Economic shocks, green shoots... and face coverings

Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics confirm the significant and wide-ranging negative impact of the lockdown and social distancing on the UK economy in May, as well as some green shoots of recovery.

GDP has fallen dramatically and production, services and construction remain well below their February 2020 levels. Despite this, retail and supporting industries grew slightly between April and May 2020, bouyed for the most part by online purchases.

Growth in manufacturing and construction during May 2020 was primarily down to the return to work and to the ability of businesses to maintain continuity whilst adhering to social distancing measures.

As expected, there were a number of services that contracted in May, citing a lack of demand from their business customers.

In related news, the official line on face coverings has changed again. Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England will be mandatory from 24th July, with the fine for failure to comply £100. Scotland, Spain, Italy and Germany (currently) have similar rules.

Since mid-May, people have also been advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, where they may encounter people they would not usually meet. Despite appearances, they have also been compulsory on public transport in England since 15th June.

Face coverings are not the same as face masks. The public has been asked not to use medical grade PPE masks to ensure these remain available for frontline staff.

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