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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Wednesday, May 6

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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Wednesday, May 6

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.

Treasury reportedly looking at ‘winding down’ the Government furlough scheme

  • The Chancellor is reportedly considering options to phase out the scheme which include cutting the 80 per cent wage subsidy and lowering the £2,500 cap on monthly payments.
    • According to reports proposals to reduce furlough support will happen in tandem with a three phased approach to lifting the lockdown in which furlough support will be reduced on a sector by sector basis.
    • The first phase will involve small shops reopening alongside outdoor workplaces.
    • The second will involve large shopping centres reopening, with more people encouraged to go into work.
    • Pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure centres will be among the last to open and as result they will likely be able to continue to access the furloughing scheme for a prolonged period.
    • Rishi Sunak has said that while the Treasury is looking at ways to phase out the measures, there will be “no cliff-edge” to the furlough scheme.
    • An anonymous Treasury source was quoted in the press as saying that Government was looking to “wean” UK businesses and workers off the scheme as there are fears that the UK has become “addicted” to the programme.It has been reported that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking to wind down the Government’s furloughing scheme.

Boris Johnson takes part in first his Prime Minister Questions since recovering from COVID-19

  • During his exchanges with Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer and MPs, Johnson confirmed that  he would be setting out plans to begin lifting the coronavirus lockdown on Sunday, adding that he hoped to “get going on some of these measures on Monday“.
    • The Prime Minister also said that there is a “massive plan” on PPE and the Government will announce more details on Sunday.
    • Johnson also stated his ambition for the Government to reach 200,000 tests for coronavirus a day by the end of May.
    • Starmer asked Johnson about the rise in deaths in care homes. The Prime Minister responded by saying that there is an “epidemic” in care homes which is something he bitterly regrets.
    • In response to a question on support for the tourism sector, the Prime Minister said that further funding was being made available to help the tourism sector and that the Government will continue to offer support.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • A member of the Government’s SAGE Committee, Prof Neil Ferguson, has resigned as a Government adviser after breaking social distancing rules. His modelling has been heavily influential in forming the Government’s response to COVID-19.
  • The Committee on Climate Change has warned that the UK must avoid lurching from the coronavirus crisis into a deeper climate crisis. In a letter to Government, the Committee recommends that ministers ensure funds earmarked for a post-Covid-19 economic recovery go to firms that will reduce carbon emissions.
  • Former Prime Minister Theresa May has criticised world leaders for “failing to forge a coherent international response” to the coronavirus pandemic. May warned that a lack of international collaboration could lead to the world becoming more dangerous.
  • The House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle announced today that the House of Commons will now be allowed to vote on new laws without being present in the Commons. Sir Lindsay confirmed that he had temporarily authorised virtual voting after receiving assurances over the security of the system.

Relevant world COVID 19 news

  • The German Government and states have agreed a plan to ease lockdown measures throughout May. Under agreed plans, all shops and some sports will be allowed to restart under certain conditions, schools will gradually states will individually decide on reopening restaurants, hotels and gyms.
  • Germany’s top football league – the Bundesliga – can return this month behind closed doors after Angela Merkel confirmed it had been given government approval.
  • Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has criticised a German court after it ruled that the European Central Bank’s bond-buying strategy violated the German constitution. The EU has played down the ruling, stating that EU law takes precedence.
  • European leaders have hinted at easing lockdown rules in order to allow for summer breaks. Italy’s Prime Minister has said that he hopes that Italians will be able to enjoy a summer holiday this year if the country’s coronavirus epidemic stays under control.
  • US President Donald Trump has confirmed that the White House coronavirus task force will be winding down. Vice-President Mike Pence has suggested that it could be disbanded within weeks.
  • According to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE), the COVID-19 lockdown saw 122 million Indians lose their jobs in April. Data from CMIE says that India’s unemployment rate is now at a record high of 27.1%

Company updates

  • UK airlines have written to the government suggesting a graded system be introduced so that there are common standards on aircraft for preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the future.
  • Heathrow Airport is trialling large-scale temperature checks at the departure gates.
  • The online retailer Ocado says “more normal” shopping habits are back after a huge jump in demand amid the lockdown. It comes after it reported a 40% surge in UK revenue.

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