Business Briefs – June 14, 2020

Fed Says ‘Full Range of Tools’ In Play to Counter Pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve is promising to use its “full range of tools” to pull the country out of a deep recession caused by a global pandemic, signaling that it would keep interest rates low through 2022. In its semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress, the central bank said that the COVID-19 outbreak was causing “tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world.” The report said that the central bank was “committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time.”

Airlines Launch Legal Action Against U.K. Quarantine Policy

LONDON (AP) – Three airlines have launched legal action against the British government, describing the country’s plan to quarantine most incoming travelers as “flawed.’’ British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair said in a statement Friday that the quarantine will have a “devastating effect’’ on tourism and the wider economy. The airlines want the government to re-adopt its previous quarantine policy, where quarantine is limited to passengers from “high risk” countries. Quarantine measures imposed this week stipulate that all passengers — bar a handful of exceptions like truckers or medical workers — must fill in a form detailing where they will self-isolate for two weeks.

Twitter Removes China-Linked Accounts Spreading False News

LONDON (AP) – Twitter has removed a vast network of accounts that it says is linked to the Chinese government and was pushing false information favorable to the country’s communist rulers. Beijing denied involvement Friday and said the company should instead take down accounts smearing China. The U.S. social media company suspended 23,750 accounts that were posting pro-Beijing narratives, and another 150,000 accounts dedicated to retweeting and amplifying those messages. Twitter said the network was engaged “in a range of coordinated and manipulated activities” in predominantly Chinese languages. Those activities included praise for China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and “deceptive narratives” about Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

Nike, NFL and Others to Start Giving Workers Juneteenth Off

NEW YORK (AP) — Nike, the NFL and other businesses are giving their employees a paid day off on Juneteenth for the first time, the latest example of how American employers are responding to protests that have placed additional attention on racial injustice in the U.S. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of the Civil War and slavery. Although slavery was already abolished more than two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation, it continued in some areas.

U.K. Economy Shrinks 20% in a Month to Fall Back to 2002 Level

LONDON (AP) — The British economy has seen nearly two decades worth of growth wiped out as a result of the lockdown measures put in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Office for National Statistics revealed Friday that the economy shrank by a colossal 20.4% in April, the first full month that the country was in its coronavirus lockdown. All areas of the economy were hit during the month, in particular pubs, education, health and car sales.

Pop Open a Bottle, California Wine Tasting Rooms Reopening

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California wineries popped open their bottles Friday and welcomed people to their tasting rooms as the state’s $145 billion tourism industry started gearing up with hotels, zoos, museums and aquariums allowed to reopen. With COVID-19 cases in the state still growing, the tourism industry is trying to balance how to implement safety measures to control a pandemic without ruining the fun. Hotels will limit people lounging by pools and attractions will require masks. Some parts are choosing to go slower than the state is allowing. San Francisco started outdoor restaurant dining Friday. Hotels there will not receive tourists until August.

Europe Reopens Many Borders But Not to Americans, Asians

BERLIN (AP) — Europe is taking a big step toward a new normality as many countries open borders to fellow Europeans after three months of coronavirus lockdowns — but even though Europeans love their summer vacations, it’s not clear how many are ready to travel again.

Tourists from the U.S., Asia, Latin America and the Middle East will just have to wait for now. Europe is expected to start opening up to some visitors from elsewhere next month, but details remain unclear.

Mexico Desperate to Reopen 11 Million-Job Tourism Industry

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Tourism provides 11 million jobs, directly or indirectly in Mexico, and many of those workers were simply sent home to wait it out.

The situation is so desperate that Mexico’s tourism secretary proposed making the industry one of Mexico’s “essential activities,” so that it could reopen just as the construction, mining and automotive industries have already started to do. But federal health officials were less enthusiastic, noting that tourism implied travel, crowds and being outdoors.