Coronavirus latest: Biden signs law on pandemic-related hate crimes against Asian Americans

More than half of US adults remain concerned about returning to the workplace. A Harris poll of 2,055 Americans over 18 found that 54 per cent see barriers that will prevent them from returning to work, with 57 per cent of that group citing the fear of catching coronavirus during their commute or at their workplace.

New Yorkers who get vaccinated next week will also have a shot at becoming a millionaire after Andrew Cuomo, governor, announced plans for a “Vax & Scratch” vaccine lottery. Those who get vaccinated from May 24 to May 28 will receive a scratch-off for the state’s Mega Multiplier Lottery, which has a top prize of $5m.

The French government plans to accelerate its vaccination programme against Covid-19 by opening inoculation to all adults in the country from May 31, two weeks earlier than previously planned. “We need the highest possible vaccination rate,” prime minister Jean Castex said. “We [must] all remain vigilant.”

Mario Draghi has said early signs of inflation in Europe were likely to be temporary as his government announced €40bn in additional spending to help the Italian economy recover from the pandemic. “Monetary policy will continue to remain expansionary,” he said, adding: “Restrictive fiscal policies are unthinkable.”

Pedestrians pass a Ralph Lauren store in Beverly Hills, California © Reuters

Ralph Lauren said people are craving what it calls “inclusive” luxury as it reported better than expected quarterly sales. The New York-based fashion company said fourth-quarter revenues rose 1 per cent to $1.29bn, ahead of analysts’ expectations for $1.21bn, as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted its business.

Kingfisher has upgraded its first-half guidance after the UK owner of B&Q benefited from a lockdown-induced enthusiasm for home improvements in its domestic market and in France. The group expects like-for-like sales growth in the first half of the fiscal year to be “mid to high-teens”, up from “low double-digit”.

Young’s swung to a loss for the year, hammered by lockdown restrictions closing its pubs and hotels, but hopes to return to pre-pandemic levels of trade by next month. Young’s fell to a loss before tax of £44.1m in the year to March 29, down from a profit of £37.7m the year before. Revenue declined 70 per cent to £90.6m.

Budget airline easyJet laid out a cautious start to the summer season amid uncertainty over travel restrictions. The UK-listed carrier on Thursday said it expected to fly 15 per cent of its normal schedule between April and June, and is planning for capacity levels to increase towards the end of the period.

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