Government announces mass closures and “unprecedented measures” to stem spread of coronavirus
- By Elaine Bird
- 20 March 2020
- North-West Norfolk
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered all social venues including pubs, restaurants, leisure centres, gyms, cafes, theatres and nightclubs to close this evening in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Restaurants will still be allowed to continue as takeaways.
He said that they must close “as soon as they reasonably can and not to reopen tomorrow” as the death toll climbs to 177.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced a momentous bailout package:
- The government will cover 80% of salaries up to £2,500 a month so long as workers stay on the books of employers
- Some £30billion of VAT bills for businesses for the next quarter will be deferred
- Renters will also get a £1billion fillip with household benefit set to rise
- Business loans will be up to 12 months interest free
- Universal Credit to be increased by £1,000 for the year
- Self-employed people can now access universal credit
The massive rescue package will last initially for 3 months and will be financed by borrowing.
Mr Sunak said:
“We're setting up a new coronavirus job retention scheme. Any employer in the country small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible for the scheme.
“Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll rather than being laid off.
“Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month - that's just above the median income.”
Details on how to claim and eligibility will be unveiled over the coming days.