Afternoon Coffee: Consumers hesitant about returning to public activities; UK releasing COVID-19 tracking app; Ex-Green Beret arrested in Ghosn escape

Economic recovery from coronavirus lockdowns could be impeded by the hesitancy of many U.S. residents to go back out to public activities, a poll conducted by The Associated Press found. The poll was conducted the week of May 14-18, with results coming from over 1,000 U.S. adults.

The poll found that only 42% of people who previously frequented concerts, theaters or sporting events would do so again in the next few weeks if allowed. Additionally, only about half said they would feel comfortable regularly returning to gyms or restaurants. With consumers accounting for about 70% of U.S. economic activity, many businesses could close permanently before residents feel comfortable returning to their regular pre-coronavirus activities.

UK releasing COVID-19 tracking app on June 1

The UK plans to have a COVID-19 tracking smartphone app launch on June 1, when lockdowns are eased, Reuters reports. The app is currently being tested on the Isle of Wight, where it is said to be working correctly.

The app will alert users if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. It is meant to complement conventional contact-tracing efforts and support any changes to social distancing rules.

Ex-Green Beret, son arrested in Ghosn escape

U.S. authorities have arrested an American ex-Green Beret soldier and his son for allegedly helping former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan in December, The Wall Street Journal reports. Ghosn had been charged in Japan with financial crimes and living in a court-monitored house when he disappeared, only to reappear in Lebanon to announce that he fled Japan due to fears of not receiving a fair trial.

Former soldier Michael Taylor, his son and Lebanese-born U.S. citizen George Zayek are alleged to have helped Ghosn flee Japan inside a box used for musical equipment, which was loaded onto a private jet in Osaka.

The report claims that Taylor spent several weeks in Beirut after helping Ghosn escape. Japan issued arrest warrants for both Taylors and Zayek in January. The Taylors were arrested Wednesday morning in Boston.

GM reopening plants in Mexico

General Motors started reopening its Mexican transmission and motor lines in Silao and Ramos Arizpe on Friday, Reuters reports. The factories have been closed for weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. GM Mexico allowed the assembly plants to restart depending on suppliers, and was assessing when to reopen other facilities in the country.

The Mexican automotive industry has been allowed to reopen before June 1 as long as appropriate safety measures were put in place. The plants will require workers to use personal protective equipment, maintain a distance of about 5 feet and have their temperatures taken before entering the facilities.

SoftBank sells 5% of telecom unit

SoftBank, the Japanese tech investment firm, plans to sell 5% in its domestic telecom SoftBank Corp (Japan's third-largest wireless carrier), Reuters reports. The sale is worth about $2.9 billion and leaves SoftBank with a 62.1% stake in the company. This is part of a plan by SoftBank to raise $41 billion to offset recent investment losses and support the price of its shares.

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