Britain to announce rescue package for coronavirus-hit businesses

The British Government expected on Friday to announce another package to protect jobs and help businesses survive the severe economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is scheduled to outline the measures at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson, however, promised further measures to ensure that the country does not just support businesses, but also individuals and their families to keep the economy going.

The Bank of England lowered the base interest rate to a record low of 0.1 per cent on Thursday and launched a 200-billion-pound (or 236-billion dollar) bond-buying programme.

This, it said, was after stock markets and the British currency recorded some of their biggest falls in decades.

Earlier, Sunak announced a 30-billion-pound package of extraordinary measures to encourage economic stability, including loans, grants and tax concessions for small businesses and more generous sick pay for employees.

He told Parliament that the coronavirus outbreak was expected to leave up to one-fifth of people of working age, or some six  million people, unable to work at any one time.

The government, however, denied reports that it planned to commence a lockdown in London in the next few days, but panic-buying continued in many areas on Friday.

“Nothing is ruled out, urging people to avoid non-essential social contact,“Johnson said.

Meanwhile, Health authorities confirmed 40 deaths on Thursday, taking Britain’s total to 144, as the number of confirmed infections rose to 3,269.

Government health experts said that tens of thousands of British people were probably infected.(dpa/NAN)