England’s lockdown four-week extension shatters trade hopes

Boris Johnson has dashed hopes of further financial support for businesses after delaying the full opening of the UK economy by four weeks due to an increase in coronavirus cases.

The British Prime Minister said that “the time has come to let go of the unlocking accelerator”, adding that a cautious approach could “save thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more”.

the go to the “fourth step” of the government’s easing plan has been delayed due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus first identified in India. Businesses will be urged to keep workers at home wherever possible – forcing many businesses to rethink – while nightclubs will remain closed and limits on socializing indoors will remain for an additional four weeks.

Businesses face significant cost returns in July, although many will not be able to legally reopen or fully trade. Employers will have to start contributing 10 percent to the cost of leave as well as part of their professional fees.

The Johnson government has spent £ 407 billion to support businesses during the crisis, but the Federation of Small Businesses has called on ministers to delay cutting the employee leave scheme – which provides 80% of regular pay.

The FSB also urged the government to cancel rebound loans for businesses that are still closed and to extend full commercial rate relief to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

“Businesses have spent thousands of dollars ordering food and drink, selling tickets and running marketing events for this date, while restaurants and bars are counting on full openings to start collecting more money. ‘a year of lost income,’ said Craig Beaumont, FSB’s head of external affairs.

But Johnson has ruled out any changes to the timeline on cutting the leave scheme or the business support program.

“We have always made sure that the leave plan continues until September to take into account the whole roadmap. The Chancellor has always been very clear on this subject, ”he told a press conference in Downing Street. “Based on what we can now see in the data, based on the effectiveness of the vaccine, we don’t think we’re going to have to change. “

Hotel industry executives have said a month’s delay in reopening the economy will cost the industry £ 3 billion in lost sales. UKHospitality, the industry’s trade body, said the further delay in reopening the economy would put 300,000 jobs at risk.

Over the next month, the NHS intends to offer two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to two-thirds of England’s adult population, including all over 40. All adults will be offered a jab before the easing.

Although Johnson described July 19, the date on which all restrictions are now due to end, as an “end date,” he did not rule out a further delay if the data indicated a risk of health services being overwhelmed.

“I have no doubts that we won’t need more than four weeks and that we won’t need to go beyond July 19. It is undeniable that the vaccines are working and the scale of the deployment has made our incomparably better position than in the past, “he said.

Monday, 7,742 other cases of coronavirus have been reported and three other deaths. The prime minister said intensive care cases were on the rise and Covid-19 infections were increasing by 64% nationwide week after week.

Some high-ranking ministers have expressed displeasure at the delay as a number of Conservative backbenchers may rebel against the government, citing the success of the UK’s rapid vaccination program.

The government said in the spring that it would not withdraw the leave scheme in its entirety until the end of September.

A senior government official said this remains generous compared to other countries, including France, where companies are now required to pay 25 percent of the wages of those receiving state aid.

The official added that the government had introduced a £ 2bn scheme specifically for councils to distribute funds to companies in struggling sectors that were still struggling. Half of that has yet to be spent, the official added.

The UK is still considering a partial extension of the rent moratorium this week, which would help the retail and hospitality sectors, as owners owe up to £ 6bn in rent to tenants who were closed during the pandemic.

The Prime Minister however made some concessions. The cap on people attending weddings will be lifted from June 21 – both indoors and outdoors – but social distancing will be required, along with masks and no dance floors.

Medical and scientific advisers believe the Delta strain is between 40 and 80% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant first identified in Kent. The new Delta variant is seeing 70% week-on-week growth in the UK.

But new data from Public Health England emphasized efficiency of the two vaccines currently in use in the UK against the Delta variant. Analysis suggested that the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine is 96 percent effective against hospitalization, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 percent effective.

Mary Ramsay, head of PHE vaccination, confirmed that the vaccines offered “significant protection” against the Delta strain. “It is absolutely vital to get both doses as soon as they are offered to you, to get maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants,” she said.

Johnson was reprimanded by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, for his failure to announce the changes to Parliament first.

“I find it totally unacceptable that once again, once again, we see Downing Street flouting MPs,” he said.

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