Omicron battle

Covid rules change as Sunak cuts short US trip

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to provide more support

Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes has confirmed that new restrictions will take effect from Friday (17th) as Chancellor Rishi Sunak cut short a US trip to deal with the growing Omicron crisis.

Mr Sunak was on his way back to the UK from California amid calls for more action to support nervous hospitality and retail businesses fearing an exodus of customers because of the latest “guidance” on working from home and restricting contact.

There were reports of packed trains heading out of London as residents flea the city to stay with relatives, relocate to second homes or take a holiday, amid fears that the capital will be locked down. Hair salons have reported a surge in bookings as customers believe they will be forced to close.

Mr Sunak issued a statement acknowledging the growing alarm.

“This Government has done whatever it takes at every stage to support lives and livelihoods throughout this pandemic – and of course we will continue to do so,” he said.

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“We understand that this is a concerning time for businesses.

“Myself and my wider team met with business representatives earlier today, listened to their concerns and will continue to work with industry leaders over the coming days.”

Labour had earlier called on Mr Sunak to “leave Hollywood and come back to reality”.

A number of business organisations – especially those linked with the hospitality sector – are calling for financial support amid what is claimed to be “lockdown by stealth”.

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