40. Weekly Newsletter

Weekly Newsletter on UK Developments: Week 40

UK Position
The UK Government is heavily focused upon trying to contain the spread of the virus and is widely believed to be heading further towards a second national lockdown. These latest pushes for a lockdown are increasingly unpopular and saw over 15,000 protestors in the capital over the weekend. Furthermore, the PM (Johnson) has seen his popularity decline as COVID has progressed- as shown by the party support across all polls on the left.

Sweden, which is on the travel corridor list, is also viewed in the UK as an example of a COVID success story and a continued stream of articles from major newspapers (such as The Times, the Guardian and The Sun) praise the bold strategies. However, Swedish COVID cases as a proportion of the population have been around a third higher than Britain and are the 7th highest in Europe.

COVID Lockdown
The UK’s voluntarily downloaded COVID Contact Tracing app, was launched on the 24th of September and has since been downloaded over 12 million times. Many businesses across the nation, especially pubs, now insist upon users scanning their QR codes before entering and are denying entry to those who do not.

This all comes as the majority of British university students have now returned to their universities and has resulted in widespread media coverage about major COVID outbreaks across the campuses.

The UK is also preparing to save the Christmas season as PM Johnson has pledged to do “whatever it takes”. COVID testing is being ramped up to over 3 million per day in a bid to contain the spread as families and friends (including returning university students) are expected to gather for the most awaited festive period ever.

UK Winter Economy Plan
The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sunak, scrapped the traditional Autumn Budget this year due to the ever-changing market conditions. Instead, the Winter Economy Plan was launched to support the significantly weakened economy.

This plan will come into force as the existing Furlough Scheme comes to an end at the end of October. The coming “jobs support scheme” will mean that partaking employers will have to cover just 55% of wages, with the Government paying another 22% and employees having to work just a third of their usual hours. Lower VAT rates (just 5%) in certain industries has also been extended until mid-January 2021.

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