Israel Approves Extra Funding for Small Businesses Hit by Pandemic Closures
Israel’s cabinet has agreed to budget NIS 8 billion ($2.3 billion) to assist the country’s small-business owners and self-employed, who have been beleaguered by over a month of closures and other drastic measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus. According to the Finance Ministry, businesses will be eligible for grants of up to NIS 400,000 under the agreement, reached on Friday morning, while the self-employed will receive a second one-time payment amounting to a certain percentage of their monthly income. Many of these Israelis do not qualify for unemployment compensation, which is generally reserved for salaried workers. There was an upsurge of resentment this week when restrictions were relaxed on certain small businesses, including those dealing in housewares, and three stores belonging to the Swedish home furnishing giant Ikea saw it as an opportunity to open its own doors, drawing customers away from the smaller shops. Those more concerned with the pandemic were angered by the sight of relatively large crowds – some of the people unmasked – snaking through the Ikea showrooms.