Coronavirus: Pubs, cafes, restaurants, gyms, cinemas to close from today following PM's advice

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In a press conference on Friday evening Prime Minister Boris Johnson, joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries, asked all pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms, leisure centres and cinemas to close from tonight (March 20) to help stop the spread of the virus. 

In the press conference, the chancellor announced the Government’s new package, the 'coronavirus job retention scheme', to protect workers and their employers by helping to pay wages in an historic move by the government. 

Additionally, companies and organisations will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC that will help cover 80% of wages of people who are not working due to coronavirus shutdowns, but who haven’t been laid off.  

Mr Sunak also announced VAT relief for business until June to support companies struggling with a cash flow. 

More support was promised for the public with a £6 billion pound package for the welfare systems, meaning an increase of the Universal Credit standard allowance by thousand pounds for the next 12 months for eligible people. 

This comes as government looks to strengthen measures put in previously, asking people to avoid non-essential social contact and travel, especially the over 70’s. Earlier in the week the closure of all schools was announced from Friday.  

The Prime Minister added that the government will monitor the situation every month and depending on the situation will look to see if any of these measures can be relaxed. 

He thanked people for following the advice given earlier but urged people to take the measures seriously and work together to flatten the 'coronavirus curve' in the country.  

He advised people to think very carefully about visiting any elderly person or a vulnerable person, but added that the country will defeat this virus with a national effort to slow the spread by increasing the social distancing and avoiding unnecessary social contact.