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News & Press: International Trade News

Five key points from the Prime Minister’s briefing (Weds 25 March)

26 March 2020  
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With business groups demanding clarity on what constitutes ‘essential work’, prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday defended why he is not “closing down the UK economy”, both at his daily briefing and earlier in parliament.

1. Why not keep all non-essential workers at home?

When asked if he should order non-essential workers to stay at home, the prime minister repeated his advice that “if you can stay at home then you overwhelmingly should”. For those who are going to work, he said it was “vital” employers enforce social distancing rules.

Director general of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairburn, said greater clarity is needed as “companies did not know whether to stay open or close”.

2. Self-employed support unveiled today

The PM confirmed the Chancellor will today (Thursday 26 March) announce a much-anticipated package for the UK’s five million self-employed, expected to cover 80% of a worker’s recent earnings, the Guardian reported.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said earlier this week that distinguishing between people who have been losing money and gaining money during the crisis was proving “problematic”.

3. PM thanks key transport workers

The PM thanked several key workers, including transport workers, for “keeping this country going”.

His plaudits came as Lloyds Loading List reported that over 700 logistics companies are offering a combined fleet of 23,500 vehicles to the government for the distribution of emergency supplies and food.

4. Legislation to prevent profiteering

When asked about people profiteering from the crisis, the PM said he “dislikes it very much”.

The CMS (Competition and Market Authority) is looking at the issue and the government is looking at introducing laws like those used “in wartime”.

5. Lack of testing kit part of a ‘global shortage’

As the UK lags behind other countries on testing, the government’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said the UK had to face up to the “practical reality” that other countries want components for the tests as well.