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Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Thursday, July 16

Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Thursday, July 16

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, reportedly to set out “road map for coming months” tomorrow

  • It is being reported that tomorrow, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce a “road map for the coming months”, with a focus on encouraging people back to work.
    • The Prime Minister is apparently set to scrap official guidance suggesting that employees should avoid public transport and change guidance which tells people to avoid public transport where necessary.
    • The move comes as Ministers are expressing concerns that shops, cafés and restaurants near offices risk going out of business because of the increased numbers of people working from home.
    • Johnson is expected to tell the public that it is safe to return to the office from August. Messaging from Government and Transport companies is reportedly set to change to “Travel safe this Summer”.
    • Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, spoke to Conservative MPs at the 1922 committee that the “big problem” for employers was how they encourage staff back to central London.
    • Reports also suggest that the Prime Minister is set to announce a “rapid reaction structure” to enforce swift local lockdowns. There is also speculation that Johnson could announce new dates for the reopening of locked down industries such as bowling alleys and casinos.

UK Company payrolls fall by 649,000 between March and June

  • Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that number of workers on UK company payrolls fell by 649,000 between March and June. Overall the number of people claiming work-related benefits last month was 2.6 million.
  • However, unemployment has not risen, despite fears that it would do so. This is due to the high number of firms putting employees on the Government’s furlough scheme.
  • However, there are currently 47,000 more young people unemployed than there were a year ago, pointing to a potential incoming wave of youth unemployment.
  • Economists say that the full effect of COVID-19 on employment will not be felt until the scheme ends in October.
  • It comes as the UK economy officially shrunk 19.1% in the second quarter of 2020. Although the economy grew 1.8% in May it was lower than the 5% most economists were expecting.

Other UK news

  • The local lockdown in Leicester will be partially lifted it was confirmed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock today. Schools and nurseries can reopen in Leicester from 24 July and the city council will also be able to take a “targeted approach” to closing non-essential shops, replacing the blanket ban. However, pubs and restaurants will remain closed. The new restrictions will now only apply to the city of Leicester itself, as well as the suburbs of Oadby and Wigston. The measures will be reviewed in a fortnight.
  • Oxford scientists believe they have made a breakthrough in their quest for a Covid-19 vaccine after discovering that the jab triggers a response that may offer a “double defence” against the virus. The Lancet will be publishing early-stage human trial data from the Oxford team on Monday. Moderna, who are also working on a vaccine, said yesterday that 45 people who had been given its candidate vaccine had displayed a “robust” immune response.
  • The UK, US and Canadian intelligence agencies have released a statement today, accusing Russian intelligence agencies of attempting to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment information via a mass campaign of cyber hacking.
  • Boris Johnson has committed the Government to an independent inquiry into the response to the pandemic. The Prime Minister is being pressed to confirm the legal basis for the investigation and publish its terms of reference before the Commons breaks for its summer recess next week.
  • It has been reported that two thirds of elderly patients discharged from hospitals to care homes at the height of the pandemic were not tested for COVID-19. Figures obtained from NHS Trusts suggest that as many as 16,000 people admitted to care homes from hospitals, between March and April, were not tested for COVID-19.
  • A report from senior doctors and scientists convened by the Academy of Medical Sciences, has warned that a “second wave” of COVID-19 has the potential to kill up to 120,000 hospital patients over the winter, if the Government does not prepare appropriately.
  • Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July.
  • The latest figures from the NHS Test and Trace system show that 71% of identified contacts were reached and advised to self-isolate and 79% of those reached provided the contact tracers with details of recent contacts.
  • Leaders in Blackburn with Darwen have warned the public that a phased lockdown could be introduced if the “rising tide” of COVID-19 cases in the town are not halted by later this month. The local authority has brought in a range of new rules to stop the spread of the virus.
  • The House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a consultation on ‘Supporting our high streets after COVID-19’. The consultation will look at the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of UK high streets.

 World news

  • The Chinese economy grew 3.2% in the second quarter of 2020, following a record 6.8%slump in the first quarter. The figure is higher than experts were predicting and points towards a potential V-shaped recovery for the Chinese economy.
  • The Irish Government has delayed moving to Phase 4 for its roadmap for easing lockdown, after fears that infection rates are increasing. This means that pubs, bars, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will remain closed until 10 August and social visits to people’s homes should be limited to a max of ten people from no more than four different households.
  • French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that from next week it will be compulsory to wear facemasks in enclosed indoor spaces in France. The deadline was moved forward from 1 August, after suggestions that August was too late.
  • Party districts in the tourist hotspot of Magaluf, in Mallorca, have been closed down following reports of tourists restrictions introduced to combat COVID-19.

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