Coronavirus: Easing Of Lockdown, Economy Plunges And Three Other Things You Need To Know

UK economy shrinks and Tui announces major job cuts.

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People in England will now be allowed to spend more time outside, meet a friend at the park and view a potential new home as the government begins to relax coronavirus lockdown measures despite the death toll continuing to rise.

According to figures released on Monday, 32,692 people have now died in the UK – an increase of 210 on the previous 24 hours.

Here’s what you need to know today:


Easing of lockdown

Changes in the guidelines, which come into force from Wednesday, have caused confusion and anger – as people remain unable to visit relatives or friends at their homes, but can now be shown around a property for sale.

The move to unlock the housing market will enable buyers and renters to complete purchases and view properties in person, while visiting estate agents, developer sales offices or show homes will also be allowed.

The government estimates more than 450,000 buyers and renters have been unable to progress their plans to move house since lockdown measures were introduced in March.

Unlimited exercise, sunbathing and meeting one person from another household in a public space will also be permitted in England from Wednesday, as long as the two-metre rule is respected, while golf clubs, tennis courts and angling have been given the green light.

Restrictions on how far people can travel to get to the countryside, national parks and beaches in England have also been lifted – but people have been warned to respect local communities, keep their distance from others and avoid hotspots or busy areas.

UK economy shrinks by 2%

The UK economy shrank by 2% in the first quarter of 2020 as the coronavirus crisis saw activity contract at a record pace in March, official figures have shown.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said activity plunged 5.8% in March, sending first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) tumbling in the biggest fall since the end of 2008 at the height of the financial crisis.

The latest figures show the first direct effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the UK economy after the country was placed in lockdown to control the spread of the virus.

But with the lockdown only coming into place on March 23, the second quarter will show the full hit on the economy after the UK ground to a standstill.

Millions of vulnerable people at risk ‘if forced back to work’

Researchers say around 8 million people with underlying health conditions should be exempted from government plans to get the UK back to work.

Those under the age of 70 with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease, were not covered in the government’s 51-page report on how the lockdown is to be eased.

A University College London study published in the Lancet on Wednesday has called for clearer guidelines as such people were also not told to shield themselves for three months from when lockdown measures were introduced.

Dr Amitava Banerjee from the UCL Institute of Health Informatics, who led the study, told the Guardian that the government is “only ever talking about the extremely vulnerable – they are rare in the population, whereas these diseases we are looking at are some of the commonest chronic diseases”.

Tui to axe 8,000 jobs

The Tui Group is looking to cut 8,000 roles worldwide with the firm calling Covid-19 the “greatest crisis the industry… has faced”.

The group posted loses of 845.8 million euro (£747m) in the first half of 2020, compared to 289.1 million (£255m) in the same period 12 months previously.

The company said: “We are targeting to permanently reduce our overhead cost base by 30% across the entire group.

“This will have an impact on potentially 8,000 roles globally that will either not be recruited or reduced.”

Mexico death toll ‘five times higher than government figures’

The Mexican government is massively underreporting the country’s coronavirus death toll, according to an investigation by Sky News.

Mexico’s health ministry has reported 38,324 cases and 3,926 deaths so far but sources told the broadcaster that these figures undercount the actual mortality rate by a factor of at least five.

A death toll close to 20,000 people would mean Mexico is the sixth hardest-hit country in the world.

The Mexican government, under pressure from the US, is to lay out a roadmap on Wednesday to re-open its economy, with a focus on the automotive sector whose supply chains are closely interwoven with American carmakers.


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