S.Korea sets $8.5 bln package to fight new coronavirus wave – finmin

SEOUL – South Korea unveiled a fresh 9.3 trillion won ($8.49 billion) package on Tuesday to support small businesses hit by a third wave of coronavirus and those vulnerable to unemployment due to the outbreak.

Of the total package, 5.6 trillion won will be used to fund cash handouts to coronavirus-struck small businesses, temporary or freelance workers and taxi drivers affected by the prolonged pandemic, the finance ministry said.

Some 2.9 trillion won will be used to support small and medium-sized businesses including ski resorts and hotels, which received damage from the government’s year-end special COVID-19 regulations, and to keep more Koreans in jobs.

The South Korean government has added new restrictions this week such as banning on gatherings of more than four people and suspending ski resorts and tourist sports, aimed at stopping the virus spread during Christmas and New Year holidays.

Another 0.8 trillion won is aimed at strengthening the public health system.

The ministry said the cash handouts will be offered starting from Jan. 11, and expects that the latest measures could help around a total 5.8 million people.

On Monday, the country vowed to speed up efforts to launch a coronavirus vaccination programme as it continued to report near-record daily cases and discovered its first cases of the coronavirus variant linked to Britain.

Meanwhile, the $8.5 billion package will be funded by the finance ministry’s reserve fund, leftover budget for the year as well as 2021 budget, the ministry said in a statement. — REUTERS

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