Local governments search out people hurting from virus crisis

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Local governments search out people hurting from virus crisis

Local governments are actively trying to help people who fall between the cracks of the welfare system and other types of support for victims of the coronavirus crisis.

Park Hyun-joo, a restaurant owner, recently received a phone call from her City Hall in Seongnam, Gyeonggi.

She was told she was getting an emergency cash payment of 1 million won ($800).

“After my restaurant was named as a place a confirmed coronavirus patient visited in late February, sales fell to one-tenth the normal level,” said Park.

“This emergency payment helped me pay my rent.”

To people in similar plights, the cities of Seongnam and Yongin in Gyeonggi are giving 1 million won cash payments. Most are owners of businesses that were temporarily closed or completely shut down after a coronavirus patient visited.

North Gyeongsang will give up to 1 million won to 20,994 small business owners in Gyeongsan, Cheongdo County and Bonghwa County, designated as special disaster zones hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Here, 162,882 small business owners in the remaining 20 cities and counties in North Gyeongsang will each receive up to 500,000 won.

The city of Chungju in North Chungcheong is cutting water and sewage bills by 50 percent for three months for self-employed people and small business owners.

Local governments are also proposing measures to help people who slip through the social safety net.

Incheon announced Thursday it would give emergency living expenses and care benefits to people with developmental disabilities who have suffered economic losses due to the outbreak, or who have challenges raising children due to the closure of schools and other institutions. Incheon expects the support to benefit some 120 households.

Old people have become more socially isolated during the outbreak, and Mapo District in western Seoul has come up with special services for them, including a free meal service and a chatting robot service using Internet of Things technology.

The nationwide Senior Employment Project (SEP) has been put on hold since March. Some 1,500 elders participating in the SEP in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, were given up to 270,000 won.

The province of Gyeonggi will pay a disaster-related basic income to married immigrants and some foreign permanent residents. The revised plan will be finalized on Wednesday.

The cities of Goyang and Ulsan in Gyeonggi are hiring people who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak as part-time public workers.

Gangnam and Seocho districts in southern Seoul and Gangdong, Gwangjin and Jungnang districts in eastern Seoul will collect food waste from small restaurants for free until September to help small restaurant owners whose livelihoods are threatened. The five districts will lose 4.7 billion won in revenues.

Dongjak District is reaching out to its residents who may be unaware of emergency support projects promoted by the government.

“To prevent alienation of residents, district office workers are directly handing out promotional materials to the recipients,” an official from Dongjak District said.

“We will continue to carry out various support measures to revitalize the local economy.”

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