Daily Covid-19 Brief: Friday, June 5
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.
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has said a new NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app should be in place by the end of the month.
- The app, which was trialled on the Isle of Wight, was delayed following the trial in order to conduct further trials.
- Mr Zahawi said that the trial on the Isle of Wight had showed that people preferred to be contacted by a human being.
- Meanwhile the Chief Operating Officer of the test and trace scheme has said that the scheme would not be fully operational until September or October.
The Government has come under fire for providing cheap loans to big firms
- The government has been criticised for handing out more than £16bn in cheap loans to well-known firms such as John Lewis and Tottenham Hotspur.
- The Bank of England’s Corporate Covid Financing Facility (CCFF) was set up to help large firms with a big impact on the UK economy through the crisis. It is one of a number of schemes designed to lend money to businesses affected by the pandemic.
- Under the CCFF, the Bank of England buys short-term debt known as commercial paper that is issued by Britain’s biggest businesses to help them get through the coronavirus pandemic. The funds are then lent to the firms at interest rates understood to be around 0.5% and possibly less in some cases.
- The list of 53 firms that have used the facility includes some household names such as M&S, Asos and Nissan. Airlines Ryanair and EasyJet each borrowed £600m, while British Airways owner IAG and Wizz Air were lent £300m each.
- German chemicals giant BASF received the largest single loan of £1bn.
- According to campaigners, about a fifth of the emergency loans were made to firms with heavy carbon emissions in aviation, oil and car manufacturing, prompting criticism for the government from campaigners who say the money should have been lent with conditions attached.
Other UK COVID 19 news
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that all hospital staff, visitors and out patients in England will need to wear face coverings from 15 June. All hospital staff will be required to wear type one or type two surgical masks at all times.
- The British Medical Association, which represents UK doctors, is urging the government to make face coverings compulsory in all places where it’s not possible to socially distance – not just on public transport.
- The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said that the furlough scheme will cost less than expected because many employers have been primarily using it on part-time and low-paid workers. The OBR now estimates that the gross cost will reach £60bn, down from a previous estimate of £84bn, in October when the scheme is set to end.
- People who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis should be redeployed into the “green industries of the future”, Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband has said as he launched a consultation inviting the public and businesses to submit ideas.
- Dentists have warned there will be no return to “business as usual” for dentistry in England when practices can reopen from Monday, with some saying they lacked enough warning of openings and do not have the necessary protective kit.
- New analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA) has found that adult social care services face over £6.6bn in extra costs due to the Covid-19 crisis by the end of September this year.
- Face coverings will be handed out for free at a selection of Tube and bus stations from Monday, following the announcement they will become compulsory on public transport in England.
World COVID 19 news
- The European Commission has called on all EU member countries to lift their border restrictions by the end of this month and allow passport-free travel across the bloc.
- Almost £7bn ($5.5bn) has been raised at a virtual global vaccine summit hosted by the UK, to immunise 300 million children.
- The Irish government is expected to approve the second phase of a roadmap for exiting the lockdown. It would allow some workplaces and small shops to reopen; extend the distance restriction on exercise from 5km to 20km; and let people visit the homes of those isolating, but with social distancing.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has U-turned on plans to reintroduce a lockdown in some cities, saying the country needs to avoid the “social and economic consequences”.
- The US economy has confounded the expectations of many analysts, with its jobs market improving in May despite the pandemic. 2.5 million jobs added in May, the unemployment rate fell from 14.7% in April to 13.3%. However, the new figures are still far higher than 3.5% unemployment rate from before the pandemic.
- Spain is to begin opening up to foreign tourists from 1 July.
- An influential study that found hydroxychloroquine increases the risk of death in coronavirus patients has been retracted by its authors.
Private sector updates
- IAG – the parent company of British Airways – says it’s thinking about launching a legal challenge against the UK government over a new rule that will require incoming travellers to quarantine for 14 days.
- Carmaker Bentley says it’s going to cut up to 1,000 jobs under a “voluntary release system”, and that it can’t rule out future compulsory redundancies
- Clothes retailer Gap has reported a loss close to $1bn (£792m) because of store closures due to the coronavirus. The company was $932m in the red for the three months to May – while during the same period last year it made a profit of $227m.
- The boss of drug company AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, has said they’re starting to produce a potential vaccine for the Covid-19. The drug maker will be able to supply two billion doses of a potential virus vaccine after signing two new deals – including one backed by Bill Gates.
- Londoners have hired bikes in record numbers during recent weeks amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 70,000 people using Santander cycles last Saturday. This came during a record weekend of 132,000 hires in total.
- The UK arm of Victoria’s Secret has fallen into administration, putting more than 800 jobs at risk. The chain, famous for its fashion shows, has 25 shops in the UK, all of which have been shut since the virus lockdown started in March.