38. Weekly Newsletter
UK Holiday Bookings Rise
Britain’s largest airline, IAG, saw it’s share price rise 10.73% on Monday (20th September) following the government announcement that the US will be easing its COVID travel restrictions to passengers from the UK and EU. All UK and EU travellers will need to evidence their double vaccinations alongside further proof of a negative COVID test taken within three days of the flights. PM Johnson announced his delight to the news and declared it a “fantastic boost for business and trade”. This comes as Britain, only last Friday (17th September), simplified it’s own travel rules which would scrap the ‘traffic light’ system in favour of countries being categorised as exclusively high or low risk; it also means that the existing costly PCR COVID tests for arrivals will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests.
Holiday bookings are now surging since the government announced the simplification of travel rules for England. The Secretary of State for Transport, Shapps, removed eight further countries from the ‘high risk’ travels destinations (Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya) and should enable a wider range of holiday destinations and/or family reunifications. However, bookings are still 20% below figures from the same time period in 2019.
Over 7.4m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID and with almost all restrictions lifted: cases appear to be flatlining after an initial surge during August. A total in excess of 135,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus; however, vaccine hesitancy remains prevalent across the country but has now dwindled to around 6% of the population. Nationally, 48.6m people have received their first vaccine and approximately 44.5m of these patients have also received their second dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to over 93 million.
The return of British school children, following an uncertain summer, has not seen a dramatic rise in COVID cases as children “are not the drivers and not the hubs of infection”, according to the Public Health England medical director. Although, the government’s advisory board has warned that high levels of infection rates are “highly likely” by the end of the current month. To counter this, the UK is now offering COVID jabs to over-12s and pop-up clinics at universities just as their terms start to commence.
The biggest news story in the UK (as featured in almost every newspaper front page) is the surge in natural gas prices; inadvertently this has caused another challenge as Britain’s two largest fertiliser plants (owned by US-based CF Industries) have had to shut down due to mounting gas costs and has thus cut the nation’s CO2 production by 60%. Carbon dioxide is used to stun animals for slaughter, refrigeration, carbonating beer/fizzy drinks and preserving meat.
Britain shoulders the highest energy market prices in Europe, according to S&P Global Platts, and the cost of gas has already risen 250% since the start of the year (up 50% since August). The British public are protected from dramatic increases in costs due to the ‘energy price cap’ but this remains controversial within the industry alongside green levies. Furthermore, one of Britain’s largest energy providers (Bulb- with 2 million customers) is in crisis talks and could become the fifth supplier to collapse in a month. The BBC has now reported that of the 70 energy suppliers in the UK at the start of 2021: as few as 10 could be left by the end of the year.