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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Thursday, April 9

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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Thursday, April 9

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.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab chaired a COBRA meeting which looked at the process for reviewing social distancing measures

  • The meeting took place virtually and included leaders of the devolved nations. They looked at evidence from Sage (the government scientific advisory council) and others.
  • The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, has said no decision on lockdown measures will be made at the Cobra meeting today, with the announcement instead coming next week.
  • The government is expected to maintain current restrictions until May at the earliest.
  • Although the death rate within the UK has risen and is expected to rise further over the coming days. The daily infection rate is beginning to plateau (although not yet declining). Government scientists claim that this is evidence that the current restrictions are beginning to work.
  • It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson entered a fifth day in London’s St Thomas’ Hospital, his condition is said to be improving however he still requires “standard oxygen treatment”.

The government has expanded its overdraft with the Bank of England to ensure it has sufficient cash to cope with disruption caused by coronavirus

  • Under the agreement the Bank of England will directly finance the extra spending the government needs on a temporary basis.
  • This will minimise the need to raise additional funding from bond markets or currency markets.
  • As a result of the move, ministers will be able to borrow billions more in the short term without having to tap into the bond markets.
  • Under the agreement any money drawn from the Bank of England will be paid back as soon as possible before the end of the year.
  • The measure was last used during the 2008 financial crisis.
  • It comes as the latest official statistics show the UK economy was stagnant in the three months to February, just before the coronavirus pandemic escalated. Economists had expected it to grow.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • Almost three in 10 business have cut jobs in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics. However, 40% of businesses surveyed said they were confident they could continue operating during the pandemic.
  • The UK’s Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) have announced that MPs are to be given up to £10,000 each to help them set up work-from-home arrangements during the coronavirus outbreak. It is also relaxing some of the other rules around expense reimbursement, including the 90-day rule for submitting claims.
  • The DWP have announced that people making new claims for universal credit will no longer need to call the department as part of the process. Instead, a team of frontline staff will proactively call claimants if they need to check any information they provided.
  • London’s O2 arena, once known as the Millennium Dome, is to be turned into a training facility for NHS staff working at the new Nightingale field hospital set up nearby.
  • The Home Office has announced that Border Force will prioritise checks on medical equipment to enable vital supplies to reach the NHS quicker.

Relevant world COVID 19 news

  • Some 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the US last week. This takes the total number of claims in the last three weeks to more than 16 million. Nearly one tenth of US workforce is now unemployed.

Company updates

  • Twelve of the UK’s biggest tech firms, including Deliveroo and Citymapper, have written to the Chancellor calling for financial aid, saying that tech firms are missing out on support schemes as they are too big for small business support and do not have the required credit rating for the large business package.
  • The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have called on the government to introduce a stamp duty holiday once the lockdown ends, warning that house sales could remain low over the next 12 months.
  • Airbnb has suspended new bookings in the UK until at least 18 April, with only key workers able to place a booking.
  • Airbus is cutting aircraft production by a third, a move which is expected to have wide ranging repercussions across the global airspace supply chain.
  • Co-op has cancelled its planned Easter television advertising campaign, choosing instead to donate advert time allocated to the food charity FareShare, encouraging people to support food banks.
  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will next week add support for car financing to its list of temporary measures to help consumers facing financial difficulties.
  • Chocolate giant Mondelēz, the manufacturer behind brands such as Cadbury and Oreo, has joined forces with engineering company 3P innovation to help make thousands of medical visors every day to protect front line NHS staff.
  • British Gas engineers are now delivering emergency food parcels to aid food banks struggling with a surge in demand amid the pandemic.

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