Bank of England, U.K. government take policy action over COVID-19
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The Bank of England announced an emergency rate cut, just hours before the government outlined new spending plans.
In an unscheduled and unanimous decision, policymakers at the Bank of England slashed its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point to 0.25%.
Later, the government announced no property tax for a year for leisure and hospitality businesses, government-covered sick pay costs for companies with 250 employees or fewer, fresh infrastructure spending and a whatever-it-takes pledge to support the National Health Service.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the virus will have a significant impact on the economy, but noted he expects it to be temporary and that he’ll take further action if needed.
The interest rate cut is the biggest since 2009, and is part of a package of measures aimed at boosting confidence and combating what the bank deems a temporary but highly uncertain economic impact from the new coronavirus outbreak.
The bank is also freeing up billions of dollars in extra lending power to help banks support small and medium-sized businesses.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?
Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.
How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?
Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.
How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?
As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.
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