PM sets England on road back to normality
People in England will be able to hug loved ones, dine in restaurants and go on holiday abroad from next week in a ‘considerable step on the road back to normality’, Boris Johnson has confirmed.
The move to the next stage of the road map out of lockdown on May 17 came as the Covid-19 alert level in the UK was downgraded after a ‘consistent’ fall in cases, hospital admissions and deaths.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will give an update on restrictions today, having indicated Scotland could be granted renewed freedoms along similar lines from Monday.
From May 17:
- People will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30.
- People will be able to meet indoors in groups of six, or two households.
- Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers indoors, although they will be limited to table service.
- Cinemas, museums, theatres and concert halls will be allowed to reopen although there will be capacity limits on large events.
- The ‘stay in the UK’ restriction will lift and people will be able to travel to ‘green list’ countries such as Portugal, although they are still being advised not to go to destinations on the amber list.
- Up to 30 people will be allowed at weddings, although dancing will still not be allowed, and the cap on the number of mourners attending funerals will be lifted, in line with the safe capacity of the venue.
- Secondary school pupils will no longer be told to wear face masks in class and communal areas.
- University students will return to campus for in-person lectures.
One-metre social distancing rule may be scrapped next month
Boris Johnson has raised the prospect that the one-metre social distancing rule that has been key to limiting the spread of coronavirus could be scrapped next month.
As he approved the next major easing of restrictions in England, Johnson said the nation remains ‘on track’ for the final step towards lifting all legal restrictions as planned on June 21. But the Prime Minister went further, to suggest it may be possible to scrap the one-metre plus social distancing rule from that point as well.
‘When it comes to social distancing from June 21, I look at the data very carefully and I think at the moment, it looks to me as though we may be able to dispense with the one-metre plus rule,’ he told the Downing Street press conference. ‘That’s not yet decided, it’s not yet clear, we will have to wait and see.’
Easing of restrictions may increase R number but will not overwhelm NHS
The easing of restrictions on May 17 will likely cause an increase in infections across England but not enough to overwhelm the NHS, scientists advising the government have said.
Modelling has shown that England’s R number will probably rise above 1 when lockdown measures are relaxed under stage three of the government’s road map, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said.
While it means that Covid-19 infections will increase across the country, it is ‘highly unlikely to put unsustainable pressure’ on the NHS, the group concluded at its meeting on May 5.
Apple faces billion-pound legal action over App Store charges
Apple is facing a billion-pound legal claim after being accused of breaking UK competition law by ‘overcharging’ millions of people for apps on its App Store.
The tech giant has been accused of deliberately shutting out the competition in the store and forcing people to use its own payment processing system, generating ‘excessive’ profits for itself in the process.
The claim, which is being brought on behalf of potentially millions of UK Apple users, has been filed in the Competition Appeal Tribunal and calls for Apple to repay UK customers it says have been overcharged because of the company’s practices, with damages of up to £1.5bn being sought. It says as many as 19.6m UK users could be eligible for compensation.
Owners given guidelines to prevent lorries being used in terror attacks
New guidance has been issued to lorry and van owners to minimise the risk of their vehicles being used in terror attacks.
It requires commercial vehicle operators to carry out checks of drivers’ references and employment history to identify links to criminality.
Visual assessments of vehicles should also be carried out for signs of tampering, according to the document issued by the British Standards Institution (BSI).
US expands use of vaccine to include adolescents
US regulators have expanded the use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to children as young as 12, offering a way to protect the nation’s adolescents before they head back to school in autumn.
Shots could begin as soon as Thursday after a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations for using the two-dose vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds, with an announcement expected tomorrow.
Most Covid-19 vaccines worldwide have been authorised for adults.
Mercedes-Benz EQA range expanded with faster all-wheel-drive options
Two more models have been added to the Mercedes-Benz EQA line-up, bringing the total number on sale to three.
The firm’s smallest electric vehicle is now available with two higher-powered versions with all-wheel-drive.
Badged EQA 300 and EQA 350, they will have 225bhp and 288bhp respectively. Prices start at £48,495 for the 300 and £49,995 for the 350. Both new models are on sale now.
Porsche releases first official images of the electric Macan SUV
Porsche has shared the first official images of the electric Macan SUV, which has been testing on public roads.
The German firm has called the road trials ‘one of the most important milestones in the development process’ and says prototypes will travel almost 1.9m miles before the model goes on sale in 2023.
The new electric Macan will be the first built on Porsche’s new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) underpinnings. An updated combustion-engined Macan will hit the market later this year, and eventually will be sold alongside the EV.
Monday Car Dealer headlines you may have missed
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- Farnell Jaguar Land Rover on the hunt for new apprentices
- Fears raised over safety of millions of cars
- First Drive: Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport
- Dealers warned not to be ‘blindsided’ by short-lived boost in new car sales
- Fastest selling used cars in April revealed
Greggs eyes return to pre-pandemic profits
Fast food chain Greggs believes it could get back to normal profits this year, as the business performed well during the first few weeks after non-essential retailers reopened.
The sausage roll maker said its sales had risen compared with 2019 since clothes shops and others resumed trading on April 12.
It did not reveal the exact increase in sales for that period, but said that in the eight weeks to May 8 sales dropped just 3.9 per cent. This compares with a 23.3 per cent fall in the 10 weeks to March 13, the business said yesterday.
BioNTech reports £972m profit in first quarter
German pharmaceutical company BioNTech has reported a net profit of 1.13 billion euros (£972m) in the first quarter of this year on the back of strong revenues from its coronavirus vaccine.
The company’s estimated revenues surged to more than two billion euros for the period from January to March, compared with just 28 million euros in the same period last year.
BioNTech developed the first widely used vaccine against Covid-19 together with US partner Pfizer, which holds the market and distribution rights in much of the world.
Soaring pound dents internationally-focused FTSE
The blue-chip FTSE 100 closed the day down as its internationally-focused constituents struggled under the weight of the pound soaring to levels not seen since February.
Traders were enjoying the confirmation that lockdown restrictions in England would be eased from May 17 and the economic benefit it will bring, helping to push sterling up.
But with so many shares in FTSE 100 companies bought and sold in the US currency, the prices appeared expensive, helping the index close the day down 6.03 points, or 0.08 per cent at 7123.68. The German Dax and French Cac closed flat.
House prices increased by 8.2% annually in April
House prices surged by 8.2 per cent annually in April, passing a record high set the previous month, according to an index.
Across the UK, the average house price in April was £258,204, Halifax said. Property values increased by 1.4 per cent month on month.
Halifax predicts that the pace of house price growth will slow later in the year.
More sunshine and showers
Today, England and Wales will see heavy showers and sunny spells with the odd rumble of thunder, said the BBC. In Scotland, cloud and rain will clear north to leave sunshine for many. Sunny spells for N Ireland.
Tonight, heavy and thundery showers will tend to drift northwards, reaching Scotland by the early hours. Turning drier further south, but with further showers streaming in from the west across Wales.
Tomorrow will see scattered showers and sunny spells once again develop across the UK, with the continuing risk of thunder. Areas of the southwest are likely to have more persistent spells of rain.