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Daily Press Briefing

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab provided todays update. The government has come under criticism this week after falling short of its target of 100,000 tests per day for the last 5 days, with 86,583 tests being completed in the 24 hours up until 9am this morning. Dominic Raab stated that as sobering as the news has been over recent months, we can now start to think about the next phase, saying that as the UK had held firm on restrictions, we can now start to think about the next steps and reminded all of the PM’s address scheduled for Sunday evening. Mr Raab did warm that if the public abandon social distancing rules then we could see the virus infection rate grow again at an exponential rate, potentially triggering another lock down. He went on to say that this is why the next steps the UK takes will be purposely done and sustainable but the government will hold on to the powers to tighten restrictions back up should there be a rise in infection rates.

Other Covid news

So, we enter another Bank Holiday weekend under lockdown. Boris Johnsons’ address to the nation on Sunday evening is sparking much speculation over what will be eased and to what level, with the BBC reporting today that it is unlikely the full details will be released until the PM’s speech. By law, the government must review the restrictions every 3 weeks and today marks that deadline. However, so much in the press about measures being eased and with the looming Bank Holiday, there are concerns that the present message of stay at home will be forgotten ahead of the governments next phase being outlined. Today saw First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, extend the lockdown there for a further 3 weeks, saying that easing restrictions at this time would be very very risky.

Ministers are keen to restart the economy. And the Bank of England today voted to keep interest rates at their all time low of 0.1%. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), who set interest rates, were split on whether to inject more stimulus into the economy, with some members voting to increase quantitative easing.

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma spoke to local authorities yesterday regarding an additional fund aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property costs. I’ve included the article below, do have a read to see if this could assist you and any of your business ventures.

Throughout the US, lockdown restrictions are being lifted in phases, meaning shopping centres and the like are starting to re-open. President Trump is reported to be shifting focus to reopening of the economy, despite concerns that the number of infections is not yet under control. The US currently has 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 73,000 Covid related deaths according to Johns Hopkins University.

Elsewhere in the world, Pakistan will begin lifting a five-week lockdown in phases on Saturday, even though the number of cases is still accelerating. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was recorded as saying that he is aware that the easing of restrictions would come when Pakistan’s curve is still on the up but went on to say his people are suffering with the lockdown restrictions. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has given the go ahead for football to restart, albeit behind closed doors. Germany’s Bundesliga will become the first European league to restart following coronavirus lockdown.

Reported on the BBC this afternoon was that Japan has authorised the use of anti-viral drug Remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients. Remdesivir received authorisation for emergency use in the US last week. A trial had showed that the drug, used to treat Ebola, shortened the recovery time for patients with Covid-19.

One report in the news yesterday was a potential to reduce the 80% max of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to a 60% cap. 6.3 million jobs are currently being paid for by the government, that is almost 25% of all those in work. Government are assuring that the scheme will be fully available until the end of June and will then, in some form, be eased out. Interestingly, Germany and Ireland have a similar scheme but with more flexibility, allowing hours rather than jobs to be furloughed, thus removing the necessity for employers to require that employees don’t work. For now, it’s a balancing act between employers becoming reliant on the scheme and at the same time having to have sufficient coming back through the door to have the ability to bring staff back on board fully. Apparently, ministers are investigating options, but no decisions have been made as to how to phase out the scheme. But for businesses to be able to plan their return to normal, clarity will be needed and quickly.

Daily update on the UK market

(data captured at 16:50 this afternoon, just before close)

  • American ADP employment data suggests a further 20.2m job losses.

  • Chinese exports surprised, increasing year on year as the economy gets to work filling back orders.

  • The Bank of England agreed to maintain Interest Rates at their current levels and decided not to increase their Asset Purchasing target.

And for those of us watching the rise of crypto currencies at the moment, another strong day.

I’m a big believer in saving and planning for the future and this is something I like to install into my children, so I was pleased to see this article from our friends at Brewin Dolphin. At home, we complete similar exercises on budgeting and spending wisely and so I wanted to share this with you all. And maybe it may keep your littles busy over the long weekend!

Whatever you are doing with your lockdown Bank Holiday weekend, enjoy and stay safe.

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