September 27, 2020

Coronavirus: Business struggles, passport backlog and the Joe Wicks effect

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak this Wednesday morning. We’ll have another update for you at 18:00 BST.

1. Economy flagging

Businesses are only operating at about half of their pre-virus capacity, with the economy still “in first gear”. That’s according to the British Chambers of Commerce’s coronavirus impact tracker. Reduced customer demand and concern about future local lockdowns were highlighted as the top two obstacles to normal operations. We’ve looked closely at some of the UK firms left in limbo by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

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Media captionIpswich town centre traders face ‘dire’ lack of customers

2. Passport pile-up

Reduced staffing to allow social distancing is also slowing down operations for many businesses and organisations. That’s demonstrated by the news this morning that a backlog of 400,000 passport applications has built up during the pandemic. Home Office minister Baroness Williams said steps were being taken to increase capacity now travel restrictions have eased.

Image copyright Getty Images

3. Latest reopening in Scotland

Beauty salons, tattoo parlours and tailors can now welcome customers as Scotland continues its phased lifting of lockdown. Universities and colleges can also begin to resume some on-campus learning, and a limited number of driving lessons are allowed. Read a fuller explanation of all Scotland’s rules.

Image caption Carrie Nicol says she is excited to get back to work despite the changes in how things operate

4. Who’s hiring?

The number of job vacancies in the UK has plummeted and competition for those that are advertised is fierce given the redundancies caused by the pandemic. Some sectors appear to be in a much stronger position than others, though, so which are actually hiring staff? And which face a more uncertain future? We break it down.

5. The Wicks effect

Joe Wicks’ first began his daily live workouts in March, just hours before Boris Johnson went on to tell the UK it was entering lockdown. Today the trainer is bringing “PE with Joe” to an end, so we’ve spoken to people who say the experience of joining in every day has changed their lives.

Image copyright Handout
Image caption Vanessa Taylor says both her physical and mental health have improved

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And don’t forget…

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page and get all the latest via our live page.

Plus, we answer the latest batch of questions from readers on all things pandemic, including whether any coronavirus vaccine might have side effects.

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