Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 13 May 2020

1

Housing market reopens as estate agent curbs are lifted

The government has announced plans to restart England's housing market after putting the industry on hold at the start of the coronavirus lockdown. From today, estate agents may open, viewings may be carried out and removal firms and conveyancers may restart operations, provided social distancing and safety rules are followed. The BBC says the news will “test the housing sector’s hope and belief” that there is a “wave of pent-up demand”.

2

Hundreds of firms accused of furlough fiddling

Hundreds of companies are suspected of claiming furlough funds from the government while pressuring their employees to continue working. HMRC told Sky News that it has received 795 reports from concerned workers about the Job Retention Scheme. A whistle-blower support charity has also reported a “significant” number of calls from furloughed staff being ordered to keep doing their jobs, up to 20% of whom were employed in the care sector.

3

Dr Fauci ‘rebukes’ Trump on reopening plans

The leading infectious diseases doctor in the US has warned senators that opening up the country too early may “trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control”. In what is being seen as an indirect rebuke to President Donald Trump, who is encouraging businesses and schools to reopen, Dr Anthony Fauci said that if federal guidelines to reopen are not followed, “the consequences could be really serious” as “little spikes” turn into spates of infections.

4

Twitter to let staff work from home permanently

Twitter has told its employees that they may work from home “forever” if they wish. Announcing the decision, the social media company said that “the past few months have proven that we can make that work”. The new guideline has been described as “an era-defining moment” by a digital innovation expert. The San Francisco-based company employs more than 4,000 people across its global offices.

5

Deadly attacks on funeral and hospital in Afghanistan

A suicide bomb attack at the funeral of a police commander in Afghanistan has killed at least 24 people and injured 68. In a separate attack, gunmen disguised as police stormed a hospital in the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing 16 people, including two newborn babies at a maternity clinic run by humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders.

6

Bryan Adams apologises for ‘bat eating’ comment

Bryan Adams has apologised for a social media post in which he blamed “bat eating” people for the coronavirus pandemic. In a message on Instagram on Monday, the Canadian singer-songwriter had written that he was supposed to be performing at London’s Royal Albert Hall, but couldn’t because of “bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy b***ards”. Following a social media backlash, he tweeted: “Apologies to any and all that took offence to my posting yesterday.”

7

Cinema chain announces social distancing plans

Vue will isolate family groups and stagger film times as part of a raft of safety measures to allow it to reopen its screens across the UK in July. The chain, which has 91 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, said that other measures would include controlling entrances and exits and reducing the overall capacity of each screening.

8

Police officer charged over car park killing

A police officer has been charged with the murder of a woman in a village pub car park. PC Timothy Brehmer, 41, is accused of strangling Claire Parry, an NHS nurse practitioner who is said to have been his lover, outside the Horns Inn in West Parley, Dorset, on Saturday. He appeared at Poole Magistrates’ Court yesterday via video link from Weymouth police station. 

9

UK ‘facing defeat in fight against giant hogweed’

Experts say the UK is losing the battle to eradicate giant hogweed, an invasive species regarded by some as the country’s most dangerous plant. The Independent says the “pernicious beast” has gained a foothold across the nation, thanks to recent flooding and warm weather. Its poisonous sap causes sunlight-sensitive burns and blisters that can leave scars, and can also cause blindness.

10

Rihanna makes debut on Sunday Times Rich List

Rihanna has joined The Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of £468m. The pop star leapfrogs Elton John and Mick Jagger to claim third place on the list of Britain’s richest musicians. Her earnings are largely due to the Fenty Beauty cosmetics brand, with her reported 15% stake said to be worth £351m.

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