All UK theatres, cinemas, gyms, leisure centres, restaurants, cafes and pubs have been told by the government to close their doors from tonight in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus.
In a press briefing this afternoon (March 20), Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said that food and drink businesses can continue to operate a takeaway service, but should close to dine-in visits as soon as possible and these measures will be reviewed every month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the launch of a new package designed to support employers and employees feeling the knock-on economic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies to all UK businesses in every sector, and aims to protect peoples’ jobs.
Employers can now contact HMRC for a grant to cover up to 80% of wages for all employees on a PAYE scheme, up to a value of £2,500 a month; employers can then further top up the salary if needed. This allows workers in any part of the UK to retain their job even if their employer has to temporarily close their business amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The new scheme covers backdated wages from March 1, 2020, and is initially open for at least three months, but the chancellor confirmed it can be extended for longer if necessary.
Guidelines for employers will be published in due course.
The chancellor also announced that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will now be interest-free for 12 months, instead of six as originally stated, and will be available starting March 23.
Further cash flow support announced by the government through the tax system includes the deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments; no business will need to pay from now until end of June, and will have until the end of the current financial year to repay bills.