Sunak warned that up to 20% of workers could be off work at any one time.
And his plans are designed to help struggling businesses as demand dries-up and supply lines seize.
Construction companies with less than 250 employees will now have Statutory Sick Pay liabilities for any coronavirus victims refunded by the government.
A new temporary £1bn coronavirus business interruption loan scheme will also see banks offer government-backed loans of up to £1.2m to SMEs to ease cash flow fears.
Sunak said: “Life will return to normal but for a period it will be tough. Our response will be temporary,timely and targeted.”
The eligibility criteria for Statutory Sick Pay refunds are:
- this refund will be limited to two weeks per employee
- employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
- employers should maintain records of staff absences, but should not require employees to provide a GP fit note
- the eligible period for the scheme will commence from the day on which the regulations extending SSP to self-isolators come into force
- while existing systems are not designed to facilitate such employer refunds for SSP, the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible