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COVID-19: Global update

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Job cuts keep coming, flight crews may become medical staff

THE OUTBREAK of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments on Monday related to the global economy, the workplace and the spread of the virus.

AIR CARE: Britain’s health service is asking airline cabin crew who have been laid off to go to work in temporary new hospitals being built to treat Covid-19 patients. The National Health Service says easyJet and Virgin Atlantic are writing to thousands of staff – especially those with first aid training – asking them to work at hospitals being built inside convention centres in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Those who sign up will perform support roles under the supervision of doctors and nurses.

European budget airline easyJet is grounding all of its 344 aircraft amid a collapse in demand. It said there was “no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights”. The carrier had already cancelled most of its flights and reached an agreement with unions on furlough arrangements for its cabin crew.

The European Council says EU member states have suspended airport slot requirements until October 24 to help ease the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the aviation industry. Under EU regulations, airlines are subject to a “use it or lose it rule” and are required to operate 80% of their allocated slots, the right of an aircraft to take off or land at a congested airport at a certain time of the day. If they don’t abide by this rule, they face losing their right to the slot.

JOBS VANISH: Rent the Runway confirmed that it laid off its entire retail staff and is not sure whether stores will reopen. The lay-offs were announced via video conference on Friday, the company said. Workers will be getting severance and two months of health insurance. Rent The Runway, founded in 2008, had announced on March 16 that it would temporarily shut down all five retail locations in such cities as Manhattan and Chicago. It’s unknown how many employees will be affected. The company’s online subscription service continues.

CENTRAL BANKS AND GOVERNMENT: South Korea will provide as much as 1 million won ($817) in gift certificates or electronic coupons to all but the richest 30% of households. The country will spend around 9.1 trillion won ($7.4 billion) on the one-time give-aways, which will reach 14 million households.

South Korea has used various financial tools to support its economy during the global health crisis, including cutting its baseline interest rate to an all-time low, expanding short-term loans for financial institutions and introducing a rescue package for companies totaling 100 trillion won ($81.7 billion).

EXTRA: Facebook is investing an additional $100 million in local journalism to support reporting on the pandemic. Emergency grant funding of $25 million will go to local news through the Facebook Journalism Project and another $75 million will be devoted to media marketing. Facebook, which has a rocky relationship with the media industry, has already committed $300 million to journalism organisations.

– AP