In the first of the Prime Minister’s daily coronavirus briefings Mr Johnson announced that the Government is changing course in its efforts to keep the country safe. Unless much stronger measures are put in place, based on new scientific advice, as many as 250,000 will die in a “catastrophic epidemic.”
The Government is acting on new advice from researchers modelling how the disease will spread, how the NHS would be overwhelmed and how many would die. As a result we are now facing the most profound changes to our daily lives. We now have to go all-out to stop the virus from spreading. The aim is to supress the virus and break the chain of transmission, effectively trying to stop the epidemic in its tracks, and bring cases down as low as possible.
There are bound to be financial consequences to a virtual shut down to businesses but, wherever possible, it should not lead to loss of jobs or the closure of businesses. For some days now I have been pressing for increased support for businesses and I am pleased that today the Chancellor is expected to announce a bigger package of support.
As you will know, in the Budget on March 11th the Chancellor already announced a package of measures to support businesses and the NHS. He made it clear that the NHS would get whatever extra resources it needs “whether its millions or billions” starting with a £5 billion emergency NHS fund and £7 billion for businesses and families.
- Refund for businesses and employers required to access Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- A 100 percent Business Rates retail discount for one year and expanded to include leisure and hospitality sectors
- Additional £2.2 billion funding support for those small businesses that pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.
- A new temporary £1bn Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will support loans to individual businesses of up to £1.2 million in value.
- All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time-To-Pay service
You can find out about this support in more detail on the https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/872618/Covid-19_Budget_fact_sheet_FINAL__1_.pdf.
Other measures announced yesterday include the following advice for individuals:
- Avoid all non-essential contact
- Work from home, where possible
- Avoid unnecessary travel
Over 70’s, pregnant women and those with health conditions
- Self-isolate from this weekend for at least 12 weeks. This includes going to the shops.
- Entire households told to self-isolate for 14 days if anyone has any of the symptoms which include a persistent cough and a high temperature,
- All "unnecessary" visits to friends and relatives in care homes should cease. This means that people should stay away unless there is a very good reason to go.
- Open for the moment
- Avoid all pubs, clubs and theatres and social venues
- Emergency services will not attend mass gatherings so they will not go ahead.
- Shops will remain open
- North Yorkshire Resilience Forum will coordinate the community response.
You can find details here: https://www.emergencynorthyorks.gov.uk/