With the entire country under quarantine, Italy is one of the countries hardest-hit by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. With over 10,000 cases and 631 deaths, it is the region hardest-hit by the virus outside of China.
A relief measure for citizens facing difficulties due to the virus was announced by the country’s deputy finance minister on Tuesday. Laura Casteli announced that the government would suspend mortgage payments for individuals and households as a relief measure.
In addition, on Wednesday the country earmarked 25 million euros ($28.3 billion) to fight the epidemic, with half the amount to be used immediately and the other half to be kept in reserve, according to the minister for the economy Roberto Gualtieri.
Since Monday, citizens have been ordered to stay at home and will require permission for essential travel. With a heavy impact already visible on the economy, the move to suspend mortgage payments is expected to provide relief for Italian citizens.
A similar measure was announced by some banks in the United Kingdom, which has 382 confirmed cases and 6 deaths from the virus. The Bank of England announced an emergency rate cut of half a percentage point, while RBS and NatWest have both announced that they would defer mortgage payments on a ‘case by case’ payments for those who were facing financial difficulties due to the virus, the Manchester Evening News reported.
UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak also announced a £30 billion fiscal stimulus plan to tackle the economic impacts of the virus. Among the UK’s relief measures include a move to make statutory sick pay available to everyone forced to self-isolate due to the virus, with small to medium sized businesses to receive refunds for the sick pay they have to dole out.
The UN trade agency, UNCTAD, estimated that the slowdown in the global economy due to the coronavirus could cost the global economy $1 trillion in 2020.