Coronavirus live blog: latest as Chancellor announces loans worth £330 billion to support businesses

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a press conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic with chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance in Downing Street after he had taken part in the government's COBRA meeting on March 16 (Photo: Richard Pohle - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

We will be providing live updates until 5pm.

Coronavirus live blog, March 17

Last updated: Tuesday, 17 March, 2020, 18:22

PM advises to "avoid" pubs, clubs, the office, and all unnecessary social contact and travel

Idris Elba becomes the latest celebrity to test positive for the virus, as Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson leave hospital

France imposes 15-day lockdown and deploys 100,000 police to enforce it

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from prison in Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been released temporarily from prison in Iran with a ankle tag. 

The move comes as Iran attempts to control the spread of coronavirus. 

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: "I am relieved that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was today temporarily released into the care of her family in Iran. We urge the regime to ensure she receives any necessary medical care. 

"While this is a welcome step, we urge the government now to release all UK dual nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran, and enable them to return to their families in the UK."

Boris Johnson is holding his daily press briefing now

The Prime Minister is holding is daily public briefing on the coronavirus outbreak.

He is joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

More to follow imminently

PM: help for families and business will be delivered with "profound sense of urgency"

The Prime Minister has said the government will provide help for families and businesses who feel the financial impact of measures implemented to fight coronavirus. 

These would be delivered with a "profound sense of urgency".

PM: "we must act like war-time government"

He adds: "I stress although the measures are extreme we may well have to go further and faster.

"And we must act like any war-time government and do anything it takes to support our economy."

Rishi Sunak to help businesses with £330bn in back loans and guarantees

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is speaking now. 

He's described the coronavirus pandemic as "a public health emergency but also an economic emergency".

He has said "the government will stand behind business small and large."

This will amount to £330bn of guarantees, he claims.

Chancellor: Three month mortgage holiday for those in need

Sunak adds that mortgage lenders will give a three month holiday mortgage to those in need of help while coronavirus measures are in place.

He said: "For those in difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will now offer a three-month mortgage holiday so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage cost while they get back on their feet."

Earlier Sunak said businesses which were last week promised no business rates this year will now be issued with grants of £25,000.

PM: 'state to stand behind people'

The Prime Minister, the Chancellor and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance are taking questions now.

Asked if firms who need to pay wages now will miss out on financial support Johnson says: "the state is asking people to make considerable changes to their lives - only right that the state should stand behind people as they make those changes.

PM: 'the more the public follow advice the better the chances of slowing the disease'

Earlier today the PM's father said that he would continue to visit the pub despite measures urging members of the public to avoid pubs and restaurants.

Quizzed on this, the PM says: "What I say to people who are thinking about this advice is that the more we follow this advice, the better our chances collectively of slowing the disease, of protecting the NHS and of saving life."

Sir Patrick: 'no one knows what will happen when we relax measures'

The chief scientific adviser has said that they are unsure what will happen when measures are relaxed. 

He said: "In terms of the timeframe, this needs to be done in a way that we can look at releasing it at some point and seeing what the effect is.

"None of us, anywhere in the world, know how to do that yet in terms of whether it bounces back or not at that point. So, that is what's going to have to happen after we've got this under control is to look at how you then release these measures at the right time to monitor the effects.

"In terms of vaccines, and vaccines are the answer to this, it's remarkable the progress that has been made.

"It's only probably three or four years ago when the standard answer would be it takes 20 years to make a vaccine, it is now the case that there's a vaccine in the UK that may go into the clinic for first testing in April.

"I still believe we will be lucky to get a vaccine for mass use in a year from the start of this, that would be extraordinary, but there is progress."

Chancellor: businesses should refrain from laying off staff in response to measures

The chancellor urged businesses not to lay off staff in response to yesterday's measures.

He said: "We will help them [businesses] get through this. They don't need to rush these decisions. 

"We want to help them get through this. It is better for them, better for the economy and better for everyone."

Chancellor: further support in the coming days

Sunak has been quizzed on the loans package provided more explanation on the announced loan scheme.

He said: "We've worked on a very particular financing scheme with the Bank of England, again showing that the two arms of economic policy can work together to provide support.

"And you can benchmark what we're doing with other countries around the world.

"Loan schemes are important because ultimately businesses need to have liquidity to get through what is a difficult bridge, but we have unveiled what I think would benchmark as a very comprehensive and sizeable package of direct fiscal support for business through tax reliefs and cash grants."

Mr Sunak added that the government would provide further help with regard to employment support and supporting people's jobs and incomes.

PM: 'Supermarket shelves will remain stocked'

Asked whether enough was being doen to keep suermarkets stocked, the PM is adamant that the country is prepared. 

He said: "We're absolutely confident that our supply chains are working and will work ,and that we will get farm to fork food supplies for this country.

"Therefore, people should have no need to stockpile or to panic-buy."

PM hails economic measures

The PM has heaped praise on the Chancellor's raft of measures. 

He said: "It comes in form of standing behind companies' obligations and behind their debts on a huge scale, and also making sure they have the cashflow that they need," he said.

"This is a quite extraordinary effort to put liquidity into the economy at a difficult time.

"Be in no doubt: one day the UK economy is going to bounce back and those good, brilliant British companies will bounce back, and that is why we are taking the steps to protect them that we are today."

Chancellor: 'this will be temporary, we will get through this'

Asked if we are heading for a recession, the Chancellor says that "this will have a significant impact on our economy - that's what I said last week, I stand by that.

"But I also stand by what else I said is - you know, this will be temporary, we will get through this and we will get through it together, and the steps that we're taking mean that we will emerge together on the other side able to rebound back to confidence and economic activity.

"That's why all the interventions we're looking at are designed to provide that bridge through this - what will be a very difficult, challenging period - but get us through this period and so that we can be there on the other side to emerge stronger thereafter."

Shadow Chancellor: Government measures ‘do not go far enough’

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has criticised the Government measures to support the economy amid the coronavirus outbreak, which includes loans worth £330 billion to support businesses, claiming they did not go far enough.

He said: "People are being laid off today and losing their incomes. We are disappointed that this package does not address their concerns.

"The further announcements laid out by the Chancellor lack the certainty required amidst growing public anxiety, and still do not go far enough in protecting workers, renters and those who are losing their jobs, or in fully supporting businesses at the scale necessary.

"In particular, the Chancellor's claim that new forms of employment support will be developed does not appreciate the urgency and gravity of the situation.

"Workers and businesses need to know now that they will be supported, not in a few days' time."

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