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UK Offers One Billion Pounds to Firms Hit Hardest by Omicron

INTERNATIONAL: Britain has announced on Tuesday, $1.3 billion of extra support for businesses hit hardest by the wave of Omicron variant coronavirus cases, which is hammering the country's hospitality sector and other businesses.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak has said he was confident the measures would help hundreds of thousands of businesses. But he added that he would "respond proportionately and appropriately" if the government were to impose further restrictions to slow Omicron, which would further hit the economy.

Under the support announced on Tuesday, hospitality and leisure firms in England will be eligible for grants of almost $8 million for each of their premises, accounting for more than $900 million of the new package. The grants were equivalent to those provided to hospitality businesses when they were fully closed earlier this year, the finance ministry said.

A fund to support cultural organizations would be increased by $39 million, while $130 million would be provided to English local authorities for business support measures and almost $200 million to governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The ministry also said it would cover the cost of statutory sick pay for COVID-related absences, for up to two weeks per employee, for small and medium-sized employers across the United Kingdom.

Britain has borrowed almost $400 billion in the last financial year to help it offset the hit to the economy from coronavirus and the government's lockdowns.

UK’s prime minister has said on Monday he was looking at all kinds of measures to keep Omicron under control, cautioning that further restrictions might be needed.


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