The UK government has unveiled a package of financial measures designed to shore up the economy against the impact of the spreading coronavirus.
On Monday, prime minister Boris Johnson urged Brits to avoid pubs, clubs and restaurants, with the impact likely to be crippling for many small businesses.
In response, chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled £330 billion in loans, £20 billion in other aid and a business rates holiday to help.
Grants for retailers and pubs are also on offer, while help for airlines is also being considered, the chancellor said.
He said Britain was facing an “economic emergency,” and added, “never in peacetime have we faced an economic fight like this one”.
From the hospitality industry to the airline sector, companies have warned that their long-term survival is under threat.
Sunak said: “This is not a time for ideology and orthodoxy, this is a time to be bold, a time for courage.
“I want to reassure every British citizen this government will give you all the tools you need to get through this.
“That means any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a government-backed loan or credit on attractive terms.”
He added: “Some sectors are facing particularly acute challenges.
“In the coming days, my colleague the secretary of state for transport and I will discuss a potential support package specifically for airlines and airports.”
The chancellor said he was extending the business rates holiday to all firms in the hospitality sector and funding grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small businesses.
Following the announcement Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “The announcement by the chancellor is a positive statement of intent, we will need the government to follow-through on its commitment to do whatever it takes to support struggling UK travel businesses.
“We also need to see some of the measures announced today, such as the government-backed loan scheme, made immediately available to travel businesses, and further clarity on how businesses will be able to access these loans.
“It is also essential the government acts immediately by making temporary changes to existing package travel regulations.
“The existing financial protection structures and processes designed to protect UK consumers were not designed to cope with the demands that are currently being placed on them.”
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