Sunak rules out furlough extension, says UK won't hesitate on quarantines

By Frank Prenesti

Date: Friday 07 Aug 2020

Sunak rules out furlough extension, says UK won't hesitate on quarantines

(Sharecast News) - UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday ruled out an extension to the government's coronavirus furlough scheme, saying it could not carry on indefinitely.

Sunak, who has approved billions of pounds in support measures to combat the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis, said an extension could "keep people trapped" in a situation with no realistic prospect of a job to go back to.

Speaking in media interviews during a visit to Scotland, Sunak added that it was "better we look forward and provide those people with new opportunities".

"Most reasonable people would say that this is not something that can carry on forever."

His comments came as Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey warned there was a long, uncertain road to get the economy back on track after the central bank published more upbeat forecasts for 2020.

Leaving interest rates unchanged on Thursday the BoE predicted the economy would shrink by 9.5% in 2020 in an upgrade from its previous estimate for a 14.5% contraction. The BoE also revised down its growth estimate for 2021 to 9% from 15%.

"There is a lot of hard work to be done to get the economy back to where it was," Bailey told Bloomberg. "We've had quite a rapid recovery so far which I'm not surprised about as restrictions are lifted but there's a lot of hard yards to be done from here onwards."

Sunak also warned the government would not hesitate to put more countries on its coronavirus quarantine list as speculation grew that France could be next as infections sharply rose over the last 24 hours.

The UK on Thursday added Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas, meaning arrivals from those countries after 0400 BST on Saturday would need to self-isolate for 14 days. The government also advised against non-essential travel to these destinations.

New COVID-19 infections in France rose by more than 1,600 for a second day, levels not seen since late May.

"It's the right thing for us to do to keep everything under review on a constant basis, talking with our scientists and medical advisers," Sunak said.

"And if we need to take action as you've seen overnight, we will of course not hesitate to do that and we're doing that to protect people's health.


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