March 20, 2020 / 5:25 PM / 15 days ago

UK to pay firms not to sack workers over coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London, Britain March 17, 2020. Matt Dunham/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s government will pay businesses hit by the coronavirus outbreak not to lay off workers, as part of what Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said would be an unprecedented economic intervention.

“Today I can announce that for the first time in our history the government is going to step in and pay people’s wages,” Sunak said at a news conference, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the closure of pubs and eat-in restaurants.

Sunak said the government would give grants to cover 80% of a worker’s salary if businesses kept them on staff.

“The economic intervention that I am announcing today is unprecedented in the history of the British state,” he said.

Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Stephen Addison

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