Here’s what you need to know:
Thanksgiving Day is being returned to the workers at major retail chains, fueled by concerns for worker and customer safety amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Target said Monday that it would close its stores on Thanksgiving this year as part of safety measures it has rolled out during the pandemic, following a similar announcement from Walmart last week, which cited appreciation for its staff.
“Let’s face it: Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn’t a year for crowds,” Target, which is based in Minneapolis, said in a statement. Target said that it would start offering deals in October this year as well as after the holiday.
The pandemic has given retailers the chance to reverse the creep of Black Friday sales into Thanksgiving, something that had increased in popularity over the past decade. The sales have received widespread criticism for forcing workers into stores on a holiday often spent with family, and for promoting consumerism on what’s meant to be a day of gratitude. The criticism has deepened as more consumers shop online from their couches instead of lining up at stores.
Last year, Target opened at 5 p.m. on Thursday and stayed open until 1 a.m. on Black Friday. (It reopened at 7 a.m. that day.) A spokeswoman for Walmart said that the retailer had been open on Thanksgiving since “the 1980s.”
John Furner, the head of Walmart’s U.S. operations, said last week in a memo to employees that after a trying year, “We want you to enjoy the day at home with your loved ones.”
Other retailers are likely to follow suit given the size of Walmart and Target. Dick’s Sporting Goods also announced Monday that its retail locations and distribution centers would shut for the holiday.
Judy Shelton, President Trump’s unconventional nominee to the Federal Reserve Board, has lost the support of a second Republican senator, potentially imperiling her confirmation to the central bank.
Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said in a statement that she would not vote for Ms. Shelton’s confirmation, joining Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, who said last week that he would not support Mr. Trump’s choice.
“Ms. Shelton has openly called for the Federal Reserve to be less independent of the political branches, and has even questioned the need for a central bank,” Ms. Collins said in her statement. “This is not the right signal to send, particularly in the midst of the pandemic.”
Ms. Shelton needs only a simple majority vote to clear the Senate. Assuming no Democrats support her candidacy, she would need to avoid losing another two Republicans to get the votes she needs for confirmation.
Ms. Shelton’s chances remain unclear. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaskan Republican who was thought to be a possible “no” vote on the nomination, told reporters last week that she was leaning yes.
Her candidacy has raised questions in part because of her close ties to the White House. Ms. Shelton advised Mr. Trump’s campaign and critics, including Democratic senators, have suggested she would lack the independence needed for the Fed board. Her views have also raised eyebrows: Ms. Shelton has a long history of pushing for a gold standard, or a similar system in which currency is backed by a common store of value.
She is nominated alongside Christopher Waller, the research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and a much more conventional pick. It is unclear when the Senate will vote on the nominations.
If both are confirmed, Mr. Trump will have nominated six of the board’s seven members, who hold a constant vote on monetary policy and regulatory oversight of the largest banks.
Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet, told employees Monday that they would not be expected back in the office until mid-2021.
The company’s work force, which has been working remotely since March, had previously been told to expect a return to the office in January 2021.
A Google spokesman said: “To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021 for roles that don’t need to be in the office.”
Technology companies moved quickly with work from home policies from the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and have been reluctant to bring workers back too early. In May, Facebook said it would allow many employees to work from home permanently.
The moves reflect the reality that no one can be sure how long the coronavirus pandemic will last, as new outbreaks emerge across the United States even as the spread of the virus has slowed in early hot zones like New York City.
Germany is bouncing back quickly from the pandemic, according to a survey of businesses that is a reliable weather vane of the direction of Europe’s largest economy. But economists cautioned that a return to normal is still a long way off.
The business climate index compiled by the Ifo Institute in Munich, which measures levels of optimism among business executives, rose more than expected in July after suffering record declines earlier in the year. There was a particularly strong rebound in services, a category that includes professions such as housecleaning, brain surgery and management consulting. The manufacturing, construction and retail sectors also recovered.
“Businesses believe that the worst is over,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said in a note to clients.
Several factors continue to weigh on growth. Consumers are likely to be cautious about spending because they are worried about keeping their jobs. Businesses have taken on debt to get through the crisis, and may cut back on investment in new equipment. The number of new coronavirus cases is rising in Germany, France and other countries as residents return from holidays abroad, threatening a second wave of the pandemic and renewed lockdowns.
“Expectations regarding the recovery in the German economy should not be overstated,” Marco Wagner, senior economist at Commerzbank, said in a note.
Here’s the latest news in the ongoing negotiations in Washington over a new stimulus package:
Republicans are seeking a $400-per-week reduction in unemployment benefits in their $1 trillion proposal economic recovery package, initially lowering the payments for tens of millions of jobless Americans from $600 to $200, according to officials familiar with the talks.
The proposal to slash the jobless aid by two thirds, part of a Republican plan they intend to present later on Monday, is likely to be among the most bitterly contested issues in bipartisan negotiations over the next round of pandemic relief. Democrats support a $3 trillion package that includes extending the $600-per-week unemployment payments, which expire on Friday, through the end of the year.
Is Labor Day our moment to return to the movie theaters? Warner Bros. is betting on it.
On Monday, Warner said that it was scheduling the oft-moving “Tenet” for a Sept. 4 release in the United States. First, though, the film will open in over 70 countries, including Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom, starting on Aug. 26.
Touted as a mind-bending thriller from the filmmaker Christopher Nolan, “Tenet” has become something of a marker in the struggle to open theaters in the United States. Originally slated for July 17, the film’s release has been pushed back twice because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The release of Walt Disney’s “Mulan” has also been delayed, as has “Unhinged,” a Russell Crowe thriller from Solstice Studios. While those are likely to receive new release dates in the late summer or early fall, other studios have given up on 2020. Paramount, for example, has pushed its wide releases for films like “A Quiet Place 2” and the “Top Gun” sequel into 2021.
Gold reached a record high on Monday, continuing its rise as nervous investors sought a safe place to put their money.
The price for spot gold, which has been climbing steadily since March, reached a record high of $1,944 per ounce on Monday.
The price of gold usually rises amid financial uncertainty, and its recent climb reflected a number of factors, including concern over U.S.-China relations, the decline of the U.S. dollar amid the Federal Reserve’s stimulus efforts and rock-bottom interest rates. The last time gold reached this level was following the 2008 financial crisis, another time when the Fed flooded the economy with dollars to generate economic activity.
Stock markets were mixed on Monday, with shares in the United States slightly higher while those in Europe and Asia were mostly lower. The S&P 500 rose more than half a percent, as shares of large technology companies like Apple and Microsoft rebounded from a decline last week. Reflecting the rally in tech stocks, the Nasdaq composite rose more than 1.5 percent.
Monday saw some encouraging news on the coronavirus vaccine front. Shares of the biotech company Moderna rose more than 9 percent after it said that it had received another $472 million in funding from the U.S. government. Moderna’s experimental vaccine will go into a Phase 3 test on Monday involving 30,000 people.
The British government’s abrupt decision over the weekend to order travelers arriving from Spain to self-isolate for 14 days, citing a spurt in coronavirus cases in that country, added to uncertainty over travel restrictions and caused shares of travel-related companies to dive. The British low-cost airline EasyJet and the European travel company Tui each fell sharply, as did IAG, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia.
As countries around the world tighten rules on mask-wearing, consumers are demanding more from their face coverings. And companies are responding.
Inventors have dreamed up masks with motorized air purifiers, Bluetooth speakers and even sanitizers that kill germs by heating the face covering (but hopefully not the face) to over 200 degrees. In South Korea, the electronics giant LG has created a mask powered with fans that make it easier to breathe.
In boutiques, patterned masks are showing up on mannequins, exquisitely paired with designer dresses. An Indian businessman said he spent $4,000 on a custom mask made of gold. And a French costume designer has filled Instagram with phantasmagoric designs featuring everything from pterodactyls to doll legs.
The urge to innovate has been great in Japan, where masks were widespread even before the pandemic. On Takeshita Street in Harajuku, the youth fashion mecca, storefronts are lined with masks ranging from the playful (plush animal faces) to the punk-inspired (leather straps studded with spikes and safety pins).
But while these masks may be fashionable, buyers should beware, said Kazunari Onishi, an expert on infectious diseases at the Graduate School of Public Health at St. Luke’s International University in Tokyo.
“If your priority is reliably preventing infection, these masks will not protect your life,” he said, adding that even if you wear a mask, “you must maintain a safe social distance.”
The gym chain Planet Fitness announced Monday that all guests would be required to wear masks at all times while inside its facilities, effective Aug. 1. “Club employees have already been required to wear masks, but this new measure is designed to keep everyone in the clubs as safe as possible, which is Planet Fitness’ top priority,” the company said in a statement. The announcement follows similar policies implemented by national chains in recent weeks, including Walmart, Target and McDonald’s. Planet Fitness opened its 2,000th gym in December 2019.
The pandemic has scrambled what fliers want.
Price and schedule flexibility used to be the most important factors in choosing a flight, but now customers are more concerned about cleanliness and social distancing throughout the airport and on the plane, according to Bill Lentsch, a 30-year veteran of Delta Air Lines who serves as its chief customer experience officer.
“The order of priorities is different,” he said in an interview.
Delta is trying to stake a claim as one of the most cautious airlines in the industry, as it and its peers fight over the few people who are still flying. The airline has already promised to leave middle seats empty through September, test all of its employees for the coronavirus and clean each of its planes between flights.
Last month, Delta teamed up with the Mayo Clinic, and on Monday, it announced a new partnership with the parent company of Lysol to improve cleaning in flight, starting with airplane lavatories.
“It doesn’t sound terribly glamorous, but it’s incredibly important to our people,” Mr. Lentsch said.
The airline hopes those partnerships will yield dividends, helping to improve its practices in unexpected ways.
“We’re looking for a critical eye to help us fill any gaps and push the boundaries,” Mr. Lentsch said. “It is my opinion that in three to six months, there are going to be some products on our airplanes that I’m not even contemplating right now.”
Tesla has been riding high lately, and so has its billionaire chief executive, Elon Musk. But in recent days, notes today’s DealBook newsletter, Mr. Musk has gotten into a few public scrapes, including briefly with his partner, the musician Grimes.
Last week, Tesla sued an upstart carmaker, Rivian, accusing it of hiring four former Tesla employees and ordering them to take confidential information before joining.
On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, criticized Mr. Musk for opposing further coronavirus stimulus. In response to a tweet in which Mr. Musk said that more stimulus is “not in the best interests of the people,” the former Democratic presidential candidate called the auto executive a “hypocrite.”
What a hypocrite. Elon Musk has received billions in corporate welfare from U.S. taxpayers. Now he wants to stop 30 million Americans who lost jobs from receiving $600 a week in unemployment benefits, while his wealth has gone up by $46.7 billion over the past 4 months. Pathetic. https://t.co/hECaTul3ZI
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 24, 2020
The next day, Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, admonished Mr. Musk for a tweet in which he wrote, “Pronouns suck.” Critics on Twitter saw his message as mocking the use of gender-neutral pronouns by transgender and nonbinary individuals. In a tweet that has since been deleted, Grimes wrote, “I cannot support hate. Please stop this. I know this isn’t your heart.”
Otherwise, Mr. Musk appears to be doing fine. In a wide-ranging interview with The Times’s Maureen Dowd, he opened up on domestic life with Grimes and their two-month-old son, shared his thoughts on his Twitter account being hacked and aired more of his contentious views on politics and the pandemic.