Coronavirus: Sandwell traders fear a potential local lockdown could be ‘final nail in the coffin’ | UK News

Market traders in the West Midlands say business was already tough before coronavirus – and now they fear a second wave or local lockdown could be the “final nail in the coffin”.

The borough of Sandwell, which includes West Bromwich, Oldbury, Tipton and Smethwick, is currently in the top 10 of areas in England with the highest rates of infection.

This leaves it in danger of having local restrictions being forced upon it by the government.

Sandwell’s rate of infection rose to 28.1 per 100,000 people in the week up to 27 July, from 26.9 the previous week.

Brett Packer has been selling clothes and home furnishings on the market in West Bromwich for more than 15 years
Brett Packer sells clothes and home furnishings at a market in West Bromwich

Last month, West Bromwich Albion was promoted to football’s Premier League but now the area is climbing a less welcome table.

In the town’s market, trade is only just beginning its return to health after the rigours of lockdown and none of the stall holders or shopkeepers want to see a second wave.

Brett Packer has been selling clothes and home furnishings at the market for more than 15 years.

He said trade was already tough before coronavirus.

“It used to be heaving here on a daily basis, Monday to Saturday,” he said.

“But this could be the final nail in the coffin. And if we get a second wave that could really devastate the whole area.

“If they lock down Sandwell and Smethwick, people will drive to Birmingham, they’ll drive to Merry Hill. They’ve got to do their shopping somewhere.

“And the danger is they might not come back.”

Boris Johnson says people can still go back to the office tomorrow – but some venues won’t reopen and large events will be postponed.

31 July: Boris Johnson delays lockdown easing

The council is trying to forestall the sort of government intervention seen in Leicester, Greater Manchester, Blackburn, Calderdale, Kirklees and Bradford.

It held an emergency meeting on Friday, and has issued amended advice to keep the infection rate down.

The council’s deputy leader Maria Crompton said: “Nationally, the government has advised people who are shielding they could stop shielding from Friday 31 July, but anyone in Sandwell who is shielding is strongly advised to continue to shield to keep themselves safe.

“We know people are looking forward to going out again. However, we are very strongly advising people who are shielding to stay put for now and go out as little as possible.”

The council has issued the following advice:

  • Continue to shield if you are already shielding
  • Do not go inside other people’s houses
  • Get tested and isolate if you have symptoms

The mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, has said there are no plans to lock down any boroughs within the region.

But authorities in Sandwell add the caveat that if the new advice is not heeded, more restrictive measures are “highly likely”.

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Traders eye a more positive start for local shares

Wall Street closed higher on Friday amid simmering tensions between Washington and Beijing and fears over the nation’s ability to recover from the pandemic. US futures were flat on Sunday.

NAB’s markets research teams says investor focus is likely to remain on the virus count in Victoria and, importantly, whether it spreads to other states, especially NSW.

Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston said equities markets, much like governments in their virus response, were at a crossroads.

“Do we pull back? Do we continue to rally from here? There are a lot of unknowns,” Mr Weston said.

“It feels like everyone is pausing for reflection now with what is happening with COVID globally.”

Another heavy week of data begins with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest COVID-19 household impacts survey, which will add colour for the period to the end of June.

NAB business conditions follow on Tuesday with the lender expecting an improvement from their April low. The Westpac-MI Consumer Sentiment Index on Wednesday will help gauge the initial impact of the Melbourne virus shutdown, while weekly payroll jobs and wages for the week ending June 27 should shed a more timely light on the jobs situation than Thursday’s labour force print will.

Economist expectations for June employment figures are mixed.

ANZ says employment should rise by 70,000 in June, and the unemployment rate shift up from 7.1 per cent to 7.3 per cent, while NAB is forecasting a 175,00 increase in employment.

“We think that many more people will rejoin the labour force, such that unemployment will rise to 7.8 per cent despite the lift in employment,” NAB said.

In the US, virus numbers across southern states will remain a focus.

US core CPI on Tuesday is expected to ease further to 1.1 per cent through the year to June, while Wednesday’s readings from the Empire State manufacturing survey for July, as well as industrial production for June, are expected to improve.

Thursday’s retail sales for June are expected to rise 5.6 per cent after a 15.6 per cent leap in May. Consumer sentiment and housing is also expected to gain.

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Jittery traders send stocks plunging on fears of a ‘second wave’

Stocks are opening sharply lower on Wall Street as investors turn jittery once again in the face of rising numbers of coronavirus infections in many U.S. states and countries. The S&P 500 was down 2.5% in early trading Thursday. Stocks have been rallying over the past two months at a rate that many skeptics said was unsustainable and that didn’t reflect the dire condition of the economy. The Federal Reserve warned a day earlier that the road to recovery would be long. European and Asian markets also fell. Bond yields fell. The price of crude oil dropped 7%.

Global stock markets tumbled Thursday after the Federal Reserve signaled a long path to recovery from the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and amid reports of rising numbers of coronavirus infections in many countries.

In the U.S., Texas and Florida were among the states reporting jumps in the number of coronavirus cases after precautions were relaxed last month. The total number of U.S. cases has surpassed 2 million.

Globally, India reported a record number of nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours with health services in the worst-hit cities of Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai becoming swamped by the rising infections.

In South Korea, the latest 45 new cases came in a weekslong resurgence that health authorities said they fear might develop into a massive wave.

Such developments have raised alarm, said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp.

“After all, a secondary outbreak is nothing to sneeze at as traders remain in a state of risk limbo watching risk assets for signs of continuation or stall,” Innes said in a commentary.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 was 2.6% lower at 4,923 and Germany’s DAX dropped 2.6% to 12,203. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 2.4% to 6,179.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 sank 2.8% to close at 22,472.91, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 skidded 3.1% to 5,960.60.

South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.9% to 2,176.78 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 2.3% to 24,480.15. The Shanghai Composite shed 0.8% to 2,920.90.

The outlook for a recovery from the worst downturn in decades is uncertain as states and countries push ahead with reopenings from pandemic shutdowns.

Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, India and Pakistan are among countries easing tight restrictions before their first outbreaks have peaked and before establishing detailed surveillance and testing systems to keep the virus under control.

Health experts have warned that could ultimately have devastating consequences.

The Federal Reserve emphasized Wednesday that the central bank will keep providing support to the economy by buying bonds to maintain low borrowing rates.

It forecast no rate hike through 2022, which could make it easier for consumers and businesses to borrow and spend enough to sustain an economy depressed by business shutdowns and high unemployment.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil dropped $1.68 to $37.92 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.45 to $40.28 a barrel.

The dollar was trading at 107.10 Japanese yen, down slightly from 107.12 yen late Wednesday. The euro inched down to $1.1359 from $1.1377.

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UK Slave Trader’s Statue Toppled In Anti-racism Protests

Protesters tore down the statue of a notorious British slave trader Sunday and dumped it in a harbour on the second day of demonstrations against George Floyd’s death.

Footage showed a few dozen people tie a rope around the neck of Edward Colston’s statue and bring it to the ground in the southwestern city of Bristol.

They stamped on it for a few minutes before carrying it and heaving it into the harbour with a great cheer.

Red paint was splashed on Colston’s face and a protestor put his knee to the statue’s neck to recall how Floyd — an unarmed African American — was asphyxiated by a white policeman in the US city of Minneapolis last month.

“The man was a slave trader. He was good to Bristol but it was on the back of slavery and that is absolutely not on. It’s an insult to the people of Bristol,” 71-year-old protestor John McAllister told Britain’s Press Association.

“Today I witness history,” another witness named William Want tweeted.

“The statue of Edward Colston, a Bristol slave trader, was torn down, defaced, and thrown in the river. #BlackLivesMatter.”

A statue of Nelson Mandela is seen holding a Black Lives Matter placard in London’s Parliament Square as demonstrators show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the George Floyd killing

But interior minister Priti Patel called the toppling “utterly disgraceful”. The city’s police promised to carry out an investigation.

“That speaks to the acts of public disorder that actually have now become a distraction from the cause which the people are actually protesting about,” Patel told Sky News.

“That is a completely unacceptable act and speaks to the vandalism, again, as we saw yesterday in London.”

Protesters display a banner atop a bus stop after attending a demonstration outside the US Embassy

Protesters display a banner atop a bus stop after attending a demonstration outside the US Embassy

The London police reported making 29 arrests during a day of largely peaceful protests Saturday that included a few scuffles with officers protecting the government district around Downing Street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the sporadic violence but did not directly address the toppling of the statue.

“These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery — and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve,” Johnson said in a tweet.

“Those responsible will be held to account.”

A man kicks away and rips down protest signs placed on a statue of Winston Churchill by anti-racism demonstrators

A man kicks away and rips down protest signs placed on a statue of Winston Churchill by anti-racism demonstrators

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees struck a more conciliatory tone than the one adopted by Britain’s interior minister.

“I know the removal of the Colston Statue will divide opinion, as the statue itself has done for many years,” the mayor said in a statement.

“However, it’s important to listen to those who found the statue to represent an affront to humanity.”

Colston grew up in a wealthy merchant family and joined a company in 1680 that had a monopoly on the west African slave trade.

The Royal African Company (RAC) was formally headed by the brother of King Charles II who later took the throne as James II.

The company branded the slaves — including women and children — with its RAC initials on their chests.

It is believed to have sold around 100,000 west Africans in the Caribbean and the Americas between 1672 and 1689.

Colston later developed a reputation as a philanthropist who donated to charitable causes such as schools and hospitals in Bristol and London.

His 18-foot (5.5-metre) bronze statue stood on Bristol’s Colston Avenue since 1895. The city also has a school named in his honour.

UK opposition Labour party lawmaker Clive Lewis welcomed its toppling by the crowd.

“Good,” Lewis tweeted.

“Someone responsible for immeasurable blood & suffering. We’ll never solve structural racism till we get to grips with our history in all its complexity. #BLM”

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