UK opens $1.3 billion to companies affected by omicron variant

The UK government on Monday issued 1,000 million pounds (about $1,320 million) in aid to companies most affected by the consequences of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, after weeks of pressure from representatives of the sector.

“People are becoming increasingly careful in their daily lives how they feel in our hospitality and restaurant, entertainment and cultural sectors during the busiest period of the year,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said that about 200,000 companies would qualify for help to mitigate the decline in revenue around the holidays, a key period of the year for businesses.

Despite a wild spike in cases, the Johnson administration waived restrictions immediately before Christmas.

But omicron’s advances hit bars and restaurants hard with many year-end party cancellations costing 60% of businesses in December.

Sunak said the government acknowledged that businesses in the leisure sector faced “a period of high uncertainty.”

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