Daily Covid-19 Brief: Weekend update, May 30 – 31
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.
Reports suggest that the chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce an emergency budget statement in July
- The July budget statement is expected to have three key elements: funds to retrain workers laid off when the furlough scheme ends; huge extra infrastructure spending; and a plan to help British-based technology firms.
- It is reported that the job creation programme will focus on upgrading shovel-ready infrastructure projects, including broadband and green energy projects — while Gavin Williamson, education secretary, is reportedly drawing up a skills package to retrain workers, particularly the young.
- Struggling companies will receive government bailouts only if they can contribute to the UK rising again over the next 10 to 15 years.
- The July statement will not be a full budget with tax changes but would revive the pre-budget report, scrapped by Philip Hammond, to outline a recovery plan.
Vulnerable people shielding at home in England and Wales since lockdown began will be able to go outdoors again from 1 June
- In England, those shielding have been advised that they can go outside once a day, with their household or, if they live alone, to meet one other person at a two-metre distance.
- In Wales, outdoor exercise for people shielding will be unlimited.
- However in both nations those shielding have been advised not to go out to work, to shop or visit friends in their homes.
- Support for shielders, such as free food and medicine deliveries, will continue. Shielding advice in Northern Ireland and Scotland has not yet changed.
- Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said “now that the prevalence of Covid-19 in the community has reduced, the risk to the most vulnerable has also reduced.”
- Jenrick said the rules will be reviewed again in just over two weeks’ time and could potentially be toughened again if there is evidence that the most vulnerable in society need more protection.
- About 2.5 million people in the UK were advised to stay at home as lockdown began, because they were identified as being at particularly high risk to Covid-19.
- They included solid organ transplant recipients, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, pregnant women with heart disease and people with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis and severe asthma.
Other UK COVID 19 news
- The UK has reached it’s 200,000 capacity testing target, including the means for 40,000 antibody tests a day.
- The government has pledged to build 6,000 new homes to provide permanent shelter for the homeless, including 3,300 over the next year, at a cost of £160m.
- The government has given its approval to professional sport resuming behind closed doors in England from 1 June. A horse racing meeting at Newcastle and Snooker’s Championship League event in Milton Keynes are among the first to resume.
- The government has released more than 50 documents of the minutes of 34 meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
- The British Army’s information warfare unit has been drafted to combat a spike in propaganda and conspiracy theories on Covid-19 being spread online. The unit was previously used to combat misinformation spread by ISIS and extremist political groups.
- Labour whip Rosie Duffield has resigned after admitting breaching lockdown to meet her boyfriend. The Canterbury MP apologised for meeting her partner before members of different households were allowed to meet in public.
World COVID 19 news
- The European Union has urged President Donald Trump to reconsider his decision to sever US ties with the World Health Organization. They also said the EU had “already provided additional funding” to the WHO.
- In New York, the families of front-line workers who die of Covid-19 will now be eligible to receive death benefits.
- US President Donald Trump has postponed the G7 summit scheduled for June. He had hoped to hold some gatherings person at Camp David and the White House, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wouldn’t go because of the outbreak.
- Two of Islam’s holiest sites have reopened as large numbers of mosques across Saudi Arabia also opened their doors for the first time in more than two months. Worshipers have been ordered to follow strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remained closed to the public. The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims also reopened for prayers.