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Chancellor unveils ‘unprecedented’ plan to rescue businesses devastated by coronavirus

NEWS JUST IN…

Jamie Roberts

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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Govt

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that the government will step in to help businesses and individuals affected by coronavirus. 

Rishi Sunak addressed the nation at today’s daily COVID-19 news conference in Downing Street.

The Prime Minister began the briefing by saying that the new measures he announced yesterday will reduce suffering, adding: “I stress that although the measures are extreme, we may have to go further and faster in the coming days to protect the NHS.”

Rishi Sunak then took over, saying he will do ‘whatever it takes’ to support the economy, saying the UK needs a ‘collective national effort’ to protect people and businesses devastated by coronavirus. 

He added: “This government will give you all the tools you need to get through this – we will support people, support jobs, we will do whatever it takes.”

The Chancellor  went on to unveil an ‘unprecedented package’, giving businesses access to £330bn of government backed loans.

Small businesses can access a loan of up to £5 million, with no interest due in first six months.

For the retail and hospitality sector, he announced a package of no business rates, alongside a £25,000 cash grant available to everyone.

On top of that, the Chancellor addressed people’s concerns about whether insurers would pay out to pubs, clubs and cafes, saying that the Government will make sure insured businesses receive payouts, and non-insured companies get payouts of £25,000.

Mortgage lenders are also set to offer a three month ‘mortgage holiday’ to help protect anyone who cannot afford to pay, according to the Chancellor, added that they will go ‘much further’ over the coming days. 

It comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wrote to the Prime Minister to ask him to do more to help businesses affected by the pandemic.

As of today, Tuesday March 17th, 1,950 in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus, with 14 more dying from the virus, bringing the total number to 69.

Yesterday Boris Johnson told the nation that people need to start working from home, saying: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others, we need people to start working from home.”

The Prime Minister also said the government no longer supports mass gatherings, as everyone should stop all non-essential contact with others, including avoiding pubs, clubs and other venues, with people taking only essential travel.

He also had some new isolation advice: “Last week we asked everyone to stay at home with a high temperature or a new and continuous cough.

“Today we need to go further, it looks like we are approaching the fast part of the upward curve and cases could double every 5 or 6 days.

“If you or anyone in your household has one of those two symptoms, you should stay at home for 14 days – only going out for exercise at a safe distance.”

During the same address, chief medical officer Chris Whitty stressed that most people will only have a mild or moderate disease, before adding: “This is going to go on for some time – it will be a prolonged period. But a significant minority will need hospital care, a small amount of those will need intensive care and sadly some will die.”

Whittey also said that anyone over 70, people under 70 with significant health issues and pregnant women should take additional care to minimise their social contact.

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Everyone in the UK will be able to get 50% off meals out in August

JUST IN…

Proper Manchester

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Rishi Sunak has announced a raft of new schemes to help boost the economy post-coronavirus.

The chancellor revealed a range of different measures, in a bid to create jobs.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Mr Sunak laid out the government’s economic plan, saying: “We will do all we can to give everyone the opportunity of good and secure work.”

Speaking about the furlough scheme, Mr Sunak said the scheme will not continue forever, and confirmed that it would wind down in October.

To get people back into their jobs, he announced a reward for employers who bring back workers from furlough, with a bonus of £1,000 for every person they bring back into the workplace.

The chancellor announced a kickstart scheme, which will pay employers to create new jobs for 18-24 year olds, with an emphasis on good quality jobs – the government will pay their wages for six months.

Mr Sunak also said there would be more funding for careers advisers, as well as more traineeships and apprenticeships – there will be a new £2,000 payment for firms who take on apprentices.

It was confirmed that £2bn would be spent on a new green homes grant, with an additional £1bn of funding to improve energy efficiency in public buildings – it’s predicted this will make 650,000 homes more energy efficient and save families £300 a year.

The chancellor slashed VAT for the tourism and hospitality sectors – on food, accommodation and attractions – from 20% to 5%, from next Wednesday up until January.

To get customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs, Mr Sunak announced everyone in the country would be given 50% off meals and drinks for the whole of August, through a Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Mr Sunak said: “So for the month of August we will give you a 50% reduction, up to £10 per head, on sit-down meals and non-alcoholic drinks Monday-Wednesday.”

While the full details are yet to be confirmed, it’s believed the government will cover the other half of the bill, up to £10 per head, including children, in a bid to help boost the hospitality industry.

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Alton Towers owner is giving away 30,000 free tickets to key workers as a thank you

What an amazing gesture!

Alex Watson

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Alton Towers

Merlin, the owner of Alton Towers, has said it will be donating 30,000 free tickets to key workers in seven different jobs. 

The huge theme park based on Staffordshire is massively popular with families and thrillseekers enjoying the rollercoasters, family-friendly attractions and parks. 

Alton Towers has announced how they plan to thank all the key workers who have kept the nation going throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

They are donating 30,000 tickets across the globe and reserving 10,000 of these to the UK.

altontowersresort/Facebook

The tickets will offer days out to Alton Towers and other UK attractions including Chessington World of Adventures, LEGOLAND Windsor, Thorpe Park, The Bear Grylls Adventure and some Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE Centres.

Partnerships and Operations Manager at Blue Light Tickets, Will Campbell-Lamerton, said: “In these difficult times, we have been blown away by Merlin’s generosity.

“We know that free tickets to leisure days out will spread the message of ‘thank you’ to NHS, healthcare and emergency service workers, who’ve shown superhero strength and dedication in recent months.

“For those who haven’t been able to spend much time with their families during the COVID-19 lockdown, either as a result of long working hours or social distancing, we hope that a free day out at a Merlin resort/attraction will give some respite to those who need it most.”

altontowersresort/Facebook

Sandra Hazel, Charity Head Merlin’s Magic Wand: “We would like to say a Big Merlin Thank You to the emergency and essential frontline workers who have played a vital role in the UK’s response to the pandemic.

“Their dedication and tireless effort is hugely appreciated by the whole nation, and we are delighted to be able to offer them a fun day out through the Blue Light Card scheme.”

3,000 of the tickets will be donated equally across 30 companies in the UK, these include: 

  • Teachers via the ASCL,
  • Royal Mail postal staff,
  • Compass Group UK & Ireland – the UK’s largest food and support services company (who have been working in healthcare, education and defence as well as supporting key workers within business and industry sectors),
  • WHSmith (for their post office colleagues who provided vital postal and banking services on the high street and for their store colleagues across over 100 hospitals who served frontline NHS staff),
  • Council workers across the UK including refuse collectors.
  • A range of the major high street supermarkets including Tesco
  • Food takeaway delivery companies

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The two paramedics stabbed on a 999 call starred on reality TV show together

This is awful.

Proper Manchester

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Two paramedics, who star in the reality show Inside the Ambulance, were stabbed while out on a 999 call helping a man.

Paramedic Michael Hipgrave screamed into his radio after he and his colleague, Deena Evans, were attacked on duty in Wolverhampton on Monday afternoon.

A witness reports hearing ‘a blood-curdling scream’ after the paramedics arrived to a 999 call at a home, where a man may have been suffering from a mental health crisis. 

Both Hipgrave and Evans were stabbed in the ‘chest area’. Ms Evan’s father has said it seems she was ‘in the wrong place and the wrong time’.

A 52-year-old man was tasered by police and has been arrested on suspicion of wounding. 

Both Evans and Hipgrave starred in the Christmas special episode of the series ‘Inside the Ambulance’ last year. 

Mr Hipgrave has now been released from Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham where they were both being treated. Ms Evans remains in hospital but is in a stable condition, according to the Mirror

Ms Evans father told the Sun: “They’ve said she’s stable and she’s going to be OK. From what we know it was just a completely random attack. It just seems like she was in the wrong place and the wrong time.”

Mr Hipgrave’s son Tom tweeted: “My dad was one of the paramedics stabbed in #Wolverhampton. Its awful you can’t be safe at work. Hope you get better dad.”

His daughter Jess wrote: “My Dad was one of the two paramedics stabbed today in Wolverhampton. He was only trying to do his job.

“We are so lucky that we still have our Dad here with us and will be eternally grateful for the crew that helped him and his colleague. Today could have been so much worse.”

A spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said on Tuesday: “Two members of staff are continuing to recuperate after they were stabbed by a man they had gone to help yesterday.

“Paramedics Michael Hipgrave and Deena Evans were attending a 999 call on Stephens Close in Wolverhampton at about 12.20pm when the incident took place.

“Michael was released from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, last night and is continuing his recovery at home.

“Deena remains at the same hospital where she is receiving on going treatment; she remains in a stable condition.”

Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer Nathan Hudson said: “Thankfully, both Michael and Deena are recovering well after yesterday’s ordeal.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the hospital for their assistance and for looking after my members of staff in such a professional and caring manner.”

Ms Evans father said his daughter loves being a paramedic and will likely be eager to get back on the frontline as soon as possible. He also praised the police officers who responded and offered his thoughts to the second paramedic. 

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