The Prime Minister has said private renters will receive legislative support to protect them from evictions as a result of the coronavirus outbreak during a sober and subdued PMQs.
With just a handful of MPs in the Chamber, the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn took a less adversarial tone in his questioning, which focused on support for those in low incomes, as well as NHS workers.
Boris Johnson said the government was planning to “bring forward further measures to support workers of all kinds in this crisis”, on top of those announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday.
Johnson added that Downing Street would ensure “nobody is penalised for doing the right thing” in self-isolating. “And because it is the government who is asking people to make those sacrifices, we will do whatever it takes to support those people,” he added.
Asked by Corbyn what support there would be for renters, the Prime Minister confirmed the emergency Coronavirus Bill, which is due to be laid before parliament tomorrow, will protect private renters “and other actors in the economy”.
He also revealed that authorities are now building the covid-19 testing capacity to 25,000 a day, up from 10,000 currently. He added experts are “getting much closer to having a generally available test” to establish whether people have ever had the virus.
Criticised by Corbyn and Labour backbencher Rosena Allin-Khan for the lack of protective clothing and equipment for NHS staff, Johnson insisted there was “a massive effort going on comparable to our effort to build ventilators”.
Allin-Khan gave a particularly chilling account of her visit to her father in a care home yesterday, saying she “may have fed him for the very last time”. She criticised the Prime Minister for a lack of “forward planning” and demanded to know why social distancing measures were still “just suggestions”.