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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Monday, May 11

Daily Covid-19 Brief: Monday, May 11

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.

The government has published a 50-page document detailing how the lockdown restrictions could be eased

  • The document came as the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that he will hold a press conference this evening at 7pm, to answer questions about his three-phased plan to lift the lockdown in stages,  provided the virus kept under control.
  • People in England are being advised to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where they come into contact with other people – including on public transport.
  • More outdoor leisure activities will be allowed from Wednesday, with golf, tennis and angling among the sports permitted. Matches can be played only with other members of the household.
  • Meeting one person from another household in a public outdoor setting is permitted as long as they keep two metres apart.
  • People in England are allowed to travel to parks and beaches and can swim and sunbathe. However they are not allowed to travel to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for leisure activities.
  • The second stage, which will begin on June 1 at the earliest, will include a phased return of primary schools and nurseries. Initially only pupils in reception year, Year 1 and Year 6 will return but ministers hope to reopen primary schools fully before the start of the summer holiday.
  • Parents who decide not to send their children back to school will not be fined for keeping them away.
  • Secondary schools will remain closed until September, although pupils in Year 10 and Year 12 will receive limited tuition to prepare them for their GCSE and A-level exams next year.
  • Non-essential retail shops will be allowed to open from 1 June and professional sports and cultural events could return behind closed doors.
  • Under phase three, which will begin 4 July at the earliest, the hospitality sector may be allowed to reopen with social-distancing measures. This may include restaurants, hairdressers, pubs, cinemas and churches.
  • There is no change to the advice to those in the “shielded” group of those deemed most vulnerable to the infection. They must remain in strict isolation.
  • More detailed guidance on how workplaces and public transport should operate will be published on 12 May.

The devolved governments have opted for a more modest lifting of restrictions 

  • The devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have taken a more cautious approach to lifting restrictions than the UK government.
  • Wales has allowed garden centres and libraries to reopen today, and people to take exercise more than once a day. However, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said the “stay at home” message has not changed.
  • In Scotland the cap on exercise has been scrapped, however First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that people in Scotland should not use it as an excuse to meet up and it did not extend to picnics or sunbathing.
  • In Northern Ireland First Minister, Arlene Foster has said Northern Ireland’s “road map” will be published on 12 May. While nothing is decided she said schools were likely to reopen in late August or September .

More details have emerged of the government’s plans to introduce a 14-day quarantine period for overseas passengers

  • The government will require all international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days on arrival into the UK.
  • Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the government.
  • Small exemptions to these measures will be in place to provide for continued security of supply into the UK and so as not to impede work supporting national security or critical infrastructure and to meet the UK’s international obligations.
  • They will also be strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.
  • All journeys from the Republic of Ireland will be exempt from these measures.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak will make an announcement on the future of the government’s furlough scheme tomorrow (12 May).
  • Boris Johnson has said that the Health and Safety Executive will be enforcing the new Covid-19 guidelines on employers and will be conducting spot inspections.
  • The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett has announced that Jury trials in England and Wales will resume from next week.
  • Details on the resumption of elite sport will be set out in a paper to be published to parliament tomorrow, one of nine laying out specifics of the modifications, including guidance on work and transport.
  • The starting point for lockdown fines in England will rise to £100 from Wednesday. The first fine will be lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days. Fines will double for each repeat offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.
  • Lockdown fines will remain unchanged in Scotland. People found breaking lockdown rules in Scotland will be first fined £30 by police, which rises to £60 if not paid within 28 days. Cumulative fines for repeat offenders are capped at £960.
  • London Underground is aiming to restore the Circle Line and to re-open some of the 37 stations that have been closed for several weeks.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care has announced it is partnering with companies including Amazon, the Royal Mint, eBay and Jaguar Land Rover to increase supply of PPE to NHS and social care workers.
  • The government has announced that £16 million of the £750 million charity package will be allocated to food charities, including WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) and FareShare.

World COVID 19 news

  • South Korea is searching for thousands of people who may have been infected by Covid-19 in a cluster of cases in its capital in Seoul. It comes as Seoul was forced to re-close pubs and nightclubs in the city after a spike in cases.
  • It is reported that the European Commission will tell airlines and travel companies to offer vouchers valid at least 12 months for travel cancelled amid Covid-19 this week. Vouchers should offer the same services, same route in case of a flight and same travel conditions as the original booking. Customers who end up not using the vouchers, would still be able to ask for a full refund no later than 12 months after the vouchers were issued.
  • Saudi Arabia will impose tough austerity measures, tripling its value added tax and halting monthly handout payments to citizens to cope with record low oil prices and a coronavirus-led economic downturn.

Private sector updates

  • Heathrow Airport has called on the Government to clarify its plans for re-opening borders, warning that the proposed 14 day quarantine period will mean severely reduced numbers of air passengers.
  • A cross party group of MPs has criticised gambling firms for undermining their pledge not to advertise during lockdown by showing “thinly veiled” commercials disguised as social responsibility messages.
  • Starbucks will reopen 150 coffee shops, around 15% of its UK stores, for drive-thru and takeaway orders from this Thursday.
  • The British Retail Consortium has warned that government support schemes are not sufficient to stop the “imminent collapse of many businesses”.
  • Richard Branson is to sell $500m (£405m) in Virgin Galactic shares in order to prop up his airline and leisure interests, which have been ravaged by the Covid-19 crisis.

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