The British government has promised to provide £330 billion ($400bn) in loans and guarantees to businesses, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to act like he is leading a “wartime government” and do “whatever it takes to support our economy.”
Business rates will be put on hold for a year, the chancellor Rishi Sunak added at a daily coronavirus press conference on Tuesday evening, and mortgage lenders will also offer a three month “mortgage holiday” for those struggling due to coronavirus.
Sunak added that he will talk with the UK's transport secretary to discuss an economic package for airlines and airports, which are struggling around the world as sweeping travel restrictions are put in place.
The finance minister said the pandemic has caused an “economic emergency” as well as a public health one, and Johnson added that, in addition to the “extreme” measures previously announced, “we may well have to go further and faster in the coming days.”
Johnson advised Britons to avoid pubs, restaurants and theaters, and said they should limit social contact on Monday. Earlier on Tuesday, the government also advised against non-essential foreign travel.
But some have questioned why Britain has been slower to enact more draconian restrictions, as many European nations have.
Sunak said pubs, bars and theaters with insurance that cover pandemics will be allowed to make insurance claims against their policy. For those that aren’t covered, there will be a £25,000 cash grant per business to help “bridge this period” for the likes of shops, music venues and theaters.
But he did not go as far as countries such as France, which earlier this week waived utility bills and rents for citizens struggling during the crisis.