Daily Covid-19 Brief: Friday, March 27
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 Ministry of Justice is to close more than half of all courts and tribunals beginning from 30 March
- The closures will take place in order to limit the number of physical hearings to avoid transmission of coronavirus infections.
- All housing repossession actions are to be suspended immediately and the suspension will last for at least 90 days.
- Immigration and asylum cases have also been halted.
- Only urgent cases will go ahead in the rest of the courts system unless they can be heard remotely via video or telephone links. No new jury trials will start.
- A total of 157 priority court and tribunal buildings will remain open for “essential face-to-face” hearings – which represents 42% of the 370 crown, magistrates, county and family courts in England and Wales.
- The Ministry of Justice has published the list of those staying open.
Other UK COVID 19 news
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary, Matt Hancock have both tested positive for coronavirus. The symptoms for both are said to be mild and both will be in self-isolation for 7 days. Johnson has stated that he will continue to lead the government response to the virus while he self-isolates. If Johnson was to fall seriously ill than Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab would become acting Prime Minister.
- Firefighters in the UK are planning to drive ambulances, deliver medicines and transport bodies during the coronavirus outbreak. A new agreement between fire service organisations will allow firefighters to take on extra duties to support other services, driving emergency vehicles or delivering supplies to vulnerable people. The deal will last for two months but could be extended.
- The Metropolitan Police have called on former PCs and sergeants who left in the past five years to return to the force as it tries to cope with the coronavirus outbreak in London. Former police officers are to be offered work in a paid or voluntary capacity. The force also wants those nearing retirement to consider staying on.
- Every local authority in England has been told by the government to house all of its rough sleepers – as well as people in hostels and night shelters – by the weekend.
- The government has announced that workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual holidays because of the coronavirus crisis will be able to carry it over into the next two years.
- The Liberal Democrats have announced that they are postponing their leadership election for a year due to coronavirus. The campaign was due to begin in May, with the result announced in July. Acting Leader Sir Ed Davey will remain in post until the election is held next year.
- It has been reported that data collected via the NHS’s 111 telephone service will be combined with technology provided by Amazon, Microsoft, Palantir and Faculty AI to help predict where resources will most be needed. The dashboards will involve using data about ventilators, staff sickness patient occupancy levels, hospital capacity and length of stays.
- Gatwick Airport is to close one of its two terminals next week and only operate flights in an eight-hour window every day – between 2pm and 10pm – with most passenger air travel now suspended.
- High street banks have backed down after criticism of onerous terms being asked of directors trying to access loans meant to rescue businesses. Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group all set out new terms for the state-backed emergency credit scheme. The new approach will mean that any director who secures up to £250,000 via the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme from one of the four biggest retail banks will not have to sign a personal guarantee.
- A number of high street banks, including Metro Bank, Barclays Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Nationwide have announced that they will be offering their customers temporary relief on overdraft charges. With several of the banks offering interest free overdrafts until the end of April or the end of June.
- A temporary mortuary, which will initially be able to hold 1,500 bodies, is to be opened at Birmingham Airport in preparation for a predicted rise in the number of fatalities from coronavirus in the region.
Relevant world COVID 19 news
- After six hours of talks last night, EU leaders failed to agree to share the debt they are all racking up fighting COVID 19. Instead they agreed to give eurozone finance ministers two weeks to agree a stronger response to the economic crisis caused by COVID 19.
- Rolls-Royce will cease “all but essential activity” at its UK facilitates for at least a week from midnight tonight.
- Royal Mail has said that postal services may be cut as growing numbers of staff are taken ill.
- Retailer Next has shut all of its online operations, reversing its earlier decision to keep warehouses open during the lockdown period, after the firm received criticism from its staff.
- Oil and gas companies have cut the size of their workforce in the North Sea by 40% in the past fortnight, and over 4,000 rig contractors have lost their jobs in the wake of the UK lockdown.
- The Restaurant Group, the owner of Chiquito restaurants, have announced that 61 out of 80 branches of the Tex-Mex dining chain would not reopen after the lockdown, saying that they had had to call in administrators due to the crisis.
- Fashion designer Ralph Lauren will start to make medical masks and gowns in the US, aiming to make 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns.