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New lockdown plan

Sturgeon calls for clarity on furlough extension

Boris Johnson: ‘We have to be humble’

Scotland’s First Minister is calling for early clarification on whether an extension to the furlough scheme, announced by the Prime Minister, will be applied in the same way to Scotland.

Boris Johnson put England back into lockdown for a month and said the furlough scheme will be extended for the period, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned.

Universities and schools will remain open, as will construction sites. Elite sport will continue, but pubs, restaurants, leisure and entertainment venues, and non-essential shops must close.

These measures will not be extended to Scotland where a five-level shutdown regime comes into effect on Monday, although the Treasury said the furlough extension will apply to Scotland.

However, Ms Sturgeon said it was not clear if it would apply while lockdown restrictions were different in Scotland.

“A key point for us – which we hope to clarify ASAP – is whether extended furlough support is available only in November or flexibly for devolved admins.

“That could have an impact on our decisions,” she said in a tweet.

“A crucial point for us is whether support on the scale announced for English businesses is available for Scottish businesses now or… is only available if Scotland has a full lockdown at the same time.

Nicola Sturgeon in parliament

Nicola Sturgeon: calling for clarity

In the meantime, she has told people in Scotland not to travel to or from England except for “essential purposes”.

Mr Johnson, who intended to announce the lockdown in England on Monday, was forced to call a press conference on Saturday evening after the modelling projections by the science advisory group Sage were leaked.

The advisers say the virus is on track to kill 85,000 this winter, peaking at 4,000 daily deaths.

More than a million cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the UK since the pandemic began, official figures revealed today.

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Department of Health statistics show Britain crossed the milestone on Saturday after recording a further 21,915 positive cases.

A further 326 deaths were recorded, the highest number since May 28 when 343 were recorded. 

“No responsible PM can ignore the message of those figures,’ Mr Johnson said. ‘We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature.”

BCC Director General Adam Marshall said:  “There’s no getting around the fact that these new restrictions will be a devastating blow to business communities who have done everything in their power to adapt and operate safely. 

“The temporary extension of the furlough scheme will bring short-term relief to many firms.

Adam Marshall

Adam Marshall: furlough will bring short-term relief (pic: Terry Murden)

“The full financial support package for businesses facing hardship, whether through loss of demand or closure, must immediately be clarified and communicated. 

“Sustained help must be available to employers, to the self-employed and to the many businesses and individuals that have not been able to access any of the government’s schemes to date.”  

Ian Wright, Food and Drink Federation chief executive. said: “Confirmation that the furlough scheme will be extended is extremely welcome news for food and drink businesses who continue to feed the nation. However, we need further clarity that the food supply chain will be supported sufficiently.

IPSE (The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) echoed concerns over a lack of support for the self-employed. It warned that unless the government expands support to include all self-employed people, thousands will face “financial calamity” under the new restrictions.  

Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE, said: “Government must urgently fix the unfair disparity between employee and self-employed support. Right now, the self-employed can claim just 40% of their earnings compared to 80% for employees through the extended furlough scheme.”

Billboard campaign will appear across the central belt

In Scotland, members of the Scottish hospitality industry launched a ‘SOS Save Our Jobs’ campaign by taking over about 50 digital billboards to promote their message across the central belt

The campaign is backed by the Scottish Hospitality Group, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, The Scottish Licensed Trade Association and UKHospitality, as well as Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin, Nic Wood of pub and bar collection Signature Group, James Thomson of Prestonfield and The Witchery, Edinburgh’s Carina Contini and the Scotland-wide Crerar Hotels group. 

The campaign says thousands of jobs are at risk across the sector.



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