Coronavirus Update

15/06/20

From today, shops are able to reopen their doors in England, in the next step in our careful easing of lockdown – provided they are meeting robust safety guidelines, keeping staff and customers safe as we get our economy moving again. 

  • This has been the most challenging period for shops and high streets in our history – we know the toll the last few months have taken on them, and we have been working with businesses, business representative groups and trades unions on guidance to enable them to reopen as safely as possible.
     
  • From today, all non-essential shops, department stores and shopping centres will be able to reopen, provided they are meeting the Covid Secure guidelines and have put in place all the necessary steps to keep their workers and customers safe.
     
  • This will help to restart our economy and allow high streets across the country to spring back to life – whilst ensuring we keep the risk of infection down to avoid the possibility of a second wave.

Additionally, from today, face coverings are required while using public transport in England, in order to help control the virus and save lives.

  • Although people should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible, we know that this will not be possible for everyone as more people head back to work.
     
  • As well as social distancing and regular hand-washing, wearing a face covering can help prevent the spread of coronavirus. That’s why, from today, it is mandatory for all staff and passengers on public transport to wear a face covering – and transport operators can refuse travel or issue penalty fines of up to £100 to those who do not.
     
  • We all have a role to play in helping to protect each other from coronavirus, and this small change will be an important part of controlling the virus as we cautiously re-open our economy.

14/06/20

From tomorrow, shops will be able to reopen their doors in the next step in our careful easing of lockdown – provided they are meeting robust safety guidelines, so we can keep staff and customers safe as we get our economy moving again.

  • This has been the most challenging period for shops and high streets in our history – we know the toll the last few months have taken on them, and we have been working with businesses, business representative groups and trades unions on guidance to enable them to reopen as safely as possible.
     
  • That is why from tomorrow, all non-essential shops, department stores and shopping centres will be able to reopen, provided they are meeting the Covid Secure guidelines and have put in place all the necessary steps to keep their workers and customers safe.
     
  • This will help to restart our economy and allow high streets across the country to spring back to life – whilst ensuring we keep the risk of infection down to avoid the possibility of a second wave.

The Prime Minister has commissioned a comprehensive review of the two-metre social distancing rule which will examine how the two-metre rule works in practice, the scientific evidence and international comparisons among other factors.  

  • Our progress in fighting coronavirus depends on reducing the incidence of the disease and that means everyone following the rules we have set out, such as washing your hands, self-isolating if you have symptoms, taking a test and following social distancing guidelines.
     
  • The comprehensive review will take advice from a range of experts, including the Chief Medical Office and Chief Scientific Adviser.
     
  • In the meantime, as shops reopen from tomorrow, people must continue to keep 2 metres apart wherever possible and follow our Stay Alert guidance. This includes shops reopening and other businesses operating in the workplace

10/06/20

Today, the Prime Minister will provide an update on the easing of the national lockdown, as part of the Government’s plan to cautiously restore our way of life.

  • People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so.
     
  • The Prime Minister will announce that, from 15 June, zoos and outdoor attractions such as safari parks and drive-in cinemas, will reopen. Working closely with the zoo industry, we are confident this can be done safely with safeguards and limits on visitor numbers, while providing families with more options to spend time outdoors, where the risk of transmission is far lower.
     
  • This decision is the latest step in the Government’s careful approach to easing the lockdown in phases, guided by the advice of scientists, and will mean more activities for families to do safely during the vital summer months ahead.

Yesterday, the Business Secretary confirmed that we would proceed with reopening non-essential shops in England from Monday, as we continue to meet the five tests set out by the Prime Minister, meaning it is safe to cautiously and gradually reopen parts of the economy.

  • We have made huge progress together to control the spread of this deadly disease, but we must now begin to recover and eventually restore our way of life.
     
  • From Monday 15 June, non-essential shops, department stores and shopping centres will be able to reopen, provided they put in place the necessary steps to keep their workers and customers safe. However hairdressers, beauty salons and the hospitality sector must remain closed for now, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required.
     
  • We will continue to be guided by the science, taking the right decisions at the right time. This is the latest step in the careful restarting of the economy and will enable high streets up and down the country to spring back to life.

Yesterday, we announced that people returning to work after extended leave, such as on maternity or paternity leave, will be eligible for the Government’s furlough scheme even after the June 10 cut off, ensuring they can access the financial assistance their family needs.

  • The unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has helped protect almost nine million jobs during the pandemic, but as people gradually return to work it is right for there to be a cut off point for new applications.
     
  • To enable the introduction of part-time furloughing, and support those already furloughed back to work, claims from July onwards are being restricted to employers and employees already using the scheme, meaning individuals must be on the scheme by 10 June. However this will not apply to parents returning from leave, whose circumstances mean they are still in need of support.
     
  • This continues our commitment to ensure any changes to the scheme are done in a fair way, and will ensure families that need financial assistance can access the support they need.

Yesterday, the Education Secretary announced that whilst primary schools won’t be required to open for all years for a month before summer, schools with the capacity will be able to welcome back some more children before the holidays.

  • Getting children back to school is our absolute priority, which is why we’ve already prioritised getting early years, year 1 and year 6 back to school – with some secondary school pupils returning to school on Monday too.
     
  • In the meantime, we are ensuring children can continue to learn from home, backed by £100 million of government funding, providing children from disadvantaged backgrounds across England with free laptops and tablets, as well as 4G routers for those families who do not already have internet access.
     
  • We will continue to work with the sector to get as many children back to school as possible within the social distancing constraints, but it must remain a cautious and phased return which ensures we can continue to keep the infection rate low.

09/06/20

Every care home in England will now be offered a coronavirus test for all residents and staff – even if they have no symptoms – giving them confidence that they are doing the right thing to protect themselves and others.

  • All care homes for the over-65s and those with dementia have now received testing kits as of 6 June, hitting our target. Since the launch of whole care home testing, the government has provided over a million test kits to nearly 9,000 care homes, and we are now able to test 50,000 people in social care a day.
     
  • We will now ensure that all remaining adult care homes in England can order the whole care home testing service, which will benefit residents and staff in over 6,000 more care homes. The Government has also set up a taskforce, chaired by social care expert David Pearson, to help end transmission in the community and advise on a plan to support the sector through the next year. 
     
  • Opening up whole care home testing to the whole social care sector, regardless of symptoms, means we can prevent and control outbreaks and protect the most vulnerable.

08/06/20

Today new public health measures will come into force at the UK border – preventing the import of new coronavirus cases from abroad, reducing the risk of a second wave of the virus to keep people safe. 

  • As we get the coronavirus under control in the UK, we must manage the risk of cases being imported from abroad which could undo the hard work and sacrifice of the British people over recent months.
     
  • From today, everyone arriving in the UK, bar a short list of exemptions, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and provide details of where they will do so. While we fully expect the majority of people will abide by the measures, Public Health England will contact people to check they are complying. Those who are not can be fined up to £1,000.
     
  • To ensure the measures are in line with the latest scientific evidence and remain effective and necessary, they will be reviewed every three weeks. The Government will also explore ways to safely increase travel, including with other countries but only when it’s safe to do so.  
     
  • The worst outcome for public health and our economy would be a second peak of the virus, which is why we are introducing these temporary, necessary measures to keep people safe.

Yesterday, we announced funding for over 130 charities across England, so they can continue to support those experiencing homelessness during coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

  • As we inch towards normality, we must ensure that charities across the country can continue their vital work supporting vulnerable rough sleepers - helping us to end homelessness in this country.
     
  • The funding is part of a £750 million package for UK charities who have been impacted by the pandemic and builds on our commitment to provide thousands of long-term, safe homes for vulnerable rough sleepers who have been housed during the pandemic.
     
  • This funding will help charities continue to support vulnerable rough sleepers, ensuring they are getting everything they need to rebuild their lives once and for all.

07/06/20

The Health Secretary has confirmed that every care home for the elderly or those with dementia has been offered tests for coronavirus, helping to keep society’s most vulnerable people as safe as possible.

  • We have long recognised the challenges of coronavirus in care homes, and the Government is doing everything it can to protect both residents and care workers. Testing is a key measure to help prevent and control outbreaks.
     
  • Test kits have now been offered to every care home for over-65s or those with dementia in England, reaching our target to do so by 6 June. The Government has provided more than a million test kits to almost 9,000 care homes and is now able to send out over 50,000 test kits a day.
     
  • This means everyone who lives or works in a care home can access the testing kits they need, and those who test positive can be isolated, reducing the spread of the virus and protecting those who are most vulnerable.

Places of worship will be allowed to reopen for individual prayer from 15 June, so that people can safely practice their religion while following social distancing.

  • People of all faiths have shown enormous patience over recent months, unable to mark Easter, Passover, Ramadan or Vaisakhi in the traditional way.
     
  • As the virus is brought under control, we’re now able to move forwards with a limited reopening of places of worship from 15 June, for individual worship or prayer, safely and in line with social distancing guidelines. Communal worship will not be possible at this stage.
     
  • As places of worship start to reopen, their contribution to our spiritual wellbeing as places of comfort, stability and dignity will be vital in helping us all through this pandemic.

We are providing extra mental health support to help schools and colleges respond to the impact of coronavirus restrictions on pupils’ and teachers’ wellbeing.

  • Schools and colleges are often a safe haven for children and young people, but the challenges we face at this time mean we are all more likely to feel anxious or sad – no matter our age or circumstances.
     
  • As more pupils start to return to schools, they will be provided with new online resources, designed by health and education experts, to encourage conversations about anxieties and concerns which have arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
     
  • We are also providing £750,000 of grants for charities to help hundreds of schools and colleges build relationships between pupils, boost their resilience, and continue to tackle bullying, both in person and online. A new £95,000 pilot project will also focus on teachers’ and leaders’ mental health.

05/06/20

The latest action we have taken:

  • Requiring everyone to wear a face covering on public transport in England, to help control the virus and save lives. As well as social distancing and regular hand-washing, wearing a face covering can help prevent the spread of coronavirus. That’s why the Government is asking transport operators to make face coverings mandatory for staff and passengers on all public transport in England – with operators able to refuse to travel or issue penalty fines. 
     
  • Outlining our next steps following the release of the Public Health England review into disparities in the risks and outcomes of coronavirus. Having commissioned the review, the Government is rightly taking seriously the initial findings from the review. The Equalities Minister will take this vital work forward, with the Equalities Hub, to develop our understanding and shape our ongoing response to coronavirus, as well as to address the drivers of disparities. The Terms of Reference for this work has been published, and work will be supported by other government departments and agencies. 
     
  • Holding the Global Vaccine Summit, which successfully raised over $8.8 billion to bring vaccines to 300 million of the world’s poorest children. We brought together representatives from over 50 countries and organisations, raising over $8.8 billion in funds for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to immunise 300 million children in the world’s poorest countries by 2025. As the biggest investor in Gavi, the UK Government hosted the conference virtually. 
     
  • Providing over 1,500 bed spaces to support survivors of domestic abuse at risk during the pandemic, backed by £8.1 million of government funding. This will support domestic abuse safe accommodation services. It will provide over 1,500 beds to support survivors of domestic abuse at risk during the pandemic, and will also support the critical work these charities do to help survivors and their children to rebuild their lives. 
     
  • Requiring all visitors and outpatients to wear face coverings – and all hospital staff to wear Type 1 and Type 2 surgical masks – from 15 June. One of things that we have learnt is that those in hospital and working in hospital are more likely to catch coronavirus, whether they work in a clinical setting or not. And so to offer even greater protection, We are also providing new guidance to NHS staff in England, and all hospital stuff will be required to wear Type-1 or Type-2 surgical masks, which will apply to all staff at all times.  

01/06/20

The latest action we have taken:

  • Carefully easing some lockdown measures from today – but it is vital that everyone continues to stay alert, to control the virus and save lives. As of today, schools will reopen to more children. In addition, outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen, provided they meet Covid-secure guidelines. Finally, up to six people can now meet outside, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces - provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.
     
  • Enabling those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and have been ‘shielding’ to go outside. From today, those advised to shield can now go outside with members of their household or meet one member of another household if they live alone, providing a much-needed boost to people most at risk who have made huge sacrifices. Social distancing must be followed strictly at all times.
     
  • Meeting our 200,000 testing capacity target, giving us the biggest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history and providing support to the NHS Test and Trace service. In exceeding our 200,000 testing capacity target, we have reached another important milestone on our journey to control the spread of the virus – an incredible achievement that has seen us bring together the best minds from across government, the armed forces, scientific community and the private sector.

31/05/20

From tomorrow, the 2.2 million people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and have been ‘shielding’ will be able to go outside, as we continue to ease restrictions in a cautious and gradual way which means we can control the virus.

  • Those advised to shield can now go outside with members of their household or meet one member of another household if they live alone, providing a much-needed boost to people most at risk who have made huge sacrifices. Social distancing must be followed strictly at all times.
     
  • We recognise that the last 10 weeks have been particularly challenging for everyone following shielding guidance, and it’s thanks to their resilience and sacrifice that we have been able to control the virus, avoid the NHS being overwhelmed and save thousands of lives.
     
  • Thanks to the efforts of everyone, we’ve managed to get the R rate beneath 1. This means we can gradually ease restrictions. But the clinically extremely vulnerable remain at risk and should only leave the house once a day. They should not go to work or the shops and should avoid crowded places where they can’t stay 2 metres away from others.
     
  • We are determined to find the right balance between continuing to protect those at the greatest clinical risk, whilst easing restrictions on their daily lives to make the difficult situation more bearable – particularly enabling the contact with loved ones they and we all seek.

From Monday, professional sport will be allowed to return behind closed doors, so long as individual sports and elite athletes follow strict rules that will help control the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

  • Live sport is a cornerstone of British society, and for many it will be hugely exciting and welcome that we have reached the point where it can begin to return in a safe and carefully controlled way.
     
  • The Government has worked with sports and medical bodies to devise a framework for sports to resume, so long as certain conditions that ensure safety are met. Individual sports will know when it’s right for them to restart, and as long as they can meet these protocols, such as competitions taking place without spectators, they can now start planning to return.
     
  • We are also working hard to get grassroots sport back up and running. While those teams can’t compete together yet, we are also relaxing the rules on exercise further, so that from Monday people will be able to exercise with up to five others from different households, so long as they remain 2 metres apart.
     
  • This is a significant moment for British sport. By working with clinicians every step of the way, we have been able to bring the wait to an end and create the safest possible environments for everyone involved.

Whilst we prepare for a wider reopening of schools tomorrow in a safe way to provide education for those who need it most, Labour unfortunately continue to play politics and are putting children’s education at risk.

  • Yet again Labour and the hard-left NEU are chasing headlines rather than accepting the facts around the phased, cautious wider opening of schools. 
     
  • Throughout this pandemic the Government has engaged closely with the unions, schools and local authorities and that engagement continues. Having reviewed the scientific and medical advice from SAGE, all of us want to ensure children can get the education they need whilst ensuring the risk of transmission is reduced.
     
  • The safety and welfare of our children and all staff has been central to all decision making by ministers.

On Friday the Chancellor announced further support to protect jobs, businesses and livelihoods as we begin to kickstart our economy.

  • As we begin to re-open our economy, it is right that the schemes that have provided a lifeline for millions of people and businesses adjust to ensure that those who are able to work do so.
     
  • The Self Employment Support Scheme will be extended for three months, with a second and final grant worth 70 per cent of average trading profits, capped at £6,570 and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will now run until the end of October – providing eight months of support in total.
     
  • This remains one of the most comprehensive and generous packages of support anywhere in the world, and reflecting the fact many people are now able to return to work, we will begin to slowly taper the level of government support from 1 August, so employers can begin to contribute to these costs. We’ve also added more flexibility, making it easier for furloughed workers to return part time.
     
  • We said we would stand behind British businesses and workers and have kept our promise. We will do everything we can to ensure people can pay their bills and put food on the table – as people continue to stay alert, to control the virus and save lives.

29/05/20

The Prime Minister has set out a carefully-designed package to ease the burdens of lockdown to keep the virus under control. Everyone must stay alert to control the virus and save lives.

  • We have been clear that our five tests must be met before any changes to the lockdown are made, because we must not risk the sacrifice of the British people.
     
  • Thanks to the public’s continued patience and hard work in helping to protect the NHS and contain the virus, the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday that the Government’s five tests are being met. This means we can now move forward to the next phase of adjusting the lockdown.
     
  • A series of measures will be put in place in England from Monday 1 June in three core areas – schools, social contact and retail

1) Firstly, as the Prime Minister set out on Sunday, we will reopen schools to more children on Monday.

  • On Monday we will start to open schools - in a safe way - by reopening nurseries and other early years settings and reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in primary schools.
     
  • On 15 June, secondary schools will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for Years 10 and Year 12.

2) Secondly, we will also start to reopen some shops as we restart our economy.

  • On Monday, outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen, provided they meet Covid-secure guidelines.
     
  • On 15 June, we intend to reopen other non-essential retail - but only provided the five tests are still being met and shops have been made Covid-secure. 

3) Thirdly, from Monday we will allow up to six people to meet outside, including gardens and other private outdoor spaces - provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.

  • At the moment, people can meet in parks but not in private gardens. The evidence shows that the risk of transmission is significantly lower outdoors and this step will mean that people can see more of their friends, family and loved ones - perhaps seeing both parents at once, or both grandparents at once.
     
  • But to control the virus, everyone needs to stay alert, act responsibly, strictly observe social distancing rules, and stay two metres apart from those who you do not live with. 
     
  • Minimising contact with others is still the best way to prevent transmission. You should also try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession.
     
  • It remains the case that people should not be inside the homes of their friends and families, unless it is to access the garden.

All the steps we have taken, and will take, are conditional. They are conditional on all the data, and all the scientific advice, and it is that scientific advice which will help us to judge what we are doing is safe.

  • We will see how these new changes are working, and look at the R value and the number of new infections before taking any further steps, so we can ensure anything we do does not risk a second peak that could overwhelm the NHS.
     
  • The new NHS Test and Trace programme will ensure we keep making progress in easing the lockdown while continuing to keep the virus under control.
     
  • There is no doubt that we are making progress and we are hopeful that in the coming weeks we may be able to do more. Because while protecting the health and safety of the British public is our number one priority, we must also work to restart our economy and society - so as many people as possible can begin returning to their way of life.

28/05/20

From 9 am today, the new NHS Test and Trace service will launch across England - helping us to keep the virus under control while carefully and safely lifting the lockdown nationally.

  • As we move to the next phase of our fight against coronavirus, we must ensure we continue to control the spread and do not compromise the progress we have made.
     
  • The new scheme will mean anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by one of the 25,000 contact tracers; they will help trace anyone who had been in close contact with the infected individual, ensuring they isolate for 14 days, thereby avoiding them unknowingly spreading the virus. These tracers will be capable of tracking the contacts of up to 10,000 new cases a day. 
     
  • NHS Test and Trace will be vital to stopping the spread of the virus. It is how we will be able to protect our friends and family from infection, and protect our NHS. But everyone must play their part so together we can continue to control the virus and save lives.

We have extended testing to all symptomatic individuals in England, helping us to continue to monitor the virus and take appropriate action quickly 

  • Thanks to our hugely ramped up testing capacity we are now in a position to extend testing while ensuring testing capacity is available to those who need it most – our frontline staff and those most vulnerable.
     
  • From today, anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a change in their sense of smell or taste can immediately report these symptoms and book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus. Expanded testing availability for children aged under 5 will also be available from today, to help support the phased opening of schools and childcare settings in England from 1 June.
     
  • While we cautiously move to the next phase of our response to this unprecedented virus testing will remain key – alongside the continued heroic efforts of the British public in controlling the spread of the virus and in doing so, saving lives.

26/05/20

Yesterday, the Prime Minister outlined the next steps of the Government’s plan to safely reopen our schools and our economy.

  • Thanks to this country’s collective efforts, the number of new Coronavirus cases is down, and evidence suggests the infection rate is falling. This progress means that we can make further steps toward rebuilding our country.
     
  • From 1 June, the Government intends a cautious, phased reopening of nurseries and primary schools starting with reception, Year 1 and Year 6, and then, from 15 June, ensuring secondary pupils with exams next year get some time with their teachers before their summer holidays.
     
  • The Government’s intention is also to allow outdoor markets and car showrooms to reopen from 1 June, as the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces.
     
  • All other non-essential retail will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.
     
  • Announcing these intentions gives schools, teachers, parents and retailers the clarity they need to prepare, so we can begin to reopen our economy and our society in the safest possible way.

These careful, deliberate steps can only be taken if the Government’s five tests are met by Thursday 28 May, as we cannot risk a second wave of the virus. Those tests are:

  1. Protect the NHS’s ability to cope. We must be confident that we are able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK
     
  2. See a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from COVID-19 so we are confident that we have moved beyond the peak
     
  3. Reliable data from SAGE showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board
     
  4. Be confident that the range of operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE, are in hand, with supply able to meet future demand
     
  5. Be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS

The Government has outlined its conditions for the return of competitive sports training, so elite sports teams can get match fit in the safest way possible.

  • Last week guidance was published on how athletes could return to individual performance training while maintaining social distancing, but professional sportsmen and women need clarity on how they can train together as we move towards resuming sports behind closed doors, only when it is safe to do so.
     
  • The Government has now outlined how elite athletes can carry out organised, close contact training, such as close quarters training and team sports’ tackling, so that players can get match fit under carefully controlled conditions that maximise hygiene and minimise time spent within a two metre distance.
     
  • This guidance, drawn up by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer working closely with medical leads in professional sports, is designed to minimise any risk to the elite sports community. Individual sports will have the responsibility to decide themselves when it is safe to return to training.

24/05/20

Today, the Government has announced plans to support many of the thousands of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation to move on to long-term and safe housing – backed by £433 million of government funding.

  • In the immediate response to this crisis, we have offered accommodation to over 90 per cent of known rough sleepers in order to help them stay safe. We remain committed to ending rough sleeping for good, and we now have a real opportunity to deliver on this mission.
     
  • That's why we are making 6,000 new supported homes available, with 3,300 of these available in the next 12 months. This project will be backed by £433 million of government funding, meaning that many of the thousands of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation can move on to more sustainable, long-term housing.
     
  • This ambitious commitment – the biggest of its kind, with the single biggest injection of specialist accommodation since the Rough Sleeping Initiative began – will be completely transformative and change the lives of thousands of rough sleepers for the better.

The Government has today announced a new £50 million fund for councils across England to prepare for the safe reopening of high streets and other retail spaces, helping to support livelihoods, to get people back to work and customers back to the shops.

  • As part of our road map to recovery, our ambition is to reopen non-essential retail in a phased way from 1 June – subject to the scientific advice. We will set out further detail on how and when these can reopen safely shortly.
     
  • The £50 million Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures, helping to kick-start local economies, get people back to work and customers back to the shops. It will also support a range of practical safety measures including new signs, street markings and temporary barriers.
     
  • Levelling up the regions and supporting our high streets has always been central to the mission of this government – and, as we begin to slowly return to normality, the re-opening of our high streets will be key to kick-starting our economic recovery.

Yesterday, the Transport Secretary outlined new measures to protect and increase transport services, level up infrastructure and regenerate local economies after coronavirus.

  • People across the country are all sharing the same public-spirited approach to tackling the spread of this virus and keeping others safe – with many playing their part by avoiding public transport.
     
  • We are investing an extra £283 million to increase the number of bus and light rail services as quickly as possible so people can reach their destination safely and quickly, while helping ensure there is enough space for them to observe social distancing guidelines. We have also set out the preferred route for the £1 billion upgrade to the A66 which will help to connect Glasgow and Edinburgh with Leeds, Sheffield and Norwich. Ten bids have also been announced to receive funding to develop proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations, including those closed following the Beeching cuts.
     
  • Strengthening vital road and railway connections will be essential to our ambition to level up the country and kickstart regional economies, as we build out of coronavirus and look to the future.

22/05/20

Next week, we will begin offering antibody tests to health and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus, representing further progress in our national testing programme.

  • Antibody testing will play a critically important role as we move into the next phase of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Knowing if you have these antibodies will help us to understand more about the virus in the future.
     
  • Yesterday, the Government signed contracts to supply over 10 million tests from Roche and Abbott in the coming months. From next week, we will begin rolling these out in a phased way; this programme will prioritise our NHS and care staff, where there is a clear value in knowing who has had the virus. 
     
  • It is important to emphasise that we do not yet know whether having antibodies means you are immune to this virus, so testing positive for antibodies will not mean people no longer have to abide by the current social distancing measures. It remains vital that everyone continues to Stay Alert, Control the Virus, and Save Lives.

Today marks the first day of a trial of a new rapid coronavirus test which could speed up the time it takes to get a test result, helping us to control the virus and save lives.

  • The trial of a new, rapid coronavirus test that does not need to be sent to a laboratory to be processed will begin in Hampshire today, with results being returned in just 20 minutes.
     
  • Up to 4,000 people of all ages and backgrounds will participate in the pilot, which will run for up to six weeks. It will be led by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and trained health professionals will take a swab and process the results on-site.
     
  • This new test could provide accurate results almost on the spot, enabling health and care workers to carry on with their shift or to immediately isolate if they test positive. This could change the way that we control Covid-19 across the country, getting those with negative results back into society as quickly as possible.

Work is currently under way to ensure healthcare workers are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge in light of the fantastic contribution they make to the NHS.

  • The purpose of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. 
     
  • NHS and care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make, which is why all NHS workers - as well as independent health workers and social care workers - will now be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
     
  • Work by Government is now underway on how to implement the change and full details will be announced in the coming days.

21/05/20

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that by 1 June we will have 25,000 coronavirus contact tracers in place and ready to start tracing new cases and keep the virus under control.

  • As we inch towards a return to normality, we must ensure that we do not compromise the progress we have made. Alongside our hugely ramped up testing capacity, tracing will be an essential part of our ongoing approach.
     
  • We have already recruited 24,000 contact tracers, and by 1 June we will have 25,000. This army of tracers will be capable of tracking the contacts of up to 10,000 new cases a day – this will dramatically aid our ability to test, track and trace – slowing the spread of new cases.
     
  • Whilst we make progress on testing and tracing everyone must continue to play their part; so stay alert, to keep the spread of the virus under control and save lives.

Yesterday, we extended the offer of indefinite leave to remain, free of charge, to the families and dependants of NHS support staff and social care workers who die as result of contracting coronavirus.

  • Every death in this crisis is a tragedy, and sadly some NHS support staff and social care workers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of saving the lives of others.
     
  • This offer of indefinite leave to remain will be effective immediately and retrospectively – free of charge. It will mean that those who work in social care and our NHS, everyday risking their lives on our behalf, know that we as a nation are eternally grateful to them and their families for their service and sacrifice.
     
  • We will continue to work across government to look at ways to offer further support our NHS staff and ensure their families have the support they need.

Yesterday, we introduced the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Bill in Parliament, which will help support business in addressing the challenges which have resulted from the impact of coronavirus.

  • This is a particularly challenging time for businesses across the entire nation, and we are doing all we can to support them through this difficult period.
     
  • The corporate governance measures will introduce temporary easements and flexibility to businesses where they are coping with reduced resources and restrictions.
     
  • These changes alongside our unprecedented support for both businesses and employees, will ensure businesses are in a position to benefit from the economic boost our safe and staged exit from full lockdown will bring.

20/05/20

Today the Government is introducing legislation that will end the automatic early release of terrorists and increase the minimum time they have to spend in prison, ensuring the worst criminals serve the sentence they deserve.

  • Events in recent months and years have been a stark reminder of the threat we face from terrorism. It is our duty to protect the public from terrorists and ensure they stay in prison until they can no longer pose a threat.
     
  • That is why we are introducing a new Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill that will ensure the most dangerous offenders spend a minimum of fourteen years in prison, as well as ending their prospect of early release, and introducing tougher monitoring for up to 25 years after they have left prison.
     
  • This Government promised to act and tackle the threat of terrorism, and these measures will make sure that those who wish us harm are kept off our streets for as long as necessary, keeping our communities and streets safe.

The Government has launched a new ‘Pick for Britain’ website, encouraging UK workers to apply for fruit and vegetable picking jobs to help with the farming harvest.

  • Every year large numbers of workers from Romania and Bulgaria temporarily come to the UK to take part in the harvest – but this year only about a third of the normal number of workers are available, with travel for other workers severely limited.
     
  • That is why we are encouraging UK workers to join the ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign, so that jobseekers, furloughed workers, students and anyone else interested can lend a hand and help to bring the harvest home by picking fruit and vegetables across UK farms.
     
  • This will help to support our farmers, employ thousands more workers and ensure that everyone can eat and enjoy British fruit and vegetables this year – and we urge everyone interested to seize this opportunity to feed the UK.

Today our historic Trade Bill will be debated in the House of Commons, establishing the UK as an independent trading power now that we have left the EU.

  • The current transition period with the EU will end on December 31 this year, and the UK will then have a fully independent trade policy that will allow us to strike ambitious new free trade deals with countries around the world.
     
  • That is why we are introducing the Trade Bill to Parliament, so that we are prepared to make the most of these new trading opportunities, and will ensure that our trade policy reflects the needs and potential of the whole of the UK as we emerge from the coronavirus.
     
  • This will help to reaffirm the UK as a global leader for free trade, and will make sure that our future trading policy works for every part of our country so that is more united and more outward looking than ever before.

The Government continues to constructively engage with schools, teachers and unions so that we can get our children back to school as soon as possible.

  • The Prime Minister has set out that by 1 June at the earliest, we may be in a position to get some primary pupils back into schools – but only if we meet our five tests, including the rate of transmission decreasing.
     
  • The Government is continuing to work closely with teachers and the unions to facilitate these plans and is in the process of drawing up further guidance with them. Schools are already putting in place protective measures, including ensuring pupils do not attend if they or a member of their household has symptoms, keeping children in small groups and minimising contact, and cleaning surfaces more frequently.
     
  • We have been guided by the science at all key decision points throughout this pandemic, and that continues to be the case. Pupils and staff will only return to school when the scientific advice allows.

19/05/20

The Government has expanded testing so that anyone aged 5 and above with symptoms can now get tested for Coronavirus – as we continue to scale up our capacity.

  • From now, anyone aged 5 and above with symptoms of Coronavirus, which will now include anosmia, is eligible for a test. If you are experiencing a loss of sense of smell or taste, a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, you can book a test online by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
     
  • After doubling lab capacity, setting up 50 regional test centres and 116 mobile testing units, and introducing home testing kits and 3 Lighthouse laboratories, the UK’s testing capacity continues to scale up towards 200,000 a day.
     
  • These extra tests will help slow the spread of the virus, allow key workers to return to work safely, and give healthy people the peace of mind they need. We will continue to give priority to NHS staff and care home residents and workers in order to protect our most vulnerable.

This morning, the Government has announced the new UK Global Tariff regime so that, for the first time in 50 years, we can set our own tariffs tailored to the UK economy – benefitting households and businesses across the country.

  • As we have left the EU, for the first time in half a century we can set our own tariff regime that is tailored to the needs of the UK economy.
     
  • When transition ends at the end of the year, the new UK Global Tariff will make it easier and cheaper for businesses to import from overseas. It is tailored to our economy and will simplify nearly 6,000 tariff lines, and reduce costs for firms by reducing administrative burdens.
     
  • This new regime will support the economy as it recovers from the pandemic, with lower costs for consumers, less red tape and complexity for business, and a tariff regime suited to the UK economy.

The Government is launching a new Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme to put money back into the pockets of millions of employers, as part of our unprecedented package of measures to support businesses during this difficult time.

  • Throughout this pandemic many workers have had to take time off, either because they have Coronavirus or they are self-isolating or shielding, which has placed a significant cost burden on smaller firms.
     
  • Next week, the Government will launch a new online service so that small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 250 employees can recover the costs of two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay for eligible employees who have had to take sick leave since 13 March.
     
  • This is another of many schemes the Government has set up to protect jobs and livelihoods through this pandemic, supporting firms so they can hit the ground running as the economy reopens.

This builds on a package of measures to support people’s livelihoods during the outbreak:

  • Stepping in and helping pay 80 per cent of people’s wages – through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is one of the most generous of any in the world – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary.
     
  • Introducing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to provide loans of up to £5 million, interest free for 12 months, to small businesses.
     
  • The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, where the Government has today announced the maximum loan size will be increased from £50 million to £200 million so businesses get the support they need.
     
  • A Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, where the government pays self-employed people a grant worth 80 per cent of their monthly profits – one of the most generous of any in the world.

18/05/20

The latest action we have taken:

  • Expanding testing eligibility, so anyone aged five and over can be tested if they are showing symptoms of coronavirus. The Government has also added loss of taste or smell to the list of symptoms. 
     
  • Investing £93 million to accelerate construction of the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, to ensure the centre opens in Summer 2021, 12 months ahead of schedule. When completed, will have capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population in as little as six months. But if a successful vaccine is available later this year, we will need to be in a position to manufacture it at scale. So we are investing an additional £38 million to establish a rapid deployment facility this summer. This will support efforts to ensure a vaccine is widely available as soon as possible.
     
  • Providing an additional £84 million to accelerate the development of a vaccine. Prior to this, the Government had invested £47 million in the Oxford and Imperial vaccine programmes. Their work has meant that two of the world’s front-runners to develop a vaccine are right here in the UK. The additional £84 million will help mass produce the Oxford vaccine, so that if current clinical trials are successful, we have dosages to start vaccinating the UK population straight away. The funding will also allow Imperial to launch phase 3 clinical trials of its vaccine later this year.
     
  • Providing up to £35 million to protect critical freight routes, preventing disruption to the flow of critical goods, such as food and medical supplies. The Government has signed agreements with six operators to provide up to £35 million. The decision has been made to protect 16 of the most important routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland which were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of coronavirus.

15/05/20

The Government has announced a multi-billion investment in our roads and railways, helping to support our economic recovery and level-up infrastructure across the country.

  • As the country gets back to work, we are encouraging as many people as possible to avoid using public transport and instead travel by car, bike or on foot – and we want to make sure these essential journeys are as easy as possible.
     
  • That is why we are delivering a £1.7 billion infrastructure package that will improve roads, repair bridges and fill in millions of potholes across the country, as well as accelerating more than £175 million worth of work across our road and rail network, ensuring networks get the vital repairs they need while fewer passengers are using them – and locking in the environmental benefits seen over the past few months by boosting England’s charging infrastructure for electric vehicles over the next decade.
     
  • This will mean that as we slowly and cautiously reopen society and get our economy moving again, everyone will be able to benefit from smoother and safer journeys, with better connections in every part of our country for the future.

Today the Government has announced that an extra 70 million face masks will be manufactured in the UK, securing vital PPE for frontline workers and creating hundreds of domestic jobs.

  • In order to keep supressing the disease and be able to safely ease the social distancing measures, we need to be confident that our NHS and other frontline workers have the PPE they need to keep themselves safe, with enough supply to meet future demand.
     
  • That is why we have been working with UK industry to scale up and secure domestic PPE production, and have now reached a deal with technology company Honeywell that will allow us to manufacture 70 million more face masks for vital workers, as well as creating 450 new jobs in Scotland.
     
  • By increasing our production of homegrown PPE supplies, we are strengthening our ongoing response to the outbreak, and can be confident that our NHS will always have the resources they need to protect themselves and patients.

The Government is constructively engaging with schools, teachers and unions so that we can get children back to school as soon as possible.

  • The Prime Minister has set out that by 1 June at the earliest, the Government may be in a position to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 – but only if we meet our five tests, including the rate of transmission decreasing.
     
  • The Government is working closely with teachers and the unions to facilitate these plans and will draw up further guidance with them in the coming weeks. Schools are already putting in place protective measures, including ensuring pupils do not attend if they or a member of their household has symptoms, keeping children in small groups and minimising contact, and cleaning surfaces more frequently. 
     
  • We have been guided by the science at all key decision points throughout this pandemic, and that continues to be the case. Pupils and staff will only return to school on 1 June if the scientific advice allows.

14/05/20

The Government has announced an additional £600 million of funding for social care to give the sector the support it needs to deal with the coronavirus and continue to save lives.

  • Councils across the country are continuing to play a critical role during this pandemic - we have already provided councils with £3.2 billion of additional funding to help deal with the crisis and this additional funding will help continue to deliver frontline services and support to those who need it most.
     
  • The fund will support measures to reduce staff movement between care homes, protect wages and provide training. It will also ensure that each care home in England will be given a named clinical lead to fast-track the care of residents and staff.
     
  • We will continue to provide whatever support councils, our social care workers and residents of care homes need through this crisis and will continue to safeguard those most vulnerable in society.

The Government’s world-leading scheme to support the self-employed opened for applications yesterday – weeks ahead of schedule.

  • For the self-employed, this pandemic is not only a health challenge, but also a pressing income challenge – that is why we super charged our work to implement this scheme, ensuring that the self-employed get the help they need sooner.
     
  • Self-employed people can now apply for support the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. If they meet the criteria, they will receive a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid in a single instalment up to £7,500. The money will be with people within 6 working days of their application.
     
  • We’re working ahead of time to deliver support to the self-employed, who not only make a significant contribution to our economy but our way of life as well. We will make sure that, in these challenging times, they have money in their pockets to help them through.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister wrote to Sir Keir Starmer expressing his disappointment over his selective and misleading quoting from Public Health England guidance. We all have a duty to work together in response to this unprecedented pandemic. 

  • Throughout our response to the Coronavirus, we have sought to build the maximum political consensus behind our response – engaging and consulting with opposition parties in the pursuit of consensus.
     
  • This Government will continue to do whatever it takes to support our social care workers, and residents of care homes through this crisis.
     
  • We hope that Sir Keir and the Labour Party will stand by their commitment to work constructively and return to the pursuit of consensus during this unprecedented pandemic, as the British public would expect.

13/05/20

Yesterday, the Chancellor extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of October,  giving workers and businesses the certainty they need that the Government will continue to support them.

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has already protected more than 7 million jobs across the UK which would otherwise have been at risk. As the Government moves into the second stage of its response to coronavirus, it is focused on not just saving lives, but also saving livelihoods.
     
  • We will extend the scheme until the end of October, to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way. Until the end of July, workers will continue to receive 80 per cent of their current salary, up to £2,500 a month, from the Government. From the start of August, the scheme will be more flexible, and furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to contribute towards some of the costs of their salaries.
     
  • We will continue to do everything we can to ensure people can pay their bills and put food on the table. As we begin to recover and return to our way of life, it is vital that we all stay alert, so we can control the virus and save lives.

The Housing Secretary has announced a plan to restart the housing market in England, allowing anyone to move home safely while getting the vital construction industry running again.

  • Thanks to the efforts and sacrifice of the British people, we have succeeded in slowing the spread of coronavirus. But the necessary measures have left families  unable to move home and progress their plans.
     
  • From today, anyone in England will be able move house, complete purchases and view properties in person, while new guidance has been provided to do this safely. This will unblock 450,000 property transactions paused due to coronavirus. We will also launch new measures to get the construction industry working again, with a new Safe Working Charter to help sites reopen in a way that ensures people stay alert to control the spread of the virus.
     
  • As we move to the second phase of the Government’s response to coronavirus, we must begin to recover and restore our way of life – now the critical construction industry can safely move forward, while those waiting to move can do so.

From today, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will open for applications, ahead of schedule, to ensure those who work for themselves are financially supported during this time.

  • As we move into the second phase of the Government’s response to coronavirus, ministers are focused not just on saving lives, but also supporting people through this. That’s why they are taking unprecedented action to support businesses, jobs and our economy.
     
  • From today, self-employed people can apply for support under the world-leading Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. If they meet the criteria, they will receive a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid in a single instalment up to £7,500. The money will be with people within 6 working days of their application.
     
  • Originally not due to open until June, this scheme will ensure self-employed people have money in their pockets to help them through these challenging times.

From today, people in England can spend longer outdoors, visit garden centres and all those who cannot work from home are now encouraged to go back to work, as part of the first step in the Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy.

  • Our success containing the virus so far has been hard fought and hard won. So it is for that reason that we must proceed with the utmost care in the next phase, and avoid undoing what we have achieved.
     
  • Anyone who cannot work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should go to work. The Government has provided employers with guidance on making workplaces safe. People can also now take unlimited exercise outside, sit in the park, drive to other destinations such as a national park, and meet one person from outside of their household if they are outdoors and maintain social distancing.
     
  • At all times we need people to stay alert, so that we can control the virus and save lives. 

11/05/20

The Government has today published its Covid-19 Recovery Strategy:

  • Coronavirus is the biggest challenge the UK has faced in decades – and we are not alone. All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this disease. It threatens to take both our way of life and our loved ones from us.
     
  • Thanks to the hard work, resilience and sacrifice of the British people, and despite a tragic loss of life, the UK has slowed the spread of coronavirus. The death rate and hospital admissions are coming down, and we have protected the NHS and saved many thousands of lives.
     
  • We must not relent now – or else there is a very real risk of a second peak of the disease that could overwhelm the NHS and throw away all of our achievements to date.
     
  • The Government has set out a new alert system, which will tell us how tough social distancing measures need to be, and which will guide our progress along a roadmap – a three step plan to start our recovery and rebuild our way of life.
     
  • We must all continue to play our part – by staying alert, so we can control the virus and save lives.

07/05/20

Today the Government will undertake a review of the social distancing measures, and on Sunday the Prime Minister will outline details of how we will continue to suppress coronavirus while keeping people safe.

  • Thanks to the massive national effort of the British people to stay at home and protect the NHS, we are now past the peak of the coronavirus.
     
  • Any changes made to the social distancing measures will be taken with a slow, considered and careful approach, only moving when we know it’s safe and carefully monitoring the results.
     
  • We must not risk a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS, damaging both public health and the economy, and wasting the sacrifices the British people have made in lockdown to get the virus under control.

Over one million food boxes have now been delivered to people who are most at risk from coronavirus, ensuring the most vulnerable in society have all the support they need to get through this epidemic.

  • This is very challenging time for those having to be shielded from the coronavirus, and we want to make sure they have all the support they need, for as long as they need it throughout this difficult time.
     
  • That is why we have been undertaking an unprecedented national effort to deliver essential food boxes to people who are shielding, and have now delivered over one million boxes since the programme launched at the end of March.
     
  • This will ensure that the people who have been asked to shield and stay at home do not feel alone – and have the food and essential supplies that they need to make their lives easier.

06/05/20

The latest action we have taken:

  • Paying the largest number of Universal Credit claims in a single day – providing vital support to those who need it. Five weeks ago, in just two days on March 30 and 31, more than 135,000 people made a claim – more than we usually receive in a month. These people will receive their payments today, the highest number of first payments the Government has ever made in a single day. Of the eligible claims, around 93 per cent have been paid in full and on time.
     
  • Approving more than 69,000 Bounce Back Loans worth over £2 billion during the first 24 hours of the scheme. The seven largest lenders received more than 130,000 Bounce Back Loan Scheme applications on the first day of the scheme (4 May). Over 69,000 of these have been approved on the first day, and lenders are working hard to process and approve the rest as quickly as possible.
     
  • Postponing business rates revaluation in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus. Legislation had been introduced to bring the next revaluation forward by one year from 2022 to 2021, but following the recent economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic ministers want to ensure businesses have more certainty during this difficult time.

05/05/20

From today, we will begin trials for a new ‘test, track and trace’ programme on the Isle of Wight, which will enable us to continue controlling the spread of the virus, while gradually getting people back to work.

  • Test and trace will enable the UK to gradually ease some elements of the lockdown, whilst not risking a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS.
     
  • The NHS Covid-19 App will allow users to report if they contracted Covid-19 symptoms and then anonymously contact others they have been in significant contact with.
     
  • Every necessary step has been taken to ensure the protection and privacy of app users’ data. The government has collaborated internationally and learned from examples of best practice across the world, informing the development of a bespoke approach that is right for the unique needs of the UK.
     
  • The NHS Covid-19 App will help reduce the chance of the virus spreading by enabling us to rapidly identify people most at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves, the people they care about and the NHS.

Today, we will begin negotiations with the United States to forge a new Free Trade Agreement which will benefit every region and nation of the UK.

  • The UK is a champion of free trade – we want to strike an ambitious deal that opens up new opportunities for our businesses, helping our economies bounce back from the economic challenge posed by coronavirus.
     
  • This first round of negotiations taking place over the next two weeks will set out in our negotiation objectives on goods and services trade, digital trade and supporting small businesses. We have been clear that any future agreement with the USA must protect our NHS and continue uphold our high standards on food safety and animal welfare which we already employ in our country. 
     
  • We will drive a hard bargain - ensuring the UK gets a great deal and secures an agreement that benefits individuals and businesses across every region, in every nation of the United Kingdom.

We have announced a £5.4 million funding boost for Law Centres across England and Wales to ensure people impacted by the coronavirus who require legal advice can get the support they need.

  • We have aimed to ensure that our schemes protect as many people as possible – however there are people who find themselves in need of additional support as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
     
  • This additional support will ensure that people who need legal aid to address housing, debt, discrimination and employment problems will get it, with funding being delivered directly to not for profit organisations and Law Centres across England and Wales - helping them continue to provide vital legal advice throughout this pandemic. 
     
  • Law Centres across England and Wales are continuing to play a critical role during this pandemic; this extra funding will help them to continue to deliver legal support to those who need it most.

04/05/20

Today the Prime Minister will confirm our £388 million investment for research into vaccines, tests and treatments to prevent future waves of infection and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.

  • The Prime Minister is today co-hosting the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Conference to drive forward the global race for coronavirus vaccines, treatments and tests. We must work together to put a shield around all our people, and that can only be achieved by developing and mass producing a vaccine.
     
  • That’s why we are investing £388 million for research to discover new vaccines, tests and treatments, as part of a larger £744 million aid commitment to help end the pandemic and support the global economy.
     
  • Tackling the virus is the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes. It’s humanity against the virus – we are in this together, and together we will prevail.

Today the Bounce Back Loans Scheme is launched, to ensure that businesses quickly get the financial support they need, to help them survive this crisis.

  • Our emergency measures, including business grants, tax deferrals, and the job retention scheme, are already helping hundreds of thousands of small businesses weather the impact of Coronavirus – but many need cash injections to keep operating.
     
  • From 9am this morning, our Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables small businesses to borrow up to £50,000 and access the cash within days. These loans are easy to apply for, with just seven questions on the form. They are 100 percent government-backed and will be interest free for 12 months.
     
  • This will offer additional protection to small firms, helping them get the finance they need so they can keep operating, protect jobs and incomes, and bounce back from this crisis.

Education Ministers have announced a package of measures to protect universities and students from the impact of Coronavirus.

  • Universities have an integral part to play in our economy, society and culture, which is highlighted now more than ever through their important role in the fight against the virus.
     
  • The Government will bring forward £2.6 billion of tuition fee payments in order to help universities better manage their finances through this crisis, as well as £100 million of public funding to protect research activities including research towards beating coronavirus.
     
  • English universities will be able to recruit undergraduate students up to five per cent over their forecasts, with the Government able to allocate an extra 10,000 places, including 5,000 ring-fenced for nursing and health courses to support our public services.
     
  • These plans draw on proposals from the universities sector and will help boost support for students, stabilise the admissions system and ease pressures on universities’ finances.

01/05/20

The Prime Minister updated the nation on the coronavirus outbreak, confirming we have passed the peak and that next week he will set out a comprehensive plan to continue to suppress the disease while re-starting the economy.

  • Thanks to the massive collective effort to shield the NHS, we have avoided an uncontrollable and catastrophic epidemic where the reasonable worst-case scenario was 500,000 deaths.
  • We are now past the peak and on the downward trend, so next week the Government will set out a comprehensive plan to explain how we can get our economy moving, how we can get children back to school and into childcare, and how we can travel to work and make the workplace safer.
  • A huge amount of work is underway on that plan and the Government will always be guided by the science as it builds the maximum political consensus across all parties and across the UK.
  • This country has come together in a way few of us have seen in our lifetimes, to protect the NHS and save lives, and we must carry that forward into the next phase.

Meeting our target for 100,000 tests a day by the end of April – with 122,000 carried out on Friday. We have surpassed our target, with thanks to the enormous efforts of those who have played a role in scaling up our testing capacity.

Removing VAT on PPE purchased by care homes, businesses and charities for the next three months, ensuring they have what they need to do their jobs safely and save lives. While we have already removed import duties from PPE, EU law has prevented us from removing the VAT on it. By acting under an exceptional basis allowed in emergencies, we have now been able to remove VAT on this vital equipment until the end of July, saving care homes, businesses and charities more than £100 million and leaving them with more money to fight coronavirus.

29/04/20

From today, Coronavirus testing has been extended further to protect our most vulnerable and keep people safe.

  • Every day we are ramping up capacity to meet our goal of 100,000 tests - and our ultimate aim is that anyone who needs a test will be able to have one.
     
  • Anyone displaying symptoms who is over 65, as well as people who have to leave their home for work can book a test online now – and so can their household. Testing has also been extended to all NHS and social care staff, care home residents and workers regardless of if they display symptoms of the virus or not.
     
  • This new expansion of testing, made possible due to rapidly increasing testing capacity, will help protect our most vulnerable, our healthcare staff and keep people safe.

We have confirmed the allocations from the £1.6 billion funding boost for councils to help them continue to provide essential services and support those impacted by coronavirus.

  • Earlier this month, we announced a £1.6 billion funding boost for councils, helping to ensure they can continue providing essential services during this difficult time.
     
  • We have set out how this will be allocated to councils in the fairest way possible, recognising the latest and best assessment of the pressures they face. This additional support will mean councils in England will have been provided with over £3.2 billion to deal with the immediate impacts of coronavirus.
     
  • Councils across the country are continuing to play a critical role during this pandemic - this extra funding will help them to continue to deliver frontline services and support to those who need it most.

28/04/20

The Health Secretary has launched a new scheme to support the families of frontline health and care workers who die from coronavirus.

  • Health and care workers are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus, putting the lives of patients ahead of their own.
     
  • While nothing can make up for the tragic loss of a loved one, we will do everything we can to support families of those health and care workers who lose their lives to this disease. A new Life Assurance Scheme will provide £60,000 to the families of NHS frontline staff and social care workers who die from coronavirus.
     
  • We owe a huge debt to those who die in service to our nation and are doing everything we can to protect them.

Today at 11am, we will join NHS England in holding a minute’s silence for the frontline workers that have lost their lives to coronavirus.

The Chancellor has announced a new Bounce Back Loans Scheme to ensure that businesses get the financial support they need quickly, to help them survive this crisis.

  • The Government’s emergency measures, including business grants, tax deferrals, and the job retention scheme, are already helping hundreds of thousands of small businesses weather the impact of coronavirus – but many need cash injections to keep operating.
     
  • Our new Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables small businesses to borrow up to £50,000 and access the cash within days. They are easy to apply for and the Government provides a 100 per cent guarantee for the loan to lenders.
     
  • This will offer additional protection to small firms, helping them get the finance they need so they can keep operating, protect jobs and incomes, and get through this crisis.

Today the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill will be debated by MPs, and the Home Secretary has committed a £3 million funding boost to support children affected by domestic abuse.

  • While staying at home is helping keep the majority of us safe, it can leave some people more vulnerable to domestic abuse, and some children witness appalling abuse carried out in their home.
     
  • That’s why the Home Secretary is today directing £3.1 million to specialist services for children who have been affected by domestic abuse, including one-to-one and group counselling sessions, and early intervention schemes. At the same time, the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill will be debated by MPs today.
     
  • These measures will protect victims, support the mental health needs of children, heal their emotional scars and ensure they can move forwards towards a positive future.

The Prime Minister is back in Downing Street and leading the national fight against coronavirus.

  • Coronavirus is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war, but we are making progress – with fewer hospital admissions, fewer Covid patients in ICU, and real signs we are passing through the peak.
     
  • Though it has been hard and stressful for many of us to give up our freedoms, we must keep going, because if we ease restrictions too soon then we run the risk of a second spike – which would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster.
     
  • When we are sure that the first phase is over and that we are meeting our five tests, then that will be the time to move onto the second phase, in which we continue to suppress the disease, but gradually refine the economic and social restrictions, and one by one fire up the engines of this vast UK economy.
     
  • We simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow, or even when those changes will be made, though clearly the government will be saying much more about this in the coming days - we will be relying, as ever, on the science to inform us.
     
  • If we keep following the advice, to stay home, we can help protect the NHS and save lives. If we can do this we will beat the virus together, we will come through this all the faster, and the United Kingdom will emerge stronger than ever before.

27/04/20

The Prime Minister has returned to Downing Street to resume leading the country in tackling coronavirus.

  • Coronavirus is the biggest challenge this country has faced for decades, and all over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.
     
  • Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of all those that have lost their lives to this terrible virus.
     
  • We thank all our fantastic frontline NHS and social care workers for everything they are doing – and we will go on supporting them in whatever way we can.
     
  • We will continue rising to the challenge and will beat coronavirus together.

The Government has unveiled a network of mobile testing units, to ensure that all essential workers that need a Coronavirus test can get one.

  • With testing capacity rapidly increasing towards the goal of 100,000 a day, the Government has expanded testing eligibility so that all essential workers and their households can now be tested if they are displaying symptoms.
     
  • To ensure that everyone can access these tests, the Government is deploying mobile testing units, operated by the Armed Forces, which will be travelling around the country to help deliver testing where it is needed. There will be nearly 100 of these units deployed in the coming weeks.
     
  • These units will allow for hundreds of essential workers and their households to be tested each day, with results within 48 hours, so they can get back where they are needed – on the front line.

Today, the Finance Bill will have its Second Reading in Parliament – with measures to help deliver on our promises to the British people in these challenging times.

  • We know that many people are worried about the impact of coronavirus on their lives, and we have set out an unprecedented package of measures to support jobs and businesses.
     
  • This Finance Bill is the first of this People’s Government– with measures to address the ‘taper problem’ in doctors’ pensions, reform Entrepreneurs’ Relief so that it genuinely works in the interests of small business owners, and increase R&D tax credits to significantly increase private R&D investment.
     
  • These measures are in addition to the Coronavirus Act, helping to protect life and the nation’s public health. This month, the National Living Wage also received its largest cash boost to £8.72, and we have a delivered a £100 tax cut for a typical employee by increasing the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 – putting more money in people’s pockets.
     
  • We are doing everything it takes to help our economy through this challenging time, ensuring people get the support they need to do the right thing, to stay at home, protect our NHS, save lives.

26/04/20

We have delivered over half a million food packages to the people at the highest risk from the effects of coronavirus.

  • Last month, the Government advised those at highest risk from coronavirus to shield themselves at home, but not all of them have family and friends who can get the vital provisions they need.
     
  • Working together with local leaders and the food industry, we have delivered more than 500,000 boxes of essential food and supplies, including items such as fresh fruit, tinned vegetables, pasta, coffee and toilet rolls.
     
  • This unprecedented package of support will help ensure that the most clinically vulnerable people are never left to feel alone at this most challenging time.

24/04/20

The latest action we have taken:

  • Expanding testing to all essential workers in England and members of their households. In the biggest expansion of coronavirus testing yet, all essential workers and members of their households showing coronavirus symptoms will be able to book a test directly online. They will then be able to use one of more than 30 drive-through testing sites across the country or receive a home testing kit, receiving their results by text.
     
  • Rapidly establishing a network of new mobile testing units and setting up a delivery service for home testing kits. Mobile units will travel the country to reach care homes, police stations, prisons and other sites where there is demand for testing. In addition, a delivery service for home testing kits has been designed with key industry partners, including Royal Mail and Amazon.
     
  • Protecting vital transport routes to ensure essential supplies and workers can continue to move across the country. We have provided a multi-million support package for essential freight services, including up to £17 million for critical routes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, up to £10.5 million for lifeline ferry and freight services to the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles, and further support for critical routes between Britain and the European mainland.

22/04/20

The latest action we have taken:

  • Completing the biggest network of diagnostic labs in just five weeks to ramp up testing capacity across the country. We have created 3 new Lighthouse mega-labs in Milton Keynes, Glasgow and Cheshire, now staffed with an army of highly qualified staff and volunteers from industry and academia. Each site will scale up to test tens of thousands of patient samples each day.
     
  • Providing £45 million for two world-leading projects working to find a vaccine for coronavirus. The projects, at Oxford University and Imperial College, will received funding to further work on a vaccine, with the first human trials set to begin tomorrow. This is in addition to the £250 million we are putting into the international effort to find a vaccine.
     
  • Supporting more than 1.3 million employees through the Job Retention Scheme since it opened for applications on Monday. So far, 185,500 claims have been submitted, covering a total of 1.3 million employees who would otherwise be at risk of losing their jobs and incomes.
     
  • Launching a new online platform to help businesses easily find and access the financial support that is available to them. A new support finder has been launched on gov.uk to help businesses and self-employed people to quickly and easily find what financial support is available to them, by asking them to fill out a simple online questionnaire, before directing them to the help they are eligible for.
     
  • Launching a new plan to tackle loneliness during the coronavirus lockdown, which we know many people will be finding incredibly difficult. We have launched a new public campaign to get people talking openly about loneliness, and want to ensure that people of all ages and background are supported as they stay home to protect the NHS.

21/04/20

The Government has announced £45 million for two world-leading UK projects working to find a vaccine for coronavirus, reaffirming our commitment to do everything in our power to help the scientists working to defeat this virus.

  • UK scientists are working as fast as they can to find a vaccine, saving and protecting people’s lives – and we will do everything in our power to help them.
     
  • That is why we are backing our UK scientists with everything they need to find a vaccine, including £45 million for two projects at Oxford University and Imperial College, with the first human trials set to begin tomorrow. This is in addition to the £250 million we are putting into the international effort to find a vaccine – the largest international donation.
     
  • While this is a complex process which could take many months and has no guarantees, we are clear that we will back our scientists with what they need, to give us the best chance of finding a vaccine.

The Government is continuing to work around the clock to get frontline NHS and care workers the equipment they need to do their jobs safely and save lives.

  • Global supply chains of PPE are under pressure – this is an international challenge that many other countries are experiencing.
     
  • While there is huge demand for equipment at this time, the Government is buying millions more and working with British manufacturers and our international allies to secure months more of supplies – with a PPE shipment from Turkey successfully arriving this morning following engagement with the Turkish Government at the highest level. 
     
  • Since this pandemic began we have delivered over a billion items of protective equipment for frontline workers, and we will continue to pursue every possible domestic and international option for PPE procurement.

20/04/20

The latest action we have taken:

  • Today, our unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has opened for applications – one of the most generous schemes in the world which will help to protect millions of jobs across the country. The scheme is now up and running and is expected to benefit millions of people across the country. Firms who apply will receive funds within six days. HMRC’s easy-to-use portal has a step by step application process, and up to 5,000 staff will be manning phone lines and webchat services to ensure any questions can be answered.
     
  • Announcing a £1.25 billion package of support for innovative firms impacted by coronavirus, delivering important help that will protect some of the most dynamic sectors of our economy. The £1.25 billion support package will ensure businesses in some of the most dynamic sectors are protected. This includes a £500 million loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund, and £750 million of targeted support for small and medium sized businesses focusing on research and development.
     
  • Appointing the Chief Executive of the 2012 London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Lord Deighton, to lead the national effort to get more PPE to NHS and social care staff who are fighting this virus on the front line. Lord Deighton led the delivery of the 2012 London Olympics. He will now coordinate the Government’s focus on increasing the supply of PPE, leading the ‘make’ programme to unleash the potential of UK industry to scale up domestic PPE manufacturing, ensuring we can produce more of the equipment we need here in the UK. We are working around the clock to deliver more, and by working closely with UK industry, we will rise to this challenge together.
     
  • Unloading a shipment of 140,000 gowns from Myanmar today. And we are continuing to pursue every possible option for PPE procurement.
     
  • Unveiling new measures to ensure vulnerable and disadvantaged young people can continue to access vital education resources from their homes. The Government will provide laptops and tablets to children with a social worker and disadvantaged young people who are taking exams next year, so they can continue to access essential services and resources. 4G routers will also be provided to disadvantaged secondary school pupils and care leavers, so that they can get online and continue their studies. In addition, the Oak National Academy has launched to provide 180 video lessons each week, across a broad range of subjects from maths to art to languages, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10.
     
  • Pledging an extra £1.6 billion in funding for councils so they can continue to support their communities and deliver vital services through this challenging time. This extra £1.6 billion takes the total given to councils to help their communities through this crisis to over £3.2 billion, an unprecedented level of additional financial support in recent times.

19/04/20

Lord Deighton, who successfully ran the 2012 London Olympics, has been appointed to lead our national effort to produce essential protective equipment, so we can ensure our amazing frontline health and social care staff have the protection they need.

  • British manufacturers large and small are responding to the challenge of helping ensure our frontline staff have the personal protective equipment they need – but we know we must go further and faster.
     
  • Deighton will lead the Government’s focus on increasing the supply of protective equipment by co-ordinating domestic suppliers, streamlining the process of approving new equipment, adding more companies to the supply chain and making it easier for manufacturers to scale up production, so we can produce more of the equipment we need here in the UK.
     
  • We are determined to do everything we can to get more supplies to the frontline. So far we have delivered more than 1 billion items of protective equipment since the pandemic began, but we are working around the clock to deliver more.

Yesterday, we announced local authorities will receive an extra £1.6 billion in funding to make sure they are supported so they can continue to support their communities and deliver vital services through this challenging time.

  • Local councils are on the frontline of our national effort to keep the public safe, and council staff across the country are our unsung heroes. What they do has never been more important, and the whole country is proud of the contribution they are making.
     
  • We have said from the outset that local councils would have the resources they need to meet the challenge presented by this virus, and by providing a further £1.6 billion – taking the total additional support since the pandemic began to £3.2 billion – we are helping them to deal with immediate pressures created by coronavirus. 
     
  • We are standing shoulder to shoulder with local government, and are determined that they will be able to continue to support their communities with services for children, people in social care and many others through this challenging time.

The Education Secretary has unveiled new measures to ensure vulnerable and disadvantaged young people can continue to access vital education resources from their homes.

  • We recognise the extraordinary sacrifice that the British people are making by staying at home as we tackle the coronavirus, and are determined that young people’s education does not suffer as a result.
     
  • With schools remaining closed until the scientific advice changes, the Government will provide laptops and tablets to children with a social worker and disadvantaged young people who are taking exams next year, so they can continue to access essential services and resources. 4G routers will also be provided to disadvantaged secondary school pupils and care leavers, so that they can get online and continue their studies.
     
  • Schools and colleges will be able to keep the new devices once they reopen, meaning they will play a crucial role in enabling children to learn both in the short term and in the future.

17/04/20

Yesterday, the Government announced that the social distancing measures currently in place to tackle the coronavirus will continue for at least the next three weeks. Our advice is clear: people should continue to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives.

  • The Foreign Secretary chaired meetings of the Cabinet and COBR to consider the advice from SAGE. While there are indications that social distancing measures have been successful in slowing down the spread of the virus, it is a mixed and inconsistent picture and, in some settings, infections are still likely to be increasing.
     
  • Relaxing any of the measures currently in place would risk damage to both public health and our economy. The worst thing we could do now is ease up too soon and allow a second peak of the virus to hit the NHS and hit the British people.
     
  • We have set out 5 specific things which the Government will need to be satisfied of before we will consider it safe to adjust any of the current measures:
  1. We must protect the NHS’s ability to cope – we must be confident that we are able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK.
  2. We need to see a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from coronavirus so we are confident that we have moved beyond the peak.
  3. We need to have reliable data from SAGE showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board.
  4. We need to be confident that the range of operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE, are in hand, with supply able to meet future demand.
  5. We need to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS.
  • When we are confident on these five points, guided by science and data, we will look to adjust the measures – be will only do it when the evidence demonstrates that is safe to do it. We will make those decisions at the right time for this country – but for now, the most important thing people can do is to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives.

The Chancellor has expanded the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme ahead of its launch on Monday, ensuring that no viable business slips through our safety net of support as we help protect jobs and the economy.

  • Firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.
     
  • Businesses with turnovers of more than £500 million were originally not eligible for the scheme – but the scheme has been extended after extensive consultation with businesses to ensure all viable firms are able to benefit from support.
     
  • We said we would support our economy – and we meant it. Our unprecedented package of measures is one of the most generous in the world, and we are ensuring businesses are provided with the support they need during the pandemic, helping to provide job security to thousands of people and protect our economy

Stay at home

You must stay at home, only leaving for the following very limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your immediate household.
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Protect the NHS

You must stay at home to protect the NHS:

  • The NHS only has a limited number of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment.
  • We are working around the clock to increase NHS capacity.
  • The more people who get sick, the harder it is for the NHS to cope.
  • We must slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are sick at any one time.

Save lives

You must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. The police will have the powers to enforce the following restrictions: 

  • Dispersing gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with.
  • Issuing fines to anyone who does not comply with these rules.
  • Closing shops that are not essential, as well as playgrounds and places of worship. 

Full guidance on staying at home can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

You can find the most up to date medical advice at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

You can find the answers to frequently asked questions about what you can do and can’t do during this pandemic here.

16/04/20

Today's key announcements:

  • Announced that the current measures will be in place for at least another three weeks. The evidence shows that relaxing any of the measures currently in place would risk damage to both public health and our economy. The worst thing we could do now is ease up too soon and allow a second peak of the virus to hit the NHS and hit the British people. So, the current restrictions will remain in place, the Government will continue to monitor the data on the impact of the virus.
     
  • Giving councils greater financial relief by allowing them to defer £2.6 billion in business rates payments and paying £850 million in social care grants up front this month. These new measures mean councils will be able to defer £2.6 billion of payments they are due to make to central government over the next 3 months as part of the business rates retention scheme. Additionally, the government will bring forward care grant payments to councils worth £850 million for both children and adults. These will now all be paid this month, rather than monthly in April, May and June, and will help provide immediate support for core frontline social care services.
     
  • Opened the NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham. Birmingham is ready for patients to be admitted and was formally opened by the Health Secretary and the Duke of Cambridge on Thursday 16 April. The hospital will have an initial 500 beds, but with the capacity to increase beds up to 4,000 if needed.

15/4/20

Today's key announcements:

  • Publishing a new action plan for adult social care. This sets out the Government’s plan for minimising the spread of the infection in care settings and supporting the workforce to address the unprecedented challenges posed by coronavirus.
  • Ensuring that everyone who needs a test for coronavirus in a social care setting will be able to receive one. From today, we will ensure that anyone in a care home who develops symptoms, or who is due to be discharged from hospital into a residential care setting, will be tested for the disease.
  • Testing every social care worker who needs one. Dedicated testing has already begun for frontline staff, including social care workers, and as capacity grows further we will prioritise the testing of symptomatic social care workers, and anyone in their household who has Covid-19 symptoms.
  • Extending the cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to make the scheme more generous and to help more people. To ensure the scheme helps as many people as possible, the date by which somebody had to be employed, in order to be eligible for furlough, has been extended from the end of February to 19 March 2020.

14/4/20

Coronavirus Update

Providing over £14 billion from the Coronavirus emergency response fund for public services, including the NHS and local authorities involved in the fight against Coronavirus. This support builds on the initial £5 billion announced at the Budget.  We are helping our public services with:

  • £6.6 billion to support our health services
  • £1.6 billion for local authorities
  • £0.9 billion to cover extra measures such as home delivery of food and medicines to the most vulnerable people
  • £3.5 billion to ensure vital rail services continue to operate for those who rely upon them for essential journeys
  • £2 billion for the devolved administrations

Outlining extra support to protect the victims of domestic abuse during this national emergency, so they have a safe place to go if they can’t stay at home. The Home Secretary has launched a campaign to tell victims that they can leave home to get the support they need and is providing up to £2 million to enhance online support services and helplines for domestic abuse, so that anybody who needs it can access that help and support.

Leading the global fight against coronavirus, committing a £200 million package to support UK charities and international organisations to help improve public health in developing countries. If coronavirus is left to spread in developing countries, this could lead to the virus re-emerging in the UK later in the year and put further pressure on our NHS. A package of £200 million will back UK charities and international organisations to help reduce mass infections in developing countries which often lack the healthcare systems to track and halt the virus. This brings the total amount of UK aid committed to the global fight against coronavirus to £744 million, making the UK one of the biggest donors to the international response.

 

11/04/20

Today's key announcements:

Launched a three-strand plan for PPE to protect those on the frontline who are fighting this virus. A full, 24/7 military operation is already underway to deal with the unprecedented, global demand for PPE as a result of this pandemic, and to date, over 761 million pieces of PPE delivered across the UK. But we will stop at nothing to protect those on the frontline and the three strands are:

  • Guidance: Being clear who needs PPE and when, and who does not, based on UK clinical expertise and consistent with WHO standards, ensuring workers on the front line are able to do their jobs safely, while making sure PPE is only used when clinically necessary and isn’t wasted or stockpiled.
  • Distribution: Making sure those need PPE can get it and at the right time. The Government will set up a new supply system to ensure those who need critical PPE receive it as quickly as possible.
  • Future supply: Taking action to secure enough PPE to see us through the crisis.

Launched the biggest diagnostic lab network in British history to test for coronavirus. On Thursday 9 April, the Health Secretary launched the first Lighthouse Lab in Milton Keynes, a diagnostics facility which has the capacity to test tens of thousands of patient samples each day for coronavirus. Two further Lighthouse Labs will be opened in Alderley Park in Cheshire and Glasgow in the next 2 weeks. The testing of NHS staff and their families currently in isolation will continue to be prioritised, allowing those testing negative, or with family members who test negative, to return to work.

 

09/04/20

Today's key announcements:

  • The First Secretary of State chaired a COBR meeting, involving the devolved administrations, to discuss our approach to the review of social distancing measures. At this stage, the Government is continuing to gather all of the relevant data, to obtain the fullest picture possible, of the effects of the social distancing measures that we’ve put in place. We will be guided by the science at all times, so we don’t expect to be able to say more on this until the end of next week. The measures will have to stay in place until we have the evidence that clearly shows we’ve moved beyond the peak.
  • We are working with technology firms to help people in care homes stay in touch with their families during this difficult time. As part of this work, Facebook will provide more than 2,000 of its Portal video calling devices for free to hospitals, care homes and other settings including hospices.

08/04/20

Today's key announcements:

  • Announced an unprecedented £750 million package of support for charities – ensuring they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak. This will benefit tens of thousands of charities, ensuring they can meet increased demand as a result of the virus as well as continuing their day to day activities supporting those in need.
  • Launched a mental health hotline for NHS staff – as we are doing everything we can to support our incredible NHS workers as they care for people through this global health emergency. NHS staff will be able to call or text a free number staffed by thousands of specially trained volunteers, to receive support and advice for the pressures they face every day during the global health emergency. Anyone who requires further help will be signposted to other services ranging from practical and financial assistance through to specialist bereavement and psychological support.

07/04/20

Today's key announcements:

  • We are partnering with the video games industry to push out the Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ message to millions of people. We will partner with leading video games companies to help get essential health messaging into more UK homes, including through the Candy Crush Saga game. 
  • We have updated the guidance so that employees with caring responsibilities can now be furloughed. Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus can be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed.

05/04/20

Today's key announcements:

  • The Prime Minister has written to the leaders of all opposition parties in Parliament, inviting them to a briefing with himself, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser next week. The Prime Minister will listen to the views of other opposition leaders and update them on the measures his Government has taken so far, including rapidly expanding testing and providing unprecedented support for businesses and people across the country.
  • We are stepping up plans to bring Britons stranded overseas home, ensuring airlines can continue to operate and bring people back home safely. The Government is ramping up efforts to bring home thousands of travellers stranded overseas by coronavirus with a new package of extra flights and 10 additional airlines joining the scheme to keep commercial routes open and get British people back to the UK.

03/04/20

Today's key announcements:

  • The new NHS Nightingale Hopsital at the ExCel Centre in London opened - helping to increase NHS capacity so we can treat more patients, fight the virus and save lives. We also have plans for new Nightingale hospitals across the country, in places including Bristol, Harrogate, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow.
  • We have expanded the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, bolstering the support available for small businesses. We are stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and extending it so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible. 
  • We have introduced a new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, to ensure that more firms are able to benefit from Government-backed support at this difficult time. It will provide a government guarantee of 80 per cent to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.
  • We have announced nearly £400 million to help keep England's buses running. New funding of up to £167 million will be paid over 12 weeks under the new Covid-19 Bus Services Support Grant, on top of our pledge to guarantee £200 million of existing funding even though not all services may run during this time. This is in addition to up to £30 million of extra government bus funding, originally earmarked for starting new services, which will instead be paid to local authorities to maintain existing services.
  • We have established three national clinical trials to continue our efforts to find a vaccine for coronavirus. The trials will each cover a major stage of the disease – primary care, hospital care and critical care – and are looking at the effect of existing drugs and steroids, repurposed for the treatment of Covid-19. One of the trials, called Recovery, is the largest of its kind in the world, with 926 patients involved.

01/04/20

Today's key announcements:

  • We are supporting businesses through the coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of high street firms are beginning to receive cash grants of up to £25,000, and, from today, will be exempt from business rates as our changes to support struggling industries come into force. 
  • We have waived import taxes on vital medical equipment to speed up and increase the supply of critical items going to our frontline health workers. NHS suppliers will no longer have to pay customs duty and import VAT on specific medical goods coming from outside the EU, including ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing.

31/03/20

Today's key announcements:

  • We announced that the first devices from the Government’s ventilator challenge will roll off the production line this weekend, ahead of delivery to the NHS next week. This weekend, the first batch of the Penlon ventilator device, which has been rapidly adapted from other existing ventilator designs, will be ready for dispatch, with potentially hundreds more of the device to follow, alongside thousands more of other new devices in the coming weeks.
  • Extended visas for NHS frontline workers and their families for a year – demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK. Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year, free of charge. By giving them the peace of mind that they do not need to apply for a visa extension, this will allow those at the frontline to focus fully on combatting coronavirus and saving lives.
  • Launched a national voucher scheme to make sure children who usually benefit from free school meals still have access to healthy and nutritious meals while they are not attending school.Schools can continue to provide meals for collection or delivery themselves, but where this is not possible, the scheme will allow schools to provide vouchers worth £15 to families to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

30/03/20

Today's key announcements:

  • We have reached a new agreement with the airlines to help get British nationals back home. The Government has reached an agreement with Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Tital Airways, so that they will offer passengers alternative routes where the original flight has been cancelled, and allow people to change tickets, including between carriers. 
  • We are providing £75 million to charter special flights to bring British nationals home where commercial options do not exist. These flights will be operated by the airlines which have reached an agreement with the Government, and will fly to priority countries to bring back UK residents, especially those who are elderly or vulnerable. Special charter flights will be prioritised according to the number of stranded British travellers and their vulnerability, including an assessment of the local health provision.

29/03/20

Today's key announcements:

  • The Prime Minister is writing to every household in the UK to urge them to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. In his letter to all 30 million households across the UK, the Prime Minister outlines the guidance everyone should follow, and the measures the Government has put in place to fight coronavirus and to support businesses and workers.
  • We have delivered the first food parcels to those people unable to leave their homes because of Covid-19. The first 2,000 food parcels have already been delivered to those who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions leave them most vulnerable to the virus. 
  • We are providing additional resources to help people with their mental health during the outbreak. We will provide £5 million to support leading mental health charities, and Public Health England has published new guidance to help people look after their mental wellbeing. 
  • We have put all parts of our country on an emergency footing. We are establishing strategic coordination centres, bringing together the emergency services, local authorities and the NHS to lead local responses to Covid-19. 

28/03/20

Today's key announcements:

  • We are ensuring that frontline NHS staff get the tests they need to keep safe and treat patients. Working with universities, research institutes and businesses, we will start rolling out staff testing across the NHS from next week, with plans for a full roll-out for health, social care and other frontline workers.
  • We will do more to support companies that may be experiencing difficulties because of Covid-19. We will introduce measures to improve the insolvency system to help companies that need to undergo financial rescue or restructuring to keep trading. 
  • We are making it easier for businesses to supply more personal protective equipment to the NHS and frontline health workers. We are also removing administrative barriers to the manufacturing of hand sanitizer, by reducing the amount of red tape to help firms bring their products to market in a matter of days.

 27/03/20

  • We will ensure that frontline NHS staff get the tests they need to keep safe and treat patients. We will be rolling out staff testing across the NHS from next week, starting with critical care nurses and staff working in intensive care and emergency departments, and expanding out to others including those in ambulance services, GPs and social care staff.
  • We will allow workers to carry over their statutory annual leave that they don't use this year because of Covid-19. New regulations will allow up to 4 weeks unused leave to be carried into the next two leave years, meaning people won't lose out.
  • We are opening further temporary NHS Nightingale hospitals in Manchester and Birmingham. These are in addition to the NHS Nightingale at the ExCel centre in London.

26/3/20

 

Coronavirus Update – Our Package for the Self-Employed

The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. Our message to the public is clear: you must stay at home, in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

 

The Government said we would do whatever it takes to protect people’s jobs and incomes – and we meant it. We know many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them.

 

That is why the Chancellor has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping many of our country’s self-employed workers: the musicians, the sound engineers, the plumbers, the electricians, the taxi drivers, the hairdressers, the childminders, the driving instructors, and many others. 

 

Through this scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month – that’s unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world.

 

We know there are challenging times ahead, but we are confident that the measures we have put in place will support millions of people, businesses and self-employed workers to get through this, and emerge on the other side both stronger and more united as a country. And we will get through this together. 

The scheme the Chancellor has announced today is fair. It is targeted at those who need it the most. And crucially, it is deliverable:

  • We are launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves are getting the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months – but we will extend it for longer if necessary. 

 

  • We will make it simple for self-employed people to get the financial support they need. Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. We expect people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.

 

  • We are ensuring our support reaches those self-employed people who are most in need of it. The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, leaving 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.

This builds on the support that is available to self-employed people:

  • For self-employed people who are struggling now, we’ve also made sure that many will be able to access loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. This scheme provides loans of up to £5 million, which will be interest free for twelve months.

 

  • Supporting people through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre – everything can be done by phone or online. 

 

  • Suspending the minimum income floor for twelve months – meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

 

  • Deferring income tax self-assessment payments for July until the end of January 2021. 

We have introduced unprecedented measures to support our country through this time:

Protecting our public services:

  • We have pledged that whatever resources the NHS needs, it will get. We will provide any extra resources needed by the NHS and other public services – starting with an initial £5 billion fund so the NHS can treat Coronavirus patients; councils can support vulnerable people; and ensure funding is available for other public services.

Helping families:

  • Lifted the incomes of over four million households with a £7 billion boost to the welfare system. We are increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months – a cash injection of nearly £7 billion in the welfare system.

 

  • Introduced three month mortgage holidays and £1 billion more support for renters. The mortgage holiday will be available for those who are in difficulty due to coronavirus. We are also providing nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in local areas. 

 

  • Making Statutory Sick Pay available for people diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are self-isolating, helping people with their finances. We have already set out that SSP will be available from day one for people who have COVID-19. But the Budget sets out that this will now cover those who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate as well as for people within the same household who display symptoms. Those who are advised to self-isolate will able to obtain a doctor’s note via NHS 111 as medical evidence for SSP.

Supporting businesses:

  • Promised to pay 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed workers for three months. Any employer in the country who promises to retain their staff, can apply for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off. Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – above the median income. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1st March and will be open initially for at least three months – and we will extend the scheme for longer if necessary.

 

  • Deferred more than £30 billion of tax payments until the end of the year. We are deferring the next three months of VAT tax, a direct injection of over £30billion of cash to businesses, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of GDP. That means no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June, and they will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

 

  • Agreed nearly 17,000 Time to Pay arrangements for businesses and individuals, helping businesses and self-employed workers with their tax affairs.

 

  • Made available £330 billion of loans and guarantees – that’s equivalent to 15 per cent of our GDPAnd if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion, we will go further and provide as much capacity as required.That means any business, small or large, in financial difficulty who needs access to cash to pay their rent, pay suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms.

 

  • Abolished business rates altogether this year for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. All businesses in this sector are exempt from business rates for 12 months – that’s every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant, and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors.

 

  • Introduced cash grants of up to £25,000 for small business properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Any business with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can now get access to a government grant.

 

  • Covered the cost of statutory sick pay for small business. We are supporting small and medium-sized businesses to cope with the extra costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by refunding eligible SSP costs. The refund will be limited to two weeks per employee who has claimed SSP as a result of Covid-19. 

24/3/20

  • We have launched a new scheme to recruit 250,000 volunteers who can help the NHS support vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic. These volunteers will help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions

 To sign up go to:  goodsamapp.org/NHS

23/3/20

Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives

Stay at home

You must stay at home, only leaving for the following very limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your immediate household.
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Protect the NHS

You must stay at home to protect the NHS:

  • The NHS only has a limited number of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment.
  • We are working around the clock to increase NHS capacity.
  • The more people who get sick, the harder it is for the NHS to cope.
  • We must slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are sick at any one time.

Save lives

You must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives:

  • Police will disperse gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with.
  • Police will issue fines to anyone who does not comply with these rules.
  • Police will close all shops that are not essential, as well as playgrounds and places of worship. 

The Prime Minister’s Address to the Nation

The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer

And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help. 

And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.

Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.

And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger. 

To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it - meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well. 

So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease.

Because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope - and save more lives.

And that’s why we have been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic.

And though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all - the time has now come for us all to do more. 

From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction -  you must stay at home. 

Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.

That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

That’s all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home.

You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No.

You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home. 

You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine — and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can. 

If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately:

  • close all shops selling non-essential goods,​ including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;
  • we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with;
  • and we’ll stop all social events​, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.

Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.

No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this.

I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.

And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to. 

But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost. 

And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through. 

Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7500 former clinicians now coming back to the service. 

With the time you buy – by simply staying at home - we are increasing our stocks of equipment. 

We are accelerating our search for treatments.

We are pioneering work on a vaccine.

And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus. 

Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline.

But in this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted.

Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together. 

To halt the spread of this disease.

To protect our NHS and to save many many thousands of lives.

And I know that as they have in the past so many times. 

The people of this country will rise to that challenge.

And we will come through it stronger than ever. 

We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.

And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.