House of Commons
No business scheduled
Fomo no mo'
Written by Katie Stanton, senior associate
Edited by Sabina Kadić-Mackenzie, associate partner
14 May 2020
A former flatmate and dear friend of mine used to be terribly afflicted by a condition we now know as fomo – or the ‘fear of missing out’.
When struck down with a particular flare up of the nasty disorder – when her friends were going out and she just couldn’t – she would be compelled to her bed. Fretful and frightened for her social standing, she’d trawl her feeds, sweat forming a tacky film on her brow, desperate fingers scratching at the screen. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Over and over, opening and closing the tabs, vacant eyes searching for any whiff of fun, involvement or human interaction.
But, like a wriggler in quicksand, her humming urgency served only to perpetuate the terrible ailment. The more she searched and scrolled, the more excluded she felt.
Her only tonic was to be there.
Then along comes lockdown. Now, suddenly, no one is having any fun – at least not together. Just like that, she is cured (except from fomz, of course. The ‘fear of missing Zoom’ is a real, modern-day affliction).
I too am feeling that the anxiety of not being somewhere has ebbed away. Finally, I can sit in my house and watch seven hours of Desperate Housewives without the guilty suspicion that this is not how I should be spending my youth.
I’ve made this seem quite throwaway and frivolous, but it has quite important implications for people who have long had to sit at home while the world buzzed past and about them. The elderly, the disabled, those more cut off from the outside world for whatever reason.
Now they are not alone, because we are all alone – or at least at home. This is comforting in its own little way, freeing up the mental space to just be, and not feel inadequate or left out.
I hate the wartime analogy that we are all in this together, because we’re not. This crisis is far easier for those who are already socioeconomically advantaged and will disproportionately impact the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
But if, in this time of great anxiety, people can feel even a pinch less uneasy about how much they are missing, that’s a good, if little, consolation.
According to experts, restarting NHS services could take many months. Everything from cancer care and routine surgery to district nursing services have been disrupted across the UK by the coronavirus pandemic.
A new coronavirus antibody test has been approved by health officials in England. An analysis by Public Health England found that Roche’s serology test was “highly specific” and effective at determining if a patient has Covid-19 and whether they have developed antibodies against it. Until now, officials had said these tests were not sufficiently reliable.
Donald Trump has said a sobering warning from his top infectious diseases expert about reopening schools too soon was “unacceptable”. Dr Anthony Fauci contradicted the US president when he revealed that neither a treatment nor a vaccine for Covid-19 could be developed before children return to schools in the autumn. In response, Trump accused Fauci of playing “all sides of the equation”. (£)
Business and economy
Taxi firms Addison Lee and Uber have announced new safety measures as the government looks to ease coronavirus restrictions and people return to work. In addition to fitting Perspex partition screens, both firms are now distributing free protective equipment to drivers.
The UK government is drawing up plans to slash tariffs on US agricultural imports to advance progress on a trade deal despite concerns from some ministers and Conservative MPs about the damage they could cause to British farming. (£)
BuzzFeed is to end its news operations in the UK and Australia, effectively marking the end of the digital upstart’s global ambition to shake up traditional news media. The recent crisis has weighed heavily on advertising revenue, so the company has decided to redirect attention to its operations in the United States.
Columns of note
Writing in The Times today, our founding partner, Andrew Wilson, argues that the devolution settlement as it stands cannot cope with the economics of Covid-19, nor the hard Brexit that could be imminent. With the right powers, he says, the Scottish government could issue cheap, long-term bonds as part of an intergenerational renewal fund, and invest in those sectors that face a massive shortfall (among them universities, the third sector, the natural economy) in return for a radical overhaul of how they are structured and governed. This transformational approach would give future generations the opportunity to inherit a more sustainable economy. You can read more in the associated news story here. (£)
Jia Tolentino reveals a surge in the radical practice of mutual aid in America in this week’s New Yorker. During this crisis, she says, physical connection could kill us, but civic connection is the only way for many people to survive. Now it is getting mainstream attention, she asks if it will change the way we help each other into the future? (£)
What happened yesterday?
European stocks fell yesterday, with the FTSE 100 ending down 1.5% and the Stoxx 600 1.9% lower. Sterling was little moved by official data showing that the UK economy shrank at the fastest monthly pace on record in March, although it reversed earlier gains to trade down against the dollar at $1.22.
In company news:
Tesco released its annual report yesterday, with shares outperforming its peer group by 3.3% a year on a total return basis over three years.
German carmaker Volkswagen will pause the production of four key models just weeks after reopening its manufacturing headquarters in Germany, according to an internal interview seen by the Financial Times.
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has said it will reopen show homes and sales centres for pre-booked appointments from 22 May in response to the government’s announcement to restart the housing market.
Maersk has warned of a 25% drop in global trade as the coronavirus pandemic fuels protectionist policy. The shipping company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the first quarter rose 23% compared with a year earlier to $1.5bn.
Deutsche Bank has restarted its job cuts programme, just six weeks after suspending redundancies during the coronavirus pandemic, as Germany’s largest bank seeks to rein in costs as part of their transformation plan, announced last July.
What’s happening today?
Airea, Cairn Energy, Computacenter, Direct Line, Eurocell, European Assets, Flutter Ent, Forterra, Genel
Energy, Gresham Tech, Hiscox, Horizonte Min., Just Eat, Just Group, Next, Pittards, Prudential, Quilter Plc, Safestyle UK, Serco Group, Spire Health, Telit Comm, Ti Fluid, Triple Pnt Soc
UK economic announcements
(00:01) RICS Housing Market Survey
Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Consumer Price Index (GER)
(13:30) Import and Export Price Indices (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
Each octopus arm is so packed with neurons it can make decisions independently from the central brain, and sometimes steal food from other arms.
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
Bringing back UK citizens who are stranded overseas – virtual proceeding – Baroness Northover
The restart of housing and construction – virtual proceeding – Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Overcrowding in prisons in England and Wales, particularly in HMP Swansea – virtual proceeding – Baroness Humphreys
Mass testing using the COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test and lifting restrictions addressing the COVID-19 pandemic – virtual proceeding – The Earl of Clancarty
Private notice question
To ask the government which department or non-departmental public body is responsible for the programme of Covid-19 testing in care homes in England and when they expect these care homes to be offered Covid-19 tests – virtual proceeding – Baroness Wheeler
Food supply and security in the UK in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic – virtual proceeding – Baroness Boycott
Supporting people previously homeless into permanent housing after the Covid-19 pandemic – virtual proceeding – Lord Bird
Covid-19 Guidance for Transport Users and Operators – virtual proceeding – Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Department’s plans to reopen schools as part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy – virtual proceedings – Baroness Berridge
Members’ virtual question time
Finance and economy
Health and sport
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