May 29, 2020

Welcome to our Weekly Update covering the big headlines across the consumer and trade titles as well as what’s trending on social media. In addition, we have provided an overview of key news stories from across the various practices at FINN Partners inclusive of insights and headlines from the world of tech, arts, entertainment, food, healthcare, retail, sports and more.  We hope you find it useful.

Weekly Overview:

The news this week has focused on new updates regarding lockdown restrictions easing and the possibility of family reunions for the w/c 1 st June The news has been dominated by the story of Dominic Cummings and the reactions of both the public and political parties With travel updates high on the agenda, there have been many stories covering the logistics and requirements for the 14 day quarantine and the possibility of air bridges and bubbles. Read more...

To date, COVID-19 has affected an estimated 5,940,441 people across the globe with reported fatalities standing at 362,813 people. The recovered count stands at 2,606.807.  

Global Sector Updates

Travel and Tourism

  • As one of the measures to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, easyJet has announced that it might reduce its workforce by around 30%, a figure that equals 4,500 jobs according to BBC. The airline's announcement has sparked an angry reaction from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) who termed the move as an ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.
  • However, easyJet’s CEO said, “We realize that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long-term. We want to ensure that we emerge from the pandemic an even more competitive business than before so that easyJet can thrive in the future.”
  • According to Reuters, Zurich Airport plans to launch cleaning robots, face mask vending machines, and extra room for passengers to queue when boarding flights as a way to curb the spread of COVID-19 when it resumes its operations.

Arts

Entertainment

Education

  • According to UNESCO monitoring, 150 countries currently have nationwide closures, impacting over 1.19 billion students. Several other countries have implemented localized school closures. These closures currently impact more than 68% of total enrolled learners. In the U.S., all states have decided to close schools. At least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools are closed, scheduled to close or were closed and later reopened, impacting at least 55.1 million of the nation’s 56.6 million students. As of right now, 48 states, 4 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia have ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of the academic year affecting approximately 50.8 million public school students.
  • Florida is the only state that has yet to apply for its portion of coronavirus relief for K-12 schools through the CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116), leaving school districts in the dark about when they will receive their piece of the state’s $770.2 million education stimulus. U.S. Department of Education officials confirmed that all states except Florida have applied for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund dollars as of Thursday.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening guidelines for schools include recommendations that students and teachers wear face coverings and receive daily temperature checks, according to a summary of the not-yet-released state guidance.
  • Today, the Afterschool Alliance, the Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations held an afternoon virtual town hall event to draw attention to how after-school and summer programs can be part of economic recovery and provide ongoing learning experiences for students. Over the past week, advocates, researchers and others stepped up efforts to emphasize the role that out-of-school-time programs play in minimizing the damage.
  • A nonpartisan congressional agency has concluded that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ restrictions on coronavirus relief grants for college students are vulnerable to legal challenge because they reflect an “unpersuasive” interpretation of the law, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO. The Congressional Research Service examined, at the request of Sen. Patty Murray’s staff, DeVos’ guidance from April that excludes undocumented students and other students who are ineligible for federal student aid from receiving emergency grants under the CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116).
  • Schools in the UK are set to open from next week, but Chinese parents whose children study in the UK are still reluctant to send their children to school. According to Forbes, the number of Chinese students applying for the U.K.'s Tier 1 visa declined by 72% in the first three months of 2020. "I think there inevitably will be a short term drop in demand. I've been speaking to the Chinese families who still haven't made a final decision whether to come back in September as they are waiting to see how it plays out here." Said Felix Hamilton, head of consultancy at China for Keystone Tutors.
  • Education funding experts have estimated that about 300,000 teachers in the United States could lose their jobs due to the decline in sales and income tax revenue, which is hurting state budgets, and, in turn, schools. As schools cannot operate with a deficit, they are preparing for massive layoffs in the upcoming financial year.

Financial Services

  • The economy in the United States contracted by 5% during the first quarter of 2020. This contraction is 4.8% more than was expected. Despite the figures, many market experts are hopeful of a recovery. "Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told CNBC that the U.S. economy is starting to “come out of the hole.”"
  • Russia is experiencing an increase in money laundering during the pandemic with individuals making suspicious money transfers out of the country in order to purchase "protective gear" and medical goods. In one instance the central bank froze $1.3 million in funds "that was supposedly to be used to buy masks at the beginning of the pandemic."
  • Gasoline demand in the US has increased and the price of oil futures has increased alongside the demand. The demand for oil has "not bounced back entirely" and the markets are concerned about trade sanctions placed on China.
  • Loan default rates in Brazil have risen for the fourth month in a row. Since December, the rate has been rising, and currently the default ratio is at 4%. Fernando Rocha, head of statistics at Brazil's central bank, anticipates that defaults for individuals will continue to rise over the upcoming months.

Food

  • According to the Financial Times, while panic buying left supermarket shelves without toilet paper, “many restaurants, hotels, and offices devoid of their usual visitors are flush with it.” As a result, restaurants such as the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington DC and Leon in the UK have started selling toilet paper to stay in business amid the pandemic.
  • From the article, while people are buying takeaways from the Old Ebbitt Grill restaurant, they can also buy toilet paper at $2.50 a roll and are limited to two per order. Leon, a fast-food restaurant chain based in the UK, also started selling toilet paper with online orders after it realized customers are struggling to get them in supermarkets.

Health

  • New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that while 62,690 healthcare workers in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus, 294 have died from the virus. CDC also said that the number of cases and casualties is likely to be higher as only 21% of cases that have been reported to the CDC have included the information that shows the patient is a healthcare worker.
  • On the other hand, National Nurses United (NNU), which is the largest organization of registered nurses in the United States, has reported a contradictory number saying that 530 healthcare workers have died from the virus. NNU used publicly available information such as obituaries to calculate the number of fatalities.
  • NNU also reported that 87% of 23,000 nurses that participated in its survey said that because of PPE shortages, they have been forced to reuse single-use equipment when treating coronavirus patients while 72% said they had exposed skin or clothing.
  • GSK has said that it plans to produce one billion doses of adjuvant vaccine booster for COVID-19 shots in 2021. The company has said that "it was in talks with governments on backing the program, which would allow the expansion of the scale of production of future successful vaccines for the COVID-19 disease."

Manufacturing

  • Nissan has announced that it would shut down its auto plants in Indonesia and Spain due to losses it has incurred amid the coronavirus pandemic. The company's CEO, Makoto Uchida, has said that its production in Europe will be centered at its plant in Sunderland. Manufacturing in Indonesia will move to Thailand.
  • Nissan reported a loss of 671.2 billion yen for the financial year that ended in March, being its first annual loss since 2009. In April, its global production fell by 62% YOY, and global sales dropped by about 42%. It's sales for the fiscal year that ended in March fell by about 15%, to $91.6 billion.

Nonprofit Organizations

  • Charitable organizations in Texas have been working together to help the residents of their local areas. The United Way has been working alongside Meals on Wheels, Sixty and Better, and Catholic Charities to expand operations and serve more than 5,000 people a day. The need for cooperation was recognized as requests have risen almost 20% each week.

Professional Services

Retail

Sports and Recreation

Technology

  • Amazon won’t say how many workers have gotten COVID-19. So workers are tracking cases themselves. The aggregated numbers almost certainly understate the spread of the virus among Whole Foods and Amazon warehouse employees. Yet Amazon has challenged the notion that it should be providing fuller data. An Amazon spokesperson said the company does track the information at a site level but does not release the aggregate numbers because those numbers might contain outdated information — cases that were resolved weeks or months ago — and thus are not informative to workers.
  • Covid-19 Brings a Reckoning of Layoffs to Silicon Valley Layoffs have slammed tech companies both large and small since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. The industry has cut more than 40,000 jobs so far, but this month was the cruelest yet. In a single week in early May, Uber Technologies Inc. announced it would slash 3,700 positions, Airbnb Inc. said it would cut 1,900 and Lyft Inc. fired or furloughed more than 1,000.
  • COVID-19 HPC Consortium pours 437 petaflops of compute power toward virus researchThis week, IBM announced that the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Swiss National Supercomputer Center (CSCS) will join the COVID-19 HPC Consortium, making available machines including the University of Edinburgh’s ARCHER; the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s DIRAC; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Earlham Institute; and Piz Daint, the sixth-ranked supercomputer in the world according to the TOP 500 supercomputing list. IBM says more than 59 projects in the U.S., Germany, India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Spain, the U.K., and other countries have been matched with supercomputers from Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM, and dozens of academic and nonprofit research institutions for free.
  • Google Continues to Add Features Supporting SMBs During Covid-19Google detailed some new features aimed at helping small and midsized businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Data Loss Spikes Under COVID-19 Lockdowns. Two new reports suggest a massive gap between how organizations have prepared their cybersecurity defenses and the reality of their efficacy.
  • How Inefficient Backlog Management Can Lead To Incomplete Digital Transformations. Over the last few years, digital transformation has increased applications backlog. This is becoming a serious bottleneck for digital organizations. Although CIOs have made serious attempts to groom and refine the backlog, they mostly end up addressing parts of their organization to achieve the objectives of the transformation.
  • The European Union believes that 5G technology would be essential in helping the bloc recover from the impact of coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday (May 27), when proposing a €750 billion recovery package, the union said that it would accelerate EU's digital shift.
 

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