Daily Covid-19 Brief: Wednesday, May 20
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 says “track and trace” system will be in place by 1 June
- During Prime Ministers Questions today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the UK would have a “world beating” COVID-19 ‘track and trace’ system in place by 1 June.
- The Prime Minister said that the Government was getting ready 25,000 trackers who would be able to trace 10,000 contacts a day.
- A successful ‘track and trace’ programme is vital to the Government’s planned relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown rules next month.
- The announcement came after outsourcing firm Serco apologised after accidentally sharing the email addresses of almost 300 GOVID-19 contact tracers.
Government launched Future Fund for businesses
- The Government today launched the Future Fund which will help innovative and high-growth British businesses able secure investment, through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- UK-based companies can now apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5 million, to support continued growth and innovation in sectors such as technology, life sciences and the creative industries.
- £250 million has been made initially available. With the Government considering increasing the amount, if required.
- Private investors – potentially including venture capital funds, angel investors and those backed by regional funds – will at least match the Government investment.
Other UK COVID 19 news
- The inflation rate in the UK fell in April to its lowest since August 2016. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) fell to 0.8% from 1.5% in March. Falling petrol and diesel prices, plus lower energy bills, were the main drivers pushing inflation lower.
- The Labour Party has confirmed that it has cancelled its annual party conference this year due to be held in Liverpool. The conference will be replaced with online events. The Liberal Democrats has also announced that its annual conference will take place online this year.
- Reports suggest that Government will support people taking domestic holidays “when it is safe” to make trips following the COVID-19 pandemic. A Government spokesperson said “When it is safe to do so, we will be encouraging people to book a great British holiday”.
- Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg is sticking to his plan to end the ‘hybrid’ Parliament on 2 June, stating that the Commons should “set an example”. The Government’s plans have been criticised by some MPs who feel that it is two early to allow all MPs back on site.
World COVID 19 news
- Brazil’s daily death toll due to COVID-19 has reached a record high. Brazil has the third highest number of infections worldwide, behind Russia and the US.
- In Spain, the wearing of masks is being made compulsory, both indoors and out if social distancing is not possible. Only children under six and people with health issues are exempt from the law, which comes into force tomorrow.
- The President of the World Bank has warned that up to 60m people will be pushed into “extreme poverty” due to COVID-19.
- US President Donald Trump says he is considering hosting the G7 summit at Camp David, after it was previously moved online due to the pandemic.
- Iran’s President has said the country is “on the verge of curbing” its coronavirus outbreak, despite recording more than 2,000 new cases for the third consecutive day.
Private sector updates
- Jet engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has announced it will cut 9,000 jobs and warned it will take “several years” for the aviation industry to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
- UK Hospitality, the trade body for the hospitality sector, has unveiled secure guidelines to help the sector reopen. It has called on the Government to support the measures, which it says will help the industry restart.
- Marks & Spencer clothing sales have fallen by 75% during the UK lockdown, at a cost of £145 million.
- McDonalds have reopened 39 Drive Thru restaurants across the UK and ROI. The fast food giant is looking to resume trading from all of its 1,350 sites across the UK in the coming weeks.
- Burger King intends to open around 20 stores a week until its entire UK chain is open, aiming to have one operational in every city by the end of May.
- Cambridge University has confirmed that all lectures are to be online-only until summer of 2021, becoming the first university to set out measures for the 2020-21 academic year.
- The Premier League have confirmed that six players and staff at Premier League clubs have tested positive for COVID-19. The league is looking to restart in mid-June.