England lifts restrictions, pubs to reopen; Beijing ramps up testing capacity


The Atlantic Council’s Coronavirus Alert is a regular summary of policy, economic, and business events around the emergency. To stay updated, sign up to the Coronavirus Alert here.

In top stories today:

  • England will lift many of its coronavirus restrictions next month, including the reopening of pubs, restaurants, and museums. Beijing ramped up testing capacity following a new outbreak in the Chinese capital, while Saudi Arabia curtailed this year’s Hajj on virus concerns.
  • England will lift many coronavirus restrictions on July 4 including the reopening of pubs, restaurants, hotels, and museums, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told lawmakers, The New York Times reported. That brings the country more into line with European neighbors including Germany and Italy, the newspaper said. Social distance will be cut in half to one meter, or about three feet, the Times added.
  • EVENT: German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer joins the Atlantic Council to discuss transatlantic resilience in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of the transatlantic alliance, and the geopolitical challenges from Russia and China. Details of the Atlantic Council Front Page event at 9:30 am ET on Wednesday, June 24 are here.
  • QUOTE: “[O]ur long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end,” Johnson said, The New York Times reported.
  • Mass testing for coronavirus in the Chinese capital Beijing, a city of more than 20 million people, will soon enter a “fast track” as capacity expands following a sudden re-emergence of the virus almost two weeks ago, Reuters said, citing Zhang Hua, deputy director at the Beijing Municipal Health Commission.
  • The statistics say… Beijing can now administer 300,000 daily tests compared with 40,000 a day in March. The city took samples from 2.95 million people between June 12 and June 22 as, during the twelve days since the new outbreak, 249 people have become infected, Reuters reported.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious diseases expert, testifies before a House committee on June 23 as coronavirus cases increase in about half the states, The Associated Press reported. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner; and Admiral Brett Giroir, the head of the US Public Health Service will testify too, the news service added.
  • QUOTE: “It doesn’t look like there’s any significant impact right now from the weather” as cases increase in warmer states including Florida, Texas, and Arizona, Fauci said in an interview, Bloomberg reported.


  • The impact of coronavirus on the auto industry is in the news. Car sales are forecast to drop by a record 25 percent this year, Bloomberg cited the European Automobile Manufacturers Association as saying. Meanwhile, about 2 percent of Volkswagen’s Mexican unit have contracted the disease at some point, Reuters reported. On June 16 the automaker started sending workers back in lower numbers to its plant in Puebla, the newswire said.
  • There’s been a low take-up of loans meant to help mitigate the economic impact of coronavirus in Europe, with less than 15 percent of funds available tapped, Bloomberg reported, citing figures from seven of the region’s biggest economies. Banks, businesses, and officials blame each other for the more than two trillion dollars, bigger than Spain’s gross domestic product, left on the table, the newswire added.  
  • EVENT: Executive Vice President Vestager discusses the European Union’s (EU) economic strategy in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the outlook for the forthcoming EU digital policy initiatives, and growing support in the EU for a stronger focus on digital sovereignty. Details of the Atlantic Council Front Page event at 10:00 am ET on Tuesday, June 23 are here.
  • The American University of Beirut (AUB)—contending with a triple hit of the coronavirus pandemic, a severe recession, and the collapse of Lebanon’s currency—plans to lay off 25 percent of its workforce of 6,500, close administrative departments, and shelve plans for a new medical center, The Associated Press reported, citing an interview with AUB President Fadlo Khuri.


  • “Sanofi, a straggler in the Covid-19 vaccine race, accelerates its plans” reads a headline on news service Stat. The French drugmaker expects to win approval for a coronavirus shot that it’s developing with GlaxoSmithKline in the first half of 2021, compared with the second half of next year previously, Bloomberg reported. The pair plan to start compressed early- and mid-stage clinical trials in September, Bloomberg reported, pushed up from December, according to Stat. Sanofi also struck a $425 million deal to broaden a vaccine tie-up with Translate Bio, a smaller biotech company, Stat added.  
  • Two doses of AstraZeneca’s experimental vaccine against coronavirus produced a stronger immune response in pigs than a single dose does, Reuters reported, citing research released on June 23 by the United Kingdom’s Pirbright Institute. However it’s not known yet what level of antibodies is needed to give humans protection against the disease, Reuters cited the research as saying.
  • Newborn triplets in San Luis Potosí state, Mexico have tested positive for coronavirus, with medical experts investigating whether the disease could have been passed via the mother’s placenta, the BBC reported. One boy and a girl are stable but the second boy is being treated for a respiratory condition, the BBC added.  
  • QUOTE: “As a physician and a scientist who has cared for patients and who has been involved in the development of vaccines, I feel the urgency to get a vaccine approved for global use. And I have deep admiration for the courageous volunteers who are willing to put themselves in danger,” Michael Rosenblatt wrote on news service Stat, referring to the 25,000 people who have volunteered to be infected. “In this situation, however, their sacrifice cannot be justified.”


  • Saudi Arabia has limited access to this year’s Hajj, the Muslim world’s most important religious pilgrimage, only to those already in the kingdom rather than the millions of pilgrims who normally congregate at Islam’s holiest sites, The Wall Street Journal reported. The country is contending with one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the Middle East, the newspaper added.
  • Business travel may never recover following the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reported, citing an interview with Steve Hafner, co-founder and CEO of travel search engine Kayak. The frequency of trips will probably go down and prices will increase as before the pandemic, business travelers typically brought in half of revenue on any flight, Hafner said, Bloomberg reported.