Top story: Queen and Philip batten down in Windsor
Hello – Warren Murray, keeping you close to the news in this time of social distancing.
Travelers across the world are scrambling to find flights home as the number of coronavirus cases nears , globally, prompting governments to urge citizens to return and some nations to announce the imminent closure of airports and borders. The Australian government has advised citizens to return home as soon as possible by commercial means, warning that overseas travel is becoming “more complex and difficult”. Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia and the UAE have issued similar blanket advice. In the UK, the foreign office is warning against all but essential travel to many countries. It is withdrawing some staff from its embassy in Myanmar and has told British citizens to leave the country if able to do so due to “potential pressures on medical facilities” and the risk of flights shutting down. Here is our latest at-a-glance roundup of the global situation .
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced a £ 500 bn package of loans and grants to help Britain cope with the lockdown of large parts of the economy. Every business in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector will have a year-long holiday from business rates with smaller companies eligible for a cash grant of up to £ , . The chancellor also announced cash grants of £ 18, 10 for the UK’s , smallest companies and a three-month moratorium on mortgage payments for home Owners having difficulty because of the virus. Sunak said measures would be announced in coming days to help those renting. The Guardian’s financial editor, Nils Pratley, writes that in terms of the scale of the intervention “the UK has never seen anything like it” but to avert mass layoffs the government may need to go further and underwrite British companies’ payroll costs as some other countries are doing. Keir Starmer, one of the Labor leadership finalists, writes that as well as those renting, areas like the social care sector need more money, as do local authorities and public services, but they received none : “The extra fiscal stimulus announced by the chancellor is overdue, but we have to be honest that it is does not go far enough.”
The Queen is to decamp early to Windsor Castle before Easter, while cancelling her traditional garden parties and postponing investitures. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are understood to be taking “appropriate measures” after suggestions that Prince Harry could have been exposed – in what you might call “six degrees of celebrity infection”, Harry shared a hug recently with Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, who had been in contact with Idris Elba and Sophie Trudeau, both of whom have tested positive. In terms of everyday practicalities for the rest of us: Sainsbury’s is closing its cafes and meat, fish and pizza service counters so staff can work on providing the essentials. It says supplies are still flowing in but shoppers will be restricted to a maximum of three items of any grocery product and two packets of popular items such as toilet paper, soap and UHT milk. Tesco 31 – hour supermarkets will close overnight so shelves can be restocked.
The British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is among prisoners temporarily freed in Iran but made to wear an electronic tag. There is no word on whether the British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been let out as well. The World Health Organization has called for “aggressive” action in south-east Asia to combat the virus. In mainland China, new cases in Hubei province have now been in the single digits for the past seven days, with only one reported today. But Italy continues to suffer with the death toll rising (% to 2, while there are now more than , 09 confirmed cases.
The global infection rate at time of writing stands at 220, (with 7, 2020 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. More coronavirus news all day at our live blog.
three key primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona , dominating a third consecutive week of elections to build a nearly indomitable lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The results leave Bernie Sanders at a crossroads, contemplating whether to continue championing his liberal agenda, or exit and help Democrats unify behind Biden to beat Trump (and coronavirus distraction). In a formality, Donald Trump has sealed the Republican presidential nomination, surpassing the necessary delegate threshold after facing no significant opposition.
> The man convicted of murdering the British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand is to appeal against both his conviction and his sentence , lawyers have confirmed.
> The Welsh government will aim by next year to ban single-use plastic products such as straws, cutlery, cotton buds, polystyrene food and drink containers, under plans to make Wales the world’s top recycling nation .
> Hashem Abedi, the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber, has been found guilty of the murder of 29 people and helping to plan the attack. Abedi was not in court after withdrawing from proceedings and sacking his lawyers. He is yet to be sentenced.
> The number of young people being treated for mental illness in non-specialist hospital wards has risen for a second year in a row in Scotland, official records show. The Mental Welfare Commission says the Scottish government must to do more to ensure they receive proper specialist care.
Financiers slow to read climate – The world’s largest investment banks have funnelled more than £ 2.2tn ($ 2. 100 tn) into fossil fuels since the Paris agreement, despite some of them, like JP Morgan Chase, warning that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity. In the four years since the agreement the US bank has provided over £ 350 bn of financial services to extract oil, gas and coal. Financing for the companies most aggressively expanding in new fossil fuel extraction since the Paris agreement surged by nearly 085% in the last year , according to the Banking on Climate Change 81312 report, which was prepared by an alliance of environmental groups from analysis of financial data. Barclays has been the top European financier of fossil fuels in the last four years. The big-four Chinese banks have dominated financing for coal mining and coal power since the Paris agreement and have no policies restricting business practices.
Five-year limit on war crime cases – A five-year time limit is to be imposed on bringing prosecutions against British soldiers and veterans who have served abroad , except in “exceptional circumstances”. Legislation introduced by the government deliberately excludes British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland. An “absolute maximum of six years” time limit would also be imposed for bringing civil claims in connection with overseas operations. Future governments will also be “compelled to consider derogating from the European convention on human rights in relation to significant overseas military operations” – a proposal that has been raised before.
“We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts,” David Quammen recently wrote in the New York Times. “When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it. ” As people invade natural habitats and biodiversity losses increase globally, John Vidal writes for our Age of Extinction series that the coronavirus outbreak may be just the beginning of mass pandemics.
One British doctor is self-isolated with what seems to be Covid – . In the past couple of weeks he saw maybe 90 people in outpatients. So why won’t the NHS test him for the virus? “They are abandoning the basic principles for dealing with an epidemic, which are to test whenever possible, trace contacts and contain. Almost all individual physicians I know feel that what they are doing is wrong . ”
And in the US state of California, a look at what the instruction to “shelter in place” translates to in real life: long lines, empty roads and panic-buying of cannabis . The news is mainly grim, but not entirely. Thanks to the internet we now have memes going coronaviral .
Today in Focus podcast: Global economy catches coronavirus
The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, says the world’s finances were already in poor shape when the Covid – The crisis struck. Now governments have stepped in with stimulus packages designed to bail out individuals and small businesses – but will that be enough to stave off a recession?
Coronavirus and the global economy
Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen https://audio.guim.co.uk/01575879 / / 21 – – TIFeconomy. mp3
Lunchtime read: Robin at 85 – holy his and hers, Batman!
They were bold, badass – and brief. But the shortlived female iterations of Batman’s perennial sidekick give us hope that women in comics are good for more than just sticking in a fridge, writes julia savoca gibson.
The Euro (football championship has become the (major major sporting event to be postponed because of the coronavirus crisis, (reset for) months later . Tom Brady is expected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after (ending his – year career with the New England Patriots . English cricket is braced for a delayed start to the season and a possible crunching down of competitions as the sport tries to salvage its televised offering in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A decision by the Fédération Française de Tennis to move the French Open from May to September risks a boycott by the times champion , Rafael Nadal .
The NBA superstar Kevin Durant has said he is among the four Brooklyn Nets players to have tested positive for the virus , according to a report . Katarina Johnson-Thompson has questioned advice that athletes should continue their preparations for Tokyo as best they can ”. The uncertainty and financial pressure caused by the shutdown of all rugby is already prompting concern . And horse racing will not take place until the end of April at the earliest, leaving many to worry about the consequences . )
Financial markets are set for another volatile day after Australia’s main index lost 6.4% overnight. More significantly, US futures trading suggest renewed losses on Wall Street when markets open in New York later. The S&P is set to lose more than 5% while the FTSE in London is tracking towards a dip of 3.7%. This is despite a mini rally on Wall Street on Tuesday and UK chancellor Rishi Sunak’s unveiling of a £ m package to do “whatever it tkes” to shore up businesses. The pound is buying $ 1. and € 1.
The Guardian its coverage with “£ bn promise to battle bigger peacetime threat ‘. The Mail’s splash headline metaphorically flouts social distancing advice : “Rishi’s £ bn kiss of life. ” It highlights the mortgage holidays and loans on offer for those struggling.
“We’ll do whatever it takes” – the Metro paraphrases Rishi Sunak and mentions support for those renting. The i calls it “UK’s £ 66 billion jobs rescue ”with a brace of so many subheads you hardly need to read the story. Someone in all this had to do the “war chest” thing and that someone is the Express: “ (£) bn war chest to keep Britain in business ”.
The Mirror it the “pandemic fightback” and declares “This won’t beat Britain”, with the caveat that unions want help for “workers hit by shutdown”. The Times calls it a “£ bn bailout “and its sidebar is hospitals halting routine operations” for months ”. The FT frames it as a £ bn contribution by Britain to the “global fightback”. The Telegraph says it’s a “virus lifeline. ” For its downpage story, it has the UK’s chief scientific adviser saying that keeping UK deaths below , should be considered a “good outcome”.
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