But an ‘unprecedented' rescue package will protect the wages of workers
In a press conference this evening that has stunned the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered that all restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars in the UK must close their doors tonight. This also extends to nightclubs, theatres, gyms, cinemas and leisure centres.
These closures, he says, will strengthen measures to avoid unnecessary social contact in order to control the spread of COVID-19.
The government is going to pay the wages of those who have lost their jobs for the first time in UK history. It will cover 80% of the salaries of workers, up to £2500 a month
It’s been a surreal week for the hospitality industry, to say the least, with many hospitality business owners left feeling ‘hamstrung’ after the PM advised the public to avoid bars and restaurants earlier in the week but without ordering venues to close. Many business owners took to social media to vent their anger and heartbreak. An emotional open letter to the PM from Peter Kinsella at Lunya went viral on Twitter.
But the industry has been thrown a lifeline tonight as chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined a rescue package which will protect employers and their staff. The government is going to pay the wages of those who have lost their jobs for the first time in UK history. It will cover 80% of the salaries of workers, up to £2500 a month.
Sunak announced, “The scheme, open to any employer in the country, will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open before the end of April for at least three months.”
While this is cause for celebration for many, the PM urged citizens not to go out and celebrate this evening.
“You may be tempted to go out tonight and I say to you please don’t, you may think that you are invincible - but there is no guarantee that you will get it. But you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on. We want you as far as possible to stay at home.”
Sunak also announced that no business will pay VAT from now to June, and has increased the interest-free period of the coronavirus loan scheme from six to 12 months.
Furthermore, he has increased both universal credit and working tax credit by £1000 a year and suspended the minimum income floor for everyone affected by the economic impact of the virus.
In news that may loosen the vice of anxiety around freelancers' chests, he clarified, “That means that self-employed people can now access, in full, universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees.”
While this is undoubtedly a deeply worrying and challenging time for the whole world, it is important to notice the acts of kindness and community that are everywhere to be found; from Manchester to the rest of the UK and beyond. Hopefully, we will come out of this a stronger and more compassionate world.
Sunak echoed this in a surprisingly poignant end to his announcement: “When this is over, and it will be over… remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us. We want to look back on this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency.”
Mancunians in the hospitality trade took to Twitter to voice their relief and support for these measures. Others announced immediate closure while many stated that they would continue offering a delivery service for now.
Finally, that’s what we need to hear 👏👏👏
— Adam Reid (@adschef) March 20, 2020
The news today by @RishiSunak . But this is a huge relief. Look at the smiles on our faces. On to the next challenge. How not to pay rent due of £270k in 4 days.... pic.twitter.com/JK1Sz8OtNI
— David Fox (@TampopoFox) March 20, 2020
Following the government statement, obviously we're closed for the foreseeable. We'll be back though! pic.twitter.com/wkNzHnDNOj
— Bunny Jacksons (@bunnyjacksons) March 20, 2020
We've taken on government advice to close ASAP, there will be no service tonight. We'll use this time to continue progression from every perspective and look forward to being better than ever when we can re-open. Thank you to everyone, and we look forward to welcoming you soon. pic.twitter.com/E2yQvUaA2F
— Mana (@Restaurant_Mana) March 20, 2020
You can now get you #handmade #tiramisù delivered to your house! 🚚 🍮 pic.twitter.com/S9QwHOeHAC
— Noi Quattro Pizzeria (@noiquattrouk) March 20, 2020
For my team, though, we go on..
through @Deliveroo (with 20% off) and @UberEats with “contact-less” delivery or collection throughout #Manchester
Keep safe, keep well, look after each other x pic.twitter.com/fc2DtYr3hD
— M U G H L I (@mughli) March 20, 2020
If you have downloaded the Confidentials app, you will also be able to access offers to purchase now and redeem at a later date (all dates have been extended to help restaurants and diners.)