UK Finance Minister Sunak to announce local furlough scheme on Friday - The Times


Adds COVID-19 background, remarks from minister cited by The Times

Oct 9 (Reuters) - British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will announce a local furlough scheme on Friday in which the government will subsidise two thirds of the wages of workers in pubs, restaurants and other businesses that are forced to close to stop the spread of the coronavirus, The Times newspaper reported.

"Employers will be able to access the scheme for as long as pubs, restaurants and other businesses are closed," the newspaper's deputy political editor, Steven Swinford, said on Twitter.

The Times quoted an unidentified minister as saying there was frustration in government at the failure of the Treasury to bring forward the measures sooner.

The Daily Mail newspaper reported earlier that Sunak was putting together a new support package for jobs in a furlough-style bailout for coronavirus hotspots plunged into local lockdowns next week.

Britain has already suffered the highest death toll in Europe and the worst economic contraction of any leading nation from the coronavirus outbreak.

Its parliament will vote on Tuesday on the imposition of a 10 p.m. closing time for English pubs, bars and restaurants, a measure the government says is necessary to tackle COVID-19, but which the hospitality industry says is destroying businesses.

More restrictions are being considered for parts of northern England, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Thursday.

Local media reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will soon launch a simplified three-tier local lockdown code.

Areas in Tier 1 will continue with the current social distancing measures while areas in Tier 2 will have a ban on households mixing. The worst-affected areas in Tier 3 will have to close hospitality.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Chris Reese and Richard Pullin)

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