Covid: No additional support for firms hit hardest by lockdown extension, says Gove

The Cabinet Secretary told The Great British Breakfast that a discretionary fund given to local authorities was designed to help hospitality businesses

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Businesses hit hardest by the extension to lockdown are not due to receive any additional financial support, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove told GB News.

The Conservative MP defended the decision to delay Freedom Day, and added the government had factored a delay to lockdown easing into the existing financial support package.

Asked by The Great British Breakfast about whether businesses such as nightclubs and bars would receive additional support, Mr Gove said: "The first thing is when it comes to further and lots of other financial support that runs into September.

"One of the reasons for that is that originally, the Chancellor called it right and saying, look, you know, the maybe some delays, we hook them up, but maybe, too, let's get that supported over the longer term.

"The second thing is that there's also a discretionary fund money given to local authorities and others to support particularly hospitality businesses.

"And there's still money in that fund that hasn't all been drawn down. And there is some additional support that is provided as well for that sector."

The Prime Minister announced the setback to the final phase of his plan to end the lockdown on Monday due to concerns over the rapidly spreading Delta variant first identified in India.

Experts feared going ahead with Step 4 on June 21 as planned could lead to hospital admissions on the scale of the first wave of Covid-19, heaping unsustainable pressure on the health service.

To avert this, Mr Johnson said during a Downing Street press conference that it is “sensible to wait just a little longer” as he put back the end of all legal limits on social contact to July 19, saying he is “confident” no further delay will be necessary.

He hopes deaths will be significantly reduced by that point because two-thirds of adults will have then been offered both vaccine doses due to the delay being coupled with a reduction in the time between jabs for the over-40s.

Limits on numbers for sports events, pubs and cinemas will therefore remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.

Mr Johnson left open the option of ending restrictions on July 5 if the data proves drastically better than expected, but conceded “let’s be realistic, probably more likely four weeks”.

He did, however, announce a limited easing of restrictions to take place from June 21 as he faces the prospect of a rebellion from Conservative MPs who are furious about the delay.

The 30-person cap for wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as wakes, will be lifted – with limits to be set by venues based on social distancing requirements.

Fans were expected to be able to attend the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final at Wembley as the pilots on attendance of large events continue.

Care home residents will be permitted to stay overnight with friends and family from Monday without needing to quarantine for 14 days on return to their residences.

The target of offering all adults at least one jab was also brought forward to July 19, while over 23s will be invited to book their jabs from Tuesday.

Addressing the nation, Mr Johnson said: “It’s unmistakably clear that vaccines are working and the sheer scale of the vaccine roll-out has made our position incomparably better than in previous waves.

“But now is the time to ease off the accelerator because by being cautious now we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.”