The government is set to provide fresh economic support to businesses if more Covid restrictions are imposed by Boris Johnson.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking at potential funding options for businesses if they are forced to close due to the Omicron variant, including bringing back the furlough scheme.
Businesses have been provided no extra support for the restrictions imposed last week, which include working from home orders and mandatory Covid passports for large events.
A Treasury source told The Times that “if we do get to a position where we are telling businesses that they have to shut their doors then it is not unreasonable for them to expect additional government support”.
“That could mean a return to the furlough scheme but depending on what, if any, further restrictions are necessary there might be other ways of providing that support,” they added.
When asked about potential new support, a Number 10 spokesperson said: “As you’d expect I wouldn’t speculate on hypothetical economic measures. There are no plans to bring in more Covid restrictions.”
Johnson has said there are no plans for further Covid curbs over winter, however he would not rule it out in an interview yesterday.
Health secretary Sajid Javid yesterday told MPs: “There are no plans that I am aware of for any further restrictions.”
Business groups have hit out at the government for not already providing new support for businesses that are most affected by the new restrictions.
Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, yesterday said: “With plan B coming in, the net effect is that demand in some sectors will be suppressed. Cashflow will clearly be an issue for some firms in the next few weeks.”
Michael Kill, chief executive of The Night Time Industries Association, has accused the Prime Minister of throwing night clubs and late night venues “under the bus”.
“It is vital that the government . . . recognises the impact of public health messaging and swiftly implements proportionate financial support to ensure businesses and jobs are protected during this extremely challenging period,” he said.