LONDON (AP) — The British government said Friday it will pay two thirds of the salaries of workers in companies that have to close as a result of new coronavirus restrictions widely expected to come into effect next week.

In a change of policy, Treasury chief Rishi Sunak has responded to calls from businesses, local leaders and unions to provide a financial package to prevent mass job losses in sectors that are expected to be subject to tighter restrictions, such as pubs and restaurants in parts of northern England.

“I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves,” Sunak said. “The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the U.K. who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”

Sunak would not be drawn on what businesses would be forced to close but said the rise in cases and hospital admissions in certain parts of the country is a “concern” that requires a change in approach.


The U.K. as a whole has suffered Europe’s deadliest outbreak, with over 42,600 deaths. The latest daily figures published Friday showed 13,864 new cases. Though down on the previous day’s 17,540, the numer is around double the level from a week earlier. As infections rise, the number of people requiring hospitalization increases followed by deaths. The latest figures show the number of people being hospitalized fell slightly to 597, but the daily death toll rose to 87, the highest since early July.

With infections rising, the pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose further local restrictions has grown. He is expected to back a new three-tier local lockdown system, which could see hospitality venues in coronavirus hotspots

US stocks rebounded Wednesday after President Donald Trump partially reversed his decision to end talks on a fiscal package and called for stimulus payments.

Wall Street’s main indices had fallen sharply on Tuesday after Trump abruptly halted talks with Democrats on another stimulus package as the US economic recovery loses steam.

The move came only hours after Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell urged lawmakers to pass measures to boost the economy after it was hit hard by coronavirus shutdowns.

But late Tuesday, Trump called for Congress to “immediately” pass legislation to extend aid for airline workers and small businesses. Trump also said he would back another round of $1,200 stimulus payments for workers.

Wall Street stocks rose Wednesday as investors saw better chances for some kind of relief following Trump’s latest comments.

In late morning trade, the Dow was up by 1.6 percent.

“Stimulus chatter is clearly lighting the stock market’s way. That is the takeaway from yesterday’s knee-jerk selling and this morning’s knee-jerk rebound,” said market analyst Patrick J. O’Hare at Briefing.com.

A senior aide said Wednesday that Trump would back piecemeal fiscal relief measures to boost hard-hit industries, but did not think a broad-based package is achievable before the election.

“At the moment it’s a lot of hot air, and may be setting up the markets for disappointment down the line,” said Connor Campbell at Spreadex

“Nevertheless, US investors seem to be buying Trump’s pronouncements.”

European indices were harder to convince however.

Frankfurt eked out a gain, but both London and Paris dipped.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, and oil prices dropped once again.

Financial markets also focused on the pound as negotiations between the EU and Britain on their post-Brexit relationship resume in London on Wednesday.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said