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It’s Official: Vilnius Introduced Its Plan for Combating After-Effects of the Pandemic

It’s Official: Vilnius Introduced Its Plan for Combating After-Effects of the Pandemic

Vilnius In response to the effects of COVID –19 pandemic, Vilnius City Municipality has drawn up a plan of aid measures which focuses on four main areas (“directions”): aid for an individual, aid for business, aid for culture and embracement of opportunities. The document, which is titled “Vilnius’ Plan 4×3”, has been presented today by Vilnius city mayor Remigijus Šimašius  and Administrative Director of the municipality Povilas Poderskis.

The plan developed by the representatives of the municipality, business and culture lists a number of measures, some of which have already been employed and some are being planned, as well as propositions for the Government enabling the local government to combat the effects of the crises in a more efficient manner. A considerable focus is put on culture – Vilnius plans to allocate around 1 million euros to shore up the cultural sector in the near future.

Focus on the Embracement of Opportunities

“The situation is complicated but our extensive experience and the resources the municipality has in its disposition allows us to respond to this challenge fast. For this reason, the transformation of a problem into an opportunity has now been taking place in Vilnius. We were the first to adopt urgent and necessary decisions in the Council as early as the second week of the quarantine: decisions on the exemption from rentals and levy were adopted; other exemptions were approved as well. The shock has been tremendous, therefore, we have to show solidarity and creativity if we want to straighten our backs and become stronger after this period”, Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius said.

The plan will be supplemented with new measures and the budget for their implementation is currently being adjusted.

“The implementation of the plan is one of the city’s priorities in the meantime; we will, therefore, use all the available human and financial resources to help our city dwellers as soon as possible. Zero bureaucracy, the scope of the national level, the speed of business and fully open data – these are the principles on the basis of which we will put the plan into action. In fact, we have already been doing that,”   Povilas Poderskis, Administrative Director of the municipality, noted.

Aid for the City Dwellers Ranging from Payments to Psychological Support

Vilnius started providing its dwellers with support as early as the first weeks of the quarantine: social support, exemption from kindergarten fees, and deferment of utility bills for the persons who struggle to make such payments. A special attention was paid to medical specialists: to improve their living conditions a separate special package was developed.

In the near future, Vilnius is preparing to put new measures into practice so as to help Vilnius city dwellers more,  for instance, increasing the level of employment, covering the pay for palliative treatment and care, increasing the access to psychological help, assistance with rent for disabled people and people  left without foster parents or custodians, and other measures.

Among the requests to the Government, the capital city suggests mitigating the payment request rules and increasing payments to self-employed persons up to the amount of a minimum monthly wage.

Renovation, Tourism Promotion and More Orders from Business

Vilnius city municipality tries maintaining business vitality by exempting it from various fees – rentals, real estate fee, street closure fee and other charges. A strong aid package for public catering establishments was offered last week. One of the widely rumoured ideas which spread around the world was the idea to give freedom for outdoor cafés.

The efforts of the capital city are not limited to this list of measures but extend to some other ideas, for instance, increasing aid to business by placing more orders to be fulfilled by companies, accelerating the renovation of multi-storey residential buildings, promoting local tourism, removal of bureaucracy in terms of projects which have slowed down. Business support is promised in other forms as well – by allowing businesses to make use of the available municipality’s communication channels and by developing information packages for companies to help speed up their return to active operation.

Among the propositions for the Government, Vilnius’ plan also contains such specific steps as appointment of the head of the Public Procurement Office or approval of the big projects, such as the multifunctional complex or the general plan of the capital city, which would be like a breath of fresh air.

Culture to Be Promoted by Means of Grants and New Spaces

The plan puts a particular focus on culture. Vilnius has already announced that it will not stop funding organisers of cultural events, it will also eliminate rentals to cultural institutions and will support new cultural activities which can be adapted to the quarantine conditions.

Financial support to cultural and creative industries, partial reimbursement of cancelled events, a one-off support to stage arts, exemption from charges, engagement of educational institutions in cultural educational events,  strengthening of festivals by involving local authors and performers – all these and some other measures of the plan cost 1 million euros. They will help the culture of Vilnius get to its feet after the end of the quarantine restrictions faster. This part of the support distinguishes itself by offering an abundance of measures: the plan includes 21 items aimed at providing support to the industry of culture.

Opportunities: Continuing Working from Home and Creation of a Reserve Storage Facility

According to Vilnius’ mayor, the plan focuses on capturing new opportunities.

“The first to get an advantage after the quarantine will be those who make use of the opportunities offered by the limited world today. It may be the manufacturing of a disinfectant for one company or freedom for outdoor cafés for one city or a corroded bureaucracy for one country – they all will enter the post-pandemic world stronger”, Mr Šimašius said.

Among the opportunities given by the crisis and worth making use, as highlighted by Vilnius, are traffic changes in the Old Town, continuing working from home, building Vilnius competitiveness team, undertaking a reform in health care sector management, creating a storage facility for a reserve of civil protection assets and other measures.

The plan was drawn up on the basis of a detailed analysis of ecosystem carried out by Go Vilnius, the official tourism and business development agency of the city of Vilnius, in consultation with business and culture experts and having an assessment of these industries from different angles. You can find  “Vilnius’ Plan 4×3” here: https://bit.ly/VilniausPlanas or download Vilnius plan 4×3.

Marketing and Communication Division, vrt@vilnius.lt