UK enters day one of COVID-19 ‘delay’ phase / US and India enforce coronavirus travel bans / Funding for UK digital skills initiative  

By Robert Scammell


Good morning, here’s your Friday morning briefing. Look out for these three things happening around the world today.

UK enters day one of COVID-19 ‘delay’ phase

The UK enters the second stage of its coronavirus response plan – the ‘delay’ phase.

This means that the government will now consider measures such as closing schools and postponing or cancelling large-scale gatherings.

Anyone with a persistent cough or high temperature should also self-isolate for seven days, the government said. It has also recommended the cancellation of any school trips abroad.

Republic of Ireland leader Leo Varadkar announced yesterday that colleges, schools and childcare facilities across Ireland would be closed until March 29, as well as measures to cancel large gatherings.

US and India enforce coronavirus travel bans

The US ban on European travel and a suspension of visa-free travel in India come into effect today as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Yesterday President Donald Trump issued a proclamation suspending travel into the United States for any non-residents who have been in one of the 26 Schengen Area European countries in the previous 14 days.

The measures, which come into force at midnight EDT and will last 30 days, do not apply to travel from the UK, or to US citizens and permanent residents, as well as other exceptional circumstances.

Meanwhile, India’s Ministry of Health’s visa-free travel ban comes into effect at 12pm GMT at the port of departure. All existing visas have been suspended, barring a select few categories.

Funding announcement for UK digital skills initiative

The UK’s Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, unveils funding for the government’s Local Digital Fund.

The initiative was set up in 2018 by then-local government minister Rishi Sunak. Its aim is to fund digital skills training that addresses common local service challenges, as well as fund collaborative projects.

Previous projects include an e-payment system to help councils adopt existing cost-effective payment and management systems and a test for common data standards for community-based services.

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