Government will not be found wanting in COVID-19 response says SOS Brandon Lewis

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By Q Radio News and Michael McHugh, PA

The British Government will not be found wanting in supporting the people and business community of Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State has said.

Brandon Lewis said protecting people was at the heart of the Government's strategy to mitigate the effects of Covid-19.

He said: "While we cannot guarantee that no-one will suffer hardship, we will do our utmost to support individuals, families and businesses."

Northern Ireland will receive over £900 million as part of an initial package of measures detailed by the Chancellor to support its response to the outbreak.

Meanwhile,

Doctors and nurses on the front line - of Northern Ireland’s fight against Coronavirus - have issued a direct appeal to the public.

In a video shared widely on social media healthcare professionals from the Belfast Trust say if you stay at home you will save lives.

The appeal comes as Health officials confirmed a second elderly person died from the disease in the province and the UK’s total Covid-19 deaths surged to 2 hundred 81.

Health Minister Robin Swann says the latest death should bring home the stark reality of the situation:

Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month, while businesses are shut down.

The Government is also deferring VAT payments and increasing an interest-free loan period to 12 months.

Measures outlined by Stormont's devolved ministerial Executive include a small business grant to support 27,000 businesses and a grant scheme for firms in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors.

Mr Lewis said: "This must be a collective national effort, across the length and breadth of the country, and all four nations that make up our United Kingdom.

"As a Government, we promise to work hand in glove with the Executive, the Irish Government and business leaders to guarantee comprehensive and coordinated measures are in place to protect our families and communities.

"As the Prime Minister has said the invisible enemy we face may be deadly, but it is beatable.

"We will not be found wanting when it comes to providing support to the people and business community of Northern Ireland."

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