Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
- Parliament is now in recess, having risen for Easter a week earlier than planned due to the coronavirus. Parliament is due to return on 21 April, but it’s been suggested that this date will be reviewed closer to the time.
- Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, will today unveil the Government’s package of support for self-employed workers. Sunak is expected to make the announcement at the daily Downing Street press conference at around 4 or 5pm.
- The Home Office is expected to announce new powers for police the Prime Minister’s lockdown rules announced on Monday. The Guardian reports officers will have a “four-step plan” to deal with people who should not be out on the streets and refuse to go home, which includes encouraging them to head back, a £30 fine, and using “reasonable force” to escort them to their home as a last resort.
- At last night’s press conference from Number 10, Boris Johnson said that 405,000 people had volunteered to help support the NHS through the crisis period. He added that they would play frontline roles in the fight against the virus.
- Chief Medical Adviser Chris Whitty told the press last night that testing for the virus was ‘perfectly sufficient’ in hospitals, and that the shortage lies in getting tests for NHS and critical workers. He added that this was the next priority.
- Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance pointed to a study by Oxford academics that suggests up to 50% of people may have already had the disease. He admitted that the Government does not know how accurate this is but added that the antibody test for the virus would be important in determining the validity of the study.
- The Department of Health and Social Care has made an announcement that all NHS Trusts to provide free car parking to NHS staff for the duration of coronavirus. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Department would do everything they could to ensure staff have whatever they need during the crisis.
- According to Sharon Peacock, director of the national infection service at Public Health England, millions of 15-minute home coronavirus tests are set to be available on the high street or for Amazon delivery to people self-isolating. She added that the Government had bought 3.5m tests and is ordering millions more. She added that the test would be available in days.
- London’s ExCel centre is set to become an emergency hospital treating coronavirus patients ‘within days’. The centre will have 500 beds initially made available and is set to be the first of several crisis facilities dotted around the UK. Officials from the NEC in Birmingham have said the venue ‘stands ready’ should it be considered a suitable location for a second crisis centre.
- Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, but is said to remain ‘in good health’. He is now self-isolating in Scotland with the Duchess of Cornwall, who has tested negative for the virus.
- An 84-year-old male inmate at HMP Littlehey has become the first UK prisoner to die from coronavirus. He reportedly had underlying health issues.
- The Coronavirus Bill has now passed into law. The Bill was given an unopposed third reading in the House of Lords and received Royal Assent from the Queen yesterday evening. The Bill grants ministers, councils, police, health professionals and coroners wide-ranging powers that are due to last for up to two year.
- The US Senate passed a historic $ 2.2tn emergency relief stimulus package. The bill would provide up to $1,200 in direct relief for American adults, create a $500bn lending program for businesses, cities and states and $367bn fund for small businesses. The House is expected to vote on the Bill tomorrow.
- EU leaders will today hold a videoconference discussing a response to the coronavirus. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said a ‘Marshall Plan-like stimulus strategy’ was on the cards.
- In Italy, the rate of coronavirus infection slowed for the third consecutive day. The World Health Organisation estimates that the country will reach its peak number of cases on Sunday.
- Spain has reported over 3,600 deaths as a cause of the coronavirus. As such, more people have now died as a cause of the disease in Spain than in China. Factors being blamed include complacency, poorly equipped hospitals and mild winter weather.
- China reported no new locally transmitted cases of coronavirus for the second day in a row.
- The Governor of Tokyo, Yur iko Koike, has introduced lockdown measures across the city to prevent an ‘explosion’ of coronavirus cases.
- In a joint statement by the Financial Conduit Authority, the Financial Reporting Council and the Prudential Regulation Authority, the firms announced a series of actions to ensure information continues to flow to investors and support the continued functioning of the UK’s capital markets. This includes:
- A statement today by the FCA allowing listed companies an extra 2 months to publish their audited annual financial reports.
- Guidance from the FRC (link is external) for companies preparing financial statements in the current uncertain environment. This is complemented by guidance from the PRA regarding the approach that should be taken by banks, building societies and PRA-designated investment firms in assessing expected loss provisions under IFRS9.
- Guidance from the FRC for audit firms seeking to overcome challenges in obtaining audit evidence.
- Trade union GMB has slammed the Government, calling plans to close A&E and intensive care units at Epsom and St Helier hospitals ‘hypocritical’. Helen O’Connor, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “After years of unnecessary austerity, NHS cuts have brought the health service to its knees and we are all now suffering because of it.’
- The British International Freight Association has called for an extension to the Brexit transition period following the coronavirus. Director General Robert Keen said members had been “knocked sideways by the virus and will be less well placed to adapt to a second shock if there is significant change in the terms of trade with the EU at the end of the year.
- Tideway Thames Tunnel said their number one priority was the health, safety and wellbeing of their workforce. Consequently, they’ve announced they will only be undertaking safety-critical and essential work across the Tideway project.
- According to the CBI, consumer stockpiling has led to “exceptionally strong growth” for grocers and specialist food and drink retailers. Ben Jones, CBI principal economist, said “many other retailers are seriously suffering as households put off non-essential purchases and social distancing keeps people away from the High Street.”
- According to The Sun, Rishi Sunak will today announce plans to support the self-employed. Sources say that the self-employed will have to wait until end of May to get emergency wages from the government. Furthermore, support may only be for low and medium earners, capped at around the £30k p/a median wage. The Chancellor is due to make a statement at around 4.00pm.