Chancellor Rishi Sunak has detailed a £4.6bn relief package for the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors that will offer UK businesses a one-off grant worth up to £9,000.
The measures were announced this morning, following a public message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night that England is to enter a full lockdown period for a third time in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the latest developments surrounding a new strain of the virus here in the UK.
The payments, detailed by the chancellor on Tuesday, January 6th, are expected to support 600,000 business properties across the UK. A further £594 million will be made available to councils and devolved nations to support businesses not covered by the new grants.
Sunak said: “The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge – and whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring. This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they able to reopen.”
The third national lockdown will once again see the closure of all retail, hospitality, and leisure facilities deemed non-essential. A lesser blow to the toy industry than the previous national restriction measures imposed in the build up to the Christmas shopping period, its impact will still likely be felt across the indie retail network.
The cabinet secretary, Michael Gove, this morning said that he hoped the gradual lifting of restrictions could begin mid-February, but that the time it will take for the vaccines to take effect meant it was likely to be at least another couple of weeks before measures could start to be eased.
It is likely the measures will be in place until March this year.
“We can’t predict with certainty that we’ll be able to lift restrictions the week commencing February 15th,” he told Sky News this morning. “What we will be doing is everything we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated so that we can begin progressively to lift restrictions.
“I think it’s right to say that, as we enter March, we should be able to lift some of these restrictions – but not necessarily all.”
School closures of course mean that children will now be spending time at home, offering up more opportunity to the toy industry to capitalise on the need for home learning resources and toys. Many independent retailers are already primed for yesterday’s news, having implemented click and collect and delivery services throughout the course of England’s lockdown throughout the spring/summer of 2020.