Coronavirus: ‘Eat out to help out,’ says UK finance minister

A person cycles past closed restaurants in Leicester Square, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain June 17, 2020. (Reuters)

Britain’s finance minister urged people Saturday to “eat out to help out” the economy claw its way from a historic decline sparked by the coronavirus crisis.

The comments by Chancellor Rishi Sunak were published on the day England finally reopened its beloved pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector after more than three months of lockdown.

Britain’s shutdown has been one of Europe’s longest because of an official toll – 44,131 – that only trails those of the United States and Brazil.

For more on coronavirus, visit our dedicated section.

Sunak said the closures have been especially painful for Britain because consumption makes up about two-third of its gross domestic product.

“That’s more than most of our peers,” he told The Times newspaper.

“So we’ve got a situation like this, with social distancing we’re obviously going to be particularly impacted by that.”

Sunak said he “worried about a generation that is scarred by coronavirus” – especially younger people who see the hospitality sector as their way into the job market.

“For me this is really about social justice,” he said.

“People act responsibly, but ultimately if we eat out to help out we can protect those jobs. It’s not abstract.”

The true scale of Britain’s unemployment problem will only be revealed once the government starts winding down its jobs furlough scheme in August.

The state currently supports 80 percent of most people’s wages. But jobless claims still surged 126 percent to 2.8 million in the three months to May.

Sunak will make an economic statement to parliament next week that will be watched closely for signs of how much support the government intends to give businesses in the future.

The government is running up debts but interests rates are low and borrowing costs remain at a historic low.

The Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane created waves this week by predicting a
“V-shaped” recovery that will see old levels of performance return soon.

Sunak was less certain.

“We all want Andy to be right,” he said.

“But we have got to be realistic as well. You can’t shut down your economy in the way that we have for this many months without there being hardship as a result.”

Read more:

Coronavirus: Six main guidelines as UAE citizens, residents can now travel abroad

US coronavirus cases rise by over 53,000, third consecutive day of record numbers

Coronavirus: Dubai Tourism issues guidelines for entertainers at areas within hotels

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Saturday, 04 July 2020 KSA 12:25 - GMT 09:25
Top