Daily Covid-19 Brief: Monday, April 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.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced additional support for small businesses
- In a statement to the House of Commons, Sunak announced that small businesses will now be eligible for loans worth up to 25% of turnover capped at a maximum of £50,000 all of which will come with a 100% Government guarantee.
- The scheme is due to open on Monday next week, with “no complex eligibility criteria… just a standard form for people to fill in” and the loans should then arrive with 24 hours of approval.
- This latest announcement is aiming to clear the backlog of credit checks that have spread fears that small businesses might collapse before they receive their money.
- Under the terms of the announcement, no capital or interest repayments will be due for the first year, with the Government picking up the interest payments.
- The announcement was immediately welcomed by business leaders, with the Director of the CBI, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, calling it transformational for small firms.
- Previously, it was reported that some banks had been reluctant to lend as the Government guarantee only extended to 80%.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has delivered a statement from Downing Street where he thanked the Country for “stepping up”
- Johnson referred to the ongoing pandemic as “the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war” and praised the response of the British people.
- Refusing to be drawn on plans to ease the lockdown, the Prime Minister warned the UK was at the point of maximum risk and the easing of restrictions would “throw away the sacrifice of the British people… and risk a second peak.”
Names of some of the experts on Sage are to be published
- Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has told journalists that those individuals who are on Sage, and are happy to have their names published, will have their names released shortly.
- The members of Sage are usually published after the emergency is over, however, there has been significant pressure on No.10 to disclose the names of those on the group following revelations that advisers Dominic Cummings and Ben Warner were attending meetings.
Other UK COVID 19 news
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has announced a Life Assurance Scheme for NHS and Social Care staff. The scheme will deliver a payment of £60,000 to the families of NHS and Social Care staff if they die due to Coronavirus.
- The UK appears to have passed the peak of the virus, weekend figures show. Both the number of new cases and deaths appear to be decreasing steadily. However, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, last week warned against ending measures too quickly.
- Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will be issuing guidance on wearing face coverings on Tuesday.
- An NHS trust in England is classifying all of its BAME staff as “vulnerable and at risk”. Somerset Foundation Trust announced the move in a letter to all ethnic minority staff. It is thought to be the first NHS organisation taking this step.
- UK cabinet minister Michael Gove has clarified that the number of civil servants redeployed from work on a Brexit deal to dealing with the coronavirus is 47.
Relevant world COVID 19 news
- China’s foreign ministry has denied claims that the country is spreading disinformation about the coronavirus. China is fighting back against calls for an investigation into its role in the global coronavirus pandemic, citing faults with the US response to the outbreak and calling for Washington itself to admit error.
- More than a million Australians downloaded a coronavirus contact tracing app within hours of it being released by the Government.
- Japan’s central bank has expanded its monetary stimulus and pledged to buy an unlimited amount of bonds to keep the cost of borrowing down.
- Italy has outlined plans to ease restrictions from 4 May as it records its lowest daily death toll since mid-March.
- Hairdressers and garden centres have reopened in Switzerland, and students will return to school from 11 May.
- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is preparing to ease rules on a strict lockdown put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.
- Malta reported no new cases of the virus over the previous 24 hours on Sunday – the first time this has happened in more than six weeks.
- Hundreds of garment workers in Bangladesh defied the lockdown to take to the streets to demand wages on Sunday. The industry is forecast to lose $6bn due to cancelled orders from international brands.
- Sri Lanka, which was supposed to lift its lockdown today, has extended it for another week after a spike in cases. The island nation has confirmed 477 cases so far.
- The biggest gambling companies across the UK will remove all their adverts from TV and radio during the coronavirus lockdown in the country.
- Norwegian Air has said it may run out of cash by mid-May if its creditors and shareholders do not approve the company’s financial rescue plan.
- The boss of the bakery chain, Greggs, has told staff it plans to open 20 stores in the Newcastle area from Monday May 4 as part of a “controlled trial”. Greggs has become the latest high street retailer to put forward plans to reopen its stores despite the coronavirus lockdown.
- The chief executive of Airbus has issued a stark assessment of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the plane maker. In a letter to workers, seen by news outlets, Guillaume Faury warned the company was “bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed”.