DON’T MOVE HOME
Over 100 UK virus deaths in a day ++ Vast bailout for self-employed ++ And now ministers tell us ...
THE housing market was all but frozen last night after the Government said moves should be suspended during the coronavirus crisis.
Buyers were strongly urged to postpone their completion dates to avoid breaking the rules on social distancing.
Lenders said they would extend mortgage offers for up to three months – allowing purchasers to move in at a later date.
Banks had lobbied ministers for a full freeze on the property market amid concerns over valuations and loans during the economic crisis.
The shutdown came as the Chancellor unveiled another astonishing bailout package, this time for self-employed workers.
Rishi Sunak said they could apply for a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits to help them stay afloat.
But he hinted that taxes would have to rise to pay for the unprecedented bailouts for businesses and workers.
As the nation burst into applause in tribute to NhS workers fighting the virus:
▪ The number of UK victims jumped by more than 100 in a day for the first time;
▪ Police began using roadblocks and drones and were handed sweeping powers to punish breaches of the virus lockdown;
▪ The Director of Public Prosecutions threatened anyone coughing deliberately at a key
worker could face a sentence of as long as two years in prison;
▪ The deputy chief medical officer suggested some social distancing measures could be needed for six months;
▪ Boris Johnson’s pledge to buy thousands of ventilators descended into farce as No 10 was forced to admit it had not joined an EU scheme because the government had allegedly not received an email;
▪ Next closed its online operation amid a row over staff being made to work;
▪ Health officials launched an urgent review into reports of doctors and nurses putting themselves at risk through a lack of protective clothing;
▪ Volunteers for a new scheme to help the NHS surged toward 700,000;
▪ Banks were forced into a humiliating retreat after ministers warned them not to exploit an emergency loan scheme set up to support struggling firms;
▪ It emerged it would be weeks before rapid virus tests are available to identify whether someone can return to work;
▪ Britain became the biggest contributor to the world’s mission to find a coronavirus vaccine and save millions of lives.
▪ The probation service abandoned faceto-face meetings with all but the most serious offenders;
▪ Routine cancer screening and cervical smear tests could be halted;
▪ Global cases surged past half a million, with the US increasingly badly affected;
▪ Petrol prices dropped below £1 a litre for the first time in recent memory.
A Government spokesman said: ‘Home buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving home while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus.
‘If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons, people must follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus. In line with the Government’s advice, anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being, if at all possible.
‘All parties should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.’
The Government said there was no need to pull out of transactions.
In earlier talks between lenders and ministers, banks said it had become impossible to survey properties and their call centres had been flooded by anxious homeowners asking for mortgage holidays.
Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said the Government shutdown of the property market was unheard of.
He added: ‘It’s going to put a lot of people’s lives on hold. From our perspective, we just hope everyone presses the pause button rather than the stop button.’
The UK’s largest lenders had earlier slashed access to mortgages in the biggest cull since the financial crisis.
There are warnings of a price crash and a plunge in sales of up to 60 per cent over the next three months.