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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Friday, May 15

Daily Covid-19 Brief: Friday, May 15

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 agreed a £1.6bn funding and financing package for Transport for London

  • The package consists of a mixture of grants and loans based upon a series of conditions agreed to by the Mayor.
  • This agreement includes increasing service levels as soon as possible to ensure people can follow social distancing guidelines while on the network, making sure those who have no alternative to public transport can travel safely.
  • In addition the following measures were also agreed:
    • Increases bus and Tube fares by 1% above inflation.
    • Placing Stay Alert advertising on the transport network
    • Reporting staff absenteeism rates to civil servants
    • A longer-term review of TfL finances.
  • A London COVID-19 task force, comprising representatives from the Government and TfL, has been established to oversee operational decisions  during the crisis.
  • To safeguard services in the future, the package will see the reintroduction of fares on buses and reinstatement of the congestion charge.
  • British Transport Police will be given £1.5m to boost the number of officers at railway stations in London.

NHS England have announced a roadmap for bringing back routine operations and treatment.

  • Over the coming weeks patients who need important planned procedures – including surgery – will begin to be scheduled for that care, with specialists prioritising those with the most urgent clinical need.
  • Health unions have put forward a nine-point plan for the NHS to reopen services. The unions have also said that staff must be paid overtime and a public sector pay freeze should be ruled out.
  • Access to PPE has continued to be a commonly raised point, with the Government saying they are working around the clock to provide more.

Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has released a roadmap for Wales to exit lockdown

  • Announcing the cautious approach, the First Minister said the measures were putting people’s health first.
  • The plan attaches no dates for when changes will be made, and the Government emphasised that they will be guided by science and evidence before acting.
  • The roadmap highlights the current state of affairs and then highlights how the Government will move through “red”, “amber” and finally “green” measures to come out of lockdown.
  • The Government has invited the public to comment on the plans from which they will develop “a common understanding of what needs to be done to prepare for the gradual reduction in restrictions.”

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that every care home in England will have a named clinical lead.
  • In England, a swab test survey of 11,000 households has suggested that one in 400 people has the virus – or 0.27% of the population.
  • The Government has stated a willingness to discuss the resumption of the Premier League in June.
  • The Local Government Association (LGA) and teachers’ unions are seeking the power to close schools where there may be new clusters of COVID-19.
  • The Treasury is considering lifting the cap on loans available under the Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £50m to £200m.
  • More than half of the population of the Isle of Wight have downloaded the contact-tracing app and the intention remains to roll it out nationwide after the trial.
  • The prime minister’s spokesman said the roadmap for lifting restrictions talked about being “responsive to local infection rates” and that “could lead to some of the measures being eased at different rates in different parts of England”.

World COVID 19 news

  • Authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan say they have tested more than three million people for the coronavirus, as part of fresh efforts to monitor the outbreak.
  • German economy has entered recession as it shrank by 2.2% in the first quarter of 2020. The fall was not as severe as other major European economies with France falling 5.8% and Italy 4.7%.
  • Former US health official, Rick Bright (former Director Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority), has warned that the US faces the “darkest winter in modern history” over its Coronavirus response.
  • Slovenia has become the first European nation to declare itself virus-free.
  • Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have resumed free movement between the “Baltic Bubble”.
  • Despite the return of football in the German Bundeliga, 56% of Germans believe it is too soon according to polling.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared the full lockdown of Russia over.
  • Pubs have reopened in Australia

Private sector updates

  • Administrators at Australia’s second-largest airline, Virgin Australia, say they’re expecting to receive eight bids for the carrier.
  • Train operators in the UK have begun announcing new timetables and restrictions on tickets, insisting that customers have advance tickets before traveling to ensure social distancing can be guaranteed on services.
  • London’s Canary Wharf, home to Barclays, Citigroup and HSBC and others, has drawn up plans to bring bankers, accountants and lawyers back to the financial district as the pandemic eases. Measures include introducing one-way routes, daily deep cleaning, and limiting lift capacity.
  • The Ei Group, the UK’s largest pubs group, has said that any its pubs will get a three-month “rent credit”, amounting to a discount on future payments.
  • National Express has started selling coach tickets for a return to service in July of a “core coach network” of large and medium-sized towns and cities.
  • British Airways have revealed that more than 47,000 passengers are still awaiting refunds for cancelled flights.

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