British Government extends lockdown and announces plans to expands a loan scheme for large businesses

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The British Government has announced plans to extend its coronavirus lockdown for another three weeks after recording another 861 deaths, taking the total to 13,729, with 103,093 people having now tested positive for the virus, according to official figures.

Restrictions aimed at preventing the population from leaving home, apart from four exceptions will continue until early May, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing.

Read:Britain becomes latest country in lockdown as police enforce new restrictions

Raab who is deputizing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “There are indications that measures we have been putting in place have slowed down the virus. Overall we still don’t have the infection rate down as much as we would like to.

“Any change to our social distancing measures now would threaten a second peak to the virus and would require an even longer period of social distancing measures.

“The advice is relaxing any measures would risk damaging public health and our economy. Based on this advice, the government decided the current measures must remain in place for at least the next three weeks. Now is not the time to give coronavirus a second chance.”

Read: As the British government struggles with its coronavirus response, local communities are battling it with kindness

Blanket travel restriction will remain in place, and police will have powers to fine or disperse people who venture onto the street for any other reason than to buy food, address any medical need, travel to a workplace for essential work, or undertake daily exercise.

All shops selling nonessential goods will stay closed, and gatherings of more than two people in public who do not live in the same household will continue to be banned.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI business lobby group, said: “The Government is right to extend the lockdown and has the full support of business. Public health remains firms’ number one priority.

“At the same time, extending restrictions will bring serious challenges for many companies. When scientific evidence shows it’s safe to do so, eyes will turn to how the lockdown can be lifted.”

Separately chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced plans to expands a loan scheme for large businesses late Thursday evening.

The government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms, the Chancellor announced.

All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million. Business with turnovers of more than £500 million were originally not eligible for the scheme.

Sunak, said: “I want to ensure that no viable business slips through our safety net of support as we help protect jobs and the economy. That is why we are expanding this generous scheme for larger firms.”

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