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FirstFT: Boris Johnson abandons ‘amber watchlist’

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Boris Johnson has scrapped the idea of an “amber watchlist” for foreign holiday destinations after warnings that it might have forced hundreds of thousands of tourists from England to cancel European breaks.

The prime minister yesterday said he wanted to create a system that was “as simple and user-friendly for people as possible” as the government prepared to update its traffic-light travel ratings this week.

Media reports suggested that popular destinations, including Spain and Italy, could have ended up on the watchlist.

At home, the NHS Covid-19 app has been tweaked to reduce the number of people required to self-isolate, according to the health department.

Almost a quarter of England’s nightclubs and late-night venues face closure or reducing opening hours owing to the app’s “pingdemic”, which has exacerbated acute staff shortages across the hospitality sector.

Five more stories in the news

1. Carbon offsets going up in smoke US forests that generate the carbon offsets bought by companies including BP and Microsoft are on fire as blazes rage in North America. Corporate net-zero emission pledges rely on such projects to compensate for the carbon dioxide they generate.

Listen: On the latest episode of Tech Tonic, John Thornhill asks whether the potential of artificial intelligence to fight climate change justifies its energy demands.

2. Goldman Sachs boosts junior pay The lender has raised junior staff salaries in response to complaints of burnout from recruits caught in the pandemic dealmaking boom. First-year analysts will earn a base wage of $110,000, excluding annual bonuses. Separately, Goldman is looking to slash its equity investments portfolio, relying instead on fees from pension funds and wealthy clients to bring in asset management revenue.

3. Tories defend fundraising amid donor controversy The UK’s Conservative party yesterday hit back at accusations it has offered privileged access to senior ministers in return for large donations, claiming that Labour has its own arrangements for special access.

Conservative party co-chair Amanda Milling
Conservative party co-chair Amanda Milling: ‘Government policy is in no way influenced by donations the party receives’ © Jonathan Brady/PA

4. IMF warns on crypto as national currencies The multilateral lender has warned against using cryptocurrencies as legal tender just over a month before El Salvador is set to become the first nation to allow bitcoin payments for everything from haircuts to taxes.

5. Rwanda joins Mozambique counter-insurgency Rwandan soldiers have joined the fight to counter Islamist insurgents in Mozambique’s far north as the latter turns to regional partners for help in a conflict that has killed more than 3,000 people since 2017 and imperilled the development of multibillion-dollar gas reserves.

Tokyo Olympics round-up

Laurel Hubbard: ‘I know that my participation in these Games has not been entirely without controversy. But I think they’ve been just so wonderful’ © AP
Laurel Hubbard: ‘I know that my participation in these Games has not been entirely without controversy. But I think they’ve been just so wonderful’ © AP

Simone Biles will return to competition today in the women’s balance beam final, USA Gymnastics said.

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender athlete to compete in an Olympics.

Norwegian hurdler Karsten Warholm won gold in the men’s 400-metre hurdles and broke the 46-second mark, setting a world record.

The US women’s soccer team lost their semi-final to Canada, 1-0. They will face Sweden in the gold medal match, while the US meets Australia for the bronze.

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has taken refuge in Poland’s embassy in Japan after alleging she was taken to the airport against her will. Western nations need to tighten sanctions on Belarus to restore democracy and end repression, opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told the FT.

How have Russian athletes been winning medals even though Russia was banned from the Olympics? Murad Ahmed and Max Seddon explain. (FT, CNN, Guardian)

Add ‘Tokyo Olympics’ to myFT for all our coverage from the Games, and don’t miss our “alternative medals table”.

Coronavirus digest

The IMF has agreed to a $650bn allocation of its special drawing rights to boost the pandemic finances of low and middle-income countries.

The US has administered at least one vaccine dose to 70 per cent of adults, almost one month later than it planned. Some cities are reintroducing mask requirements to counter the Delta variant.

The airline industry’s cautious optimism is spreading as the largest number of planes take flight since the pandemic started. But in the first five months of the year, international arrivals were still on average down 85 per cent on pre-Covid levels.

China is rushing to control its first widespread outbreak of the Delta variant.

Sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter and follow the latest developments on our live blog.

The day ahead

UK GDP Britain releases second-quarter gross domestic product figures today. Last month, data showed that the UK’s economic recovery slowed significantly in May. (FT)

Raisi takes power in Iran Iran’s new president Ebrahim Raisi will be sworn in as the Islamic republic has been shaken by protests over water and electricity shortages and readies for talks over the 2015 nuclear deal.

Earnings round-up Investors will be eager to hear from Ant Group about the impact of China’s tech sector crackdown in the June quarter. Other companies reporting include London-listed insurers Hisco and Direct Line, Marriott, as well as Italian insurer Generali. Read the full list here.

What else we’re reading

We should not be sanguine about a shrinking population The pandemic’s impact on procreation may prove fleeting. But it has focused attention on the long-term decline in the number of babies women are having almost everywhere, writes Sarah O’Connor.

Is Joe Biden’s presidency vulnerable to inflation? The US bounceback from the depths of the coronavirus crisis has been remarkably vigorous after Joe Biden approved $1,400 in direct payments and vaccinations spurred a quick lifting of restrictions. The blot on an otherwise encouraging picture: higher than expected inflation.

Bar chart of Annual % change (June 2021) showing Signs of inflation: US consumer prices

China’s young ‘lie flat’ on stress A trend among young Chinese to opt out of stressful jobs represents the antithesis of the development model that has delivered extraordinary growth over four decades. As youths put the “996” — 9am to 9pm, six days a week — work schedule on notice, Beijing is perturbed. (FT, NYT)

Weary Tunisians welcome president’s power grab Opponents have accused Tunisia’s president Kais Saied of provoking a political crisis and bringing back one-man rule after he fired the prime minister and suspended parliament for 30 days. But many Tunisians, whose standards of living have plummeted since the 2011 revolution, consider him a saviour from corrupt and inept governance.

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