Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that all bars, pubs, clubs, cinemas and leisure facilities in the UK will close, effective immediately on Friday evening, to stop the spread of coronavirus. A majority of people have obeyed advice to not congregate with other people, and to employ social distancing, but there are still too many people ignoring this advice and putting other at risk.
Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open. Please do not stock up beyond immediate need because stocks have been decimated by panic buying, and panic at other people’s panic buying, leaving poor, elderly and at risk people without provisions. (Please see our article on getting community help if you are in need or isolated.)
Boris Johnson did not say that shops should close, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak included shops in his speech on the measures. We hope for clarification of this part soon.
Many businesses have already closed and scores of events have been cancelled over the next 3 months, including some of Belper’s festivals, but some have converted to delivery services.
The PM reaffirmed his ambition to turn the tide against coronavirus within the next three months.
He acknowledged in his speech that people may be tempted to go out on Friday night, but urged people to stay at home. According to the new rules, there should not be anywhere open for people to go out.
These measures will “have a significant economic impact”, said Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who announced that the government will step in to pay 80% of the wages of employed workers who cannot work. This measure helps the businesses who might otherwise be required to pay the wages, it helps those who are not getting paid, and stops people losing their jobs. It does nothing to help the many self-employed and freelance workers in Belper and surrounds. The only options for the self-employed are miniscule benefits amounting to £118 a week.
The help will be available in the form of grants, backdated to 1st March and will be capped at £2,500 a month.
It is hoped the initiative will encourage business owners to support their staff instead of laying off workers.
Mr. Johnson also said that he would defer the next quarter of VAT payments for businesses until the end of June. There are no details on this measure yet.