BERLIN—Germany has decided to give a boost to its economy amid concerns over fallout from the coronavirus epidemic. During an overnight meeting on March 8, the coalition parties agreed to invest an additional $14 billion (12 billion euros) through 2024. They also decided to loosen rules for financial aid to firms that are forced to stop work temporarily. This would help companies like the country’s largest airline, Lufthansa. The company said last week it will cut 50 percent of its flights amid the outbreak.
“Yesterday’s coalition meeting was a strong signal that … we will not allow the virus to infect the German economy,” German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on March 9.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany as of March 9 stand at 1,112, according to the Robert Koch Institut.
While Germany doesn’t have as many infections as Italy or France, its economy is one of the most dependent on international trade. Germany’s car industry has been especially affected, as many Chinese consumers have stopped buying new cars. Exports to China fell by almost 7 percent in January.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn on March 8 recommended cancelling or postponing events with over 1,000 attendees. Several large trade fairs, like the ITB tourism fair, have been cancelled. Domestic businesses hit by the epidemic include hotels and transport companies.
Germany’s Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on March 9 it’s not clear whether the epidemic poses a longer-term economic challenge to Germany. So, observers don’t know whether these measures will be sufficient to fend off a recession.
Reuters contributed to this report.