4th May 2020
Top Industry News from the Past Week - Monday 4th May 2020
While some are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and are planning for the next stages for their business to return to normal, there are still deep concerns as to what the world will look like when that happens as concerns over money, travel and how we will live our lives post-outbreak continue to percolate. To learn more about how different people and organisations are reacting, here is the top industry news from the past week.
As Prime Minister Boris announced last week that the UK has moved past the peak of the outbreak in terms of new cases and deaths, the NHS is now beginning to plan for the second phase of the pandemic over the next six weeks, including the re-opening of urgent services that had previously been put on hold or made more digital as those showing virus symptoms have been the highest priority until now.
While online consultations will remain in force where possible to eliminate risk of infection, outpatients appointments and routine surgeries are expected to restart in the coming months. Meanwhile, it is still advised that unless absolutely necessary, those requiring medical advice or attention avoid visiting medical facilities as the government hopes to keep the virus at a steady and manageable level to avoid a second spike in cases.
While economies across the world have been feeling the pinch as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, including the USA and China seeing staggering low numbers in the first quarter of 2020, the current situation in the Eurozone has the distinction of being at its lowest point ever in the 20 years of its existence, beating the previous record low during the financial crisis in 2008.
As a result, unemployment numbers across the continent have continued to rise, particularly in countries such as France and Spain who have been hit particularly hard by the outbreak. Even in Germany, while lower than most other countries, has seen those out of work increase over the first three months of the year. And there are continued fears that this trend could become even worse as we head towards the summer with lockdowns still in place.
As part of the effort to contain the coronavirus in the UK, work on an app that alerts people if anyone close to them, physically or within their social network has been a high priority project within the NHS for several months. And it has been revealed that the first version of said app could be readily available to the public within two-three weeks.
Those who download the app will be able to see if people they are in close proximity to have been previously diagnosed as positive with the coronavirus, as well as have the option to log locations where people have been congregating in one place for sometime, therefore alerting others nearby. Questions have been raised about privacy settings and personal boundaries and the NHS’ digital innovation team have been vigilant to stay within current laws.
The travel industry has understandably been one of the worst hit by the outbreak as airports and borders have been closed for several weeks and thousands of employees in all areas have been furloughed or let go completely. And for British Airways the struggles continue to pile up. After announcing on Tuesday the proposed cuts of up to 12,000 jobs, it also revealed that they may not reopen operations at London Gatwick airport once lockdowns are lifted.
Due to the cost cutting measures of losing thousands of attendants, ground staff and pilots, it is likely they will have to scale back the number of routes they will be able to run once the skies are reopened to planes again. And with a large number of staff needed just to operate in one location and the bigger presence at neighbouring London Heathrow, jobs at Gatwick will remain uncertain for the time being.
The United States seems to be a permanently divided place, particularly in how the country has responded to the outbreak and subsequent lockdown. And two of the biggest tech giants in the world, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg appear to be in opposite camps with regards to the reopening of borders and plants.
Musk, the founder of Tesla, who has always been sceptical over the crisis has been very vocal as his production has been slowed dramatically as a result of the lockdown in California and the advice for people to stay at home which he stated was against people’s constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, Facebook founder Zuckerberg has reacted very differently to Musk stating that a return to normality too quickly would lead to even more catastrophic results for public health and the US economy. Both men and their companies of course work in different areas with different ways of working and so their views are justified. And while different states and countries will have their own ways of reopening, we all must remain as safe as possible and not take unnecessary risks.
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