'Stay at home!'
Today, the Prime Minister, Minister of State, Xavier Bettel, has made a statement at the Chamber of Deputies about the Government's measures to face COVID-19. This was followed by a statement by the Minister of Health, Paulette Lenert.
'We find ourselves in an exceptional and extraordinary situation. A situation we have never had in Luxembourg before. What is most important now - and I repeat myself - is to slow down and limit the spread of the virus. We are fighting this virus and before all have to protect those in our society who are most at risk. We all share this responsibility ', said the Prime Minister during his statement at the Chamber of Deputies.
Before giving more details on the various measures, the Prime Minister wanted to send a very clear message to the public: 'Stay at home! This is the primordial principle which should guide our daily routines. Stay home as much as possible. We must reduce social contacts to what is strictly necessary.'
The Government underlines the absolute necessity to respect the measures which were adopted in order to slow down the spread of the virus COVID-19 through the population.
Traffic on public roads is restricted to the following activities:
- going to health services in case of an emergency and for interventions that cannot be postponed,
- purchase of food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities,
- going to the place of work if other measures i.e. home office are not possible,
- assistance and care for the elderly and dependent people, disabled people or particularly vulnerable people,
- due to a case of force majeure or a situation of necessity,
Going out into the fresh air is allowed, under the strict condition of avoiding social contact and observing the precautionary instructions and measures. Finally, it was decided that all playgrounds will remain closed until further notice.
Declaration of a state of crisis
After an extraordinary session of the Extraordinary Government Council this morning (17.03.2020), the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers held an exchange of views with the Conference of Presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Bureau of the Council of State. In close consultation with all the institutional partners, and with the agreement of the Grand Duke, it was decided to prepare the declaration of a state of crisis in accordance with Article 32(4) of the Constitution.
Thus, the Prime Minister, Minister of State, Xavier Bettel, announced his intention to declare a state of crisis on the national territory. A draft grand ducal regulation declaring a state of crisis and providing for urgent measures will be submitted to the Government Council on 18 March.
The declaration of the state of crisis is an extraordinary decision which gives the Government the possibility to set up emergency measures in order to face the crisis. Thus, a regulatory and legal framework is established, in line with the Luxembourg Constitution: the scope covered by this Article is limited to measures which cannot be taken in good time through the normal legislative procedure. The Chamber of Deputies can, at every moment, suspend or revoke the state of crisis: Parliamentary control is this fully guaranteed.
The Ministry of Health's internal Crisis Unit, Medical Centres and Teleconsultation
During her statement to the Chamber of Deputies, the Minister of Health, Paulette Lenert, stated that the Ministry of Health has moved to the next stage of its preparation and planning in order to best anticipate the evolution of the crisis and the measures to be taken. An internal crisis unit within the Ministry of Health has been set up.
The focus is on a continual monitoring of the hospital requirements, in terms of both personnel and equipment. Hospital capacities will have to be increased. Moreover, a large number of orders of medical equipment and protective material have been made. As soon as they are completed, the distribution strategy can be deployed. The Minister insisted on reassuring the population and the health professionals: 'All of the concerned health professionals will be supplied with adequate protective gear.'
Moreover, the Minister announced that, starting from 10 a.m. tomorrow, Medical Centres will be able to receive patients with respiratory infections. The objective is to separate the flows and to improve triage, as well as the diagnostic of the infected patients. Currently, a number of options in the East of the country are being studied.
Finally, Paulette Lenert reminded that medical teleconsultation has been put in place. This does not mean that clinics are now closed. They will continue to operate differently, in order to better protect the patients' health.
New measures decided upon by the Government Council of 17 March
'The Government is not going to abandon anybody. We are doing everything to soften the impact and overcome this crisis, also on an economic level. The impact of COVID-19 on our markets will be significant - but the protection of health and life takes precedence over economic interests,' the Prime Minister told the Chamber of Deputies in this regard.
Thus, the Government has put a series of measures into place in order to soften the financial and economic impact for companies and the actors of our economy.
As a result, businesses and self-employed individuals who are experiencing liquidity problems can apply to cancel the quarterly advances payable for the first two quarters of 2020. They may also request a four-month payment delay for taxes due after 29 February 2020. In addition, from this week onward, the Registration Duties, Estates and VAT Authority will reimburse all VAT credit balances below EUR 10,000. More information about these measures is going to be communicated by the Ministry of Finance.
During the Government Council, an amendment to the law governing professional artists and contract workers in show business was adopted. More information was communicated by the Ministry of Culture.
The government has decided to strengthen support for businesses affected by the financial consequences associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic by extending the scope of the bill to large businesses and the liberal professions. More information was communicated by the Ministry of Culture.
Exchanges with the Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and large scale retailing and Lëtzshop are continuing in order to be able to set up a delivery system for vulnerable people before the end of the week. More information will follow at that time.
Economic activity in general will not be discontinued, as it is essential for our supply chain to remain functional. However, closure of construction sites was decided. It should be noted that trades can continue their activities, provided that they do not receive the public and that they do not visit building sites.
Press release by the Ministry of State