BORIS Johnson today ruled out extending the furlough scheme beyond next month after launching a new coronavirus crackdown.
He said in response to a question from a member of the public that it wouldn’t continue as “you’re just keeping people in suspended animation”.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
It comes as it was revealed up to £3.5billion has been paid out in wrong or fraudulent furlough schemes, HMRC fears.
The Government rolled out the massive scheme at breakneck speed at the start of the pandemic to help business keep afloat.
But the scheme is now winding down and is expected to end for good next month.
In his first press conference since July, the PM also announced moves to ramp up enforcement of the tough rules to make sure everyone is following them – or they risk being slapped with fines of at least £100.
And medical experts warned a second spike in coronavirus was being fuelled by young people failing to follow the rules on social distancing and hygiene.
From Monday people in England will be unable to gather in groups of more than six – including children – and if they do they could even be arrested.
The rules will apply indoors and outdoors, after police chiefs said that the rules were too confusing.
Weddings, funerals, workplaces and some other gatherings will be exempt from the rules.
The Government also now believes that the R rate is now above one as the rate of infections is increasing so rapidly.
They fear that without today’s radical intervention, Britain will follow in the footsteps of France and Spain, where a second wave of coronavirus started among young people but then spread to the elderly.
The PM also discussed a border crackdown, with new forms to fill out and extra checks on people who should be quarantining after returning from countries not in the travel corridor.
And he revealed a new law will insist Brits must give test and trace details to pubs and restaurants.
It was revealed today:
Businesses have not had to enforce this previously, but now punters will have to give their details out – to help prevent the spread.
They will be be kept for 21 days incase the customer needs to be told to self-isolate.
Alarming numbers show that England’s Covid infection rates have rocketed from 12.5 per 100,000 last week, to 19.7 this week.
But the rate is far higher among Brits in their late teens and 20s.
Among 17 to 18 year-olds it stands at a staggering 48.1 per 100,000.
Among 19 to 21 year-olds it is even higher at 54.5, while among 20 to 29 year-old it is 41.6 per 100,000.
But it is no higher among school age children.
He also apologised today after announcing the new laws, saying: “I wish that we did not have to take this step. But as your PM, I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.”
And he promised will only keep it in place “as long as necessary”, but said it was “just too early to say” how long they will be need to stay for.
It means that grandparents and grandchildren may not be able to spend Christmas together if the rules stay in place until then.