LONDON (Reuters) -Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown late on Monday saying the highly contagious new coronavirus variant first identified in Britain was spreading so fast it risked overwhelming the health service.
Britain announced on Tuesday 4.6 billion pounds ($6.2 billion) in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs.
Following are quotes on the impact.
FINANCE MINISTER RISHI SUNAK:
“The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge - and whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring.
“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”
UK PM BORIS JOHNSON:
“I want to say to everyone right across the United Kingdom that I know how tough this is, I know how frustrated you are, I know that you have had more than enough of government guidance about defeating this virus. But now more than ever, we must pull together.”
JPMORGAN ANALYST ALLAN MONKS:
“The furlough scheme is already set to run until the end of April, and a further extension seems likely as the date of the recovery has been pushed back further. While the ever-increasing size of the fiscal deficit will put some pressure on the BoE (Bank of England) to match this with larger QE purchases – for example a 50 billion pounds increment would seem in the right ballpark on this metric – in November the BoE indicated that it had already done more than it needed to (+£150bn) on the grounds of risk management.
“As those risks are now playing out, it’s not clear it will want to do more straight away: the BoE has already laid out a program of purchases which is expected to see it through to the end of this year, and has indicated that it is only likely to up its weekly purchase pace if there are renewed signs of disruption in markets.”
ADAM MARSHALL, BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE
“While welcome, the new lockdown grant support from Rishi Sunak and the Treasury is incremental.
“Ministers need to set out a clear support package for the whole of 2021 - not just until Spring - to help businesses of all shapes and sizes survive this difficult and uncertain year.”
INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS
“We are particularly pleased the Treasury has taken on board our recommendation to increase the discretionary local authority grant fund. This policy has helped to reach those who haven’t been able to access other support. The government should be prepared to top up the fund if necessary.
“The Chancellor must remain wary of a spring cliff-edge in business support as the furlough scheme and other support measures unwind. Businesses will also be keen for the government to continue setting out its plans for the vaccine roll-out, to support their planning.
“The path of the virus is extremely uncertain, and Government must be agile in its response to prevent lasting economic damage.”
($1 = 0.7371 pounds)
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden and Kate Holton
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