The British government on Tuesday decided to extend the implementation of its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of October to support millions of jobs and businesses across Britain during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This extension and the changes we are making to the scheme will give flexibility to businesses while protecting the livelihoods of the British people and our future economic prospects,” said Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Furloughed workers across the country will continue to be able to receive 80 percent of their current salary, up to 2,500 pounds (about 3,079 U.S. dollars), said the statement, noting that the job retention scheme “has protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses.”

The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of this month, said the statement.

Asked about what happens if companies can’t contribute to fund the furlough scheme after July, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma told the Downing Street press briefing that the chancellor will “set out more details later in the month on this issue”.

Responding to if the furlough scheme is simply delaying people being let go, the secretary said that depends on “how quickly we can come out of this particular situation”.

“We’re not going to be able to protect every single job,” he said, adding that firms will be asked to start sharing the cost of paying the salaries of furloughed workers as the economy reopens.

As to social distancing measures in work places, he said employers have a duty to keep employees safe in the workplace and if someone feels their workplace isn’t safe they have to take that up with their employer.

Another 627 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain as of Monday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 32,692, the Department of Health and Social Care said Tuesday.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

As of Tuesday morning, 226,463 people have tested positive for the virus in the country, said the department.

Earlier in the day, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its latest weekly death figures for England and Wales, which showed that by the end of April coronavirus deaths were falling but total excess deaths (the number of weekly deaths above what people would expect in an average week) was still very high.

Excess deaths in England and Wales were running at around 8,000 at the end of April, said the ONS, noting that coronavirus deaths in week 18 (week ending May 1) accounted for 33.6 percent of all deaths, down from 37.4 percent in the previous weeks. Enditem


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