FirstFT: ‘Freedom Day’ in England eclipsed as Covid cases rise


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Three of Britain’s top ministers – including Prime Minister Boris Johnson – will go into self-isolation today on so-called Freedom Day in England, when the country lifts its last pandemic restrictions.

Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were contacted by the NHS Test and Trace program after meeting with Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday, who said he was in self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus .

The rise in Covid-19 cases came as retailers and food producers warned of food shortages and price increases, with acute staff shortages due to the isolation of workers who exercised a pressure on supply chains.

Delays in accessing and processing PCR tests are also hampering efforts to contain the rising tide of infections.

Global health experts have condemned the lifting of most legal restrictions in England as “a threat to the world”. Cases in England are now the third highest number in the world behind Indonesia and Brazil.

“Freedom Day” simply allowed Johnson to shirk responsibility for difficult decision-making down the line, writes Jo Ellison. Anjana Ahuja warns that lifting the restriction ignores those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Five other articles in the news

1. OPEC + signs agreement to increase oil production Opec and its allies have reached an agreement to increase oil production in response to soaring prices, and have set a target by the end of 2022 to restore all production cut during the first days of the pandemic. Subscribe to our Energy Sources Information Bulletin for the latest energy industry news.

2. Pentagon drones “8 to 14 times” more expensive than banned Chinese devices
Camera drones developed by the US Department of Defense are more expensive and less efficient than the Chinese-made models they were supposed to replace, according to an internal US government memo seen by the Financial Times.

3. Probe: Spyware used to hack journalists, activists and executives Spyware licensed from Israeli company NSO Group was used to target smartphones owned by 37 journalists, human rights activists and other figures, according to an investigation released yesterday.

4. Jupiter ruler: Buyout firms should not be blamed for the British raid Andrew Formica, managing director of one of Britain’s best-known asset managers, has defended the private equity industry’s pursuit of UK companies, arguing that cheap valuations keep companies “vulnerable”.

5. US gas exporters facing EU methane restrictions U.S. oil and gas exporters have been warned that they face a squeeze European anti-pollution rules despite the exclusion of energy from a series of climate proposals introduced in Brussels last week. Separate rules on methane, a greenhouse gas with up to 80 times the warming effect of CO2, are expected in the coming months.

Coronavirus digest

  • the Delta variant takes a heavy toll on dozens of developing countries, where immunization levels are insufficient to prevent an upsurge.

  • British scientists will conduct major research into the causes, diagnosis and treatment of long covid.

  • new York The state reported more than 1,000 cases of Covid-19 in one day for the first time since mid-May.

  • the Tokyo Olympics suffered a number of delays controversies, including a suspected rape, bullying scandal and a missing weightlifter – as well as 55 cases of the coronavirus this month.

  • Garment workers in Asia have been deprived of nearly $ 12 billion in wages and severance pay in the wake of the pandemic, according to a labor rights group.

  • Over 80 percent of asset management companies increased their workforce last year despite the Covid-19.

Follow our coronavirus live Blog and Register now for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter for more information on Covid-19.

The day to come

Earnings IBM is releasing its second quarter results today after the US markets close.

Economic data The EU has Eurostat data on construction output, while Rightmove publishes its monthly UK house price index.

What else do we read

Robotaxis: a ‘moonshot’ solution to automation? Since Google launched its self-driving car project in 2009, the biggest question for the technology has been: can it be safe enough to be deployed on a large scale? Now the risk for robotaxis is not whether full autonomy can be successful, but whether they can be inexpensive enough to make a business case.

How shortages fueled Cuba’s protests The pandemic has devastated the tourism industry and reduced the state’s ability to finance food imports, leading to higher prices and thousands of people taking to the streets to protest. The government has managed to calm the unrest, it is not yet clear how long it will be able to maintain control with a crumbling economy.

Floods in Germany put climate at the heart of elections With just over two months on election day, the devastating floods that swept through western Germany, killing at least 140 people, catapulted climate change to the heart of the country’s election campaign.

Inflationary fears are exaggerated The first signs of price increases reflect more of a predictable increase in animal spirits after the lockdown than any long-term trend, writes Rana Foroohar.

Rana Foroohar: “Too much in our market system revolves around the short term.  This certainly applies to the inflation debate.

Rana Foroohar: “Too much in our market system revolves around the short term. This is certainly true for the inflation debate ”© Matt Kenyon

Poor workers have nowhere to hide Do mediocre workers thrive more when they work from home or when they are in the office? While some employers doubt the motivations of staff who prefer remote work, others say it’s easier to identify which staff adds the most value when a team works remotely, writes Pilita Clark.

Food drink

How Eritrean cuisine came to Leeds Six young women who fled their country as children share recipes from home.

Elsa Asmara holds a dish of gomen besiga (lamb and spinach stew)
Elsa Asmara is holding a dish of gomen besiga (lamb and spinach stew) © Maryam Wahid

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