Weekly Client Update – Friday 6th August

Local update

Although isolation requirements which left thousands of children and adults in quarantine last month have been relaxed, some parents and teachers fear a return of disruption to daily life when the new academic year starts. A government spokesperson has confirmed that plans are in the process of being drawn up and should be announced two weeks before the start of term on Monday 6 September.

Ministers and health officials have confirmed all 16- and 17-year-olds are eligible for vaccination following guidance from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Health Minister Richard Renouf said: ‘As we offer the Covid-19 vaccination to more of our population we will reduce the opportunity for the virus to spread in our community. The JCVI have carefully considered the balance of risks for under-18s to have the vaccine, and I am confident that their recommendations are based on sound research and robust data. ‘We will provide more details on the second dose for 16- and 17-year-olds as soon as the JCVI has confirmed its advice.’

It is anticipated that second doses would be offered approximately 12 weeks after the first. There is also increasing speculation that the jab may be offered to those over the age of 12, although no official guidance has yet been issued. The government has, however, confirmed that 12- to 15-year-olds with specific underlying health conditions, and those who are close household contacts of immunosuppressed people, will be offered the vaccine.

Dr Ivan Muscat, deputy medical officer of health, said: ‘I would like to reassure Islanders that these vaccines are safe and effective for use in this age group. The vaccine has been through rigorous clinical trials to test these vaccines in younger people and there is now considerable post-marketing experience of vaccination within this group. ’He added that, although serious illness from Covid was ‘fairly rare’ among young people, there was ‘still a risk’.

Active case numbers in Jersey have fallen in recent weeks – yesterday standing at 832, having topped 3,000 just two weeks ago – with more than 14,500 people were also listed as direct contacts which are now down to below 2,000. There are currently 10 people in Jersey hospital with Covid. The end of term has been suggested as a contributory factor for the drop in cases. Many would also suggest that the steep fall was a result of Ministers reducing the Covid isolation period from 14 to 10 days as many hundreds were instantly granted  freedom to return from isolation provided they had no symptoms.

DOUBLE-JABBED Islanders travelling to France will not be able to obtain an EU-format QR code – which is needed to prove their vaccination status and enable them to enter most restaurants, bars and other venues – until four days after the rules come into force.

Earlier this year, France announced that it was to introduce a ‘pass sanitaire’ scheme [vaccination passes] as part of plans to ease the country’s Covid-19 measures. It had previously been operating a strict lockdown with, for many weeks, a curfew in place from 6pm until 6am. Anyone wishing to obtain one of the passes must download the ‘TousAntiCovid’ app and scan an EU-format QR code from their vaccination certificate. However, these codes were not included in Jersey’s vaccine certificates and, as a result, Islanders have not been able to obtain a pass. France is due to begin enforcing the rules on 9 August but Jersey’s government says it will not be able to issue any of the EU-format QR codes until 13 August. Meanwhile the Uk has removed the need for 10 day isolation for anyone returning from France although they will need a PCR test to be taken no less than 48 hours before arrival.

In other news The British and Irish Lions will return to Jersey immediately after their tour of South Africa to debrief and wind down it was announced. The final of 3 Tests against South Africa in Cape Town will take place tomorrow afternoon at 5pm.

Mixed markets

 London Stock Exchange Group shares were up around 4% early this morning, topping both London’s blue chip FTSE 100 index and Europe’s STOXX 600 after the British stock market operator said total revenue rose 4.6% to £3.36 billion. Operating profit jumped to £1.17 billion from £457 million a year earlier. Its performance was helped by a 9.6% rise in its capital markets revenue as stock market listings enjoyed their best first half since 2014 and fixed income volumes also rose.

 US markets are holding steady at the moment, with The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YM00, 0.07% rose 24 points to 34,967. The S&P 500 futuresES00, 0.03% added 1.4 points to 4,423, while Nasdaq-100 futuresNQ00, –0.13% slipped 16 points to 15,151.

 The Shanghai Composite IndexSHCOMP, -0.24% lost 0.5% while the Hang Seng HSI, -0.10% in Hong Kong shed 0.2%. The Nikkei 225NIK, +0.33% in Tokyo added less than 0.1% after Japanese labor cash earnings edged lower in June for the first time in four months.

 FTSE 100’s rise before a fall

The London Stock Exchange Group reported a surge in sales and profits for the first half of 2021 but also warned that it could face higher costs for the rest of the year due to Covid-related costs.

The total income for continuing operations increased by 4.6% for the six months to June, with pre-tax profit for the period having almost doubled to £510 million, compared with £262 million a year earlier. Shares were 3.8% higher earlier this morning.

Energy bills to soar

UK’s energy regulator, Ofgern has announced, that due to surging wholesale gas prices, energy bills for 15 million households will increase by at least £139 to a record high from October due to a rise in wholesale prices. Energy customers on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see the greatest jump in prices since the cap was introduced, taking average bills to £1,277, while pre-payment customers will see costs rise by £153, from £1,156 to £,1309.

The increase in costs has been driven by a rise of more than 50% in energy costs over the last six months, with gas prices hitting a record high as inflation jumped amid the easing of pandemic restrictions, Ofgem said. Chief executive Jonathan Brearley said: “Higher energy bills are never welcome and the timing and size of this increase will be particularly difficult for many families still struggling with the impact of the pandemic”. 

Ticket sales surge for short breaks

On a more positive note, Eurostar and easyJet have reported a surge in ticket sales as travellers plan short breaks now that restrictions in England have eased. Fully vaccinated people arriving from France no longer need to be quarantined for 10 days, while more European countries were added to the green list.

Although, not as impressed with the government’s most recent easing of Covid-19 restrictions on arrivals in England, are package holiday operators who have less to gain, as most last minute bookings have been for short breaks over the weekend.

Space flight tickets now open

Virgin Galactic are going ahead with sales for space flight tickets, opening on Thursday and starting at just under £325,000 a seat! The company will have three consumer offerings: a single seat, a multi-seat package and a full-flight buy out.

In June, Virgin Galactic received approval from the US aviation safety regulator to fly people to space. Sales will first open to the company’s long waiting list of names, before opening up to others. Its next scheduled flight will be towards the end of September in New Mexico with the Italian Air Force.