Today (8 February 2021) the Government announced a new contract secured with Derby-based manufacturer for validated lateral flow antigen tests, ensuring supply for UK over coming months. Also this weekend the Government started offering all English businesses with over 50 employees’ workplace Covid testing. To register to order coronavirus tests for your employees see: https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests
We can now see a picture of the “New Normal” post initial vaccination emerging, with faster and more often testing for the workplace, when travelling and possibly attending events, voluntary social distancing and regular vaccinations against the virus and its new strains. In the meantime let us have hope the vaccination roll out is successful.
The Bank of England monetary policy committee met last week and voted unanimously to keep interest rates at 0.1% and maintain its current position on government borrowing. They stated that the vaccination programmes underway have improved the economic outlook although they expect Gross domestic product (GDP) to be 4% down for the first quarter of 2021 due to the lockdown.
The good news is that they state GDP is projected to recover rapidly towards pre-Covid levels over the year, as the vaccination programme is assumed to lead to an easing of Covid-related restrictions and people’s health concerns, although this depends on the evolution of the pandemic, measures taken to protect public health, and how households, businesses and financial markets respond to these developments.
For 2021 we expect government supports such as the Furlough scheme to limit any immediate increase in unemployment, however the unemployment rate is still projected to rise to 7.8% later this year as these schemes wind down.
If we focus on the positives, and the vaccination programme continues at a pace, then we should expect many restrictions to be lifted from May 2021 onwards and hopefully we can have a more normal home and business environment from there on.