Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, June 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.
Government drops plan for all primary schools to return before summer break
- The Government has confirmed that it’s plan for all primary school years in England to go back to school before the end of term is to be dropped.
- Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed in the House of Commons this afternoon that the Government will not be able to allow all primary school children to go back for a full month before summer. However, it wants primary schools who have the capacity to bring back smaller class sizes to reopen to all year groups.
- From 15 June, secondary school pupils in Years 10 and 12 will get some face-to-face support.
- The announcement comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated yesterday that secondary schools in England will not fully reopen until September “at the earliest“.
- While teaching unions and opposition parties welcomed the Government’s decision, Robert Halfron Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee said that the decision risks starting an “epidemic of educational poverty“.
- Similarly, the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield said that the Government’s announcement was “disappointing”.
- The Government has also announced the launch of a new voluntary study that will monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 in schools.
Non-essential retail able to open from June 15
- BEIS Secretary of State Alok Sharma confirmed today that non-essential retail outlets will be able to open as the Government has planned on 15 June.
- Sharma said that non-essential retail outlets will be able to reopen to the public as long as they comply with COVID-19 secure guidelines.
- Reiterating the Government’s desire to reopen the economy in a “phased manner”, the Secretary of State said that hospitality outlets and hairdressers will not be given the green light to reopen before July 4 at the earliest.
- Sharma’s announcement pours cold water on the recent reports that pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen in outside spaces by June 22.
- He commented that the Government is committed to “redoubling” its efforts to engage with the business community.
Other UK COVID 19 news
- The Office of National Statistics has reported that less than a fifth of deaths registered in the week ending May 28th involved COVID-19, the lowest proportion since the week lockdown was imposed.
- A group called the ‘Quash Quarantine coalition’, which says it represents travel and hospitality firms opposed to the quarantine regulations that came into force yesterday, has stated that it has been told by senior Government sources that air bridges will be in place by the end of June.
- Government statistics show that the UK furlough scheme now covers 8.9 million workers. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, has seen 2.6 million claims made worth a total of £7.5bn.
- The Treasury has announced that almost £38 million of support is being made available to debt advice providers who have been assisting people effected by COVID-19. The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), will oversee the allocation of the funds.
- The powers for Parliamentary Select Committees to sit remotely and publish reports were extended from 13 June to 17 September.
- People in Wales are being asked to wear three-layer face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible – including on public transport.
- The so-called Independent SAGE has accused the Government’s test and trace system as being “not fit for purpose”. The NHS track and trace app, which is integral to the Government system, will be rolled out nationwide “within a fortnight” according to press reports.
World COVID 19 news
- France’s central bank warned that the country’s economy will only return to pre-coronavirus levels by mid-2022, forecasting a shrinkage of around 10% this year.
- The French Government has provided €15bn for the country’s aerospace industry in a bid to save 100,000 jobs.
- Research from Harvard Medical School suggest that the coronavirus may have emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan as early as August 2019. The study claims satellite imagery and internet search terms suggest symptoms were prevalent much earlier than previously thought. The Chinese Foreign Ministry dismissed the claims as “incredibly ridiculous”.
- Moscow started the easing of lockdown today, with restrictions on movement lifted and many premises reopening in spite of a new high number of new cases in the city.
- Maltese citizens are to be handed 100 Euro (£89) vouchers to spend in the country’s bars, hotels and restaurants as part of the Government’s plans to kickstart the post lockdown economy.
Private sector updates
- Cunard has cancelled all its planned cruises voyages until November due to ongoing travel restrictions.
- Vacation Rentals, the holiday letting company that owns Hoseasons and Cottages.com, has agreed to give customers refunds for stays that were cancelled because of the pandemic, after it was reported to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
- The Hong Kong Government will take a 6% stake in airline Cathay Pacific as the firm struggled with the collapse of demand for air travel.
- Clubs have voted to end the League One and League Two football seasons early in England.
- London and Whipsnade Zoos say they face permanent closure if the government does not reverse its decision to keep zoos shut as lockdown restrictions are eased. The zoos saythey do not qualify for government help and have been spending £1m a month on expenses.