Seoul will move quickly to provide small local business owners and those who are self-employed in desperate need of assistance with stimulus checks of KRW 700,000 for two months in cash.
Aside from the cash support for businesses that had to suspend their operations after a COVID-19 patient’s visit to their establishment, this two-month direct cash support, not in the form of voucher or financing, to most of self-employed and small businesses that meet the conditions is the first of its kind in the nation.
The key concept of this measure is to break from the existing method of “indirect support” (i.e. financing) and provide “direct support” in cash to be used for rent or payroll. This is to bridge the river of hardship for small business owners and those who are self-employed suffering from the sharp drop in sales due to COVID-19 so that they can make ends meet without having to close their business.
Additionally, considering the circumstances of small local business owners who would be still endure hardship with just one-time support, stimulus checks will be provided for two months until the end of the second quarter, until which the aftershock of COVID-19 is estimated to last, to cover the blind spots that have slipped through the existing support system and make them realize that public service is on their side.
Eligible beneficiaries include approximately 410,000 small business owners and self-employed workers making less than KRW 200 million annual revenue and whose business address is registered in Seoul (excluding some types of businesses including adult entertainment and gambling establishments). 10 out of 7, that is, 72 % out of all small business owners located in Seoul (about 570,000, excluding 100,000 businesses) are expected to benefit from this stimulus measure.
Seoul has been taking special measures to give first aid for the livelihoods of Seoul residents. First, the Disaster Emergency Living Expenses to save its citizens. Second, the Public Welfare and Innovative Financing (KRW 5.09 trillion). Third, the preparation of additional funds to enable the central government’s Emergency Disaster Relief Funds. This time, Seoul has made the fourth decision to take an extraordinary measure to provide the Seoul Stimulus Checks for the Self-Employed.
Presently, those who are self-employed as well as merchants of traditional markets in Seoul are in a state of emergency. The business survey index felt by the self-employed is below the overall average. 8 out of 10 small business owners (81.7 %) answered they saw a drop in sales by over 50% after COVID-19 and are considering closing their business if these circumstances continue for longer than six months (※ Source: The Survey of the Korea Federation of Micro Enterprise, April 2020)
Seoul has plans to start accepting the online application after the middle of May and allow the drop-off application starting in June. There will be another announcement about the required documents, reception address, and details on how to apply. To receive the support, the applicants should have the business address registered in Seoul, have operated the business for more than six months as of Feb. 29, 2020, and is actually running the business on the date of application. Some businesses, including adult entertainment, gambling and speculation, are not eligible to receive support.