Weekly Client Update – Friday 16th July

Local update

In a bid to ease the load on the Island’s testing system Ministers last night announced further changes to the isolation and testing regime. From midnight last night Islanders who are direct contacts will only be required to take one test as soon as possible after they are identified as a direct contact. They no longer need to isolate until they receive a negative result but should remain cautious in the activities they carry out for the following 10 days. Passengers arriving in Jersey who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to test on arrival and isolate until they receive a negative test result but will no longer be required to undertake a day 8 test. 

Arrangements for fully vaccinated passengers remain unchanged; they will still be required to undertake a test on arrival and do not need to isolate. These new policies will apply to Islanders who are awaiting further tests based on previous policies. They will now receive a cancellation notification for any test bookings that are no longer required. 

From Monday 19 July, travellers from Jersey wishing to travel to Guernsey will be required to present a negative PCR test before travelling. Anyone failing to do so will be treated as category 4 and will be required to isolate for 14 days.

Jersey’s so-called ‘freedom day’ was suspended on Wednesday in the face of soaring infection rates with over 200 new infection cases per day being reported and 500 per day expected from next week. The closure of night clubs and bans on standing service for alcohol and gatherings of more than 20 people will now remain in place until at least 5 August.  It is understood that the staging of large events will also be affected by the delay. Ministers had hoped to ease the rules from tomorrow.

The further delay is in stark contrast to England, where the Government plans to ease almost all remaining restrictions next Monday. Scotland has also confirmed it is to remove some restrictions from the same date however face masks will remain mandatory and residents have been told to continue working from home.

The decision to delay the lifting of the islands restrictions came after the number of known active cases increased dramatically from 250 on 30 June to over 2000 today of which around 25% are known to be in schools and over 2/3rds are asymptomatic. Over 10,000 islanders have also been contract traced and although they do not need to isolate they must take a PCR test with some having to wait several days due to the increase in testing. If proved positive they must isolate for 14 days.

Masks will remain optional in most settings but are strongly recommended in schools and other indoor settings. After being lifted on 12 April guidance that islanders should work from home where possible has now been reintroduced. A Government spokesman said ‘ Although the numbers could reach 500 per day by 20 July it was not considered proportionate to impose the type of ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions adopted during the first 12 months of the Pandemic before the majority of Islanders had been vaccinated’. ‘The surge in infection rates and the dominance of the more infectious Delta variant had to be balanced with the ‘exceptional success’ of the vaccination programme, high levels of ‘restriction fatigue’ and moves towards ‘living with Covid’ the spokesman said. As a result Islanders have been urged by the Government to make sensible decisions about social gatherings and mask wearing.

Dr Ivan Muscat, deputy medical officer of health, of the ten most recent cases requiring hospital treatment since 28 June, half had been admitted for other reasons while a similar number had not been vaccinated. Chief Minister John Le Fondre said that while he hoped the rise in cases would soon start to flatten out, there was the possibility of an uptick as a result of the recent Euro 2020 football tournament. He also said that Jersey’s rate of testing remained far higher than other parts of the British Isles with the possibility of 30,000 tests being carried out this week. There are currently 7 people in hospital with Covid.

Mixed Markets

The FTSE 100 index was set to end the week 1.1% lower, led by a 4.4% weekly drop in energy stocks and 6.6% fall in travel stocks. Burberry shares dropped by 0.9% despite reporting that they had made an “excellent start” to its new year. The domestically-focussed mid-cap index gained by 0.4%, lifted by low-cost air carriers, Wizz Air and EasyJet, as well as tourism group TUI, as Britain was set to ease all lockdown restrictions from Monday. Last night, the S&P 500 ended 0.3% lower, while Nasdaq lost 0.7%. The Dow Jones industrials finished around 55 points higher – up 0.2%.

European markets have been mixed, with the GER DAX 30 higher by 0.06%, while the FRA CAC 40 is down 0.43%.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Shanghai Composite gained 1.14%, while the Nikkei 225 led the Hang Seng lower. They fell 2.07% and 0.27% respectively.

EU not popular with UK

Bank of England Governor, Andrew Bailey is not at all pleased with the European Union due to the seeming lack of progress towards Brussels reopening its doors to UK financial services exports. He said at a news conference: “On equivalence, I think it’s fair to say that nothing really has moved forwards.”

Britons are losing patience as they continue to wait for Brussels to make a move on whether UK financial rules are “equivalent” to regulation in the bloc – a key condition for granting market access. The EU will only resume its equivalence assessments once its 27 remaining member states formally back a new regulatory cooperation framework with Britain. Britons are demanding Brexit Britain “pull the plug” on the bloc and focus on doing business with the rest of the world.

NZ warns the UK

Similarly, last night, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern threatened to block the UK from joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Her speech was aimed to provide an update on trade negotiations, saying that talks on a trade deal with Britain were underway, but appeared to issue the threat, highlighting that ‘rule-based order’ must be respected.

Covid continues creating chaos

Covid continues to create mayhem, as charts show that cases are soaring throughout Europe and the UK, with the latter having the highest cases, as it prepares to end the last remaining lockdown rules next week. European states are imposing new coronavirus restrictions as the Delta variant spreads at a rapid speed. France has tightened travel restrictions again, while Spain and Portugal have reintroduced curfews in tourist hotspots. Likewise, Greece and the Netherlands are reimposing restrictions on hospitality.

Chief Executive of the British Meat Processors Associations, Nick Allen, has warned that some companies may be forced to shut down all production lines due to a lack of staff.  Meat processors are seeing up to one in 10 of their workforce told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app, which could soon result in shortages of meat products. Many firms were already operating with 10% fewer staff than they needed, and this increased amount of staff absentees is exacerbating the problem.

On a more positive note, pavement dining and outdoor pint licences will continue for another year in England as part of a government plan to get hospitality back on its feet.

With hospitality being one of the hardest-hit sectors in England, during Covid, the industry is still facing challenges with a sustained staff shortage and the permanent closure of nearly 10,000 licensed premises. However, UK Hospitality said pavement  dining and outdoor pint licensing was “a real boost” for businesses, and it looks as though it will continue for another year as part of a government plan to get hospitality back on track.

Re-shoring opportunities

The UK’s motivation to become the world leader in electrification is bound to create a significant opportunity to bring production back home. A survey has revealed that 84% of UK companies are considering bringing parts of their supply chain closer to their manufacturing base over the next year, while 86% plan to launch a new battery product or storage system in the year ahead. The motivation behind localising supply chains has never been stronger given the economic disruption caused by the pandemic.

Greenpeace steps in

Some international conflict took place in the UK waters, after Greenpeace revealed that three French fishing vessels were caught plundering local fish stocks in areas designated as conservation areas. When challenged by the environmental group, two of the vessel’s crew said they were not aware of it being illegal and have since agreed to stop trawling, which causes tremendous damage to the sea bed and surrounds.