Public Policy

July 13, 2020

Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Monday, July 13

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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.

 

  • A formal review into whether face masks should be made mandatory in public places in England is under way and will set out a final position in the next few days.
    • Johnson stated that he believed facemasks “have a great deal of value in confined spaces.”
    • Johnson added that “the scientific evaluation of face coverings and their importance on stopping aerosol droplets, [has] been growing,” and that  “as the virus comes down in incidence … I think face coverings are a kind of extra insurance we can all use to stop it getting out of control again.”
    • However on Sunday, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office secretary, said the Government would not make face masks mandatory in England and that the Government would “trust people’s good sense”.
    • Labour has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock calling for urgent clarity to address the confusion over the use of face coverings in shops in England.
    • Faces masks are mandatory in shops and public transport in Scotland but are only mandatory on public transport in England and Northern Ireland.
    • Meanwhile the Welsh government has announced that three-layer face coverings will become compulsory on public transport from 27 July.
    • The boss of the Waterstones book chain has said making face masks compulsory would be a “reasonable measure” but it should not be the job of shop workers to “police” the policy.

 

Other UK news

  • The Government has said the current work from home guidance is under review after Boris Johnson encouraged employees last week to go back to work where they could.
  • HMRC has invited the hospitality industry to register for Eat Out to Help Out. The Eat Out to Help Out registration service went live this morning on GOV.UK, allowing businesses to join the scheme announced by the Chancellor last week.
  • A cross-party group of peers will table an amendment which will  ban outdoor smoking at pubs and cafes to emergency legislation which will temporarily relax licensing laws to encourage eating and drinking outside. The amendment will seek to ensure pavement licences are only granted subject to the condition that smoking is banned. The Government has said that councils would be able to set local conditions for licences.
  • Pubs, cafes, restaurants and bars can reopen indoors in Wales from 3 August. Businesses will be asked to try to maintain 2m social distancing and put measures in place where this cannot happen. Wales had previously been the only part of the UK not to set a date for the reopening of indoor hospitality.
  • The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced changes to the planning system in an effort to save theatres, concert halls and live music performance generations. Councils will now need to take the temporary impact of Covid-19 into account when considering permission for change of use, redevelopment or demolition of a cultural building.
  • From today, children under 18 playing sport in Scotland are to be exempt from social distancing rules and can play contact sports. Sport Scotland will be providing guidance on how the sporting activities should be carried out, including the appointment of a Covid officer, registration of those who are in attendance and hygiene measures.
  • The National Trust is reopening five houses in England for the first time since lockdown. The National Trust has already opened more than 130 gardens and parks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland after lockdown restrictions were eased in June.
  • Every Jersey resident will receive £100 each to stimulate the island’s economy. The £11m scheme is part of a broader £150m economic package to assist with recovery from Covid-19. The money will be in the form of a voucher or pre-paid card. It will be given to residents by September and will be time-limited to two months. The vouchers cannot be spent online, used for savings or spent on gambling.
  • In a first for the UK, door-to-door Covid-19 testing is being carried out in Leicester. NHS teams and volunteers are in the city dropping off test kits for people even if they do not have symptoms.
  • Serbia has been removed from a list of where people returning to or visiting England can avoid quarantine due to a spike of Covid-19 infections in the country.
  • The UK has rejected an invitation to join an EU coronavirus vaccine procurement scheme because it risks slowing the UK’s access to successful products by up to six months.
  • Health Secretary Matt Handcock has said the Government is preparing to roll out the “biggest flu vaccination programme in history”. Handcock said planning was under way for an expected surge in demand on the NHS due to seasonal pressures, such as flu cases, over winter.

 

World news

  • Finland has lifted travel restrictions for 17 more European countries and 11 nations outside Europe. But the border remains shut to the UK and Sweden, where infection rates remain high.
  • France is considering expanding rules over when people should wear face masks, according to the country’s new prime minister. People in France already have to wear face masks on public transport but coverings are not yet mandatory in shops.
  • New York City, once the global epicentre of the pandemic, reported no Covid-19 deaths over 24 hours for the first time since March.
  • More than 80 millionaires from around the world have signed a letter calling on their governments to permanently increase taxes on the wealthiest in response to the pandemic. The letter has been signed by 83 people from seven countries so far, including Disney heirs Tom and Abigail Disney; the founder of the Warehouse Group, Stephen Tindall; and the co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Jerry Greenfield.
  • A Spanish judge has barred Catalan authorities from confining about 160,000 people to their homes in the city of Lleida and seven other towns over a Covid-19 outbreak, saying the regional government had exceeded its powers. People will still not be able to leave the area, but they can move freely within the area.

 

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