Housing market re-opened on day one of Government’s new plan

“The housing market will be reopened today in a bid to get Britain moving again. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has told estate agents they can reopen immediately although they are being urged to use online viewings. Removal firms can get back to work and construction companies will be allowed to extend their working hours to help with social distancing on sites. An estimated 450,000 buyers and renters have been in limbo since the Government effectively shut down the property market in late March. ‘The housing market is one of the most important sectors of the economy and the ability to move home is also important to people’s lives,’ said Mr Jenrick.” – Daily Mail

  • Worst-case scenario suggests house prices could fall by 10 per cent – The Times

Sunak extends furlough scheme until the end of October…

“Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is to extend the UK government’s flagship job retention scheme until the end of October, prolonging a programme which has supported more than 7m jobs at a cost of that could reach £80bn. But Mr Sunak has presented business with a moment of truth on August 1, when he will ask employers to start “sharing the cost” of the furlough scheme, forcing them to decide whether the frozen jobs are still viable. Business leaders and unions welcomed the extension of the scheme, which was due to expire at the end of June. It means the taxpayer will be paying the wages of up to a fifth of the workforce for a total of eight months.” FT

… as cost of Coronavirus crisis estimated to be £300 billion this year

“A confidential Treasury assessment of the coronavirus crisis estimates that it will cost the Exchequer almost £300 billion this year and could require measures including an increase in income tax, the end of the triple lock on state pension increases and a two-year public sector pay freeze. The Telegraph can reveal that a Treasury document drawn up for Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, sets out a proposed “policy package” of tax increases and spending reductions which may have to be announced within weeks in order to “enhance credibility and boost investor confidence” in the British economy.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Economic hit could reach £1.2 trillion over the next five years – Daily Telegraph
  • Income tax, state pension and public-sector pay freezes considered for tax rises – FT
  • Don’t pay for crisis with public sector cuts, warns Labour – Daily Telegraph
  • “[B]rutal choices” ahead “for the PM” – Daily Telegraph
  • One in three small businesses say they might not reopen after lockdown – The Sun
  • UK retailers warn of shop closures and job losses – The Guardian

Three in four care homes say GPs won’t visit residents with Coronavirus

“Care homes have been abandoned to coronavirus and forced to accept infected patients with little means of preventing outbreaks, a survey reveals today. A third of homes have taken hospital patients with the virus, despite fewer than half being able to isolate them and control further spread. Deaths in care homes have also outstripped those in hospital. Three quarters claim GPs are reluctant to visit and more than half are not confident they can get enough protective clothing. Kate Lee, chief executive of the charity, said: ‘It’s tragically clear care homes were left to fend for themselves against coronavirus – and, unfortunately, still are. Despite the heroic efforts of care workers, the precious lives of people with dementia and all those in homes are still being put in danger.” – Daily Mail

Evans-Pritchard: The Government handling of Covid-19 is a very British disaster

“British exceptionalism has brought an exceptional outcome. We have both an eye-watering number of avoidable deaths and a staggering amount of avoidable economic damage. The purported trade-off between lives and jobs – always a false choice – has instead spared neither. It is the worst of both. Boris Johnson is in a sense right to resist calls for a premature lifting of containment measures. The fissures within the four nations of the union would become dangerous if he did otherwise. This determination to see it through is becoming his Churchillian test but it is not the fight he expected and it does not obscure the long list of errors that led to this unhappy pass. There should never have been a lockdown in the first place.” – Daily Telegraph

Unions warn about safety at work…

“The UK government has issued guidance on safety in workplaces and public transport after Boris Johnson urged manufacturing and construction workers to return to their jobs this week. But unions and employers warn that it will take much longer to bring people back to work safely.  The need to ensure workers’ safety is all the more sensitive because the risks of easing the lockdown will not be evenly shared: white-collar professionals who can work from home will be told to stay there. Those unable to work from home — and now “actively encouraged” to return — tend to be lower-paid and in jobs with more face-to-face contact. A disproportionate number are from ethnic groups, who appear to be at greater risk from coronavirus.” – FT

  • Millions with health conditions at risk if “forced back to work” – The Guardian
  • Stay shut if you can’t protect your staff, companies are told – The Times
  • People from different households may be able to share cars to work – The Times
  • Sabotaged by the union dinosaurs: By obstructing the return to work, they are cynically betraying the workers they claim to serve, Ian Austin – Daily Mail

… and tell teachers not to engage with school reopening plans

“Teachers are heading for a clash with the government over the reopening of primary schools in England on June 1 after their biggest union ordered them not to “engage” with the planning process. The National Education Union (NEU) said it was unconvinced that there was any scientific basis behind government guidance issued yesterday that teachers did not need PPE equipment to keep them safe. The union said it needed to see the scientific backing for recommending that social distancing rules, considered crucial to stopping the spread of the virus, did not have to be followed in schools as long as class sizes were small and stringent hygiene was followed.” – The Times

  • Anneliese Dodds, Labour Chancellor, says there’s not enough evidence to send children back – Daily Mail

Hancock 1) Contact tracing app to be rolled out next week

“The NHS coronavirus tracing app will be rolled out across England next week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed following its Isle of Wight trial. Mr Hancock said the app being trialled on the Isle of Wight would be rolled out across in the coming days. He told Sky News: ‘We’re rolling out in mid-May. The Isle of Wight project has gone well so far, we’ve learned a lot about how the app operates. We’re pleased with progress, and we’re going to bring it in.’ The Health Secretary continued to face questions about elements of the new rules which will apply in England as lockdown eases.” – Daily Mail

  • Hunt: Decision to ditch testing will be one of the “biggest failures… in our lifetimes” – The Times

Hancock 2) Foreign holidays unlikely this year

“Summer holidays are most “likely” cancelled, Matt Hancock has admitted, as he warned any staycations will require social distancing and “lavish international holidays” are off. The Health Secretary said a ban on holidays including self-catering accommodation was still in force, while the Foreign Office has advised against all but essential international travel and the 14-day quarantine plans to the UK and other overseas destinations makes most foreign holidays unviable. Asked whether that meant “summer was cancelled” due to coronavirus, Mr Hancock replied: “I think that’s likely to be the case. “We haven’t made a final decision on that yet but it is clear that we will seek to reopen hospitality, some hospitality, from early July if we keep successfully reducing the spread of this virus.”” – Daily Telegraph


Officials in Norwich plan to test all 140,000 residents for Coronavirus every week

“Norwich is hoping to find the key to ending the lockdown by testing all its 140,000 citizens every week for coronavirus. Scientists working in the city’s labs want to be the first in the UK to check every resident so they can track the virus and halt its spread. They hope their ambitious plan will allow a little more freedom to its residents before a vaccine for Covid-19 is found. Norwich and another provincial city, Southampton, have submitted proposals to the Department of Health to pilot mass testing schemes. In Norwich, best known for its impressive cathedral and as the home of Colman’s mustard, bin men, taxi drivers and Army reservists could be used to deliver and collect swabs from households.” – Daily Mail

Rees-Mogg: MPs should return to Westminster – to “set an example”

“Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs today that he wants to see them return to Westminster within weeks to ‘set an example’ to the country. The Commons leader said he did not want to see temporary arrangements – which have seen MPs join debates via webcam – extended beyond the Whitsun recess, which is due to start on May 20 and end on June 2. He insisted that when MPs did return, they would only do so under strict social distancing rules. Labour said the move was a ‘surprise’, adding that ministers must provide evidence that they are taking into account the health needs of MPs. The comments came on the day that MPs cast votes remotely for the first time in the history of Parliament.” – Daily Mail

Manufacturers push back against 14-day quarantine plan

“The government is facing growing opposition from industry over its plans to impose a 14-day quarantine on travellers arriving from overseas, with all five key manufacturing sectors warning the measure could disrupt production, leading to supply shortages and further job losses. The automotive, aviation, chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries all warned that exemptions will be needed to ensure the smooth operation and safety of their factories, many of which depend on specialist “fly in, fly out” engineers to service production lines. The quarantine plan is one of the measures aimed at suppressing new coronavirus infections as the UK emerges from lockdown.” – FT

  • Britain’s plan to exempt France from 14-day quarantine must extent to every EU member state, says EC – Daily Mail

Ministers tell Sadiq Khan to “ramp up” Tube services

“Ministers today told Sadiq Khan he must ‘ramp up’ London Underground services ‘as quickly as possible’ after commuters warned getting to work is like a ‘suicide mission’ as thousands packed onto trains – many without face coverings. Transport for London has asked passengers to wear some form of face mask when using public transport in the capital but there were few in sight this morning as people also struggled to adhere to social distancing rules. Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton today urged the London Mayor to rapidly increase the number of services as more workplaces begin to get back up and running following Boris Johnson’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions.” – Daily Mail

Trade talks with Japan to begin within days

“TRADE talks with Japan will begin within days after the UK published its negotiating objectives tonight. Trade Secretary Liz Truss said Britain’s textiles, clothing and professional and financial services industries will be the biggest winners of a bumper free trade deal with Japan. The goal of the negotiations is to build on the existing EU-Japan free trade deal and secure additional benefits for UK businesses trading with Japan. Ms Truss said it would help improve the “resilience” of the UK’s supply chains, which is vital to deal with future pandemics.” – The Sun

News in brief: