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£5bn grants for firms hit hard by lockdown – follow live

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UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Pubs, restaurants, shops and other businesses which have been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic will be supported by a £5bn grant scheme to help them to reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased, the government has said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will detail how the “restart grants”, worth up to £6,000 per premises, will work to help non-essential retailers reopen and trade safely as part of his Budget on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, hospitality, hotels, gyms and personal care and leisure firms will be eligible for up to £18,000 per premises as they are expected to open later under Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of restrictions.

It came as the Department of Health and Social Care revealed that whole families with children in school or college in England will be able to test themselves for Covid-19 twice a week from home under plans to reopen schools from 8 March.

Ministers said free tests would be provided to pupils’ households, as well as those in their childcare or support bubbles, regardless of symptoms.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic today.

Conrad Duncan28 February 2021 08:38

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