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Finland to grant almost one billion euros in support to companies

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s government will grant crisis support worth nearly a billion euros to companies hit by the economic blow from the coronavirus outbreak, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintila said on Thursday.

Previously the Finnish government had backed loans and granted mostly investment funding to companies, but the new amount will be direct support to mitigate the sudden drop in companies’ revenue, Lintila told a news conference. [L8N2BW3CF]

“With the new cost support we wish to prevent a wave of company bankruptcies and job losses. The aim is to promote companies’ swift recovery from the corona crisis and to avoid furloughs turning into dismissals,” Lintila said in a statement.

Last week, the government decided to grant some direct financial support to restaurants which it had ordered to sell only takeaway food between April 4 and May 31, but Lintila said the new support would be for all companies regardless of their field of activity.

He said a clear drop in revenue caused by the coronavirus outbreak would be a prerequisite for getting the government support which the state treasury will handle.

Companies can spend the money on their fixed expenses such as rent or wages, he added.

By Wednesday, Finland had 6,054 confirmed coronavirus cases and 284 deaths, with the epidemic showing signs of slowing down.

Children returned back to daycare centres and elementary schools on Thursday, as the government began to ease its coronavirus related restrictions.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean