Boris Johnson has announced that all pubs, cafes and restaurants must close by midnight tonight as the battle to stem the spread of coronavirus is ramped up.

All public business such as cinemas, theatres, leisure centres and gyms must also follow suit.

In his daily press briefing, the Prime Minister reiterated the government's commitment to turning the tide on the COVID-19 pandemic but rammed home the importance of following the guidance put in place and said that the further measures were necessary to allow the NHS to get on top of the virus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak then announced an unprecedented package of economic measures designed to minimise financial hardship across the country.

His key pledges included:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention scheme - The government will pay 80% of the salary of workers who otherwise could not be kept on by their employer, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The scheme is to be covered by grants provided by HMRC.
  • Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to initially run for three months but could be extended.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Service extended from six months to 12 months.
  • Business VAT bills deferred for next quarter - equalling a direct £30billion cash injection.
  • Universal Credit Standard Allowance to increase by £1,000 per year.
  • Working Tax Credit Standard Allowance to also increase by £1,000 per year.
  • Self employed workers minimum income floor removed, allowing struggling businesses/sole traders to be eligible for Universal Credit.
  • Self assessment payments deferred until January 2021.

The chancellor concluded with a direct message to businesses.

He said: "The government is doing its best to stand behind you and I'm asking you to do your best to stand behind our workers."