Coronavirus: United Kingdom, facing worst recession on record, sees GDP drop 20.4% in Q2

The UK has seen its economy, hit by the coronavirus crisis, suffer a "record" contraction of 20.4% in the second quarter, and is officially facing its worst recession on record, agency figures show National Statistics (ONS), published Wednesday 12 August. 
Economists consider that a country enters a technical recession when it accumulates two consecutive quarters of contraction in its economy. According to the ONS, most of the contraction, which began to be felt in March, occurred in April, an entire month of containment and almost total cessation of activity in the country, which saw production collapsed by 20%.

With a very early recovery in construction sites and manufacturing activity, gross domestic product (GDP) rebounded in May by 2.4% (revised figure), followed by an acceleration in June (+8.7 %) thanks in particular to the reopening of all shops. This is the biggest contraction in the UK economy since the ONS began these quarterly statistics in 1955, he said…

Reopening of schools: can mayors say no to the state? | France

Despite the will of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to leave a large margin of maneuver to the mayors for the deconfinement of the schools, from May 11, the State wishes to avoid a reopening à la carte. Explanations. "I will trust the mayors". Faced with the immense challenge of school deconfinement, which must begin on May 11 with the gradual reopening of nursery and primary schools, Edouard Philippe decided to rely on the mayors. Closer to the ground and the concerns of their constituents, the municipal officials of 35,000 municipalities are, he judges, the best qualified to orchestrate this high-risk return.
 
Reopening of schools: can mayors say no to the state?

Problem: many mayors, worried about the health of their young people and teachers, refuse to reopen the schools on the scheduled date. Without having the necessary human resources or suitable premises, they do not consider themselves able to enforce the strict health protocol (classes of 15 children maximum, physical distance, barrier gestures, etc.) of the government, whose essential principles have already been revealed.

In Seine-Saint-Denis, a department dramatically impacted by the coronavirus, eight centrist ediles took up the pen to warn the prefecture and the national education authorities of their refusal to reopen nursery schools and crèches for the moment. "The virus will not stop on May 11. The conditions for a return to school, while the virus is still there, are not met!", Says for example Aude Lagarde, mayor of Drancy, in the Azzedine Taibi, PCF mayor of Stains, shares this concern: “At the moment, the health risk is too great and I am not able to guarantee the safety and health of the children, our teachers and our municipal staff. I don't want to endanger their lives, "he said on BFMTV.

In Lille, mayor PS Martine Aubry has already warned that the reopening of schools will depend on “health security”. She believes that a threshold of ten students per class would be more appropriate and announces a decision "during the weekend, or Monday at the latest." Like some of his counterparts in France, Henri Fauqué, mayor (various left) of Saulce-sur-Rhône (Drôme), signed a municipal decree now closing the schools beyond May 11: “Our premises being too cramped, we are not able to enforce the rules of health security, and in the first place social distancing, even with 10 to 15 pupils per class ”, he explains to Capital.




Mayors want to decide. But will the state let them decide freely, even if they ignore the presidential speech of April 13, which made the reopening of schools from May 11 a priority? Not quite, according to the national education ministry: “There is a national framework, announced by the president, which is that of the reopening of schools on May 11. It is not a la carte recovery, where the decision would belong to the local authorities, with simple recommendations from the state. However, there is a very broad appreciation which is left to the communities for the material organization of the return to school. What is most important is the possibility for the municipalities to respect the health protocol. Without that, there will be no reopening, ”rue de Grenelle told Capital.

The speech is identical on the side of Matignon, where we advocate an application of the general rule, that is to say the reopening of primary and kindergarten schools throughout the territory closest to the field. “The idea is that there is a permanent dialogue between the mayors and the state services in the territory, a duo mayor-prefect, to assess whether the sanitary conditions are met in this or that establishment for welcome students. The government has no intention of going against local elected officials, who know their communities well and run schools. Our priority is the health of students and teachers, ”says Edouard Philippe’s office.

At the heart of the departments, the sensitive issue of the reopening of schools could provoke tensions between city officials and state services, anxious to uphold the famous national framework dictated by the Elysée. This is already the case in Drôme, where the prefect Hugues Moutouh enjoins the mayor of Saulce-sur-Rhône, Henri Fauqué, to withdraw his municipal decree extending the closure of schools after May 11. Convinced that local circumstances make it impossible for the children to return in satisfactory sanitary conditions, the latter said he was ready to defend his position before the administrative court in the event of a contentious appeal.




What does administrative law say about this? “The mayor of a municipality may in principle decide to close a school in application of his powers of general administrative police for reasons of security, tranquility or healthiness, in accordance with article L2212-12 of the General Code of local authorities , explains to Capital Mathias Amilhat, lecturer in public law at the University of Toulouse. However, the exercise of this police power is exercised under the control of the representative of the State, that is to say the prefect of the department ”. If he judges it illegal, the latter therefore has the possibility of applying to the administrative judge to have him censure the closure decision taken by the mayor.

“For this decision to be legal, it must be shown that compelling reasons linked to local circumstances make this decision essential. And this, provided that this does not compromise the coherence and the effectiveness of the measures taken by the state authorities to ensure the protection of public health ”, further specifies Mathias Amilhat. The mayors, who, like Henri Fauqué, decide to “keep the keys to the school in their pocket on May 11”, will therefore have to convince the prefect, or even the administrative judge, that the local circumstances of their commune do not leave them other choice.