- Here are the headlines on Monday, September 21
Covid-19 surge has reached critical point, says Whitty
Britain stands at a ‘critical point’ in the coronavirus pandemic, Professor Chris Whitty will warn, as he lays the ground for tough new controls in an urgent attempt to halt the surge in infections.
In a televised briefing today, the chief medical officer for England will say the country faces a ‘very challenging winter’, with the current trend heading in ‘the wrong direction’.
Boris Johnson spent the weekend with senior ministers and advisers discussing what action to take as the rise in the number of new cases showed no sign of slowing. It is thought the Prime Minister could announce new measures in a press conference as early as tomorrow.
‘Rush hour returns’ after schools reopen
The morning rush hour has returned to UK roads due to the reopening of schools, new figures show.
Traffic during the peak drop-off period between 8am and 9am is back to pre-pandemic levels, according to analysis of hundreds of thousands of trips by RAC Insurance customers.
Car volumes during these times are up 55 per cent compared with the week beginning August 24, which was before most schools reopened.
Manufacturing forecast to contract by 10 per cent
Manufacturing is forecast to contract by 10 per cent this year as companies continue to struggle with the impact of the crisis, according to a new report.
Make UK said its research suggested that just under a fifth of companies were operating at full capacity. Investment plans have been cut as firms battle to stay afloat, said the manufacturers’ organisation.
Its survey of 364 firms suggested there had been improvements in output and orders from the historic lows of earlier this year.
Employers return more than £200m in furlough cash
British employers have voluntarily returned more than £215m to the government in furlough payments they decided they did not want or need.
According to figures from HMRC, so far 80,433 employers have returned £215,756,121 as of September 15, according to data obtained by the PA news agency through a freedom of information request.
Housebuilders Redrow, Barratt and Taylor Wimpey have both said they returned all the furlough money they had claimed. They were joined by Bunzl, Ikea and many others.
Ford and Facebook join Race To Zero climate campaign
Ford and Facebook have joined the campaign to reach net-zero carbon emissions, Business Secretary Alok Sharma will announce as he kicks off Climate Week 2020.
Sharma is to speak at a special event today, alongside political and industry leaders about the next decade of clean energy co-operation.
He will announce that major companies such as the US carmaker and the social networking giant will join the Race To Zero campaign to accelerate net-zero carbon emission commitments.
Banks allowed criminals and fraudsters to move dirty money
Some of the world’s biggest banks reportedly let criminals and fraudsters move dirty money around the world, according to leaked banking documents seen by BBC Panorama.
More than 2,000 sensitive banking papers detailing more than two trillion US dollars’ worth of transactions were analysed after being leaked to BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which distributed them to 108 news organisations, BBC Panorama said.
They allegedly show banking officials allowed fraudsters to shuttle money between different accounts after being made aware the profits were from multimillion-pound scams or crimes.
UK-US travel restrictions will cost £11bn in 2020
Restrictions on UK-US travel will cost the UK economy at least £11bn this year, according to a report commissioned by leading aviation industry firms.
Some £32m will be wiped from UK GDP each day from next month if constraints aimed at tackling the coronavirus pandemic remain in place, the study suggests.
The analysis found that the total capacity of flights planned between the UK and the US this month is around 85 per cent down on September 2019.
Scrapping VAT-free shopping could cost 70,000 jobs
Business leaders in the hard-hit retail, leisure and tourism industries say the government’s decision to scrap tax-free shopping for all tourists visiting the UK after Brexit could cost up to 70,000 jobs and write off £5.6bn from the economy.
The Association of International Retail (AIR) along with chiefs from major airport businesses have written a letter urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to reverse the ‘short-sighted’ and ‘devastating’ decision.
It says Britain is set to be the only country in Europe not to offer the perk to international visitors, stoking fears shoppers from wealthy Asian nations will just head to continental capitals with their cash to enjoy a 20 per cent discount on shopping instead.
Summer turns to autumn
England and Wales will be dry and warm with any early low cloud or fog giving way to periods of sunshine today, says the BBC.
Tonight, there will be rain and wind for northern Scotland, but clear spells and dry with the chance of low cloud and fog for the remainder of the UK.
Tomorrow, rain and windy conditions continue in northern areas and move into Northern Ireland and western UK, but it will continue to be dry for eastern UK.