Simple advice for extraordinary times
Introduction by Malcolm Robertson, Founding Partner
News briefing by Scarlett Regan, Researcher
Good morning, At 8.30pm last night, Boris Johnson announced arguably the most restrictive measures ever applied to the British people.
It is the UK Government’s latest attempt to slow the spread of the virus and I for one have looked forward to its introduction. We must now do as we’re told and put our trust in the scientists and clinicians who are actually qualified to advise on these unprecedented steps, and thank the many healthcare professionals who are putting themselves in harm's way to save the lives of others.
For those who criticise, of course that is our right in a democracy. But imagine for one moment the weight of responsibility that lies on the shoulders of our political leaders, whether they be here or elsewhere.
It is true that few people understood the scale of this threat in advance, and it is to be hoped that in the legacy of this deeply upsetting period will be found greater vigilance to other such existential risks to our hitherto relatively peaceful lives.
There must also be a greater regard for – and a complete re-evaluation of – the contribution made to our lives and our security by those on the frontline of our health and emergency services and to all of the people trying to keep the supply of essential goods moving around the country at a time when their own worries are no different to our own.
The world is changing dramatically before our eyes, but now is a time to follow the relatively simple advice we are being given by those who know best, to take care of ourselves and each other.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced a ‘national emergency’ in the UK, outlining strict new measures that will be enforced by the police. These include a ban on public gatherings of more than two people, the immediate closure of shops selling non-essential goods, and people being allowed to go outside for one form of exercise per day. He said that people may only travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, to shop for basic food items and medicine. (£)
Alex Salmond has been cleared of sexually assaulting nine women while he was Scotland’s first minister. The nine women who made accusations against the former first minister were all current or former Scottish government officials or SNP politicians. A jury at the high court in Edinburgh yesterday spent six hours deliberating the charges, following which they returned a not guilty verdict. Speaking outside the court afterwards, Salmond said his own “nightmare” could not compare with the coronavirus crisis.
The foreign secretary Dominic Raab has urged one million Britons travelling abroad to catch the next flight home, amid fears that global travel is diminishing. With commercial flights being grounded and border closures all over the world, Raab stressed that “the time to come home is now while you still can”. (£)
The Private Harley Street Clinic in London has defended its decision to charge £375 for a coronavirus test.The clinic also said that it was offering free tests for NHS staff. Since yesterday, the clinic has paused the service, as the UK government committed to carrying out 25,000 tests a day within four weeks.
Business and economy
Sports Direct has said that it will keep its shops open “where possible”,to keep the UK “as fit and healthy as possible”. Senior bosses at Sports Direct argued that their sports equipment can be used to exercise at home, since gyms have been closed. Bicycle shops are on the list of retailers allowed to stay open.
From the 1stApril, the spending limit for contactless card payments will be increased from £30 to £45. This measure was already being considered; however, it has been brought forward due to the coronavirus pandemic measures reducing physical contact. The chief executive of UK Finance, Stephen Jones, said this measure will “help customers with their shopping at this critical time for the country”.
British manufacturers will produce 30,000 emergency ventilators to help the NHS deal with coronavirus.The collaboration between the aviation, car and medical equipment industries aims to deliver 5,000 machines in the next two weeks, and 25,000 over the next few months. Specifications have been created for Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator Systems, which require no more than 30 minutes training for doctors. (£)
Columns of note
InThe Times, Hugo Rifkind explores how we are learning to live online, with tech becoming our “new best friend”. With days consisting of online home-working and home-schooling, he questions our changing relationship with technology, noting that we – and particularly parents – are entering a new tech-centric existence which we have previously stayed far from. After all, it’s just temporary, he reminds us. (£)
In theFinancial Times, Robert Shrimsley argues that the Boris Johnson government we thought we knew is over. Crisis and its aftermath will form the rest of Johnson’s time in the hot seat, with little space for anything else. Shrimsley talks us through the trends of this crisis government: funding the NHS, an emphasis on self-sufficiency, and the return of government as stakeholder. A new light will, hopefully, be shone on welfare and inequality. At the end of the day, these times of crisis mean that big government is back, and perhaps for a while, he argues. (£)
Source: The Times
What happened yesterday?
In a note to clients on Sunday, the chief US economist at Goldman Sachs wrote “the ‘corona crisis’ has pushed the world economy into a deep recession”. The world economies continue to be in panic mode as the coronavirus continues its global spread.
In the US, coronavirus cases have reached almost 30,000. The Federal Reserve took an emergency action yesterday, pledging asset purchases with no limit, in an attempt to support markets. However, the investor response was minimal.
European equities responded to the Fed’s intervention, however not significantly enough to emerge from the red. The UK’s FTSE 100 closed down 3.8 per cent, and the Stoxx 600 down 4.3 per cent.
In Italy, the government ordered all non-essential businesses to close, as the death toll there climbed above 4000.
As governments in Australia and India intensified lockdown measures, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 5.6 per cent, and India’s Sensex plunged 13 per cent. China’s CSI 300 dropped 3.4 per cent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 4.9 per cent.
Brent crude fell around 2 per cent, to $26.43 a barrel.
What's happening today?
Learning Technologies Group
S & U
UK Economic Announcements
(11:00) CBI Industrial Trends Surveys
Int. Economic Announcements
(7:00) Import Price Index (GER)
Did you know?
Ireland is providing all households with two postcards to mail free of charge. The initiative was introduced to maintain physical distance but support emotional connectedness.
House of Commons
HM Treasury (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Wellbeing of Future Generations – Caroline Lucas
Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill: Committee and remaining stages
Appointments to the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body
General Debate on the situation in Yemen – Tim Loughton, Stephen Doughty
Consideration of Lords amendments
Private car parks – Caroline Nokes
House of Lords
Coronavirus Bill – Second reading – Lord Bethell
The contribution of pharmacists to the NHS – Baroness Redfern
Government proposals to fulfil the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commitment to make “sure that every vote counts the same” – Lord Wallace of Saltaire
Government ability to operate in the event of a pandemic or national emergency – Viscount Waverley
Freedom of movement for journalists and photographers in the event of further movement restrictions on to limit the transmission of COVID-19 – Lord Griffiths of Burry Port
Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill [HL] – Third reading – Lord Keen of Elie
Novel coronavirus COVID-19 update
Scottish Government Debate
OECD Review of Curriculum for Excellence
Legislative Consent Motion
Sentencing (Pre-Consolidation Amendments) Bill