Public Policy

July 30, 2020

Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Thursday, July 30

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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.

The Government has extended the self-isolation period for people with symptoms of Covid-19 from 7 days to 10 days 

  • The four chief medical officers of the UK have issued the advice based on new evidence that people with mild to moderate symptoms may still be infectious days after the onset of the virus.
    • The new advice brings the UK in line with guidance issued by the World Health Organization.
    • It comes as ministers try to avoid a resurgence of the virus in the UK after a rise in cases across different parts of Europe.
    • Ministers have already removed Spain from the travel corridor list, meaning all arrivals from the country must self-isolate for 14 days. The Government are also looking at removing Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia from the travel corridor list.
    • Although there has been a rise in cases in many parts of Europe there has not been, unlike the US, a rise in hospitalisations or death.
    • This is partly due to the time lag between getting infected and developing a serious illness but it is mostly down to the fact that the resurgence of the virus is primarily driven by people under 40 who are less likely to develop a serious illness.
    • The continued decline of hospitalisation can also be explained by the fact there is a lot more testing taking place, meaning that many more milder cases are being picked up then was the case 3 months ago.

 

The Government has launched a new obesity strategy to get people healthy and protect themselves against Covid-19

  • There will be legislation around the promotion of foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar, and a requirement for large restaurants and cafes to add calorie labels to food.
    • There will also be a ban on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) before 9pm.
    • The Government will also hold a new short consultation on whether the ban on online adverts for HFSS should apply at all times of day.
    • Doctors, GPs and primary care staff will be encouraged to prescribe exercise and more social activities.
    • The Government has also confirmed £2bn of new funding for walking and cycling to try and build on the significant increase in the number of people cycling during the pandemic.

 

Other UK news

  • From 31 July furloughed workers losing their jobs will be eligible for redundancy pay based on their normal wages, not the furlough rate. It comes after the Government said some companies had taken advantage of the crisis to pay less.
  • Data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that roughly one in three furloughed workers in the UK had returned to their jobs in the first two weeks of July.
  • The Scottish government has announced that sports stadiums, gyms and swimming pools are not likely to reopen until the middle of September, assuming infection levels stay low.
  • The Government has announced a funding boost for UK tech innovators aimed at putting Britain “at the forefront” of 5G technology. The £30m package will go to projects across the UK testing how businesses can use high-speed connectivity to their advantage.
  • The Government has signed a fourth coronavirus vaccine deal, securing up to 60 million doses of an experimental treatment being developed by drug giants GSK and Sanofi.
  • The Welsh government has launched a £40m skills and jobs fund called “Covid Commitment”. The new funding, part of the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF), includes a pledge that everyone in Wales over the age of 16 will be able to access advice and support to find work, pursue self-employment, or take up a place in education or training.
  • Northern Irish Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a rolling programme of COVID-19 testing in Northern Ireland’s care homes. Regular testing for all residents and staff in homes will commence on 3 August and will involve testing all staff on a fortnightly basis and all residents monthly.
  • The Government has published details around the local restrictions that are in place in Luton and Blackburn with Darwen. They set out the differences in easement of measures. The measures must be formally reviewed by 8 August.
  • The Scottish government has announced a funding package of £10 million to help the events sector recover from the pandemic. Funding streams will be set up to provide direct support to organisers of cultural, community, and sporting events, as well as to supply chain firms facing hardship. A new £4 million funding stream will also provide support for Scotland’s museums and galleries to reopen and aid the return of staff from furlough.
  • The Northern Ireland Executive has announced £11m to support city and town centres. The money will go towards ensuring a safe environment for visitors, shoppers and workers. This may include measures such as outdoor furniture, digital screens and other signage.
  • The Government has announced that it will legalise the remote witnessing of wills, making it easier for people to record their final wishes during the pandemic. Reforms will be backdated to 31 January 2020 and will remain in place as long as necessary.
  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has awarded £800,000 to councils to build on digital advances made during the pandemic. Up to £120,000 will be given to 11 innovative council-led projects to better serve residents. The Local Digital Fund will use innovation to solve common problems facing councils.
  • Scotland’s GDP has fallen by 2.5% during the first quarter of 2020, a deeper contraction than the 2.2% decline for the entire UK economy.
  • The Scottish government has confirmed two funding packages worth £15 million to support the tourism sector. A £14 million Hotel Recovery Programme will help to secure up to 3,000 jobs at Scotland’s larger hotels until the start of the summer 2021 tourism season. VisitScotland will also deliver £1 million in grants to self-catering businesses that have not received any other Scottish government Covid-19 support.
  • The Northern Ireland Executive has announced that the COVID-19 Charities Fund is reopening on 3 August. This will provide financial support to charities which have lost income due to Covid-19 and are unable to cover unavoidable costs until 30 September 2020.
  • The UK’s biggest tour operator, Tui, is to close 166 high street stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland after changes in customer behaviour. The firm says it plans to move 70% of the 900 affected jobs to a new “home-working sales and service team” and around 350 retail stores will remain following the closures.
  • The UK car dealership Pendragon plans to cut 1,800 jobs.
  • International rugby is set to resume in October. The postponed 2020 Guinness Six Nations campaigns will conclude on the weekends of 24 and 31 October.
  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland is at an “advanced stage” in developing a coronavirus proximity tracing app to be available by the autumn.
  • The Government has proposed a new law that will reduce the risk of consumers missing out if the company they have pre-paid for goods from becomes insolvent. Under the existing rules, if a company becomes insolvent, goods paid for in advance that are still in its possession may be considered as assets belonging to the business. This may become increasingly important if there are swathes of companies which become insolvent due to Covid-19.
  • A £500m scheme aimed at kick-starting film and TV production has been announced by the Government.
  • The Welsh Government has announced a £53m investment to support Wales’ culture sector after the pandemic. The Cultural Recovery Fund will help protect theatres, galleries, music venues, heritage sites, local museums and libraries, festivals, and independent cinemas.
  • The Northern Ireland Executive has launched a £1.7 million stimulus fund to help rural and micro businesses expand, innovate and sustain rural communities.
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