COVID-19: Budget support and guidance as pandemic declared

The UK government has produced guidance for employers and employees on dealing with coronavirus, as the World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

The UK’s guidance is designed to assist employers and businesses in providing advice to staff on how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19; what to do if someone with suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting; what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas, and finally, advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from the virus.

The government has put a range of support in place for those who do not receive Statutory Sick Pay, including Universal Credit and contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

Businesses may also be able to access a range of financing options through the government-owned British Business Bank. A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest.

In the UK, 373 people have tested positive for the virus, six of whom have died (as of 9am on 10th March).

Globally, cases have reached 113,702 (4,125 new) across 109 territories. There have been 4,012 deaths (203 new).

The Italian government has meanwhile imposed a nationwide lockdown in an effort to tackle the outbreak there, where the number of cases and deaths has overwhelmed health authorities.

Coronavirus in today's Budget

Chancellor Rishi Sunak opened his first Budget with a commitment to providing businesses and the NHS with the support they need to get through the coronavirus outbreak.

Business supply chains are being disrupted around the globe, and along with businesses not being able to access manpower, productivity is expected to shrink. Consumer spending will also go down. Together, these will have a significant, but temporary impact on the economy, he warned.

In addition to abolishing business rates for many firms, those with fewer than 250 employees will have the cost of statutory sick pay for any employee off work due to coronavirus refunded in full, he said.

The new chancellor also announced the launch of a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support small businesses through the worst of the crisis.

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