The Chief Minister has promised to bring forward more support for local businesses by tomorrow, but warned that the Government only has “a finite amount of money” in its coffers to help islanders.
In a statement delivered last night (Wednesday 25 March), Senator John Le Fondré spoke about the various Government initiatives launched in response to the virus outbreak – among which was also a pledge of hotel rooms for homeless people.
So far, the Government says it has already committed £400m from its rainy day fund to helping islanders, including promising to subsidise each employee’s wages by £200 per week from the beginning of April for six weeks.
In terms of direct support for businesses, it has also launched a loan guarantee scheme of up to £50million, allowed the deferral of social security and GST payments and set up a £50million fund for organisations which contribute to the public good.
Video: The Chief Minister's latest address on the response to corona virus (Facebook/Government of Jersey).
In his latest announcement, the Chief Minister said: “In response to our ongoing discussions with business representatives, we have also agreed to bring forward a further package of support, which we will announce over the next 48 hours.”
He continued by saying that Government is “the largest spender in the local economy,” and assured businesses that this would continue, and Government will be “a prompt payer of invoices to local businesses.”
In terms of more support for businesses, Senator Le Fondré had this to say: “And the Coronavirus Business Liaison Group will continue to meet regularly, to understand the ongoing impact on businesses, and ensure that appropriate Government support is available. As I have said, we are refining the package of support over the next 48 hours. “
However, this came with the caveat that the Government’s resources to offer support are limited.
“But we have to be clear that we have a finite amount of money in our Strategic Reserve, and we have already committed £400million of that in financial support for our island.
“We will not make snap judgements now that will leave our economy in a worse state in the future. And we must not leave ourselves without the resources we will need to support the economic recovery when we come through this current situation.
“But I can assure you that we are very focussed on protecting both lives and livelihoods.”
Pictured: The Chief Minister said that the Government has a "finite amount of money" to offer support.
Elsewhere in his speech, the Chief Minister announced an agreement between the Health Department and general practitioners which allows, for at least the next four months, all doctors to be directly employed by the Government.
This, the Senator explained: “gives Health and Community Services more capacity and more flexibility to adapt to changing needs and puts Jersey’s healthcare system in a stronger position to tackle covid-19.”
In terms of community efforts, Senator Le Fondré announced that all homeless people will be rehoused in hotels and the Government are developing a “toolkit for parishes on how best to organise offer support” for those who need it.
More announcements are due to follow on further support for vulnerable islanders including food access, groceries for those who are self-isolating, access to medical supplies, care, housing and mental health and wellbeing support.
Bringing his speech to a close, Senator Le Fondré said: “We are facing an unprecedented situation. Like all Governments around the world we are working harder and faster than ever to understand the situation, from a health, social and economic perspective, and to put the right measures in place, based as always on expert advice... Our priority is to save as many lives as possible.”
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