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Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has warned of further job losses and business closures if Britons do not get out and support the British economy. He explained his concern is mainly focused around city centres which appear much quieter than before, despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Asked whether he was concerned that London is being “hollowed out”, Mr Jenrick told LBC: “Well I am very concerned about London and city centres more generally.
“You are seeing people starting to go back into town centres and obviously using local shops in villages and rural areas, but many of our city centres are very quiet and we need to get back into them, using the Chancellor’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, going to visit the shops safely, it can be done.
“Shops and the hospitality industry are going to great lengths to make sure that they’re following social distancing guidelines and those of us that can do so need to get out and support them now or else we will see, I’m afraid, further job losses and a loss of some of those fantastic businesses that we see in our cities.”
He added that the hospitality industry is going to “great lengths” to ensure customer safety.
His comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people need to have the confidence to go back to workplaces in order to help the country’s economic recovery.
Mr Johnson said workers must have the confidence to return to their offices “in a COVID-secure way” to help get the economy moving.
His comments came as the Government urged employees in England to return to work this week following five months of home working during the peak of the pandemic.
However, reports suggest that most employees are continuing to work remotely.
Mr Johnson added that it is also “very, very important” that all pupils return to schools in September.
During a visit to a housing development in Warrington, the Prime Minister told reporters there were “real signs of strength in the UK economy”.
“Unquestionably it will require people to have the confidence to go back to work in a COVID-secure way,” he continued.
He added: “It’s also very, very important that we get all the schools back in September, on September 1 get all the pupils back into their schools.
“That will be also very, very important for getting our economy overall moving again.”
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It comes as 50 million face masks bought by the Government as part of a £252 million contract will not be used in the NHS due to safety concerns.
The masks, ordered from Ayanda Capital, have ear loops rather than head loops, and there are concerns over whether they are adequate.
The Government has confirmed in court papers that the masks, which are now in the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) logistic chain, will not be used in the NHS.
But Tim Horlick, CEO of Ayanda Capital, insists the masks are not unsafe or unusable, adding that none of his company’s products have ever been rejected by DHSC for any reason.
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