-Schools to open in UK amid increased concern of second Covid wave
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parents in England to send their children back to school next week, warning that the life chances of pupils would be harmed if they stay at home from fear of the coronavirus. This, along with the return of workers to their workplaces, is seen as a step towards normality. However, many are still concerned about the rising number of cases elsewhere, as in Italy.
An internal British government document leaked to UK tabloid The Sun allegedly outlines the country's plans in case of a 'reasonable worst-case scenario' of a second wave of the novel coronavirus combined with floods, the flu, and a no-deal Brexit.
'Pandemic influenza, severe flooding, a COVID second wave and an unruly exit from the EU transition period could cause a systemic economic crisis with major impact on disposable incomes, unemployment, business activity, international trade and market stability,' the document read.
Dated July 2020, the document said that if the UK and the EU were both unable to agree on a trade deal, hard borders and tariffs would come into effect overnight on Jan. 1, 2021.
Talks last week in Brussels stalled with no breakthrough in sight. Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said at the weekend that it felt as if 'we were going backwards more than forwards,' while his British counterpart, David Frost, said there had been 'little progress.'
The government document said the military might have to airdrop food to Gibraltar and the Channel Islands and deploy the navy to prevent illegal European fishing boats from clashing with British vessels.
The document also said social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing would have to continue until 2021.
The Sun reported that under a no-deal Brexit, France could enforce 'mandatory controls on UK goods from day one, 'which could decrease trade passing through Dover and Calais by 45% in three months, creating long queues of trucks in Kent.'
According to The Sun, thousands of stranded lorries could lead to shortages of medicine for both humans -- during a pandemic -- as well as animals, risking the spread of disease through British livestock. The traffic jams at the borders, it said could also lead to power and petrol shortages.
A government spokeswoman said, 'intensive planning' was underway to help ensure that businesses and citizens are ready to 'take advantage of the opportunities and changes' that leaving the bloc's single market and customs union will bring.
'As a responsible government, we continue to make extensive preparations for a wide range of scenarios, including the reasonable worst case,' she said.
'This is not a forecast or prediction of what will happen but rather a stretching scenario. It reflects a responsible government ensuring we are ready for all eventualities,' she added.
The Eat Out to Help Out government scheme, which finishes by the month-end, has been used more than 35 million times in its first two weeks, according to the latest Treasury results. Many enjoyed up to 10 pounds worth of discount for eating out which boosted trade for restaurants & cafes. However, following the expiry of the scheme, it will be interesting to see if people will continue to eat out.
Another big development to watch will be events following the end of the government’s furlough scheme that will cease at the end of October. Currently, 9.4 million people are benefiting from the government's scheme, but experts proclaim that many could lose their jobs after it finishes.