Public Policy

July 17, 2020

Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Friday, July 17

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Each day, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest news in the evolving situation. To view the previous day’s summary, please click here.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has set out  a roadmap for a “significant return to normality” in England by Christmas

  • Under the new guidelines, people may use public transport for journeys immediately.
    • On 1 August the Government will update its advice on going to work, asking employers to make decisions about how and where their staff can work safely.
    • From the same date, most remaining leisure settings, including bowling, skating rinks, casinos and all close contact services such as beauticians, will be allowed to reopen.
    • Live indoor theatre and concerts will also be able to resume on the same date with socially distanced audiences.
    • However, soft play areas and nightclubs will remain closed beyond that date, although they “will be kept under review.”
    • From October, the Government intends to allow audiences to return to stadiums, while conferences and other business events can recommence, subject to the outcome of pilots.
    • Johnson confirmed that schools and colleges would be open full time for all pupils from September, adding that universities were working to open “as fully as possible” in the new academic year.
    • The roadmap “remains conditional” on continued progress in controlling the virus and preventing a second wave of infections that could overwhelm the NHS.
    • Johnson also confirmed an additional £3bn in funding for the NHS to help it prepare for a potential second wave of infections and to cope with its usual winter pressures.
    • There will be an expansion in testing capacity to a target of 500,000 tests a day by the end of October to help identify positive Covid-19 cases among people with symptoms of seasonal illnesses.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has unveiled new powers for local authorities to manage outbreaks of the virus in their areas

  • Johnson said from 18 July, local authorities would have the power to close premises, close off public outdoors spaces and cancel events.
    • He also set out plans for central Government to intervene in local areas by issuing “stay-at-home” orders, limit the numbers at gatherings beyond national rules and restrict transport.
    • Ministers would also receive clearer guidance on where they can intervene to “close whole sectors or types of premises in an area” and advise people in specific postcodes to stay at home.

Other UK news

  • The Department for Education has announced that universities in England at risk of insolvency could apply for emergency loans from the Government. However, any rescue would come with conditions, including cutting pay for vice-chancellors and senior staff. It could also require universities to focus more on subjects with better job prospects for graduates.
  • British Airways has said it will retire its fleet of Boeing 747s after a sharp downturn in travel as a result of the outbreak.
  • The Scottish government has announced a further, £11.2 million of funding to support childcare providers with the cost of safely reopening.
  • Around 130,000 people shielding in Wales have been advised that from 16 August, they can go to work or to school and go shopping.
  • The Scottish government has announced £100 million of funding to support people looking for work or those at risk of redundancy. Measures include job guarantees, a new national training scheme, and assistance for people who are made redundant. In addition, Fair Start Scotland, the employment support service, has been extended by a further two years to March 2023.

World news

  • EU leaders are meeting face to face for the first time in months, seeking to reach a deal on a €750bn (£670bn) post-Covid stimulus package. The main issue is how much of the recovery fund will be handed out in grants and how much in loans.
  • The European Union is negotiating advance purchase deals of potential Covid-19 vaccines with drug makers Moderna, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson and biotech firms BioNtech and CureVac.
  • Russia will unveil a deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the pharmaceuticals giant and Oxford University, its wealth fund head said.
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