2.05pm BST
14:05

Covid-19’s devastating assault on the US economy waned in May as the unemployment rate dipped to 13.3% and the US added another 2.5m jobs, writes Dominic Rushe, for the Guardian US, in New York.

The surprise news follows the loss of 20m jobs in April when unemployment hit 14.7%. Economists had been expecting a rise to as high as 20%.

But the rate is still historically high. In February the unemployment rate was just 3.5%. A decade’s worth of gains made in the labor market since the last recession have been erased in just three months.

All 50 states have now begun easing quarantine restrictions and the pace of this unprecedented hollowing has now slowed as some have returned to work but uncertainties remain.

Weekly unemployment claims have plummeted from a frightening peak of 6.6m in April to 1.9m last week but Jason Reed, a professor of finance at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, said the numbers were still huge. He worried America is now witnessing a shift from temporary to permanent layoffs.

While the unemployment rate remains well above the 10% peak in the last recession, president Donald Trump was quick to hail victory. “Great going President Trump (kidding but true)!” he wrote on Twitter.

1.47pm BST
13:47

Mosques, churches and other places of worship reopened in Jakarta for the first time in nearly three months on Friday, as the Indonesian capital loosened a partial lockdown, AFP reports.

Jakarta’s governor announced the easing of restrictions on Thursday, with offices, restaurants, shopping malls and tourist attractions also scheduled to reopen in the coming weeks.

While mosques have remained open in some other parts of Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim majority country, for many residents of Jakarta, a megacity that is home to about 30 million people, it was their first time attending Friday prayers since mid-March.

Al-Azhar mosque in Jakarta. Photograph: Donal Husni/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Mohamad Fathi, 35, said he was “full of happiness” at the news. “It cheered me up and satisfied my longing for mass prayers,” he told AFP. “I’m very happy we’re now allowed to return to pray.”

However, the weekly service was shorter than usual as part of efforts to lower the risk of COVID-19 infections, he said. Mosque-goers were also ordered to bring their own prayer mats and abide by social-distancing rules with temperature checks at the door.

On Friday, Indonesia reported 703 new cases of coronavirus and 49 coronavirus-related deaths. There have now been a total of 29,521 infections in the country of 274 million people, and 1,770 deaths.

1.33pm BST
13:33

Clothes retailer Gap reports $1bn Covid-19 shutdown loss

US clothing retailer Gap has reported a quarterly loss of almost $1bn, after it had to close the vast majority of its stores worldwide during the coronavirus shutdown, writes Joanna Partridge, for the Guardian’s business desk.

The company, based in San Francisco, made a loss of $932m (£738m) for the three months to 2 May, compared with $227m profit during the same period in 2019.

The retailer, know for its denim, chinos and T-shirts, included in its quarterly loss a $484m write-down on its stores and operating lease assets, and a $235m charge on excess stock.

A Gap Kids store in Winter Park, Florida. Photograph: John Raoux/AP

Like many of its competitors, Gap has been left with mountains of seasonal clothing that it has not been able to sell while 90% of its global stores were temporarily forced to close during lockdown.

Retailers of non-essential goods, such as clothing, have been significantly affected by store closures across many territories, which were designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The pandemic triggered several high-profile retail insolvencies in the US, including fashion chain JCrew, and department store chains JC Penney and Neiman Marcus.

The group, which also owns the Old Navy and Banana Republic brands, said that customers were focused on buying casual clothes while staying at home, hitting sales at Banana Republic, which offers more workwear.

1.23pm BST
13:23

For the first time in 75 years, there will be no D-day veterans on the beaches of Normandy to mark the anniversary of the Allied landings on Saturday, writes Kim Willsher, the Guardian’s Paris correspondent.

Official commemorations have been cancelled except for a limited gathering of representatives from nine countries – including the British ambassador to France – for a short ceremony.

A year after the fanfare of the 75th anniversary of the 1944 landings that marked the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany, many of this year’s events will be relayed by livestream to the dwindling number of elderly former soldiers who took part in Operation Overlord.

A website will transmit events commemorating the day when 150,000 troops swarmed ashore at strategic points along 50 miles of France’s west coastline. That day in 1944 they were met with a hail of machine gun fire and bombardments, leaving 10,000 casualties, among them 2,500 dead.

Saturday’s commemorations will include a flypast by the French air force’s air acrobatic team, the Patrouille de France.

“Since 1945, every year we have paid homage to the men who fought for our freedom,” said Jean-Marc Lefranc, president of the Comité du Débarquement (D-day Landing Committee). “This year, for the first time it will not be open to the public.”

1.10pm BST
13:10

More than 3,000 shops and markets across Pakistan were closed down on Friday in a series of raids for violating social distancing regulations, the Associated Press reports, as the country drew close to 90,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

On Friday, health authorities reported 68 more coronavirus-related deaths, raising its overall death toll to 1,838. Meanwhile 4,896 more people tested positive in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day rise in infections, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 89,249.

The pace of the virus’s spread has increased since the prime minister, Imran Khan, eased lockdown measures in May. Doctors are now bracing for a surge of Covid-19 patients and some hospitals are already turning back those with mild infection, asking them to quarantine themselves at home.

Critics say Khan eased restrictions prematurely, but the government has blamed the public for the spread in infections, saying people failed to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

12.58pm BST
12:58

Despite his wealth having increased by $14bn in the past 11 weeks (see previous post), the billionaire Elon Musk is still cranky enough for a Twitter spat with a rival billionaire.

On Thursday, Musk tweeted Jeff Bezos to call for the break up of Bezos’s online retail empire, Amazon, in the latest row over censorship related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Tesla chief executive lashed out after an author complained on social media about being unable to self-publish a book entitled “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates.”

“This is insane @JeffBezos,” Musk tweeted at Bezos. “Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!”

Elon Musk
(@elonmusk)

This is insane @JeffBezos

June 4, 2020

Elon Musk
(@elonmusk)

Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!

June 4, 2020

According to Reuters, Amazon had no comment on Musk’s call for its dissolution but said the book in question, by author Alex Berenson, had been blocked in error and was now available for sale via its Kindle e-reading service.

The decision to allow the book’s sale was not due to Musk, Amazon said.

According to preview text on the Amazon website, Berenson’s book “provides a counterweight to media hysteria about coronavirus.” Musk has been a prominent lockdown sceptic, lashing out on Twitter about shelter-at-home restrictions and trying to reopen his factories even as orders remained in place.

Updated
at 12.59pm BST

12.40pm BST
12:40

They are this season’s must-have accessory. Surgical masks are in demand all over the world as people take precautions to avoid catching and spreading the coronavirus. Now the environmental impact of these single-use, disposable items is beginning to be felt, according to this news report from the French news agency AFP.

AFP news agency
(@AFP)

VIDEO: Surgical masks are washing up in growing quantities on the shores of Hong Kong, a city that has overwhelmingly embraced face coverings to fight the coronavirus pic.twitter.com/U302vaSxtA

June 5, 2020

12.29pm BST
12:29

Judge bans Sydney Black Lives Matter protest over Covid-19 fears

A judge in Australia has banned a Black Lives Matter protest planned to take place in Sydney on Saturday, citing the coronavirus crisis, after a legal application from police to stop it taking place.

New South Wales state Supreme Court Justice Des Fagan ruled the rally was not an authorised public assembly. Under restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus, outdoor gatherings in Sydney are restricted to 10 people, while up to 50 people can go to funerals, places of worship, restaurants, pubs and cafes.

“I don’t diminish the importance of the issues and no one would deny them in normal circumstances,” Fagan was reported as saying by the Associated Press. “No one denies them that but we’re talking about a situation of a health crisis.”

His decision came after thousands of people indicated they would join the rally in in Australia’s largest city on Saturday afternoon to remember George Floyd, the victim of a police killing in Minneapolis last week, and to protest against the deaths of indigenous Australians in custody.

The state premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said organisers initially proposed a protest far smaller rally. She said protesters could not guarantee social distancing protocols would be followed.

“All of us have given up so much and worked so hard to make sure we get on top of the virus,” Berejiklian told reporters.

12.17pm BST
12:17

Restaurants are opening, parks are full and people are getting back to work: parts of Europe, Asia and much of the Middle East are enjoying the benefits of flattened coronavirus curves. Meanwhile, parts of the US, India and Latin America are still recording thousands of new cases every day.

The first wave of the coronavirus is not over. The future shape of the pandemic will be decided both by human action, in the form of social distancing, testing and other traditional methods of disease control, and also several unanswered questions about the nature of the virus itself.

Experts say there are several possibilities, Michael Safi, the Guardian’s international correspondent, reports.

Updated
at 12.20pm BST

12.02pm BST
12:02

US billionaires gain half a trillion dollars during outbreak

Even as more than 42 million people have signed on as unemployed in the US, the country’s billionaires have added half a trillion dollars to their combined wealth, according to a thinktank report.

During the 11 weeks from 18 March, when US lockdowns started, the wealth of America’s richest people surged by over $565bn, the Institute for Policy Studies calculated in a report published on Thursday.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, has benefited the most, as orders at his online delivery service soared, with his wealth increasing by an eye-watering $36.2bn. Mark Zuckerberg was the second biggest beneficiary, increasing his net worth by $30.1bn. Even Bill Gates, who has positioned himself as global health saviour by backing a number of Covid-19 vaccine projects, has ended up $11.8bn better off.

Jeff Bezos – up $36.2bn
Mark Zuckerberg – up $30.1bn
Elon Musk – up $14.1bn
Sergey Brin – up $13.9bn
Larry Page – up $13.7bn
Steve Ballmer – up $13.3bn
MacKenzie Bezos – up $12.6bn
Michael Bloomberg – up $12.1bn
Bill Gates – up $11.8bn
Phil Knight – up $11.6bn
Larry Ellison – up $8.5bn
Warren Buffett – up $7.7bn
Michael Dell – up $7.6bn
Sheldon Adelson – up $6.1bn

Chuck Collins, a co-author of the report, said:

These statistics remind us that we are more economically and racially divided than at any time in decades.

Updated
at 12.25pm BST

11.34am BST
11:34

The number of new cases of coronavirus in Iran slid slightly from its new peak yesterday, with 2,886 more people in the country testing positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

On Thursday, Iran reported a new record in transmissions detected in a single day, suggesting that the country could be experiencing a second wave of the epidemic. The previous daily record in Iran, which was one of the first countries in the Middle East to be gripped by the disease, was 3,186 on 30 March.

In spite of a steadily rising infection rate, authorities have been progressively lifting controls on shops, mosques, schools, offices and travel. The border with Turkey was also being opened for haulage traffic on Thursday.

A man and a woman hang out on a bench in Tehran. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

In his latest update, Kianoush Jahanpour, the health ministry spokesman, said 63 more Iranians had died from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. There are currently 2,573 people in critical condition.

So far, Jahanpour said, 129,741 people out of a total of 167,156 infected with the virus have recovered.

Updated
at 12.26pm BST





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