pay-outs during March to June. Employers only need to pay 10,21 %, which covers the retirement pension fee. The reduction applies to 30 employees with a salary up to SEK 25 000 per employee and month. For higher salaries, the general payroll tax is the same as usual for amounts above SEK 25 000.

  • All employers will receive full compensation for the cost of sick pay for employees during April and May 2020. Employers will pay sick pay to their employees as usual, but will be compensated through payment to the employer's tax account. The first payments will be made after 12 May 2020.

  • The government guarantees 70 % of new loans that banks provide to companies experiencing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 virus. The guarantee will be issued to banks, which in turn will provide guaranteed loans to companies. The loans are limited to SEK 75 million per company. The new guarantee is mainly directed at small and medium sized enterprises.

  • Businesses can apply for a temporary payment respite of general payroll taxes, deducted tax and VAT, which may be granted for up to 12 months. The payment respite covers tax payments for 3 months, if the business reports monthly. For companies that report VAT on a quarterly or yearly basis, respite may only be granted for one reporting period. The respite must concern the period January to September 2020. Businesses must pay interest of 1,25 % on the respite amount as well as an application fee which amounts to 0,3 % of the respite amount per started calendar month.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Sweden has passed a number of new regulations to support employees / self-employed individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, for example:

  • The social security contributions of self-employed people have been reduced.

  • Sole traders with an F-tax card will be compensated by the state for sickness benefits for days 1 to 14 of their sickness period.

  • The sickness benefit standard deduction has temporarily been discontinued, which means that sick pay is paid from the first day at home (not the second as is normally the case). The new regulation is in force from 11 March to 31 May 2020. The medical certificate requirement from the eighth day of sickness has been temporarily suspended, which means that a doctor's certificate is no longer mandatory during the first two weeks people are absent from work due to illness to receive sick pay. The suspension applies from 13 March 2020 until further notice.

  •  Temporary changes to the Swedish unemployment benefit system have been implemented. These changes have been made to ensure that more people can receive unemployment benefits. Those who are self-employed can pause their business by temporarily ceasing operations to receive unemployment benefit. These changes are due to expire after 3 January 2021.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • The Swedish government has adopted regulations for a rent relief package due to the COVID-19 pandemic directed towards certain exposed industries. The relief package consist of a temporary discount on fixed rental costs were the Swedish state carries parts of the landlord's costs for rental discounts which have been agreed between the landlord and the tenant.

  • Exposed industries cover non-consumables, hotels and restaurants but also other industries such as retail, lodging, dentists and hair and body care.

  •  Landlords that reduce the fixed rental costs for tenants in exposed industries during the period 1 April to 30 June 2020 can apply for compensation for part of the reduction. The compensation will be paid by the state with a maximum of 50 % of the reduction, or a maximum of 25 % of the original fixed rental cost. Compensation can be applied for during the period 1 July to 31 August 2020.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Gabriel Lidman - Bird & Bird LLP

Thailand

Is the country currently in lock down?

No.

  • State of emergency declared on March 26, 2020, currently extended to May 31, 2020.

  • Partial lockdown in place with a six-hour curfew between 10:00PM and 4:00AM every day.

  • Interstate travel restrictions imposed.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

N/A

  • Parks, golf courses, driving ranges, and facilities for sports that do not involve close interaction among people can reopen on May 3, 2020. Team sports remain suspended.

  • Government to assess situation every 14 days.

  • See also comments below in relation to non-food retail and restaurants bars and cafes

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

  • No amendment of franchise laws.

  • New franchising regulations entered into force recently on February 4, 2020.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

No.

  • From May 3, 2020 onwards, barbers and hairdressers (only for cut and wash), pet grooming centres and pet hospitals can operate subject to disinfection and physical distancing requirements.

  • Retail businesses such as departmental stores, markets, street vendors, and flea markets can operate as usual from May 3, 2020.

  • Health clinics can reopen but beauty clinics remain closed.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

  • Restaurants and cafes can operate from May 3, 2020 onwards, but have to seat customers 1.5 metres apart, and the sale of alcoholic beverages is not permitted.

  • Bars and entertainment venues are not permitted to open.

  • Alcohol ban extended to May 31, 2020.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Restaurants/cafes/bars can offer delivery and takeaway services for non-alcoholic products only. 

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • Reduction of withholding tax from 3% to 1.5% for payments made between April 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 in relation to income from service fees, commission fees, intellectual property rights, and more.

  • SMEs can claim 300% of actual salary costs paid to qualifying employees from April to July 2020 as tax-deductible expenses.

  • SMEs enrolled in the Soft Loan program for COVID-19 and committed to the “single account” program can claim 150% of actual loan interest paid from April 1 to December 31, 2020, as tax-deductible expenses.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • New regulations published under the Social Security Act, allowing affected employees to claim compensation of up to 70% of their daily wages from the Social Security Office if they meet the requirements.

  • Automatic visa extensions and temporary suspension of 90-day reporting requirement for non-Thai citizens, up to July 31, 2020.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

  • Request for electricity bill cut for businesses is being considered after Cabinet’s approval to cut electricity bill for households.

  • For Thai airlines, 50% reduction in office rental fees is implemented by the Government, among other assistance measures offered to the aviation industry.

Local Contacts

Tiziana Sucharitkul - Tilleke & Gibbins

 

The Netherlands

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.*

The Netherlands has introduced a partial lockdown, coined ‘intelligent lockdown’. This includes the following:

  • employees are encouraged to work from home when possible;
  • all people should keep 1,5m distance from others who do not belong to their households;
  • in principle all events are prohibited until 1 September;

However, lock down restrictions are being eased provided that the virus can be kept under control. For example, since 1 June people are allowed to gather outside again provided that they keep 1,5m distance from each other and cinema's, restaurants and cafes, theatres and museums are allowed to reopen under certain conditions.
 

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

Restrictions are being eased:

  • Since 11 May primary schools - including special education, day care and home care – opened their doors and certain businesses which are ‘contact professions’(e.g. hair dressers, nail salons and physiotherapists) were also allowed to open again. NB: the government announced that schools in secondary education and universities are allowed to open on 15 June.

  • Since 1 June people are allowed to gather outside again provided they keep 1,5m distance from each other and cinema's, restaurants and cafes, theatres and museums are allowed to reopen under certain conditions, such as a maximum number of visitors. The government already announced that they are hoping to increase the maximum number of visitors to 100 persons on 1 July for cinema's, restaurants and cafes and cultural organisations. Organized events, such as church services, weddings, and funerals, are also included.

  • The Government furthermore announced that as of 1 July sport clubs and fitness clubs, wellnesses and casino's will also be allowed to open their doors under certain conditions and that as of 1 September all indoor and outdoor sports are allowed for all ages and sports matches can take place without an audience (professional football too).

Have local franchise laws been amended?

N/A

  • There is currently no franchise law in the Netherlands.

  • In February 2020, a draft Dutch Franchise Act was submitted to the House of Representatives. The draft law is currently awaits voting by the House of Representatives. We are not aware of any intentions to adapt the current draft due to COVID-19.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.**

  • Yes, non-food retailers are permitted to be open, as long as they have taken measures to ensure people within their stores can maintain 1,5m distance from each other.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Yes, as of 1 June restaurants and cafes are allowed to open from 12.00 pm, provided that there is a maximum of 30 people inside (excl. personnel) and that they can keep 1,5m distance, guests make a reservation and that there is a conversation between the business owner and the guests in advance to assess whether there are any risks.

  • Terraces are also allowed to open from 12.00 pm. There is no restriction on the maximum number of people, but all guests have to be seated at a table and they should keep 1,5m distance (unless they belong to the same household).

  • The government has furthermore announced that they are hoping to increase the maximum number of guests for restaurants and cafes to 100 persons on 1 July.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Yes, restaurants/cafes/bars are allowed to operate take-away and delivery, but have to ensure all customers and employees can maintain 1,5m distance from other persons.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • Yes, the government provides emergency aid to businesses, including income compensation, (partial) funding of salaries of employees, tax relief and credit facilitation.

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes, for example:

  • Employees in professions which the government has designated as 'crucial' or 'vital' can make use of childcare services;
  • The government provides emergency aid to employees / self-employed individuals, including income and salary compensation;
  • Self-employed individuals can apply for tax relief.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.***

  • There is currently no relief provided by the government specifically to commercial tenants.
  • However, sector organisations of tenants and landlords have concluded an agreement containing guidelines for how to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis regarding rent payments. The main guideline is that rent payments for the months of April, May and June may be suspended from 50% up to 100% by retailers who have suffered a decrease in turnover of at least 25% over this period. Parties will at a later time discuss the possibility of remitting rent payment obligations.
  • However, these guidelines are not legally binding and individual landlords can therefore refuse the suggested suspensions of payments.

Local Contacts

Roelien van Neck - Bird & Bird LLP

 

*Partially.
**but not all non-food retailers.
***from sector organizations and on a voluntary basis.

UAE

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • Overnight curfew (the ‘national sterilisation program’) remains in place.

  • Precise timing of curfew or travel restrictions will differ, depending on Emirate.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Depending on Emirate, select public places have reopened with reduced capacity (the exact percentage of restriction differs depending on nature of the public place and the Emirate).

  • Restrictions preventing large gatherings (precise numbers may vary) are in place.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Reduced trading hours for retailers (which differ depending on the Emirate).

  • Additional requirements apply in relation to trying on such things as clothing, jewellery and testing perfumes or make-up.

  • Entry into retail outlets may be limited by: (1) capacity, (2) age restrictions, or (3) duration of visit.

  • Visitors may face temperature checks and be required to have PPE (masks and gloves etc.)

  • Reopening stores must have all staff tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to work.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes. (subject to 30% capacity restrictions)

  • Same restrictions as non-food retailers apply for restaurants, cafes and bars.

  • In addition, dine-in seating capacity is reduced (exact percentage of restriction depends on the Emirate).

  • Disposable cutlery to be used, additional sanitisation rules apply.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Delivery and take away services can continue.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • Reductions in various fees (such as utilities, commercial licences, municipality fees etc.)

  • Amount of reduction differs depending on Emirate or freezone where the business is located.

  • Guidelines for private sector employers with expatriate workforces have been issued to reduce labour costs, such as:

    • putting employees on paid leave;
    • agreeing on unpaid leave;
    • agreeing on a temporary/permanent salary reduction; and
    • terminating employment for operational reasons

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes – stimulus plans for those sectors most affected by COVID-19. 

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • Differs depending on landlord – relief has ranged from deferring rent payments, rent waivers, or waiver of penalties associated with late rent payment.

  • Commercial tenants struggling to pay rents are exempt from eviction.

Local Contacts

Melissa Murray - Bird & Bird LLP

 

United Kingdom

Is the country currently in lock down?

  • No, regulations came into force on 23 March 2020 requiring people to stay at home and only leave for very limited purposes, these have been eased from 29 May 2020 as lockdown measures relaxed – please see section below on the easing of lockdown.

  • Certain businesses and venues are still closed including:

    • pubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs
    • hair, beauty and nail salons;
    • libraries, community centres, and youth centres
    • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as gyms, spas, bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities
    • communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
    • places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families and for individual prayer
    • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use

  • More businesses are now allowed to open and their employees can travel to work, provided they cannot work from home. Returning to work if you cannot work from home is now actively encouraged - see section below on the easing of lockdown

     

  • Lockdown/closure regulations are reviewed by the government every three weeks.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

  • Yes, from 11 May, the government is encouraging people who cannot work from home to return to work. If people can work from home they should continue to work from home. Please note the information below only applies to England different and more restrictive rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open – such as food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research.

  • All non-essential retail stores are allowed to open provided they comply with social distancing measures

  • Retail estate agents are allowed to open – viewings can be carried out and removal firms and conveyancers can restart operations

  • Car showrooms and outdoor markets can re-open if they are COVID-secure

  • Workers such as cleaners and plumbers who need to enter someone else's home for their job, you are allowed to return to work.

  • Employers and employees should stay safe in workplaces by following “COVID-19 Secure” Guidelines. The government has issued 8 “COVID-19 secure” guidelines for a range of different industries such as shops and banks; offices; restaurants offering takeaway and delivery and working in people's homes.

  • As soon as practicable, workplaces should be set up to meet the new COVID-19 Secure Guidelines. Employers should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with their employees and trade unions.In particular, workplaces should, where possible, ensure employees can maintain a two-metre distance from others, and wash their hands regularly. There should be frequent cleaning of surfaces and equipment and staggering arrival and departure times

  • There is no longer any limit to the amount of time you can spend outside doing exercise, or in "open-air recreation" like sunbathing in England and, from Friday, in Scotland

  • Six people can meet outside either in parks or now also in private gardens - provided those from different households stay 2 metres apart

  • People in England will also be able to exercise outside with up to five others from different households. That means small groups of sport teams can resume fitness sessions, but social distancing must be maintained

  • Certain outdoor sports facilities can now be opened such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and bowling greens.

  • People in England are free to drive as far as they like to destinations such as parks and beaches. But they should not travel to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, where the rules are different.

  • Guidance is to aim to wear a face covering in enclose spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others they would not normally meet.

  • Face masks are required to be worn on public transport

  • From Monday 1 June, all early years settings can reopen, and schools will start welcoming back pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in smaller class sizes

  • If the conditions are right from

    • 4 July the government may allow some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas). They should also meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines

Have local franchise laws been amended?

N/A

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

  • Yes, all non-food retail businesses are permitted to open

  • Shopping centres may now open but should limit the number of customers entering

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

No.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

  • Yes, food delivery and takeaway at restaurants, cafes and pubs/bars can remain operational. This covers the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises.

  • This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers. Businesses are encouraged to take orders online or by telephone.

  • Planning regulation has been changed to enable restaurants, cafés and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so.

  • Restaurants will need to follow the Government Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) issued on 25 March 2020 which sets out guidelines to be followed in relation to food hygiene and social distancing for food businesses and for restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery this includes:

    • Any food handler who is unwell should not be at work. If they have symptoms, they should follow government advice and stay at home.
    • The advice on social distancing is to maintain a distance of 2 metres between individuals. This advice applies to both inside the food business and in the external public areas where customers may need to queue.
    • Customers should be encouraged to order online, by app, or by phone.
    • Customers waiting to order or collect should wait in a designated area where a 2-metre distance from other people can be maintained. If this is not possible, customers should enter the premises one at a time and only when their order is ready to be made or collected.
    • If running a delivery service, you should advise all delivery drivers that no goods or food should be physically handed over to the customer. There should instead be a set drop-off point agreed in advance.
    • After ringing the doorbell, the driver should maintain a safe distance from the door and oversee the delivery of the goods. The goods should not be left unattended.

  • Government Guidance on Working Safely during coronavirus for restaurants offering takeaway and delivery requires such businesses to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with employees.

  • As well as the general requirements in relation to social distancing, regular hand washing and surface cleaning, the government guidance sets out a number of specific steps relating to kitchens and customer facing areas include:

    • minimising contact between kitchen workers and front of house workers, delivery drivers or riders, for example, by having zones from which delivery drivers can collect packaged food items
    • using physical barriers between front of house workers and customers
    • spacing workstations 2m apart in kitchens and providing floor markings to show this.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

  • Yes there are a range of measures including:

    • COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility - scheme launched by the Bank of England to help investment grade companies to bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
    • Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) - businesses with turnover of between £45 million and £500 million can borrow up to £25m under this scheme with Government guarantee of 80%, loans offered at commercial rates of interest
    • Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 (up to 25% of turnover), and the cash should be accessible within 24 hours of approval for most firms. This is a 100% government-backed loan scheme with the government guaranteeing 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years and after first year the interest rate is set at 2.5% per annum. A network of accredited lenders will deliver the scheme. Lenders are not permitted to take personal guarantees or take recovery action over a borrower’s personal assets. The borrower remains 100% liable for the debt.
    • Grants are available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England that operate from premises with a rateable value of less than £51,000 such businesses are eligible for cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.
    • Deferral of VAT and Time to Pay tax schemes available
    • Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to technology and research-focussed businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, as well as support people at home in circumstances like those during the coronavirus outbreak

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

  • Yes, the main employee scheme is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

    • all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis
    • To qualify for the scheme employees must have been on a payroll on 19 March 2020 - wages backdated to 1 March 2020
    • Employees that are full time, part time, and on flexible/zero hours contracts qualify
    • Covers up to 80% of salary (up to £2,500/month) of anyone not working (but retaining job) as a result of Covid-19
    • Scheme to run until the end of October, with greater flexibility introduced from 1 July to encourage employers to fund part of the cost and get employees back to work (even on a part time basis).
    • From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time. Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.
    • In August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions.
    • In September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
    • In October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.

  • Self employed support scheme

    • Covers self-employed workers with trading profits of up to £50,000 who earn the majority of their income via self-employment
    • Taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits over the last three years (up to £2,500/ month)for those adversely affected by COVID-19
    • Those eligible will be able to claim online from 13 May 2020, and once a claim is approved payment will be received within 6 working days
    • Those eligible under the Self-employed support scheme will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

  • Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction

    • These measures mean no business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss payment up to 30 June 2020
    • There is an option for the Government to extend this period if necessary

  • All property occupiers in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors including restaurants will receive 100% rates relief between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 with no limit to Rateable Values

  • The government is introducing temporary new measures to safeguard commercial tenants against aggressive debt recovery actions during the coronavirus pandemic

    • Statutory demands and winding up petitions issued to commercial tenants to be temporarily voided
    • landlords prevented from using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent

Local Contacts

Mark Abell & Shelley Nadler - Bird & Bird LLP

 

USA

Is the country currently in lock down?

Partial.

2 states are still under lockdown.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • Over the last several weeks, at least 18 states have eased their lockdown restrictions.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

Partial.

  • The Federal Trade Commission has not provided any guidance.

  • 7 of the 14 states that regulate franchise sales have extended the period for filing renewal filings.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Varies by state and the type of business

  • States that have reopened are allowing retail stores to operate at reduced capacity

  • Some states also are allowing gyms and hair salons to reopen

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

  • Varies by State

  • In some states, dining in is permitted with a limit on capacity ranging from 20% to 50%

    In other states, only outdoor dining is permitted with capacity limitations

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Allowed in all states

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • The CARES Act allows businesses to obtain loans to cover 2 months of payroll

  • Loans are forgiven if the business maintains the same employment level

  • An additional stimulus package is under discussion

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • Stimulus checks of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child have been sent to all taxpayers below certain income thresholds ($99,000 for single taxpayers/$198,000 per family)

  • An additional stimulus package is under discussion

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

No.

  • None other than a suspension of evictions

  • A number of commercial tenants have stopped paying rent and landlords have started to sue.

Local contacts

Robert Smith - Quarles & Brady LLP

Vietnam

Is the country currently in lock down?

Yes.

  • Vietnam has been prohibiting non-Vietnamese nationalities to enter the country since 22 March 2020, except for those who enter for diplomatic and official purposes which will be accepted on a case by case basis.

  • Land borders with neighboring countries (i.e., Laos, Cambodia and China) have also been closed entirely or partially.

  • Vietnam also suspended granting visa for foreigners from 18 March 2020.

  • Under Directive 16/CT-TTg dated 31 March 2020 of the Prime Minister, from 1 to 22 April 2020, Vietnam implemented the nationwide social distancing measure. Accordingly, individuals are allowed to go out for working or essential demands (such as buying foods, etc.) or in cases of emergencies only. Moreover, only essential businesses (such as food-, medicine- related businesses) are allowed to be open.

  • Inter-province travel restrictions have also been imposed.

Are lock down restrictions beginning to be eased?

Yes.

  • From 23 April 2020, the nationwide social distancing was eased.

  • On 24 April 2020, the Prime Minister issued Directive 19/CT-TTg providing that businesses, except for some non-essential services such as beauty clinics, karaoke, massage parlors, bars, entertainment venues, are allowed to re-open.

  • Provinces/cities are classified in three categories, i.e. high-risk, risk, and low-risk, for COVID-19 controlling purposes. The high-risk areas including some districts in Hanoi, Bac Ninh province and Ha Giang province still must comply with the social distancing requirements.

Have local franchise laws been amended?

No.

Are non-food retailers permitted to be open?

Yes.

  • Under Directive 19/CT-TTg, non-food retailers have been permitted to be open, except for retailers in high-risk localities, i.e. some districts in Hanoi, Ha Giang province and Bac Ninh province.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars permitted to be open for dining in?

Yes.

  • Under Directive 19/CT-TTg, bars are not permitted to be open. Meanwhile, restaurants and cafes can re-provide services.

Are restaurants/cafes/bars allowed to operate take-away and delivery?

Yes.

  • Takeaways can be provided, the social distancing measures originally introduced only prohibited on-site service provision, not takeaways.

Is the government providing support to businesses?

Yes.

  • On 8 April 2020, the Vietnamese Government enacted Decree 41/2020/ND-CP to extend the time-limit for payment of taxes and rental.

  • On 16 April 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued Official Letter No. 2698/BCT-DTDL providing a reduction of 10% of power cost for enterprises in three months.

  • Credit institutions are instructed to support enterprises by increasing the possibility for capital access by enterprises by means of increasing the capital availability, reducing interest and internal fees, etc. (Prime Minister's Directive 11/CT-TTg dated 4 March 2020).

  • For labor-related matters, the Vietnam Social Security allows a suspension of payment of pension and death funds (Official Letter 860/BHXH-BT dated 17 March 2020). The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor allows an extension of trade union fee payment in six first months of 2020 (Official Letter 245/TLD dated 18 March 2020).

  • Loans for salary payment are available by the Vietnam Bank of Social Policy (Government Resolution 42/NQ-CP dated 9 April 2020).

Is the government providing support to employees / self-employed individuals?

Yes.

  • A subsidy of VND 1,800,000 (approx. USD80) per month for each employee whose labor contract is suspended or who takes leave without paid for from one month (Resolution 42/NQ-CP of the Government dated 9 April 2020, Art. II.41).

  • A subsidy of VND 1,000,000 (approx. USD 45) per month for each employee whose labor contract is terminated (Resolution 42/NQ-CP of the Government dated 9 April 2020, Art. II.4).

  • A subsidy of VND 1,000,000 (approx. USD 45) per month for each self-employed labor (Resolution 42/NQ-CP of the Government dated 9 April 2020, Art. II.4).

  • The above subsidies shall be applied for up to three months and are subject to certain conditions specified in Decision 15/2020/QĐ-TTg dated 24 April 2020 of the Prime Minister.

Is there relief for commercial tenants?

Yes.

  • In addition to the extension of payment time-limit of rental under Decree 41/2020/ND-CP, some provincial Governments such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City also offer a reduction of rental for tenants who rent real estate from the Government. The reduction regulations and rates vary from province to province and city to city.

  • For tenants who rent real estate from private owners, Vietnam central and local government have called for private owners to reduce rental for their tenants. However, it is subject to the willingness of such private owners to provide any relief to tenants.

Local Contacts

Thomas Joseph Treutler - Tilleke & Gibbins