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Spain to trials four-day working week using Covid-19 recovery cash

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Spain to trials four-day working week using Covid-19 recovery cash
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pain has announced plans to experiment with cutting back one working day per week, making them the first European country to do so.

A three-year pilot project will use 50 million euros from the European Union’s coronavirus recovery fund to compensate some 200 mid-size companies as they resize their workforce or reorganise production workflows to adapt to a 32-hour working week.

The funds will go to subsidising all of the employers’ extra costs in the first year of the trial and then reduce the government’s aid to 50 per cent and 25 per cent each consecutive year, according to a blueprint by the Mas Pais progressive party that’s behind the initiative.

The only condition is that the change leads to a net reduction of working hours while maintaining full-time contract salaries, said Hector Tejero of the Madrid regional assembly.

He said: “It’s not using the European funds for Spaniards to work less – it’s about seeing how we can improve productivity and competitiveness of our companies.”

Those in favour of the move argue it has benefits for the overall economy, such as by increasing consumption and cutting sickness.

However, critics argue that it is no the best time to be carrying out experiments, with the country’s finances hammered by the pandemic.

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Coronation Street’s Bill Roache has ‘recovered well’ from Covid-19

Coronation Street star Bill Roache has “recovered well” after testing positive for Covid-19, the show has said.

The 88-year-old actor, who plays Ken Barlow, has taken time off from the ITV soap after being diagnosed with the disease.

A spokeswoman said: “Following recent reports about his health, William Roache has asked us to clarify that he took time off work after testing positive for COVID.

“He has recovered well and is looking forward to returning to the cobbles as soon as possible.”

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Philippines to reimpose stricter Covid-19 measures in capital as cases surge

The Philippines will reimpose stricter quarantine measures in the capital Manila and nearby provinces, a senior official said on Saturday, as the country battles to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases that put a bigger strain on hospitals.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the measures would be in effect from March 29 to April 4.

The health ministry on Saturday reported 9,595 new coronavirus cases, marking the second straight day the daily jump in infections remained above 9,000. The country posted a record rise in three of the past five days.

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Vaccine rollout wouldn’t have been possible without the ‘might of the private sector’, says Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the vaccine rollout would not have been possible without the “might of the private sector”.

Speaking at the Conservatives’ virtual spring forum on Saturday he said: “Yes, Government played a pretty big role, the Vaccine Task Force, the bottling plants we helped to set up, the scientists we funded, and I renew my thanks and admiration for the incredible work of our NHS, our GPs, our nurses, our health care workers of all kinds.

“They’re heroes, heroes, heroes, to say nothing of local council staff and volunteers, and the Army, so many thousands of others.

“But in the end, none of this would have been possible without the innovative genius and commercial might, and you know what I’m going to say – the might of the private sector – the free market economy.

“Because at the heart of this vaccine rollout, there is a huge and unmissable lesson about the need for private risk-taking capitalist energy.”

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PM: ‘ I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he can see nothing in the data to dissuade him from continuing along his lockdown easing roadmap.

Speaking at the Conservatives’ virtual spring forum on Saturday he said: “In just a few days’ time, I’m finally going to be able to go to the barbers.

“But more important than that, I’m going to be able to go down the street and cautiously, but irreversibly, I’m going to drink a pint of beer in the pub.

“And as things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love.”

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Britain’s vaccine roll-out has been a triumph of ‘private risk taking capitalist energy’, says PM

Britain’s successful vaccines roll-out strategy has been a triumph of “private risk taking capitalist energy” Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister also said he had seen nothing in Government data to threaten his plan to lift lockdown restrictions in England.

In a speech to the Conservative Party’s spring forum, Mr Johnson praised “the might of the private sector – the free market economy”.

He said: “At the heart of this vaccine rollout, there is a huge and unmissable lesson about the need for private risk taking capitalist energy.

“Never forget that Labour not only voted to stay in the European Medicines Agency.”

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Unanswered questions remain about the impact of the third coronavirus wave sweeping Europe, says PM

The Prime Minister said there are still unanswered questions about what impact the third coronavirus wave sweeping Europe would have on the UK.

Speaking at the Conservatives’ virtual spring forum, Boris Johnson said: “I think the second half of the year will have the potential to be really fantastic.

“But it depends on things still going right.

“We depend on the successful vaccine programme and disease not taking off again.”

He said “bitter experience” has shown a wave like the one in Europe would hit the UK “three weeks later”.

He added: “The question is – is it going to be, this time, as bad it has been in the past? Or have we sufficiently mitigated, muffled, blunted impact by the vaccine rollout?

“That’s a question we still don’t really know the answer to.”

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Foreigners flock to Serbia for coronavirus jabs

Thousands of vaccine-seekers from countries neighbouring Serbia flocked to Belgrade on Saturday after Serbian authorities offered free coronavirus jabs for foreigners if they show up over the weekend.

Long lines of Bosnians, Montenegrins and North Macedonians — often entire families — formed in front of the main vaccination centre in the Serbian capital, with police keeping watch.

Unlike Serbia which boasts of having an ample supply of vaccines, most of its Balkan neighbours have been struggling with shortages and have barely started any mass inoculation.

Serbia has already donated smaller quantities of vaccines to North Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia.

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Northern Ireland First Minister receives Covid-19 vaccine

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has received her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

The DUP leader was given an AstraZeneca jab by a GP at the Castle Park leisure centre in Lisnaskea in her Co Fermanagh constituency on Saturday morning.

The 50-year-old politician became eligible for the vaccine earlier this month when Northern Ireland’s programme opened to the 50-and-over age cohort.

Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Health Minister Robin Swann will have to wait to be vaccinated as they are both in the 40 to 49 age bracket.

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No Easter getaway rush expected, despite easing of lockdown rules

Millions of people remain wary about socialising over Easter despite easing of lockdown measures, a new survey suggests.

A quarter of the 1,200 drivers polled for the RAC said they are not planning a leisure trip by car over the bank holiday weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Motorists expect to make just 5.6 million trips by car to see friends and family between Good Friday and Easter Monday, the research indicates.

Easter is normally one of the busiest weekends of the year on UK roads, with 12.2 million leisure trips planned in 2019.

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Russia reports 8,885 new cases of Covid-19 in past 24 hours

Russia on Saturday reported 8,885 new coronavirus cases occurring in the past 24 hours, including 1,551 new cases in Moscow, and 387 deaths nationwide.

Its total number of Covid-19 cases crossed the 4.5 million mark the previous day.

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We want getaway Britons again in France by June, say vacationer chiefs

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France sees biggest drop in Covid intensive care patients in a year
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ourism bosses in France on Friday prolonged a heartfelt “Bienvenue en Provence” and other locations as British isles ministers ended up making ready to hearth the starting up gun for overseas holidays.

France could not immediately be classed as a “green” region, which would call for no quarantine on return to Britain, when ministers announce types for the new “traffic light” method later on currently.

But French tourism bosses hope that by early to mid-June hundreds of countless numbers of people will be heading to their country from across the Channel. Lesly Reynaud, director of the Workplace de Tourisme Provence Occitane, instructed the Standard: “British vacationers will be welcome in France and Provence. We are waiting around for them with impatience… we really like English holidaymakers.”

Franck Delahaye, director of the Business de Tourisme Luberon Coeur de Provence, included: “We are prepared to welcome you back this summer season as before long as doable, and eager to share with you the miracles of our area.”

“The British will be welcomed again from June 9 if they can give evidence of vaccination or a negative end result for a current PCR test,” a Tourism Ministry source in Paris explained to the Standard.

The number of new daily instances of Covid-19 averaged 28,000 final 7 days, down from 36,000 the previous 7 days.

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