Weekly Client Update – Friday 22 October

Local update

Border testing for the majority of arriving passengers in Jersey will cease from 2 November, the government confirmed in a press conference yesterday, whilst also unveiling a drive for greater use of lateral flow tests (LFT’s) as testing requirements are streamlined. 

PCR testing for passengers arriving at Jersey’s borders will be reduced as part of the Safer Travel Policy, based on the COVID status of a passenger.

 From Tuesday 2 November, passengers who meet any of the three COVID Status Certification criteria will not need to take a PCR test or isolate: 

  • Those who are fully vaccinated (2 doses of an MHRA approved vaccine +2 weeks)
  • Those who can demonstrate recently recovered status from a COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days 
  • Those who have submitted a pre-departure PCR test

Passengers who do not meet the COVID Status Criteria will still be required to take a PCR test on arrival and isolate until a negative test result is received. 

All passengers aged 11 and over will be required to complete a pre-departure travel form although this is to be made shorter and more ‘user friendly’. 

Anyone vaccinated in Jersey will have their vaccination status automatically verified when returning to Jersey through giving their JY number.

Everyone arriving in Jersey will still need to meet safety criteria which provides a level of protection – whether that’s vaccination, recent recovery, pre-departure test or testing on arrival. 

In removing the requirement for those who are fully vaccinated to take a PCR test on arrival, ministers predict the volume of border tests will decrease by around 80%.

LFTs, already used for school and workforce screening, as well as direct contacts of Covid-19 cases, will also be available for all Islanders.

There is also a recommendation for testing to become a twice-weekly routine, especially prior to attending social gatherings such as Christmas parties. 

With effect from next week, all Jersey residents will be able to register online and get a pack of LFTs posted to their homes free of charge. 

Deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat said the sensitivity of LFTs in picking up the dominant Delta variant of Covid was ‘very good indeed’, although positive results would still need to be corroborated via a follow-up PCR test.

The changes are part of the Island’s strategy to limit the risks posed by Covid across the forthcoming winter period while preserving the steps back towards normality taken so far during 2021. 

Ministers hope that the strategy, which includes a renewed drive for eligible Islanders to book vaccines as soon as they are available, together with the continuing ‘booster programme’ will avoid the need to return to more restrictive measures used during previous waves of the pandemic.

However, the announcement included an admission that the timing and scale of a fourth wave were uncertain and a warning that stronger measures could be adopted in future if the volume of cases and serious illness reached concerning levels. 

A government minister said: ‘This is a gradual, risk-based, step-down approach in accordance with advice from STAC that does not compromise safety, but draws on current knowledge of the virus and the protection afforded by vaccination’. 

As of today, there are 334 known cases of Covid-19 with 6 islanders in hospital.

In other news, the government had announced that Covid status certificates were to be made available on smartphones, with QR codes that can be used in ‘certain limited situations’. 

The codes were supposed to be able to be used in Wales and Scotland, with each having their own Covid passes for large-scale events and nightclub venues, and in France for the Pass Sanitaire scheme. 

However, shortly after the platform went live, a government spokesperson said: ‘We have been made aware of an exploit with the privacy controls of our Digital Covid Status Certificate platform, ‘This raises a security flaw and so we have closed the system until further notice.

‘Officers and Microsoft are urgently looking into the issue and an update will be given once a solution has been found.

And finally, we’ve had the Lions, the Tigers and the Sharks visiting Jersey for their training camps prior to a variety of rugby tours or in preparation for the Premiership Rugby season. 

New England coach Eddie Jones and his England team are travelling to Jersey on Monday 25 October for a 5-day training camp ahead of their ‘eagerly awaited’ Autumn series internationals against the likes of Australia and the current world champions South Africa. 

1,500 tickets to watch England train at St. Peter next Friday sold out in a matter of minutes. Who said rugby wasn’t popular!

Mixed markets

Mid-morning today, the FTSE 100 was up 29 points (0.4%) at 7,219 with miners contributing the most. JD Sports increased 2.8% to 1,068.5p after it acquired 80% of Cosmos Sport.

The London Stock Exchange Group was down 4.3% at 7,738p after its underwhelming third-quarter update and Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC which was 2.5% lower after its trading update failed to impress.

European markets are broadly higher today with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 is up 1.11% while Germany’s DAX is up 0.62% and London’s FTSE 100 is up 0.39%.

U.S. stock futures were muted early this morning after disappointing earnings reports from technology companies.

The Dow Jones futures gained 6 points, while S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 futures both traded in mildly negative territory.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Hang Seng gained 0.42% and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.34%. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.34%.

UK inflation could exceed 5%

The Bank of England’s new chief economist has warned that inflation in the United Kingdom is likely to reach or exceed 5% by early next year.

According to Huw Pill of the Financial Times, the Bank will make a “live” decision at its next interest rate-setting meeting on November 4th.

Mr Pill, who took over as the Bank of England’s former chief economist Andy Haldane last month, said he would “not be shocked” if inflation reached 5% or higher in the coming months.

It comes on the heels of comments from Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, who stated that the central bank “will have to act” on inflation.

Since March 2020, the UK interest rate has been at a historic low of 0.1%.

According to recent figures, inflation growth decreased to 3.1% in the year to September. It is anticipated to rise, however, as a result of increased energy costs, higher pay to fill record vacancy numbers, and supply chain disruption.

UK borrowing decreasing

Compared to September 2020, the UK government’s borrowing declined by £7bn in September this year, as the economy recovered from the lockdowns. However, it was the second-highest September total since monthly records began in 1993.

The government spent billions of pounds on emergency protection measures like the furlough scheme, which ended last month.

As a result, government debt has risen to more than £2.2trn by the end of September this year, accounting for almost 95.5% of the UK’s GDP and the highest level since the early 1960s.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the government has borrowed a total of £108.1bn so far in the current fiscal year (April to September), which is £101.2bn less than in the same period last year.

“Terrifying” price increases

A trade association for the food and beverage industry has reported “terrifying” price increases, warning of a knock-on effect for consumers.

Ian Wright, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation, told MPs that inflation in the hospitality industry is between 14% and 18%. He described the scenario as alarming, saying that price increases for food manufacturers’ ingredients would lead to price increases for consumers.

“Inflation is a larger scourge than anything else because it discriminates against the poor,” Mr Wright told MPs on the Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy select committee.

The rate of inflation in the United Kingdom was 3.2% in August and is anticipated to grow further. 

Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, recently warned that it “will have to act,” implying that UK interest rates may soon rise from their historic low of 0.1%.

Rising covid cases

For the first time in three months, the number of Covid cases in the UK has exceeded 50,000.

Boris Johnson, amid cries for more restrictions, advised individuals to come forward for booster shots when their time comes.

Despite the high number of cases, the Prime Minister stated that the government was “continuing with its plan and that things were far better than last year.

Doctors are urging officials to activate England’s “Plan B,” which would reinstate measures such as mandatory face masks and encourage working from home.