All pubs, restaurants, clubs and gyms ordered to close to halt coronavirus spread
PUBLISHED: 17:20 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:49 20 March 2020
The government has announced all pubs, restaurants, clubs, and other parts of the hospitality industry are to close indefinitely in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered them to close across all four nations of the United Kingdom after ceasing trading tonight – and said updates will be provided each month as to when they will be able to open again.
Theatres, leisure centres and gyms are also included in the ban.
Businesses are however allowed to continue operating as takeaways, after licensing laws were relaxed on Wednesday to help pubs, restaurants and cafes affected by the virus.
Mr Johnson added the speed of the country’s recovery “depends entirely on our collective ability to get on top of the virus now”.
He said: “We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.
“You may be tempted to go out tonight and I say to you please don’t, you may think that you are invincible - but there is no guarantee that you will get it.
“But you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on.
“We want you as far as possible to stay at home.”
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On social media, The Greyhound pub in Ipswich said: “Running this wonderful little pub for the last nine years has been an absolute blast.
“I’d like to thank you all for supporting us but most of all I’d like to thank my amazing staff for everything, without them I’d be lost. The fun times will return. See you soon.”
The pub also urged customers not to visit the pub tonight, and instead asked them to “come and say hello when we’re open.”
Mr Johnson said it is “heartbreaking” to know businesses and employees will be hit hardly by the moves, but stressed the measures are in the national interest.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new employment retention scheme to help fund the wages of people whose livelihoods have been affected by coronavirus.
No businesses will pay VAT until the end of June in a bid to help those struggling trading.
Mr Sunak said: “I have a responsibility to make sure that we protect, as far as possible, people’s jobs and incomes.
“Today I can announce that in the first time of our history, the government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages.
“Employers will be able to contact HMRC 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% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month - that’s just above the median income.”
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