- Here’s your motoring, business and news round-up for Tuesday, May 12
No guarantee of a vaccine against Covid-19
The prime minister said there was no guarantee of a vaccine against Covid-19, but stated the UK was at the forefront of international efforts to develop one yesterday.
As the government set out its plans to ease lockdown restrictions, it is hoping a vaccine will be developed – but says this cannot be relied upon and may never be found.
‘I’m hearing some very encouraging things from what’s going on at Oxford to achieve a vaccine,’ Boris Johnson said. ‘This is by no means guaranteed. I believe I’m right in saying that even after 18 years we still don’t have a vaccine for Sars.’
All businesses to face government inspections before reopening
Bosses at UK firms wanting to reopen under the government’s new guidance must carry out an inspection to show they are safe.
Ministers said they have consulted with around 250 businesses, trade bodies and unions to agree the plans, with eight separate documents published for different sectors of the business world which can reopen.
These include construction sites, factories and takeaways – although pubs and restaurants will remain shut until at least July. Car dealerships will likely have to follow rules for offices and retail.
Furlough scheme set to be extended to September
The furlough scheme looks set to be extended to September today with the chancellor likely to cut support for staff’s wages from 80 per cent to 60 per cent.
Rishi Sunak is likely to today announce the scheme, currently supporting 6.3m people and paying up to £2,500 a month, will be extended throughout the summer.
Car dealers have been desperate to hear news that the scheme will be continued past June 30 as many simply won’t have the work for their staff to return to immediately. Read more here.
Wrist monitor to alert workers when social distancing rules broken
A wrist monitor could allow people to manage social distancing within the workplace. Edinburgh-based Reactec has repurposed a monitoring system to keep track of social distancing, calling the device Safedistance.
Previously used for monitoring vibration when using power tools, it has been reprogrammed to alert workers via Bluetooth if they have broken the two-metre social distancing regulations.
Bentley resumes production
Bentley resumed production yesterday at its headquarters in Crewe with 1,700 workers returning to the site.
There have been 250 hygiene and social distancing guidelines implemented to ensure safe working conditions at the factory.
Adrian Hallmark, chairman and CEO, said: ‘We have introduced extensive new working measures and we are confident, following the work of so many people, that being at Bentley will be as safe for our colleagues as being anywhere else.’
1,100 jobs set to be lost at P&O Ferries
Around 1,100 workers at P&O Ferries are to be made redundant as part of a plan to make the business ‘viable and sustainable’.
The proposal involves more than a quarter of the workforce losing their jobs.
A spokesman for Dover-based business said: ‘Regrettably, due to the reduced number of vessels we are operating and the ongoing downturn in business, we are beginning consultation proceedings with a proposal to make around 1,100 of our colleagues redundant.’
Sir Richard Branson to sell part of Virgin Galactic to raise cash
Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has agreed to sell shares worth around £405m in his Virgin Galactic space business to raise funds for his struggling airline and leisure businesses.
Branson, who has previously suggested he would be willing to remortgage his private Caribbean island home on Necker Island to raise funds, said the cash would be reinvested into firms including Virgin Atlantic.
Announcing the plans via the New York Stock Exchange, Virgin Group said it would sell 25m shares via Credit Suisse. Virgin Atlantic had pleaded for a government bailout but never got it.
The MG Cyberster is a sleek electric sports car concept
MG has shared renders of a stylish electric sports car concept called Cyberster. The images were created by SAIC, MG’s parent company, and appear to show a small, two-door sports car concept.
The British car maker has a rich history of making sports cars, but currently only has SUVs and a hatchback in its line-up.
Styling cues evident from the rendering include a long bonnet with a combination of swooping lines that converge on a sharp-edged rear.
Starbucks to reopen 150 UK sites from Thursday
The global coffee chain said it will open around 15 per cent of its UK stores on Thursday in the first phase of its reopening plans – predominantly focused on Drive Thrus.
It said it will also reopen a handful of takeaway-only stores as it continues with preparations to allow all of its UK stores to be reopened.
Starbucks closed all its sites in March after the lockdown was introduced. The company said it has been ‘learning, testing and refining our operational standards every day’ behind closed doors.
Seven-seat Toyota Highlander coming to the UK
Toyota is bringing its seven-seat Highlander SUV to the UK for the first time.
It expands the firm’s SUV line-up to include a large model on top of the mid-sized Rav4 and Yaris Cross and C-HR crossovers.
It will only be available with four-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain that uses a 2.5-litre petrol engine and twin electric motors.
Morrisons selling petrol below £1 per litre
Morrisons has reduced its petrol prices to a maximum of 99.7p per litre at its UK forecourts.
The supermarket said this is the first time the fuel has been sold nationally for less than £1 per litre since February 2016. It has also cut its diesel price to no more than 104.7p per litre.
Morrisons’ head of fuel Ashley Myers said: ‘This cut will help people who are travelling to work, those shopping for essentials, and those assisting the elderly and vulnerable.’
Donald Trump storms out of press conference
President Donald Trump abruptly ended his White House news conference on Monday after combative exchanges with two reporters.
Weijia Jiang of CBS asked Trump why he was placing so much emphasis on the amount of coronavirus tests that have been conducted in the United States. He told her she should direct her question ‘to China’.
After an exchange, he asked for another question, but didn’t like the reporter who went to ask it, so called an end to the conference and stormed out.
Boss of British Airways owner heard ‘nothing positive’ in PM’s quarantine plan
The head of the owner of British Airways has said the company will need to review its plans to resume flights after the PM proposed quarantining people flying into the UK.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group, said there was ‘nothing positive’ in the address.
He said: ‘The announcements yesterday of a 14-day period (for people) coming into the UK, it’s definitely going to make it worse. There’s nothing positive in anything that I heard the Prime Minister say yesterday. We had been planning to resume – on a pretty significant basis – our flying in July. I think we’d have to review that.’
Car Dealer Live: At midday today we chat to Wessex Garages boss Chris Wiseman
Join our WhatsApp group to get updates sent straight to your phone. Email us via the website here to get a link to join.