Coronavirus latest: UK and eurozone business downturns show signs of easing

Coronavirus: what you might have missed

The UK prime minister is expected to overrule the concerns of leading scientists on Tuesday with a plan to cut England’s two-metre social-distancing rule.

Boris Johnson is likely to add cinemas, galleries and museums to the list of premises able to reopen on July 4, alongside pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers, as the Financial Times reports here.

This comes against a backdrop of increasing economic stress in the UK, with one in six car industry employees in danger of losing their job, according to a trade body. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Tuesday that emergency funding, permanent short-time working, business rate holidays, and VAT cuts are needed to stem the flow of redundancies. As many as 6,000 jobs have been lost in the past month.

Bank of England governer Andrew Bailey said on Monday that the UK government could have run out of funds in March had it not been for the central bank’s dramatic interventions, such as its £200bn bond-buying programme.

But a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford university researchers, which is viewed as Britain’s leading candidate for a nationwide immunisation scheme, will not be ready until October, scientists said on Monday. This takes the launch close to the start of winter flu season.

The gradual reopening of French society and the economy provides some hope, however, with the rate of new Covid-19 infections having slowed since President Emmanuel Macron lifted lockdown restrictions on May 11, as the FT describes here.

In the US and Europe, major banks are working out how to bring staff back to the office, which will be no easy task, as FT reporters detail here.

Stephen Morris, Laura Noonan, Owen Walker and Nicholas Megaw write:

How lifts can be used safely has emerged as a particularly vexing problem inside the building, while few managers expect employees to feel confident enough to restart daily commutes before a vaccine is found.

Goldman is among those that will use a team-based rotation system, with deep cleaning in between. BofA and Citigroup are not planning to rotate at this stage and will instead have lists of people authorised to be in the building for the number of days they want to. Most banks will supply masks to be worn in communal areas.

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