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Relaunching retail and tourism and offering support for SMEs, the main lockdown exit measures in Europe. Romania’s strategy makes no exception

All European countries took certain measures to protect and restart their economies after the lockdown period. Among governments’ priorities, retail, tourism and SMEs have benefited from most measures, considering that these areas have been the most impacted by the Covid-19 epidemics across Europe. Romania has so far taken measures like direct funding support for SMEs, as well as deferred taxes and waivers for penalties for late payments and will focus on a retail relaunch strategy after the exit from the state of emergency.

Many European countries are already in the second phase of the Covid-19 epidemics evolution, implementing exit strategies from the lockdown. More than half of EMEA countries monitored by Colliers International in terms of government stimulus and strategy have already outlined and some even deployed a phased exit strategy from their national lockdown, with many targeting retail, tourism and SMEs. In terms of real estate, the vast majority of European countries have focused their initial strategy around the reopening of retail in a variety of forms, alongside schools.

Measures maintain social and physical distancing

Most phased exits concern reopening retail shops and services, with DIY, garden centres and hair salons top of the list. In the vast majority of cases, the HoReCa sector reopening will follow in late May or early June, according to specialists. Some European countries also have a school reopening strategy, with kindergartens being favoured over primary or secondary education levels, thus providing greater capacity for parents to return to work. In Southern Europe, however, including Romania, the current guidance states schools will not open until autumn.

“Very few countries have explicitly set out policies around returning to the office or provided guidance for the use of public transport, with the exception of the obligation to wear face masks in a lot of countries. For those countries that have a guidance for this, there is a clear capacity cap in terms of usability, to maintain social and physical distancing. Excepting Czechia, national borders remain closed with national travel restricted”, says Laurentiu Lazar, Managing Partner at Colliers International.
Exiting the lockdown - the great comeback

Romania, direct funding support for SMEs

One of the most important measures taken by Romania for the business sector’s recovery has been direct funding support for SMEs, micro enterprises and small businesses, which has been rolled out fairly recently. At the same time, the Government allowed companies with no late payments to banks to request postponed loan repayment as long as they hold a certificate issued by the Government which shows a major decline in business in March on account of the state of emergency. Also, some taxes could be deferred and some penalties for late payments have been waived. 

The state also decided to cover a technical unemployment payment of up to 75% of the average gross wage in the economy for people made redundant in this period, which has been, arguably, the most utilized state facility thus far. The government promised to shoulder part of the wages going forward if companies rehire these people, but no specifics are currently clear regarding this. While most measures have been geared towards SMEs, government officials also stated that they would come forward with aid for bigger companies. Specifically, for the real estate sector, a new law adopted by the Parliament, yet to be ratified by the President, offers landlords the chance to not pay income tax on rental revenues through 2020 if they reduce their tenants’ rents. 

Support measures for real estate in Europe

Some of the biggest European countries have taken extensive economic measures to protect their economies, including the real estate sector. In Italy, a law decree on 18th March provides a tax credit - 60% of the rent of March 2020 for shops and boutiques, subject to extension. In France, a law protects SMEs from eviction in the event they cannot meet rent or service charge payments, starting 12 March until 2 months after the end of the state emergency. 

In Germany and the United Kingdom, the governments imposed a moratorium on evictions, while in Hungary tenant evictions are suspended until the end of the state of emergency. Other countries, like Greece, pushed for a reduction in rents while also providing compensatory measures to landlords, while in Austria, rent subsidies were offered by the state if certain conditions were met. 


Related Experts

Laurentiu Lazar

Managing Partner & Head of Investment | Romania

Bucharest

Laurentiu, Managing Partner at Colliers International Romania, has over 14 years of experience in real estate services including valuation, advisory and investment. He joined Colliers in 2007 as a real estate valuer and in 2009 he was promoted to Head of Valuation and Advisory Services, with the responsibility to expand the valuation team in Romania. In 2015, he became Head of Investment, developing the Capital Markets services and later appointed as Senior Partner within Colliers International Romania in 2016, managing over 20 experts. As of march 2018, Laurentiu was promoted Managing Partner.

Before joining Colliers, Laurentiu worked for 10 years at Vodafone Romania/Connex, holding different management positions within Marketing and Customer Operations Divisions. Between 2014 and 2017 he has been Vice-President of ANEVAR (Romanian Association of Valuers).

In parallel, I was involved raising funds for various projects, such as Teach for Romania, The Romanian Foundation for Neurology and Epilepsy and “Prietenia” Association.

Quote: „When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” – Wayne W. Dyer

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Silviu Pop

Head of Research | Romania

Bucharest

Before joining Colliers mid-2017 as Head of Research for Romania, Silviu Pop worked with ING Bank for close to three years as an economist, covering macroeconomic/financial market themes for Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia. His previous professional experience includes working almost 7 years as a financial journalist at various media outlets in Romania, including the sole business-oriented TV station in Romania, where he hosted a daily show for a period of time; during this interval,  he won a number of scholarships, including a stint with Reuters. He holds a BSc in economics at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies.

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