-UK lowers COVID-19 alert level and economy readies to fully open
The Bank of England announced its monetary policy decision last week as the country faces possibly its worst recession since 1706. It kept interest rates at a record low of 0.1% and voted by a majority of 8-1 to increase government bond purchases with an additional £100 billion, taking the total stock of asset purchases to £745 billion.
The British government on Friday lowered the country’s COVID-19 alert level from 4 to 3, as health authorities announced that a further 173 people died from coronavirus across the UK over the past 24 hours.
The Department of Health tweeted: “As of 9 am 19 June, there have been 7,433,114 tests, with 169,600 tests on 18 June. 301,815 people have tested positive.
“As of 5pm on 18 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,461 have sadly died.”
Under the alert level revision, coronavirus is no longer seen as “high or exponentially rising” but “in general circulation". This means the threat level has also been reduced from “severe” to “substantial”.
The chief medical officers said in a statement: “There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues. It does not mean that the pandemic is over. The virus is still in general circulation, and localized outbreaks are likely to occur.”
“The UK moving to a lower alert level is a big moment for the country, and a real testament to the British people’s determination to beat this virus,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised the prospect of changing social distancing rules due to the falling transmission rate.
“We have to start thinking of a world in which we are less apprehensive about this disease,” he said. “I hope, as we go forward into the autumn, people will be much, much more confident.”
As the UK economy is trying to return to normal, it will be crucial to observe consumer confidence and spending in the coming months.