UK vows to pay 80% of wages; tells pubs to close

Boris Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instructed pubs and restaurants across the UK to close amid the coronavirus outbreak — as the UK Government announced unprecedented measures to pay the wages of workers who would otherwise lose their jobs.

Johnson said nightclubs, theatres, gyms and leisure centres should also close from Friday night to slow the spread of Covid-19 and help prevent the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure.

The UK Prime Minister said: “The speed of our eventual recovery depends entirely on our collective ability to get on top of the virus now and that means we have to take the next steps on scientific advice.

“And following our plan we are strengthening the measures announced on Monday.

“We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.”

UK finance minister Rushi Sunak said he was establishing a coronavirus job protection scheme to help employers.

The Chancellor said employers would be able to apply to HM Revenue and Customs to cover 80% of the wages of staff they keep on — up to £2,500 a month.

Sunak said “our planned economic response will be one of the most comprehensive in the world”.

He added: “To all those at home, right now anxious about the days ahead, I say you will not face this alone.”

Universal Credit and tax credits will also be increased as part of an almost £7 billion welfare boost.

To ease cash flow pressures for UK VAT registered businesses, VAT bills from now until the end of June, will be deferred until the end of the tax year. 

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the UK’s Trades Union Congress (TUC), tweeted in response: “This is a breakthrough.

⁦‪@RishiSunak‬⁩ has shown real leadership. 

“We’re glad he’s listened to unions and taken vital steps to support working families. 

“Employers can now be confident they’ll be able to pay their wage bills. 

“They must urgently reassure staff that their jobs are safe.”