Coronavirus: Chancellor promises £330bn in loans to help businesses during Covid-19 outbreak

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GOVERMENT-backed loans worth £330 billion will be made available to support businesses through the coronavirus crisis, the Chancellor has announced.

Rishi Sunak said the ‘unprecedented package’ - equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP - could go further if demand is greater, and vowed to do ‘whatever it takes’ to help the economy.

The Chancellor, speaking at a press conference inside 10 Downing Street, also said he was extending the business rates holiday to all businesses in the hospitality sector and funding grants of up to £25,000 for smaller businesses.

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And Mr Sunak said that for those in financial difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer a three-month mortgage holiday.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaking at a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Matt Dunham/PA WireChancellor Rishi Sunak speaking at a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire
Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaking at a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire | PA (Press Association)

He added that the Government will 'be bold’ in its support for the economy.

He said: ‘This struggle will not be overcome by a single package of measures or isolated interventions.

‘It will be won through a collective national effort, every one of us doing all we can to protect family, neighbours, friends, jobs.

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‘This national effort will be underpinned by Government interventions in the economy on a scale unimaginable only a few weeks ago.’

Mr Sunak added: ‘This is not a time for ideology and orthodoxy, this is a time to be bold, a time for courage.

‘I want to reassure every British citizen this Government will give you all the tools you need to get through this.’

Mr Sunak described the outbreak as an ‘emergency’, adding: ‘Never in peacetime have we faced an economic fight like this one.’

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He added: ‘The Government will stand behind businesses small and large.

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‘I can announce today an unprecedented package of Government backed and guaranteed loans to support business to get through this.

‘Today I am making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15 per cent of our GDP.

‘That means any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a Government backed loan or credit on attractive terms.

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‘And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion I'm making available today, I will go further and provide as much capacity as required.

‘I said whatever it takes, and I meant it.’

He unveiled the measures after the Government's chief scientific adviser said around 55,000 people in the UK now have Covid-19, as the NHS moved to cancel all non-emergency surgery and 71 people are now known to have died.

Boris Johnson has said the Government will do ‘whatever it takes’ to support the economy through the coronavirus outbreak.

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‘We must act like a wartime government and do whatever it takes to support our economy,’ he told a Downing Street press conference.

‘We support millions of businesses and tens of millions families and individuals through coming months.

‘The Government must and will act with a profound sense of urgency.’

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Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs it is hoped the death toll can be kept to under 20,000 as he told of the huge amount of strain the health service will be under from Covid-19.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

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As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS

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