The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Thursday related to national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.
TESTING THE WATERS: With countries and U.S. states beginning to relax shelter-in-place restrictions despite caution from the medical community, companies must navigate a work environment that is vastly different. Automakers will be among the first major manufacturing sectors to reopen factory floors.
— More than 300 Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman stores will reopen for business by the end of the week, starting with curbside or store pickup services. Approximately 20 stores in Europe, 35 stores in Japan, 35 stores in Malaysia and nearly 30 stores in Australia will be opened to customers, according to parent company Tapestry Inc. All stores have reopened in China and South Korea. Stores open to customers will adhere to social distancing guidelines under modified hours.
— The diagnostics company LabCorp is launching a return to work service for employers who are starting to bring employees back. Employee check-in health questionnaires, temperature screenings, and COVID-19 test collection are being offered at the workplace of the company, or at offsite locations.
TRAVEL & LEISURE: Boeing said this week that it’s gone another month without a single airplane order, cruise ships are devoid of passengers and gasoline prices are plunging because few people are commuting to work or taking road trips. Global travel is close to a standstill.
— The last of the three major cruise lines posted quarterly results Thursday and its losses were far greater than expected. However, Norwegian Cruise Lines says it’s raised enough cash to withstand the suspension of cruises for more than 18 months.
If mandated restrictions are lifted, it doesn’t appear that it will have to. Demand for cruises, Norwegian said, is picking up for the final three months of this year and bookings for next year are “within historical ranges.”
GOVERNMENTS & CENTRAL BANKS: Countries are seeking a path out of the pandemic that has cost millions of jobs.
— Germany’s parliament increased the amount paid to people who spend months in a government-backed short-time work program during the coronavirus crisis.
Companies are making extensive use of the program, which was credited with keeping down unemployment in the financial crisis over a decade ago. It allows them to keep employees on the payroll while they wait for conditions to improve.
More than 10.1 million people were registered for the program by the end of April. Germany has a population of 83 million.
— France will spend 18-billion euros ($19.4 billion) to support restaurants, hotels and other tourist destinations that have been closed since mid-March. That includes tax cuts, state-backed loans and other financial aid. Restaurants and cafes may reopen on June 2 in regions with limited less infections.
With the country starting to ease its lockdown this week, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday that citizens will be able to vacations in country and in territories starting in July and August. The government hopes local tourism will help the sector survive the anticipated absence of foreign travelers this summer. Tourism in France represents about 8% of the country’s gross domestic product, 30% of which comes from international visitors.
— The head of Spain’s Balearic Islands, a popular beach holiday spot in the Mediterranean, said it would like to fly in groups of foreign visitors at the end of June for trial runs before reopening to tourism in July. Officials have asked Spain to drop the two-week quarantine for those visitors that is now mandatory for tourists. About 16 million people visited the islands last year.
MARKETS: Global shares declined Thursday after another dire jobs report from the U.S. and other ominous developments related to the pandemic.