At last night’s press conference in Jersey, the Chief Minister, John Le Fondre announced plans for the gradual reconnection of the Island’s economy and community, through the controlled easing of the Covid-19 restrictive measures which are currently in place. On the basis that cases continue to fall, non-essential retail will be able to reopen from Wednesday 27 January.
Close contact services which include hairdressers, barbers and other beauty services will be permitted to reopen a week later on Wednesday 3 February. The Chief Minister said, “This phased approach will help prevent a sudden increase in social contact and provides a constant reminder that we must exercise caution to prevent the continued spread of the virus”. He went on to say, “It is critical that we do not rush our reopening in a desire to return to normal too quickly”. With that being said, It is hoped that restaurants, pubs and other forms of hospitality will be given the green light to open, with restrictions, from Monday 22 February provided new cases continue to fall.
No changes were announced to the restrictions applicable to household mixing and the law remains in place, forbidding Islanders to invite anyone into their homes. Gatherings up to a maximum of 10 people are still allowed outdoors in public spaces. As of today, the number of active cases had fallen to 173 and over a quarter of a million PCR tests had been carried out, with only 5 people currently in hospital.
The phased approach to return to normal life also allows additional time to deliver the critical vaccination programme. For each week that passes, up to 7,500 Islanders will be vaccinated and therefore protected from the significant impact that the virus can have.
Meanwhile, Senator Lyndon Farnham also announced a new Grant Support Scheme to help businesses which have been most hit by the circuit breaker measures. Businesses, including the self-employed, will be able to claim a fixed monthly amount based on the rateable value of their premises and the severity of the impact on them.
Funding the scheme will come from the Economic Recovery Fund allocation in the 2021 Government plan and is estimated it will contribute a further £9.5 million between January and April to further support businesses.
On Wednesday, all eyes turned to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. In his first hours in office, Biden is set to immediately begin signing executive actions to address the pandemic, virus-stricken economy, climate change and racial equality, according to a memo over the weekend from incoming White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain.
Moreover, Biden is set to quickly begin pushing to get more virus relief aid into the economy, after having unveiled a $1.9 trillion proposal last week that would include increased stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits and aid to state and local governments, among other measures.
The effect of the change in administration in the US was immediately felt with a lift in markets. All three major US stock indices closed higher, with the NASDAQ100 leading the pack at +2.4% and the SPX500 up by 0.8%. US Market futures this morning were flat. European equity markets closed lower; Italy/Spain -1.0%, France -0.7%, UK -0.4%, and Germany -0.1%.
Last Friday, UK shares were in the red after new GDP data showed that the UK economy shrank in November for the first time in six months.
Oil remains flat, prices didn’t register any significant movements this week after reaching 10-month highs last week, the black gold is now being impacted by fears of the ongoing spread of Covid-19.
Tesla delivers first Chinese-made Model Y: The electric carmaker yesterday announced that it has delivered the first Model Y crossover vehicle that was made in China, 2 years after the firm broke ground on its Shanghai plant. Tesla’s goal is to make it cheaper to service the Chinese market.
Apple reaches all-time high: The tech giant jumped nearly 3.7% yesterday, reaching a market cap of $2.3 trillion. The gains are attributed to positive sentiment ahead of the company’s earnings report next week.
For those of you interested in greener investments, Solar companies continue to climb: as yesterday, both SunPower and Sunworks showed tremendous gains, rising 17% and 25%, respectively.
And finally, mindful of it being the week of the US presidential inauguration this quote from a past president is worthy of pondering:
“Money can’t buy happiness, but it will certainly get you a better class of memories.”- Ronald Reagan