Source: The Guardian
Boris Johnson took the extraordinary step of ordering pubs, clubs and restaurants across the UK to close on Friday, and announced an unprecedented wage-support scheme to try to prevent a consequent tsunami of job losses.
Announcing the decision in the fight against the coronavirus, the prime minister said he realised that it went against what he called “the inalienable free-born right of people born in England to go to the pub”.
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, revealed that the taxpayer would meet 80% of the wage costs of workers “furloughed”, or temporarily sent home, by firms hit by the crisis.
Johnson had come under increasing pressure to take more stringent action, as social distancing measures announced on Monday – including avoiding all unnecessary social contact – were being flouted.
The decision to order the nationwide shutdown was only finally decided at an afternoon meeting of Cobra, the government’s crisis committee, which ended shortly before the prime minister made his dramatic announcement.
One issue thrashed out at the meeting was when it should come into place, with several voices – including the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, and others – urging it come in on Friday evening, and not the following day.