New lockdown would cost Spanish firms 1.8 bln euros a week, study says

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MADRID, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Spanish companies would lose 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion) a week in revenues if a new nationwide lockdown was ordered, with small and medium size enterprises accounting for 60%, a study published on Monday said.

Some 480,000 jobs would be at risk if Spain imposed restrictions similar to those in March-June when Spaniards were confined to their homes and most non-essential industries were closed, the study published by the CEPYME association for small businesses said.

Unlike Britain, France, Germany and some other European nations, Spain held off imposing nationwide stay-at-home orders in the autumn or this year despite a third wave of new infections in the past six weeks.

Regional authorities have instead rolled out a patchwork of curfews, limits on business opening hours and restrictions on social gatherings.

In the final months of 2020, CEPYME estimates those regional measures cost companies about 1.2 billion euros a week, with construction, hospitality and retail businesses the worst hit.

As the economy has contracted, the number of Spaniards registered as jobless jumped to a more than four-year high of 3.89 million in December, or 22% higher than a year earlier. About 755,000 more workers are on state-supported furlough.

Julian Perez, the study’s author, said it was difficult to calculate how many firms would be put out of business.

“For a couple of weeks or a month companies can stay afloat even with no turnover … but after several months of being shut down there comes a point where any additional measure is like the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he told reporters.

CEPYME called for government support to be expanded and better targeted towards ailing businesses.

($1 = 0.8281 euros) (Reporting by Nathan Allen, Editing by Inti Landauro and Edmund Blair)

Photo – A pedestrian walks along Callao Square in central Madrid, Spain, 25 January 2021. Madrid’s regional government has imposed an earlier closing of bars and restaurants at 21 hours and a general lockdown curfew at 22 to stop one further spike of COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the country. EPA-EFE/RODRIGO JIMENEZ

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