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As Scotland gets more funds...

Johnson: ‘Avoid pubs, clubs and theatres’ to fight virus

Boris Johnson

Johnson: stop all non-essential travel

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged the public to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres in the latest phase of the crackdown on deadly coronavirus.

As the death toll spiked to 55, the PM said people should work from home where possible as part of a range of stringent new measures.

Pregnant women, people over the age of 70 and those with certain health conditions should consider the advice “particularly important”, he said.

He admitted hat the squeeze could last 12 weeks or even longer and cknowledged he was ‘asking a lot’. 

He said: “If necessary, you should ask for help from others for your daily necessities. If that is not possible, you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.’

“Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and stop all non-essential travel. We need people to start working from home where they possible can. You should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”

Mr Johnson’s edict came as Scotland was handed a further £780 million to help the country fight the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the package was aimed at helping ensure Scotland has the necessary resources to support people and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

The funding is part of £1.5 billion handed out by the UK government to the devolved administrations and is in addition to the financial support already announced by Westminster

“We will do what is right to help businesses and individuals in every part of the UK,” said Mr Sunak. “That is why we announced a special funding package at the Budget last week to support those affected by COVID-19.

“Today I am confirming this additional funding that will ensure the devolved administrations can support vulnerable people, businesses and vital public services, including the NHS, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:The UK and Scottish Governments are working closely together in the fight against COVID-19 as we do all we can to delay the spread and alleviate pressure on our public services, people and businesses.

“The £780m for the Scottish Government announced today is in addition to the £1.9 billion spending increase for 2020-21 confirmed at the Budget last week. This will help ensure the Scottish Government has the resources it needs to support those affected by COVID-19.”

The Welsh Government received £475m and the Northern Ireland Executive £260m – worked out through the Barnett formula.

The Scottish Conservatives are asking the Scottish government to ringfence the entire £780 million for COVID-19 measures and to follow the UK’s lead and establish a Response Fund to support the NHS and other public services with the financial resources it needs as the virus continues to spread.

Edinburgh Festival delay

Organisers of the Edinburgh International Festival have postponed the launch of the 2020 programme.

In a statement, EIFs said: “It is important to emphasise that we are still planning to deliver a Festival this August but we think it best to wait a number of weeks before launching our programme.

“We are working as quickly as we can to provide certainty to everyone. Our focus remains on presenting the Festival, getting artists back on our stages and audiences back into concert halls and theatres as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Edinburgh Council restrictions

Social distancing and restrictions on visiting will be introduced in council-run care homes in Edinburgh as part of a ramped-up response to the Coronavirus outbreak. 

In schools, large gatherings and team meetings will be stopped, unless absolutely essential. 

Office-based council employees will be encouraged to work from home on a phased approach, with no attendance at events and only essential external and internal meetings. 

In terms of official council committee business, the recess period will begin from 20 March rather than 30 March and will last until 27 April. Any urgent decisions during this recess will be made by the Council Leadership Forum (a formal committee of group leaders of each political grouping on the Council, chaired by the Council Leader).

UPDATE 17 MARCH: Glasgow Coffee Festival is off and has been re-scheduled for October. Next week’s AccelerateHER Awards, due to be held at the Edinburgh Codebase centre, will now be a virtual event.

Ironically, Scotland’s annual showcase for business events professionals will be postponed until 25 September. The organisers of EVENTIT had been determined to stage the event on 19 March at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre with more than 80 exhibitors and more 800 events professionals due to attend.

Judith Wilson, events director of EVENTIT said: “We know this will come as a huge disappointment, not only to our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and visitors who were due to attend the show but also to the events industry community who have shown us great support.

China sees slowdown in cases

China has reported just one domestic case of coronavirus today but found 20 more cases imported from abroad, threatening to spoil its progress. 

The single case in Wuhan will boost China’s view that it has ‘basically curbed’ the spread of the pathogen which emerged in the city last December.  

But the country is now concerned about an influx of cases from abroad, with an average of 20,000 people flying into China every day.

In a reversal of roles, Beijing is now requiring almost all international arrivals to go into 14-day quarantine in designated hotels.

Comment: Amid confusing messages, mother of all bailouts seems only answer to virus crisis

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