The Government has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
- a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Full details can be found on the Government website
From Friday 20th March, schools and colleges will close to most pupils and students until further notice except for the children of key workers – currently regarded as those whose parents, guardians or full time carers are NHS staff, police and delivery drivers – and to children who are known to be vulnerable including those most in need – for example, children who receive free school meals.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said the move was not prompted because children were at any particular risk, but because it was necessary to reduce social contact throughout society. The move is also designed to flatten the peak to ensure that vital nhs resources capacity, including the availability of ventilators, is not breached.
England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says schools will be closed “until further notice”. On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that funding for early years grants would continue to be paid while nurseries or pre-schools are closed and if childminders are unable to work.
The government is also asking private nurseries and schools to close and will provide financial support of needed.
No exams will take place in England and Wales throughout May and June including GCSEs and A levels as well as England’s primary school SATs.
For more information – https://www.stockport.gov.uk/school-closures-and-disruptions
Chief Medical Officer for England and the UK, Chris Whitty, announced that testing for Coronavirus will increase to 25,000 per day to make sure those infected are isolated are isolated and to identify those who have already been infected, knowingly or unknowingly and have developed anti bodies are safe to return to work or can be redeployed to take up posts to relieve the pressure in other areas.
There is currently no intention to bring in legal restrictions on movement but the Government will rule nothing out where it is deemed necessary to stem the peak, to protect our health workers.
Mr Whitty said that the revised directive should not be taken as soft advice but a clear direction to protect life, to reduce deaths but did not rule out faster and stricter measures in future.
Around a quarter of the UK workforce is employed in sectors where social distancing has been strongly advised and where appropriate, financial aid has been promised including a guaranteed £29 per day for short term workers; self-employed are being advised to apply for job seekers allowance and to approach their banks and building societies to request a 3 month ‘mortgage holiday’.