Weekly Client Update – Friday 9th July

Local update

Ministers yesterday announced further updates to Jersey’s Safer Travel Policy.

Countries and regions will no longer be assessed based on the green, amber or red traffic light system as testing and isolation requirements will now be based on passenger vaccination status. The changes, which come into force on Tuesday 13 July will also lead to fully vaccinated international travellers not needing to self-isolate after arrival. Passengers who are not fully vaccinated will be required to be tested upon arrival and on day 8, but will only need to isolate until their first negative test result.

Children aged 11-17 will be required to be tested upon arrival and on day 8, but will only need to isolate until their first negative test result. Children aged 10 and under will not be required to complete a pre-departure registration form, undergo testing on arrival or be required to isolate. Enhanced testing and isolation will remain for a very small number of passengers who have visited very high-risk countries (those subject to the UK Government International restricted list) in the 10 days prior to arrival, regardless of vaccination status. Anyone arriving from a country on the UK’s banned list – who has not already isolated in the UK – will be treated as a previous red traveller and must isolate until receiving a negative result taken ten days after their arrival. They will also be swabbed on day zero and five. All passengers travelling to Jersey aged 11 years and over will still be required to complete a pre-departure registration form 48 hours before travelling.

Passengers who do not wish to participate in the testing programme will be required to isolate for 14 days.

In line with the changes, the Island’s travel traffic light system will fall away. Chief Minister John Le Fondré said: ‘These further developments to our Safer Travel Policy are in line with the recent changes Ministers made to the reduced isolation requirements for direct contacts in the context of Jersey’s vaccination coverage. ‘As our vaccination coverage continues to grow, it’s important we ensure that all our policies are reflective of the progress. With increased protection comes increased freedoms for Islanders and a simplification of the policy.’ He added: ‘As such, the new Safer Travel Policy means that travelling to Jersey will no longer be based on the complexities of where a passenger has travelled from, but a binary approach based on their vaccination status’.’ We have an extremely low positivity rate through our borders with only 0.4% test positivity identified through inbound tests last week. We therefore know that the Safer Travel Policy has not exacerbated the level of transmission that we are seeing on-Island. Under our COVID Status Certification scheme, an increased number of passengers arriving in Jersey have been fully vaccinated, which also presents a much lower risk.

Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “I am particularly pleased the new policy will enable younger age groups, who are eligible for vaccination, to travel on equal terms. ‘I know that many Islanders are keen to travel this summer, and to be reunited with family and friends. I also hope the updates will be welcome news to our travel and hospitality sector, who have been heavily impacted by the recent restrictions. Other than for a very small number of people who may have travelled from a high-risk country on the UK Government International restricted list, the simplification to the policy means passengers arriving in Jersey will not need to worry about the country or region where they have stayed in the 10 days prior to travel.’

It was also announced earlier this week that anyone who is contact traced will no longer need to isolate but will instead be required to take a PCR test. This allowed over 4,500 islanders to either return to work or school.

Meanwhile the island’s deputy medical officer Dr Ivan Muscat has sought to reassure Islanders after it was reported that the EU’s passport scheme does not recognise the Covishield vaccine – manufactured by the Serum Institute in India – thereby potentially causing travel issues for those hoping to visit Europe. Up to five million people in the British Isles are reported to have received doses of the Covishield jab – including several Islanders. He said: ‘We can confirm that a batch of AstraZeneca vaccines produced in India, known as Covishield, was delivered in Jersey in March 2021.’These vaccines are exactly the same as those manufactured in the UK, with the same safety and efficacy profile and have been authorised by the Medical Healthcare and Regulatory Agency in the same way as those manufactured in the UK. He added that this would have no impact on Jersey’s Covid certification scheme and that ‘on entry back into Jersey, islanders who had received the vaccine will be recognised as fully vaccinated.

Euro 2020

And finally as England prepares to take on Italy in their first major final for 55 years the country has high expectations and is preparing for a night of celebration on Sunday. A crowd of around 70,000 fans will pack into Wembley stadium and a further estimated 25million Brits will watch the European Championship final on screens throughout the UK. There may be a few sore heads on Monday morning!

Come on England!

It’s coming home!!!!!

Mixed Markets

The FTSE 100 index was up 48.18 points, or 0.7%, at 7,078.84 midday today. Wall Street is expected to see a mixed open, with the Nasdaq called 18 points lower at 14,694. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500, instead, are expected to add 200 points to 34,494 and 14 points to 4,327 respectively.

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Friday. The Japanese stock market is sharply lower on Friday, extending the significant losses of the previous two sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 losing nearly 700 points to be just above the 27,400 level.

Covid affected industries

Bookings for EasyJet flights to amber list countries up by 400% after transport secretary, Grant Shapps announced that Anyone who has had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine or is under the age of 18 will no longer be required to self-isolate for 10 days on return from amber list countries. Passengers will still have to take a COVID-19 test three days before they arrive back in the UK and a PCR swab the day after they land.

British Airways has reported that website traffic almost doubled after the announcement of the new policy, with Spanish and US amber destinations becoming the most searched destinations, alongside the  Balearic and Caribbean islands, which were listed as green.

Spain, Greece and Portugal topped the amber list countries for flights and holidays, according to the airline easyJet, which added an extra 145,000 seats for the summer.

Data shows consumers spent less in UK shops, bars and restaurants in June, indicating that the economic recovery is stalling a bit following a rise in Covid-19 infections. Despite this, Prime Minister Johnson, announced that he intends to continue with the removal of all remaining coronavirus restrictions on the 19th of July.

Increased demand for workers

A survey has shown that employers are facing the biggest deterioration in the availability of candidates to fill new roles for 24 years, new figures show.

Together with a rapid increase in demand for workers due to the reopening of the economy, Brexit and pandemic-related uncertainty has resulted in a major shortfall in workers needed to fill roles in key sectors like hospitality, food, driving and IT. Naturally this has helped to drive a rapid increase in starting pay rates, as well,  as both permanent appointments and temporary billings increased sharply. REC chief executive Neil Carberry said:  “The jobs market is improving at the fastest pace we have ever seen, but it is still an unpredictable time”.

Private equity targets Morrisons

There might be light at the end of the tunnel, as British companies, like Morrisons, are the latest target of a private equity buying spree. The supermarket is currently the subject of a three-way private equity bidding war between American buyout investors. Should the deal for Morrisons go through, it will result in more than 1 millions British workers, 11800 of whom are at the supermarket group being employed by companies with private equity shareholders, equivalent to about 3% of the UK’s total workforce.

UK/Brussels Brexit dispute

Another Brexit related issue, is the dispute between the UK and Brussels over a £40bn Brexit bill that the EU suggested that the UK would be obliged to pay  as part of its post-Brexit arrangements. The UK Treasury however has insisted that the Brexit divorce settlement remain within its previous central range of £35bn-£39bn. An updated estimate is to be published next week. The obligations relate to past commitments made when the UK was an EU member state and during the post-Brexit transition period, which finished at the end of December.

Lloyds Bank apologises

Lloyds Banking Group has been fined £91m by the City regulator for misleading millions insurance customers on renewal charges over eight years. Two major failures were identified in the bank’s handling of insurance renewals and said the size of the fine reflects the length of time they played out.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the penalty related to notices sent to nine million existing customers by several of its insurance units between 2009 and 2017. These notices had claimed that the renewal amounts were “competitive” when new customers could actually get a better price on the same products.

Triple lock pledge on pensions

Boris Johnson alluded to the fact that the government might break the “triple lock” pledge on pensions, after saying there had to be “fairness for pensioners and for taxpayers”.

The triple lock sees the state pension rise each year in line with whichever is highest out of average earnings, prices, or 2.5%. Not surprisingly there have been calls for the prime minister to scrap his election manifesto promise to keep the triple lock, following estimates that state pensions could rise by as much as 8%.

England to score another bank holiday

On a lighter note, Boris Johnson is poised to declare an additional bank holiday if England win Sunday’s football final at Wembley. The prospect of another bank holiday arises as Johnson is urged to release Covid data from previous matches

Asked whether bosses should allow their staff the day off to celebrate after watching the crucial tie, Johnson’s spokesperson said: “We would want businesses who feel able to consider it if they can, but we recognise it will vary depending on the business and company”.