Coronavirus update

In the first of the Prime Minister’s daily coronavirus briefings Mr Johnson announced that the Government is changing course in its efforts to keep the country safe. Unless much stronger measures are put in place, based on new scientific advice, as many as 250,000 will die in a “catastrophic epidemic.”

The Government is acting on new advice from researchers modelling how the disease will spread, how the NHS would be overwhelmed and how many would die. As a result we are now facing the most profound changes to our daily lives. We now have to go all-out to stop the virus from spreading. The aim is to suppress the virus and break the chain of transmission, effectively trying to stop the epidemic in its tracks, and bring cases down as low as possible.

I have called on the Government to underwrite the losses of businesses, including sole traders – from local pubs and shops to industry and the chemical sector - for twelve weeks to help them and the public during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

As you will know, in the Budget on March 11th the Chancellor already announced a package of measures to support businesses and the NHS. He made it clear that the NHS would get whatever extra resources it needs “whether its millions or billions” starting with a £5 billion emergency NHS fund and £7 billion for businesses and families.

These included:

  • Refund for businesses and employers required to access Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  • A 100 percent Business Rates retail discount for one year and expanded to include leisure and hospitality sectors
  • Additional £2.2 billion funding support for those small businesses that pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.
  • A new temporary £1bn Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will support loans to individual businesses of up to £1.2 million in value.
  • All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time-To-Pay service

You can find out about this support in more detail on the


Support for self-employed

On 26 March 2020, the Chancellor announced new measures to help those who are self-employed. The  a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will help our country’s self-employed workers: the musicians, the sound engineers, the plumbers, the electricians, the taxi drivers, the hairdressers, the childminders, the driving instructors, and many others.

Through this scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months–but this will be extend if necessary.

Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, andHMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. People will be able to access the scheme by the beginning of June.


The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, leaving 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply

Other measures announced to slow the spread of the virus include the following:


  • Avoid all non-essential contact
  • Work from home, where possible
  • Avoid unnecessary travel

Over 70’s, pregnant women and those with health conditions

  • Self-isolate for at least 12 weeks. This includes going to the shops.

Suspected illness

  • Entire households told to self-isolate for 14 days if anyone has any of the symptoms which include a persistent cough and  a high temperature,

Care Homes

  • All visits to friends and relatives in care homes should cease. This means that people should stay away unless there is a very good reason to go.


  • The government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. Schools, and all childcare providers, are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Social activity 

  • All pubs, restaurants, clubs and theatres and social venues are closed
  • Emergency services will not attend mass gatherings so they will not go ahead.


  • To stop the spread of the coronavirus all retail outlets, with a few exceptions, have been ordered to close.


  • All hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites and boarding houses for commercial use have been ordered to close in order to combat the virus.


  • Cleveland Local Resilience Forum will coordinate the community response for Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland.
  • Durham Local Resilience Forum will coordinate the community response for Darlington

You can find details here:



  • If you want to help out in the community response to the coronavirus outbreak, sign up to become a NHS Volunteer Responder.


More information