UK leave ‘could return’ if Omicron lockdown restrictions are needed
The leave could return if tighter Covid restrictions are needed to tackle the Omicron variant, a Treasury source said.
As rapidly spreading tension sets in and people scramble for vital booster shots, it is believed that stricter measures may soon come into play.
If businesses are to close again, the government may have to fund people’s wages.
Last month, the government ruled out a return to the leave scheme.
But a Treasury source has now told The Times: “If we come to a position where we tell companies to shut down, it is not unreasonable for them to expect additional support from the government.
“This could mean a return to the leave scheme, but depending on any additional restrictions needed, there may be other ways to provide this support.”
Meanwhile, Senior Conservative MP Damian Collins told the BBC: “If it comes to longer term restrictions, of course we will have to look at things like business support measures.”
The International Monetary Fund has also warned Chancellor Rishi Sunak to prepare to resume his leave if there is another lockdown this winter.
The Washington-based economic body said authorities “should be prepared to redeploy” programs “such as a holiday program and targeted support to the most vulnerable households and small businesses.”
He suggested that a mini-holiday could be put in place if businesses were to close their doors.
As Omicron cases skyrocket, tighter restrictions seem increasingly likely.
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon today presented new guidelines on social contact, including asking no more than three households to meet in a social setting.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted he was “not aware of any plans for further restrictions”.
He told MPs that Omicron now accounts for 20% of cases in England and over 44% of cases in London, where it is expected to become the dominant strain soon.
The government has pledged to give every adult a booster shot over the next two weeks, although experts have warned it will put the NHS under enormous pressure.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people need to recognize “the breakneck pace at which [Omicron] accelerates through population ”- and warned that they should put aside the idea that Omicron was a milder variant.
The Treasury has been contacted for comment.
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