Lockdown rules and UK vaccination programme update
Pound Sterling (GBP) struggled to make ground against the Euro during the start of the new trading week as the UK economy reopened this week. However, with daily coronavirus infections on the decline in the UK, it appears that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown is on track.
The British pound to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate has been a little volatile this week, starting the week at EUR 1.1539 on Monday, dropping to EUR 1.1498 on Wednesday and making a little ground back today. At the time of writing the British pound to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate is currently EUR 1.1511
Meanwhile, the British pound to US dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate continues to rise towards the USD 1.40 level, with Cable currently trading at USD 1.38 at the time of writing.
Pound Sterling (GBP) had dwindled against the majority of its G10 rivals, including the Chinese yuan (CNY) and Swiss franc (CHF) over recent weeks as confidence over the UK’s economic rebound began to falter and vaccination success no longer enough to buoy the UK currency.
Britain has administered over 30 million first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines so far, with the under 50’s age group on track to commence in April, though less vulnerable individuals in the age group may have to wait until May.
UK has 7 coronavirus vaccines on order
Currently, the UK is only administering the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccine, though the Moderna vaccine is said to be rolled out this month. Other vaccines on order include Valneva (100 million doses), GlaxoSmithKline (60 million doses), Novavax (60 million doses), Janssen (30 million doses).
The UK government has confirmed that there are enough vaccines ordered to cover two doses for all UK adults.
From the outset of the vaccination programme, the UK government set an ambitious COVID vaccine target, hoping to immunise 15 million of the country’s four priority groups by the end of February, which was achieved.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is continuing to undergo investigation as reports indicate that blood clots could potentially be more likely to affect younger age groups. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are in the process of reviewing these claims to see whether it may be beneficial to offer younger age groups an alternative vaccine.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is yet to be approved in the UK, is being hailed as a potential leader for younger people, given that only one dose of the vaccine is needed. Medical professionals have labelled the vaccine as ‘jab and go’ and could be the preferred vaccine for millennials.
The aim is still for all UK adults to receive at least one dose of a vaccine by the end of July.
How are COVID-19 lockdown rules in the UK changing?
Coronavirus cases in the UK are continuing to decline, paving the way for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit strategy to go ahead as planned. As of 5th April, new daily infections in the UK stood at 2,762, compared to 5,455 at the beginning of August.
So far, the UK is on track for a full lift of coronavirus restrictions on 30th June, which is providing support for the British pound (GBP).
As of last week, coronavirus restrictions in the UK changed to allow groups of 6 to meet outdoors, including private gardens or an unlimited number from two households. The change was a significant step for the UK, with people only permitted to meet up with one other person outdoors since January.
This week, however, will be the most notable step for the UK economy as thousands of businesses across the UK have re-opened their doors. From the 12th April, groups of 6 can dine outdoors in pubs and restaurants, as well as use services such as hairdressers and beauty salons.
With the British public desperate to get out and spend their money once again, it’s been forecast by the Bank of England (BoE) that the UK will experience a sharp economic recovery.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also going ahead with the traffic light system for holidays abroad, which are expected to resume from 17th May. Mr Johnson is said to reveal a list of ‘green’ countries to which the UK can travel to. Countries are judged by the success of their vaccination programme and the number of coronavirus infections.
Mr Johnson has said that he is hopeful that holiday abroad can resume from 17th May but also warned the UK to be realistic, stating that ‘we are not there yet.’ In order for UK restrictions to continue to be lifted in line with Boris Johnson’s original lockdown exit plan, UK coronavirus cases must continue to fall on a daily basis.
If infections see a spike next week as the British public are given further freedom to their social lives, there is likely to be a delay in developments, which could impact the UK’s economic outlook.