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Headlines

• Pfizer vaccine 90% effective, 50m doses ready by January 2021

• France’s GDP expected to be down 12% in November

• President Elect Joe Biden convenes Covid-19 task force

• Wales' 17-day 'firebreak' lockdown has ended

Company news

Leisure

• On the Beach# – “Following the re-opening of airspace in early July, the Group was pleased that its customers were once again able to enjoy international beach holidays, albeit this freedom was short-lived and the subsequent impact on consumer confidence has led to significant reductions in seat capacity over the winter. This position has now been further exacerbated by a four-week ban on international leisure travel, which began on 5 November.

As a result of the travel restrictions in place and low levels of consumer confidence, the Group experienced a varied trading performance through Q3 and Q4 with booking volumes down 75% and 53% respectively YoY. Due to strong cost control, adjusted profit before tax for the year (which excludes exceptional costs and brand amortisation) is at breakeven levels. Cancellation rates have been in excess of 90% across summer 2020, well above our assumption at the half year. The Group expects it to continue at these levels over the winter. This has led to further exceptional costs of £10m in H2 which the Group now expects to be £45m for the full year.”

• The Gym Group# – “Since re-opening on 25 July 2020, the Company has had over 10 million visits with very positive feedback from colleagues and members about the many measures taken to ensure gyms are Covid-secure. Across the UK Health and Fitness sector, adherence to Covid-secure procedures has been strong and in the week ending 11 October industry data shows cases of Covid-19 were only 2.88 per 100,000 visits. This sector-wide data convinced government to keep gyms open in all areas of the UK, including Tier 3 regions, until the most recent announcement of a national lockdown.”

Support Services

• Dignity – “Following the terrible impact of Covid-19 in the second quarter this year, the number of deaths in the third quarter was broadly flat on the prior year. The final quarter of 2019 witnessed 152,000 deaths and deaths in October were broadly flat on the prior year. The Group will not speculate on the most likely outcome for the remainder of the year, however it is possible that the tragic events of 2020 may mean 2021 and 2022 could experience a lower number of deaths than in 2019.”

Transport

• Ryanair – has cancelled all flights between Denmark and the United Kingdom after Britain ordered that its flight crews on those routes must quarantine for 14 days due to widespread coronavirus outbreaks at Danish mink farms.

Other

• Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, a preliminary analysis shows. The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised. The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month. Pfizer believes it will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year, and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. However, there are logistical challenges as the vaccine has to be kept in ultra-cold storage at below minus 80C.

• Hungary is imposing a partial lockdown for at least a month. As of Tuesday, restaurants will close, large gatherings are banned and a night-time curfew extended, secondary schools and universities will move teaching online, hotels can only take business travellers, and sports gatherings will be held behind closed doors. Family events will be limited to 10 people, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced.

• France’s economic activity is expected to be 12% lower than normal in the month of November after the country entered a lockdown for the second time this year, The Bank of France said today. This is worse than the 4% drop in October but better than the 31% loss seen in April.

• US President elect Joe Biden is to convene a coronavirus task force today. He is due to meet with a 12-member advisory board led by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler. Full Release

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