By Powerscourt on 20/09/2020

Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 20 September 2020


France is seeing new strains of COVID-19 that appear to be more contagious but less dangerous than the original strain.  The new strains could explain why a recent surge in reported cases in France – and elsewhere in Europe – has not led to a sharp rise in hospital admissions.

More than 1,000 people gathered in central London yesterday to protest against stricter lockdown measures. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a television address to the nation on Tuesday announcing new restrictions. The government is reportedly set to introduce fines of up to £10,000 for people who breach self-isolation rules, while those on low incomes will be paid £500 to self-isolate at home.

According to the Sunday Times, the Prime Minister will reject calls for an immediate two week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown despite the fact that early data on the ‘rule of six’ has shown lower than expected levels of  compliance.

Scientists are concerned that vaccines being developed to protect against Covid-19 may be less effective in obese people, leaving them more vulnerable to infection.  In better news, countries in the southern hemisphere are experiencing record low levels of winter flu. While almost 1,000 Australians died of flu in 2019, this year it had killed fewer than 40.

Retailers are turning to drive-through collections in increasing numbers. Marks & Spencer, Pets at Home, Waitrose and John Lewis have all introduced drive-through collections at some shops, as has home furnishings retailer Dunelm.




Consumer & Retail 

Lockdown was good for food delivery. At Domino’s Pizza, the battle between management and some of it’s store franchisees has been heating up. At its heart is a row over how fast Domino’s opens new branches, while the local entrepreneurs who prepare and deliver the takeaways press for a greater share of profits. All told, it meant that David Wild’s tenure as chief executive, which ended in May, was the stuff of kitchen nightmares. 

Mishcon de Reya
A leading law firm is putting together a court case against 12 insurers for refusing to pay out on claims for business damage caused by COVID-19. Mishcon de Reya is preparing the group action after the High Court ruled in favour of policyholders in most cases, after examining contracts from 16 insurers. The decision will affect about 370,000 companies with £1.2bn worth of claims, according to City watchdog the FCA, which brought the claim on behalf of businesses interrupted by the pandemic. 



Rolls-Royce is in talks with sovereign wealth funds, including Singapore’s GIC, as it tries to repair its balance sheet. The jet engines giant has been mulling ways of raising cash, including selling its ITP Aero division, which makes parts for the Eurofighter Typhoon, and its Bergn diesel engines business. It has also been working on a plan to raise funds, such as via a rights issue or placing. That could include raising £2.5bn from investors, including Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. 



UK pension providers brace for surge in requests to cash in savings early – Financial Times

‘Head Out to Help Out’ plans for £1 rail fares and 20pc off-peak cuts – The Daily Telegraph

Pubs and restaurants face coronavirus wipeout – The Times