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Coronavirus England: Hot weather to test weekend lockdown

The UK Government is holding its breath this evening ahead of a weekend when temperatures are expected to hit 80F as Downing Street insisted England must wait until Monday for lockdown rules to be loosened. 

Boris Johnson yesterday set out a significant easing of restrictions which will enable up to half a dozen people from different households to mix outside and in gardens from June 1, as primary schools reopen and non-essential shops prepare to follow suit.

However, the Prime Minister’s decision to set out his plans on a Thursday but not to roll them out until Monday means the country is facing a weekend of temptation as temperatures soar and many people head outside. 

Number 10 is adamant that people must wait for the new freedoms to kick in despite the fact that Scotland’s more limited changes to lockdown came into force today, prompting concerns of mixed messages and mass confusion.

Experts believe the combination of sunny weather and different lockdown rules in different parts of the country could be a recipe for disaster. There are also fears that the new NHS Test and Trace regime may not be sufficient to keep the rate of transmission of the disease down in the coming weeks.   

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: ‘We’ve said that wherever possible we would give a period of notice in advance of changes being made, ideally 48 hours or more, which is true in this respect.

‘The current regulations are in force until Monday. I think the PM set out yesterday we’re enormously grateful for the efforts of the British public in sticking by the rules and getting the infection rate down and that does mean that from June 1 we will be able to allow people to have some more social contact in a safe and socially-distanced way.’ 

Meanwhile, scientists are becoming increasingly outspoken over the Government’s approach as they warn ministers that the pandemic is far from over.

Mr Johnson’s suggestion that barbecues will be acceptable under the new regime has provoked particular anger with experts saying that in fact they are ‘really dangerous’. 

Police chiefs today claimed that the easing of lockdown announced by the PM looked as though it had been ‘rushed forward to help ministers in a difficult position’.  

It came as Mr Johnson faced questions over his decision to ease lockdown as it emerged that the Government has not lowered its coronavirus alert level.  

Despite the PM saying the government’s five tests have been met and it is safe to start relaxing restrictions, No10 confirmed today that the alert level remains at four. Mr Johnson suggested to MPs on Wednesday that the alert was ‘coming down’ from four to three and he was ‘hoping’ a decision would be taken yesterday.

Ministers have insisted throughout that the lockdown would only be eased when the five tests were met. However, the government has also set up the Covid alert system which describes what people can expect to happen at each level. Level four requires ‘current social distancing measures and restrictions’. 

No10 insisted the government’s steps for England were taken on the basis of the five tests, and the Joint Biosecurity Centre is in charge of the alert level. However, it is understood no announcement is expected today, and sources declined to say whether one would come before Monday.

There was no alert status slide used at the daily Downing Street briefing last night, and Mr Johnson did not refer to the level. Labour said ministers urgently need to explain how the lifting of restrictions fits with the alert system. 

As the coronavirus crisis twists and turns today:

  • An official breakdown has revealed Birmingham is the local authority with the most Covid-19 fatalities in England and Wales, and the only one to have recorded more than 1,000 victims (1,047); 
  • Firms must pay 20 per cent of wages for furloughed staff from August, Rishi Sunak will say today as he starts to wind down the government’s massive coronavirus bailouts; 
  •  People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus will not be told who has named them when they are asked to self-isolate for two weeks;
  • A Government scheme which will force all travellers arriving in the UK to spend 14 days in quarantine could be scrapped just weeks after it is launched as a Tory revolt grows.  

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned the coronavirus furlough scheme ‘cannot continue indefinitely’ as he delivered an upbeat prediction of Britons excitedly ‘pulling out work clothes and school uniforms from wardrobes’ on Monday, when lockdown is partially lifted and schools reopen 

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street this morning, last night set out his plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown from June 1. However that means the nation faces a weekend of temptation with temperatures expected to hit 80F

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street this morning, last night set out his plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown from June 1. However that means the nation faces a weekend of temptation with temperatures expected to hit 80F

The government charts previously stated that level four required 'current social distancing measures and restrictions'

The government charts previously stated that level four required ‘current social distancing measures and restrictions’

The four Home Nations now have significantly different sets of lockdown rules in place. For example, in England from Monday six people can meet up outdoors but in Scotland from today it is eight people

The four Home Nations now have significantly different sets of lockdown rules in place. For example, in England from Monday six people can meet up outdoors but in Scotland from today it is eight people 

CONFUSION OVER BORIS’S ALERT MESSAGE

WHAT BORIS TOLD THE LIAISON COMMITTEE ON WEDNESDAY: 

Ministers have insisted throughout that the lockdown would only be eased when the five tests were met.

However, the government has also set up the Covid alert system which describes what people can expect to happen at each level. 

At the Liaison Committee on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said on the covid alert: ‘We’re coming down, the covid alert system, we’re coming down from level four to level three we hope, we’re taking a decision tomorrow.’

WHAT BORIS SAID LAST NIGHT: 

‘This package has been carefully designed so that we can ease the burdens of lockdown while expecting to keep that R below one. I cannot and will not throw away all the gains we have made together, and so the changes we are making are limited and cautious,’ he said.

‘It is thanks to the caution we have shown so far that all five tests are being met. That is not my achievement or the government’s achievement – it is your achievement, only possible thanks to your resolve and dedication to our national purpose to overcome this virus.’

WHO envoy David Nabarro warned this morning that the virus has ‘not gone away’, and the country must be on ‘constant defence’. 

Chief Scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said last night that the situation remains ‘fragile’, with 8,000 new infections every day. Scotland and Wales have announced more limited loosenings.

Meanwhile, there is more evidence of coronaphobia among the public, with an Office for National Statistics survey finding barely half would feel safe meeting up with friends or family.  

Mr Johnson stressed that the easing was ‘cautious’ last night as he fronted the daily Downing Street briefing. 

‘This package has been carefully designed so that we can ease the burdens of lockdown while expecting to keep that R below one. I cannot and will not throw away all the gains we have made together, and so the changes we are making are limited and cautious,’ he said.

‘It is thanks to the caution we have shown so far that all five tests are being met. That is not my achievement or the government’s achievement – it is your achievement, only possible thanks to your resolve and dedication to our national purpose to overcome this virus.’

Under the easing in England, different households will be able to see family and friends in groups of six from Monday, although social distancing measures will still have to be followed.  

They will also be permitted to use gardens and private outdoor spaces, which was previously banned. Mr Johnson said that meant barbecues are possible.

Schools will start to reopen from Monday, and non-essential shops will follow from June 15. 

Mr Johnson explicitly said last night that barbecues could be back on the agenda as long as people are careful with hygiene and social distancing. 

But Professor Sally Bloomfield, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, contradicted the suggestion today.

Professor Bloomfield told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: ‘The thing that really worries me is people are starting to say to me, oh, can I have a barbecue?

‘That is the really dangerous thing because then we are really starting handling things backwards and forwards to each other – plates, glasses, cups and so forth.

‘So if you really want to have a social gathering and a meal, and the more time we spend outdoors the better, then it should be a picnic where we each bring our own food and knives and forks and plates and everything and keep them to ourselves and take them away with us.

‘Then we can have a really nice social gathering. But barbecues, please no, at the moment.’

Groups of six people will be allowed to meet up outdoors in England from June 1. Pictured is a familiy relaxing in a park in Christchurch, Dorset today

Groups of six people will be allowed to meet up outdoors in England from June 1. Pictured is a familiy relaxing in a park in Christchurch, Dorset today

People in England must wait until Monday for the new rules to come into force but more limited changes came into force in Scotland today. Sunbathers are pictured in Edinburgh

People in England must wait until Monday for the new rules to come into force but more limited changes came into force in Scotland today. Sunbathers are pictured in Edinburgh

How is the lockdown being eased in England from Monday? 

What’s changing?

From Monday, people can meet outside in groups of up to six as long as those from different households continue to socially distance.  

– Can I visit family and friends?

Yes . This means that family groups of no more than six can meet in parks and private gardens for chats and even barbecues.

– How far am I allowed to travel?

There are no mileage limits set for how far you are allowed to drive to visit family and friends in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, but the general advice is to remain in your local area as much as possible.

However, people in Wales will still not be allowed to travel more than five miles from their home for any reason except work or to purchase essentials.

Great, can we hug?

Sadly no. You still cannot risk infection by being too close. The same goes for handshakes or kissing.

If young children from different households are part of the group, they must not share paddling pools, climbing frames, slides or anything that would encourage them to be closer than two metres to each other. 

Can I stay overnight?

Staying overnight at someone else’s home will still not be allowed anywhere in the UK, while even going indoors for any other reason than to access a garden or use the bathroom is prohibited.

However Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’.   

Can we barbecue?

Yes, but you must wash your hands, be careful about passing food or plates and keep 6ft apart.

How about entering their house?

Only if there is no other way of getting to the back of the property. 

What about using the toilet?

You can, but you must thoroughly clean any surfaces you touch.

To be extra safe, you could even use a paper towel to open and close bathroom doors and perhaps consider using a kitchen roll to dry hands rather than a towel.

So what if it rains?

You will have to stand under an umbrella or leave. You cannot shelter in someone else’s home.

Can we camp in the garden?

No, Boris Johnson said he did not want you to stay overnight.

Do I only have to see the same group?

No, you can meet different people at different times, but try not to see too many in quick succession.

Can those shielding take part?

No, they must continue to shield if they’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and have had a letter from their GP.

What about the over-70s?

If they are not in the shielding group.

We are a family of six – can we meet anyone else?

No. The guidelines say you can meet only up to six people at any one time.

Can we visit a relative in a care home garden?

It would depend on circumstances and the care home’s management.

– What else will I be allowed to do under the new measures?

In England, Monday’s lockdown easing will signal the reopening of schools to allow students in nurseries, early-years settings, and Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to class.

Some shops are also set to reopen, with outdoor retail and car showrooms able to resume operations. 

– When might restrictions be eased further?

Boris Johnson has flagged that more restrictions will be eased on June 15, beginning with the reopening of other non-essential retail shops such as fashion or homeware retail.

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said.

– And what’s the timeline elsewhere in the UK?

In Scotland, there is no set timeline as for when more measures might be lifted. The government’s lockdown roadmap stipulates that a number of conditions must be met before any further action is taken, including evidence that the country’s Covid-19 transmission is successfully under control.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce on Friday that further plans on lifting restrictions will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Pending the country’s rate of transmission remaining below one, a host of further restrictions are set to be eased in Northern Ireland on June 8, including the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, car showrooms and some non-essential retail stores.

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 10 people are also set to be allowed and hotels will be able to start taking forward bookings at their own risk.

Environment Secretary George Eustice struggled to explain the logic behind the arrangements in a round of interviews today.

He admitted that up to six people from different households being able to meet in parks and gardens will not help families of six but said the Government ‘have to draw a line somewhere’.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Eustice said: ‘We think that six is about a sensible level. We know that the risk of transmission outdoors is actually very low, but obviously if you’ve got lots of people crowded in a garden, if you’ve got two families of six crowded in, obviously that starts to be more difficult to maintain social distancing.’

Pushed again on whether a family of six could meet anyone else, he added: ‘Obviously if they are six on their own than the answer is these rules don’t really help them very much if they want to meet as a full family.

‘But for instance if Claire (questioner) wanted to go with two of the children and take them to see for instance their grandparents if they have grandparents, or uncles, they would be able to do so.

‘So you have to draw a line somewhere otherwise it goes on and on.’ 

The PM’s spokesman today denied that the alert system has been ‘decoupled’ from the social distancing changes. 

‘The PM said at the liaison committee that it was moving downward but it remains at level four.’ 

The spokesman insisted the premier referred to the alert system at the Liaison Committee, and said ‘separately we were taking decisions including on the full package of easements that will come in from June 1’. 

The spokesman said the Joint Biosecurity Centre which manages the coronavirus alert level is still not fully operational.

‘It’s carrying out some of its functions already, including giving support to the chief medical officers. It will be fully operational in the coming weeks,’ he said. 

WHO special envoy on Covid-19 Dr Nabarro told Today: ‘What was happening through the lockdown was that a very large amount of illness was prevented from becoming totally catastrophic right across the country and the outbreaks that did occur subsided and were contained.

‘And now we have to keep them at the minimum possible level by being on constant defence and at the same time by being very focused on where, if it is necessary, to have further movement restrictions where these are put in place.’

Dr Nabarro added: ‘I don’t think people should feel it is going to go on constantly with everybody being in lockdown, but it will be a different normal from that that we were used to six or seven months ago.

‘We will have to be more respectful when it comes to how we relate to other people, particularly in very confined spaces where we know this virus can easily transmit.’

Prof John Edmunds, an infectious disease expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and part of the government’s SAGE science advisory structure, said today that a ‘political decision’ was being taken on what level of infection to tolerate. 

‘Many of us would prefer to see the incidence driven down to lower levels because that then means we have fewer cases occurring before we then relax the measures,’ he said.

‘So if we had incidence at a lower level then even if R went up a little bit, we wouldn’t be in a position where we’re overwhelming the health service rapidly.

‘We could tolerate a little bit. At the moment, with relatively high incidence, and relaxing the measures and also with an untested track and trace system i think we are taking some risk here.

‘Even if that risk does pay off, and we manage to keep the incidence flat, we’re keeping it flat at quite a high level – 8,000 new infections a day.

‘If there’s a 1 per cent infection fatality rate that’s 80 deaths per day, if there’s half a per cent that’s 40 per day.

‘That’s the amount of deaths we might expect to see going forward. it’s a political decision as to where we set that.’

At the Liaison Committee on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said on the covid alert: ‘We’re coming down, the covid alert system, we’re coming down from level four to level three we hope, we’re taking a decision tomorrow.’

No10 sources insisted he had been referring to broader decisions on lockdown rather than a decision on the alert level. 

Shadow health minister Justin Madders told MailOnline: ‘Labour supports the gradual easing of restrictions, but it’s got to be done safely. 

Ministers instantly need to explain how the easing of restrictions aligns to the advice being given through the COVID Alert System, and publish the full scientific advice informing these decisions.’ 

Mr Johnson said last night: ‘I cannot and I will not throw away all the gains we have made together. So the changes that we have made are limited and cautious.’ 

The premier said there was no question of people being given permission to stay overnight, or spend time in other homes. However, he added: ‘We want people to be able to see their friends and family. We want people to be able to see both parents at once.

‘You could even have a barbecue provided you did it in a socially distanced way.’ 

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty confirmed that people can go to the toilet in other people’s houses if they come to visit, but it was ‘absolutely critical’ that they wiped everything down afterwards and washed their hands rigorously. 

The bigger than expected move came despite concerns having been raised in Cabinet that a ‘barbecue clause’ could lead to a fresh flare-up in infections.

Mr Johnson said: ‘I know the toll that lockdown has taken on families and friends who have been unable to see each other.

‘So from Monday we will allow up to six people to meet outside – provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.

How to host a lockdown barbecue: One-way systems at the grill and bring your own ketchup 

Revellers planning to host a barbecue next week should consider one-way systems of travel around the grill and bringing their own condiments, an expert has said.

From June 1, groups of up to six people in England will be able to enjoy socially distanced meetings in parks and gardens, including hosting barbecues, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday.

Behavioural neuroscientist at the University of Reading’s School of Psychology, Professor Patricia Riddell, said the Government guidelines around this are unclear, and recommended some measures those worried about spreading the virus could take to stay safe.

Prof Riddell said people should not feel obliged to meet larger groups just because it is legally allowed, but for those who do, their most important consideration is their guest list.

‘The first thing I would be doing is thinking who do I want to include in my group – who has been taking the same level of risk that I have and won’t put me and my family at risk,’ she said.

‘As harsh as it sounds, some people are on the front line and are exposed to the risk, and you need to be aware of the risk they might bring.’

Prof Riddell recommended asking guests to bring their own cutlery, plates and condiments to reduce the risk of virus transmission through touching the same surfaces, and having only one person using the tongs.

She also endorsed serving food on plates from a distance rather than everyone approaching the grill, setting out seats in advance for people to sit two metres apart, and sitting alongside each other rather than face to face.

‘You could have routes of travel so people go round one way to the barbecue,’ she said.

‘At the moment, as you know, people can meet in parks but not in private gardens. This was a cautious first step – but we know that there is no difference in the health risk. So we will now allow people to meet in gardens and other private outdoor spaces.

‘These changes mean friends and family can start to meet their loved ones – perhaps seeing both parents at once, or both grandparents at once. I know that for many this will be a long-awaited and joyful moment.

‘But I must stress that to control the virus, everyone needs to stay alert, act responsibly, strictly observe social distancing rules, and stay two metres apart from those who you do not live with.’

Mr Johnson stressed that ‘minimising contact with others is still the best way to prevent transmission’. 

He added: ‘You should also try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession – so that we can avoid the risk of quick transmission from lots of different families and continue to control the virus.

‘And it remains the case that people should not be inside the homes of their friends and families, unless it is to access the garden.’

Mr Johnson admitted there would be ‘anomalies’ and ‘apparent inconsistencies’ in the more complicated rules.  

Revellers planning to host a barbecue next week should consider one-way systems of travel around the grill and bringing their own condiments, an expert has said.

From June 1, groups of up to six people in England will be able to enjoy socially distanced meetings in parks and gardens, including hosting barbecues, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday.

Behavioural neuroscientist at the University of Reading’s School of Psychology, Professor Patricia Riddell, said the Government guidelines around this are unclear, and recommended some measures those worried about spreading the virus could take to stay safe.

Prof Riddell said people should not feel obliged to meet larger groups just because it is legally allowed, but for those who do, their most important consideration is their guest list.

‘The first thing I would be doing is thinking who do I want to include in my group – who has been taking the same level of risk that I have and won’t put me and my family at risk,’ she said.

‘As harsh as it sounds, some people are on the front line and are exposed to the risk, and you need to be aware of the risk they might bring.’

Prof Riddell recommended asking guests to bring their own cutlery, plates and condiments to reduce the risk of virus transmission through touching the same surfaces, and having only one person using the tongs.

She also endorsed serving food on plates from a distance rather than everyone approaching the grill, setting out seats in advance for people to sit two metres apart, and sitting alongside each other rather than face to face.

‘You could have routes of travel so people go round one way to the barbecue,’ she said.

Can I meet up with friends, how far can I travel from my house and when will schools reopen? How different lockdown rules apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Long-awaited changes are being made to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown with the four Home Nations now adopting different approaches to the loosening of draconian rules. 

Boris Johnson set out his plans which mostly only relate to England at a Downing Street press conference last night with those changes coming into force on Monday. 

But more limited changes in Scotland came into force today while Wales and Northern Ireland are also doing their own thing. 

Below is a breakdown of how different rules apply in different parts of the country. 

ENGLAND 

Perhaps the most eye-grabbing change announced by Mr Johnson last night was that as of Monday groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet up outdoors. 

Social distancing rules to stay at least two metres apart remain in place but the six people can be from different households. 

This is a much more flexible approach than has been taken in Scotland and Wales. 

These group gatherings can take place either outdoors in a public park or within a private garden but people have been told to be careful if guests need to travel through a house to get to a garden. Barbecues are allowed. 

England’s new rules mean there is no limit on how far people can travel from their home. 

Meanwhile, people can also exercise as much as they want – a change which was announced by Mr Johnson in his first wave of loosening. 

When it comes to shops, all non-essential premises will be allowed to start reopening from June 15. That means most High Street stores like clothes shops and shoe shops. 

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said. 

Primary schools and nurseries will begin their phased reopening from June 1 while some year 10 and 12 students will be able to return to secondary schools from June 15.   

SCOTLAND 

Nicola Sturgeon’s lockdown changes came into force as of today, in time for what is expected to be a sunny weekend with highs of up to 80F. 

The First Minister’s plans allow groups of up to eight people to meet up outside. 

However, they must all be from just two households. Similar to in England, these gatherings can either take place in private gardens or in outdoor spaces like parks.  

One difference is that people are not supposed to go into someone else’s house – even if it that is the only way to get to the garden. 

Social distancing rules remain at the two metre figure while there is no legal limit on travel away from home. 

However, the Scottish government has encouraged people to ‘stay local’ which means not travelling more than approximately five miles. 

Ms Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’. 

People in Scotland are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside. 

Scotland’s easing will enable people to visit garden centres and play some sports where social distancing can easily be maintained, such as golf and tennis. 

There is less clarity north of the border on when non-essential shops could reopen with the Scottish government yet to set a date for the return of the High Street. 

Scotland’s education plan is also much more cautious than England’s with schools not expected to start reopening until August 11. 

In Scotland, there is no set timeline for when more measures might be lifted. 

WALES 

First Minister Mark Drakeford set out his plans for lockdown loosening this morning. 

Outdoor gatherings will be permitted from Monday but only with people from two different households. 

However, the number of people who can meet up outdoors in a socially distanced way is unlimited. 

The Welsh plan also allows people to use gardens for their gatherings although like in Scotland people are not allowed to go into other people’s homes. 

In Wales there is a broad five mile limit on travel away from home although the Welsh government has stressed travel should remain ‘local’ and not generally further than five miles, seemingly giving some room for interpretation. 

People in Wales are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside but no date has yet been set for the return of non-essential shops. 

However, Mr Drakeford said today that non-essential retail businesses that can comply with social distancing rules should start to prepare to reopen over the next three weeks.

Mr Drakeford said a decision on whether they will reopen will be taken at the next review of lockdown measures on June 18 and will depend on scientific and medical evidence.

No date has yet been set for the reopening of schools. 

NORTHERN IRELAND 

Northern Ireland was the first of the four Home Nations to move on loosening rules relating to socialising. 

Groups of between four and six people are allowed to meet outdoors. 

They can all be from different households and social distancing at two metres must be stuck to.

Gardens are allowed to be used for those gatherings but access to another person’s house is not permitted. 

Arlene Foster has already loosened measures to allow groups of up to six people to meet outside in Northern Ireland

Arlene Foster has already loosened measures to allow groups of up to six people to meet outside in Northern Ireland

People can travel as far as they want from their home – just like in England – with no restrictions on the amount of outdoor exercise allowed. 

Some non-essential shops are expected to begin reopening from June 15. 

Pending the country’s rate of transmission remaining below one, a host of further restrictions are set to be eased in Northern Ireland on June 8. 

That could include the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, car showrooms and some non-essential retail stores.

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 10 people are also set to be allowed and hotels will be able to start taking forward bookings at their own risk.

However, there is a longer wait for schools with pupils not expected to return to the classroom until the new academic year begins in September.                

Firms must pay 20% of wages for furloughed staff from August, Rishi Sunak will say today as he starts to wind down massive bailout despite fears of a wave of redundancies  

Firms must pay 20 per cent of wages for furloughed staff from August, Rishi Sunak will say today as he starts to wind down the government’s massive coronavirus bailouts.

The Chancellor will declare that businesses should start taking some of the burden despite fears of a wave of redundancies.

He is also expected to give details of the future of separate support for the self-employed – with signs the grants might be partly extended beyond next month.

Environment Secretary George Eustice warned in a round of interviews this morning that people cannot be furloughed ‘indefinitely’ must find way to get back to work safely. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured in Downing Street last night) will declare that businesses should start taking some of the burden despite fears of a wave of redundancies

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured in Downing Street last night) will declare that businesses should start taking some of the burden despite fears of a wave of redundancies

Figures released on Wednesday showed another 400,000 have been furloughed over the past week, with a million employers now putting in for a total of £15billion

Figures released on Wednesday showed another 400,000 have been furloughed over the past week, with a million employers now putting in for a total of £15billion

As the cost of the bailouts soar towards £100billion, Mr Sunak is desperately trying to balance the need to wean companies off government money will keeping the economy on life support during lockdown.

UK plc is heading for the worst recession in 300 years, with millions of jobs expected to be lost and the prospects for a quick bounceback unclear. 

The furlough scheme currently covers 80 per cent of pay for employees, up to a ceiling of £2,500 a month.

Mr Sunak has already announced that workers will have the same safety net until October, but said firms will have to pick up some of the tab.

The 20 per cent  – 60 per cent split between the employer and state that the Treasury is understood to have settled on is lower than the 50 per cent share for businesses that had been previously mooted.

Earlier this week it emerged the government is now propping up a third of the workforce, with 8.4million jobs on furlough, to a total value so far of £15billion.

Another 2.3million self-employed are receiving grants equivalent to 80 per cent of their usual monthly income, to a ceiling of £2,500.   

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey underlined the perilous state of the economy yesterday by raising doubts about the speed of any recovery and making clear a fresh wave of quantitative easing – effectively printing money – will be needed.

The intervention came as new economic indicators showed that just 14 per cent of stalled businesses are expecting to restart their operations over the next fortnight, and they are likely to bring back only 31 per cent of furloughed staff. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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