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PM back at work

Johnson asks businesses for ‘patience’ over lockdown

Boris Johnson: ‘I share your urgency’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to the frontline battle against the coronavirus pandemic by warning of a “second spike” that would cause lasting damage to the economy.

Mr Johnson, who has recovered from his own treatment for the virus, said he understood “the worries of shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, and everyone in business.”

He said he shared their urgency to get the economy working again, but he asked for more time to conquer the virus.

Delivering a speech outside 10 Downing Street, he said: “I ask you to contain your impatience because I believe now we are coming to the end of the first phase of this conflict.

“We must also recognise the risk of a second spike … and letting the reproduction rate go back over one. That would risk a disaster.”

He said measures are in place to win “phase two”, just as the UK is winning phase one.

He added that if the UK can show the same sense of optimism shown by centenarian Captain Tom Moore, who has raised millions for the NHS by walking laps of his garden, “we will come through this”.

Mr Johnson said the government could not yet spell out how changes to the lockdown policy would be implemented, or how quickly.

“The government will be saying much more about this in the coming days,” he said.

Sunak confirms loan guarantee

Small firms are to get access to 100% taxpayer-backed loans after complaints over slow delivery.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons the scheme would start next week, offering firms loans up to £50,000 within days of applying.

It aiming to unlock a backlog of credit checks by banks amid fears many small firms could fold before getting loans.

The scheme requires filling in a two-page self-certification form online.

The loan terms mean that no capital or interest repayments will be due for one year.

Banks have come under fire for delays in handing out loans, but have blamed the heavy workload, need to complete the necessary credit check, and a shortage of staff.

Benny Higgins: ‘We must emerge from this darkness stronger and fairer’

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