By Powerscourt on 28/11/2020

Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 28 November 2020


A recent spike in cases in East Asia underscores the challenges that the world will continue to face until a widely available vaccine is introduced.

Hong Kong, previously a city that has earned praise for keeping the pandemic in check, has been forced to suspend its air travel bubble with Singapore and introduce stricter social-distancing measures. This follows a sharp rise in infections, reportedly linked to ballroom dancing venues popular with older women. This spike is being felt across other Asian countries with Japan and South Korea experiencing some of their highest single-day tallies since the pandemic began, driven by large gatherings in Tokyo and Seoul’s metropolitan areas.

In England, lockdown 2.0 has divided opinions up and down the country and resulted in a growing rebellion among the backbench Tory party over the tiering system. However, results out from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) indicates that it has had the desired effect, with the reproduction ‘R’ number estimated to have dropped to below 1, a sign that infections are on the retreat.

The news comes just days ahead of the planned easing of rules. However, SAGE also warned that this relaxation of rules will result in increased transmission and prevalence, potentially by a significant amount, and that it will likely delay large areas of the country from returning to Tier 1 status.

Across the pond, Scrooge struck the first blow to festive celebrations with the cancellation of New York’s annual Santacon bar crawl, which usually sees thousands of young folk dress as Santa Claus and raising money for charity while ‘moving’ from bar to bar. Depriving Santa of some festive cheer didn’t dampen the markets though, as the Dow is close to notching up a historic monthly performance for November. Hopes for a peaceful transition to the Biden administration are overcoming concerns over a rise in pandemic cases, that has seen the number of COVID-19 infections shoot past 13 million. If the strong market performance holds in Monday’s trading then it will be the index’s biggest one-month advance in 33 years.

Here in the UK similar reactions were felt as the COVID-19 vaccine rally has lifted the FTSE 100 close to its best month on record, with a rise of over 14% to 6,367. Consumer confidence sadly doesn’t reflect this however, as news broke yesterday that Sir Philip Green’s retail empire faces collapse within days as Arcadia, the owner of Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins is preparing to appoint administrators, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.




Consumer & Retail

It has been announced that Philip Green’s Arcadia may enter into administration, putting hundreds of shops and over 13,000 jobs at risk. The retail company whose brands include Topshop, Burton and Wallis, has been hit hard by COVID-19. The group said on Friday “the forced closure of our stores for sustained periods as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a material impact on trading across our business.”

Following disputes with landlords over Travelodge’s recent company voluntary arrangement, Chief Executive, Peter Gowers, has stepped down and will leave at the end of the year. The news came as the hotel chain revealed that it had lost 17 hotel to rivals, as a result of fallout from the CVA. The forced closure of hotels, due to recent lockdowns, resulted in Travelodge not paying rent, culminating in a CVA to secure rent cuts. 

Moss Bros 
The large-scale cancellations of weddings, school proms and other events due to COVID-19, has forced Moss Bros to turn to a CVA plan. The British formal suits and tuxedos retailer, will launch a CVA next month involving plans to exit up to 24 of its 142 leases. Director, Menoshi “Michael” Shina commented “with the introduction of further lockdown measures and with the outlook for trading remaining depressed, the group faces no alternative but to limit our fixed costs and we have therefore made the tough decision to undertake a CVA.”



Covid vaccines offer Big Pharma a chance of rehabilitation – Financial Times

Christmas freedom may double infections, say scientists – The Times

Hospitals could be overwhelmed without new tiers, says Gove – BBC News