Airlines including British Airways and easyJet have called for the introduction of coronavirus testing as an alternative to quarantine by the end of this month in what they have described as a “last chance” to save the industry. 

Airlines UK, an industry body representing BA, easyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic, TUI, Jet2 and others, has said that action in needed before the end of September. In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, they warned that failure to do so will put the UK’s international connections at risk. 

“We urge you to announce and implement a policy on testing before the end of this month,” the letter says. 

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“The stakes could not be higher. We risk economic ruin otherwise.” 

IAG, the parent company of BA, has joined easyJet and Ryanair in reporting weaker travel demand of late due to shifting quarantine rules. Passengers arriving from countries with high coronavirus infection rates are currently required to isolate themselves for 14 days, though Ministers have said in recent days that they are looking at the possibility of introducing testing as an alternative to quarantine. 

Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech leaders must try harder to more effective at tackling disinformation, the European Commission has said. 

The warning comes two years after agreeing to a self-regulatory code to crack down on fake news, which has been found to have several shortcomings after a review of its first year in operation.  

“These can be grouped in four broad categories: inconsistent and incomplete application of the code across platforms and member states, lack of uniform definitions, existence of several gaps in the coverage of the code commitments, and limitations intrinsic to the self-regulatory nature of the code,” the report said. 

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The commission vice president for values and transparency, Vera Jourova, has called for more action to counter news risks which have been highlighted by the spread of misinformation across social media about Covid-19 during the pandemic. 

“As we also witness new threats and actors, the time is ripe to go further and propose new measures,” she said. “The platforms need to become more accountable and transparent.” 

Royal Bank of Scotland owner NatWest tapped £5 billion from a Bank of England fund set up to support lending to struggling small businesses in the pandemic, new data from the BoE has shown. 

The group has been the biggest user so far of the so-called TFSME scheme, which has extended £14.3bn to lenders at rock-bottom interest rates. Nationwide Building Society drew down the second largest amount at £3.2bn, followed by Santander’s UK unit at £2.5bn. 

Relative minnow Coventry Building Society has drawn down £1.5bn from the scheme, while the UK’s biggest domestic bank, Lloyds, has drawn down just £1bn so far. 

The TFSME scheme was launched in April by the BoE in anticipation of financial pressure on banks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It followed an earlier TFS scheme launched after the Brexit referendum, also designed to boost cheap lending.