Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £1bn bailout for businesses hit by Covid as London bars, restaurants, and theatres are left empty.
He was forced to cut his trip to the USA short amid spiralling Omicron Covid cases, which are at their highest they have ever been in London.
Meanwhile,m Government ministers cannot seem to agree over post-Christmas restrictions, with a two-hour meeting of the Prime Minister’s top aides reportedly ending in a row yesterday (December 20).
READ MORE: The Queen cancels Christmas at Sandringham for the 2nd year running due to Covid surges
December is usually the busiest month for pubs, bars and restaurants across the capital.
But trade body Hospitality UK is reporting that many businesses have lost 40 to 60% of their festive trade.
Yesterday, 22,750 cases were reported in the capital alone.
This is down slightly from a peak on December 15 of 27,357 but still exceptionally high.
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Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden said: “This is a holding package from a Government caught in a holding position.
“The Prime Minister is a prisoner of divisions inside his party and within the Cabinet about whether any further measures are needed and whether they will get past Tory backbenchers.
“That is not the way that crucial public health decisions should be taken.
“Labour has been calling for an economic support plan for businesses affected by a wave of pre-Christmas cancellations. Support is welcome to see but we will be going through the details of this announcement to see which businesses and workers are included and excluded.
“Business support should have been announced when the Plan B changes were voted on last week but it has only happened after the Chancellor was dragged back from California to focus on the plight facing businesses and workers here in the UK.
“The real question after yesterday’s indecisive Cabinet meeting is what will happen next, when will the country be informed of that and will support for businesses and workers be placed alongside any further public health measures that might be announced.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “With the surge in Omicron cases, people are rightly exercising more caution as they go about their lives, which is impacting our hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors at what is typically the busiest time of the year.
“That’s why we’re taking immediate action to help with an extra £1 billion in grants to these industries and reintroducing our Statutory Sick Pay rebate scheme.
“I urge people across the country to please get boosted now to secure vital protection for yourselves, your loved ones and your communities.”
Do you own a hospitality business that is struggling as a result of high case numbers or could be affected by potential lockdown measures? Get in touch by contacting [email protected]
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