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Quest Means Business

British PM says End to Lockdown will be Irreversible; Jaguar Land Rover to Go All-Electric by 2030; Nissan is not in Talks with Apple to Build Car; U.S. COVID Numbers Down, Concern About Variants Rises; Expo 2020 In Dubai Showcases Sustainability; Micro-Businesses Need A Closer Look For COVID Relief; WHO Team Talks To CNN About Wuhan Investigation; Lebanon Starts To Vaccinate, Lebanese People Are Wary. Aired 3-4p ET.

Aired February 15, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: With no trading on Wall Street on Presidents' Day, global markets are still pushing higher.

These are the headlines and these are also the main events.

Boris Johnson promises an irreversible end to Britain's lockdown.

Jaguar says it will go all-electric by the year 2025. You'll hear from its chief executive.

And more info needed, the Kremlin responds to Elon Musk's invitation to Vladimir Putin.

Coming to you live from New York, it is Monday, the 15th of February. I am Zain Asher, in for my colleague, Richard Quest and this is QUEST MEANS


Tonight, the U.K. hits a vaccine milestone with 15 million doses administered. Now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing pressure to

reopen the British economy. He is hearing from business leaders and members of his own party to lift strict lockdown measures.

The British pound is hitting multi-year highs on hopes the restriction will soon be eased. The Prime Minister is urging patience and says the threat

from COVID remains very real.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So this moment is a huge step forward, but it is only a first step, and while it shows what the country

can do, we must be both optimistic, but also patient.

And next week, I'll be sending out a road map saying as much as we possibly can about the route to normality and even though some things are very

uncertain, because we want this lockdown to be the last and we want progress to be cautious, but also irreversible.


ASHER: Mr. Johnson has faced heavy criticism for his handling of the COVID crisis so far, but he said the country would vaccinate 15 million people by

February 15th and he has technically done that.

The U.K. has the highest vaccination rate in the world trailing only Israel and the United Arab Emirates. They have given more shots than Germany,

France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and Belgium combined.

Scott McLean is in London for us, but Scott, despite these milestones being hit, despite the fact that Boris Johnson has clearly reached some of his

goals, he says this is no time to relax. What do you know for sure at this point about when lockdown measures will be somewhat eased?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, honestly, very little at this point. The Prime Minister is promising a week today to give an update, a road map

as you will to outline what the government's plans are.

But even then, the Prime Minister in the past has made quite clear that he expects any dates that are given, any goals that are given at that update

will only be sort of an idea of best case scenario.

Things could still be pushed back depending on how this goes. You heard the Prime Minister there in that clip that you played, Zain, being quite

skittish as to the future, trying to be very cautious sounding like he has sort of been burned before on reopening too quickly and this time he wants

to make sure all of this progress that they have made actually sticks.

ASHER: And Scott, part of the issue that Boris Johnson talked about there, he says, no real data on how much or how little the vaccines actually

prevent the spread of COVID-19, and so, he is saying that people in London despite the restrictions, people in the U.K. rather, have to be patient.

That was the overriding message here.

MCLEAN: Yes, you are absolutely right. So they think that they are starting to see some effects, that was the message from the Chief Medical

Officer tonight at the press conference saying that they think that they are starting to see bits and pieces, but there is not enough hard data yet

in order to tell for sure that this is having a big impact or how much of an impact it is having.

What we know for sure though is that almost 90 percent of the people who are at highest risk of this dying, they have been vaccinated in this first

group, talking about people in care homes, frontline healthcare workers, and anybody over the age of 70.

And so, when they do start to see effects, they think that the biggest thing will be on the mortality rate. Hospitalizations they also expect to

fall, but at a slower rate, because the people being hospitalized right now are falling on a much wider age gap than the ones who are typically dying.

And so hospitalizations will have to take a little bit longer to come down. The next goal for this government is to have everyone over the age of 50

vaccinated by the end of April, Zain, along with the second dose for that older first group.

And so, this vaccination program which has been moving at a remarkable speed will actually have to accelerate.


ASHER: Scott McLean, live for us there, thank you so much.

The U.K. is marking this vaccine milestone on the same day that new quarantine policies take effect in England. Travelers returning from 33

high risk countries must now spend 10 days in a government approved hotel. The cost per adult in U.S. dollars by the way is about $2,500.00 U.S.

dollars, in pounds about 1,700 pounds or so. Not chump change by any stretch of the imagination.

People coming from non-high risk countries must quarantine for 10 days at home. Let's talk about this with Salma Abdelaziz who is joining us live

from London.

So, Salma, there have been sort of some kinks. People have been complaining because they are saying basically people coming from these red list

countries essentially end up mingling on the plane and at the airport with passengers coming from non-red list countries.

Is there any attempt or any plans for the U.K. government to address that?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, Zain, if you ask the British Health Secretary, he will say, "I have addressed that. I have set that up." There

are separate channels in the airports. People will be kept apart and that there is strict enforcement.

But yes, we've already heard complaints from passengers who are on these planes that they are coming up against each other and people who are

opposed to this policy might say it is not tough enough, and that this is part of the reason why these rules please aren't strict enough.

Yes, you have 33 red list countries, if you come from those countries, you now have to do that 10-day quarantine. Those 33 countries are based around

these variants, the variant that is prevalent in Brazil and the variant that is prevalent in South Africa, so around those countries and those

neighboring countries but the question is, are these variants only limited to those places?

And I think experts will tell you, absolutely not, and that's why you see a great deal of criticism when it comes to this policy because some people

are saying it should be a blanket quarantine for all countries.

Now, it is important to remember there are very few flights now coming into the U.K., but the gem here, the real treasure that the authorities and that

everyone is trying to protect is those 15 million people who have received the first dose of their vaccine. The authorities really want to keep hold

of that progress -- Zain.

ASHER: So, Salma, the people who are watching this program who are in one of the 33 red list countries and who might be planning on coming to the

U.K. for whatever reason, what can they expect when they arrive? Just what walk us through the process of them arriving, going through Customs,

answering certain questions, and being escorted by security at the airport to local hotels?

ABDELAZIZ: It is a complicated process, Zain, and that is why you don't see many people taking part in it, but the first step they would have to do

is get on the government website and book a hotel quarantine, so that hotel quarantine is in a government sanctioned location. It is at cost to the


One adult in one room is 1,750 British pounds, that's around $2,500.00. Once that is booked, they also have to take a coronavirus test in the

country that they are in. That test has to be negative 72 hours before their departure.

They board the plane. They arrive at the airport. There's only a few airports across the country that you can land in all around the London


You arrive in the airport, you are then separated in the airport as someone coming in from a red list country. You are bussed to a hotel location. At

that hotel location, you will be closely monitored and watched, there will be guards essentially to keep you from wandering around.

All your food and your accommodation will be provided. You have two more COVID tests to take Day 2 and Day 8. And then once those 10 days are

completed, you can then enter the U.K., but it is absolutely complicated, Zain, and that is why you don't see many flights coming into the U.K.

anymore because these are steps that cost money.

There is an expense to them that costs time, of course, in terms of quarantine. And of course people feel at risk here. You're coming into a

country that is fully under lockdown -- Zain.

ASHER: Salma Abdelaziz, live for us there. Thank you so much.

As more of the British population is vaccinated, Boris Johnson is ruling out some sort of vaccine passport for daily life around the U.K. As an

example, he said that no proof of vaccination would be required to go to the pub, but he did say it is inevitable that some kind of documentation

showing COVID immunity will emerge for international travel.

David King is a former British Chief Scientific Adviser. He joins us live now from Cambridge via Skype. So, Dr. King, thank you so much for being

with us.

So Boris Johnson saying that listen, you're not going to need a vaccine passport for every day domestic activities in and around the U.K., going

shopping, going to the pub, that sort of thing. But how useful would a vaccine passport be for international travelers coming from and going to

the U.K., do you think?

DAVID KING, FORMER BRITISH CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISER: I think an international passport which is similar to a yellow fever document would be

very useful. We already know that with respect to other diseases.

I certainly agree with the Prime Minister that it is a bit absurd to have pubs only open to those who have been vaccinated and we all know that there

are problems with anything other than a passport having the message because when we are vaccinated in this country, we get a little card. We are

referred to our GP.


KING: But that little card would be very easy to copy. There is no signature. There is no photograph.

But I do want to say, I feel very, very nervous about us coming out of the lockdown too early and we are afraid of a repeated record of doing exactly

that, coming out of the lockdown in September-October when numbers were down very substantially, when we could have really got down to something

like zero COVID and then it just went ramping up again.

If we do have a significant proportion of the population vaccinated that is going to take us even though we are being so successful. It is going to

take us well into the summer and that is a lot of time for us to be spending on a lockdown.

So what should we be doing? We should be doing a full find, test, trace, isolate, and support system where all of those who have the disease and

recently have been tested and found to have it and all of those in contact with them are themselves isolated and if necessary, also put into hotels.

Assuming that you're separating those with the disease from the healthy population.

ASHER: Right. You mentioned that, you know, you like a lot of people including I think Boris Johnson would be very nervous in terms of reopening

too soon. It makes perfect sense given the previous mistakes.

However, you talk about a significant percentage of the population needing to be vaccinated. What would that percentage be, do you think, 70 percent?

Eighty percent? Eighty five percent of the population vaccinated?

And just sort of what are the markers to really show that the vaccine is actually working in terms of reducing hospital numbers and reducing real

sort of severe symptoms as well.

KING: Just to indicate how far away we are from where we need to be, on Friday last week, we were down to 12,000 new cases per day. That is a very,

very large number. It is back to where we are in early December when lockdown procedures were being lifted.

So what I am actually saying is, let's not only go by the numbers. Some people say we have to get it down to 1,000 a day or 5,000. No, it is not

the numbers, it is the success of test, trace, isolate, and support to separate those people from the rest of the population.

Once we're in that state, the rest of us can all go back to work. We can all go to pubs and restaurants and live our lives normally, but not before.

ASHER: And what are the implications, do you think for international travel? Because, obviously, there are new strains in several of the

countries, South Africa, Brazil, for example, even if you get to the point where the lockdown is eased and a majority of the U.K. population is

vaccinated, isn't there always going to be this lingering fear about possible new strains popping up from other countries and reintroducing

themselves into the British population?

KING: Exactly. That is a real fear and we know that the GlaxoSmithKline- Oxford vaccine is not really very successful against the new South African virus that has emerged as a mutation and that is very worrying. Its success

rate may be 10 percent or 15 percent from the early figures.

So we know as well, I'm afraid, that in the meantime cases of the South African virus mutation have arrived in the U.K., and this is again a cause

for real concern.

And I just come back to the fact, we need the combination of vaccines with the business of separating those with the disease from the rest of us.

We've never managed that successfully because the government, although, our testing right now is high enough, the government has never given support to

the idea of isolating people incredibly, so we have to do that in order to extract ourselves well before the summer.

International travel -- I think we get back into international travel when we have arrived at that situation where new cases are quickly found and

isolated from the rest of the population.

ASHER: David King, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

KING: Thank you.


ASHER: For the second time in as many weeks, the major automaker is saying it is not -- not in talks with Apple. More on the announcement from Nissan,



ASHER: Jaguar Land Rover says its entire range of cars will be electric within a decade. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the

announcement on Twitter. The auto maker CEO tell CNN it is all part of a sweeping overhaul for the company.


THIERRY BOLLORE, CEO, JAGUAR LAND ROVER: By 2026, we will have more than six electric vehicles being offered with Land Rover in a pure electric mode

for our customers, and it means that for Land Rover, by the end of the decade and Jaguar together at the end, we will offer all our range of cars

with pure, electric drive trend and that is the reason why a couple of years later, we estimate to be ready and commit for a zero carbon company

by 2039.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Okay. Now, the announcement you released today says you will substantially reduce and rationalize nonmanufacturing

infrastructure. Does that translate to job losses? And if so, how many and where?

BOLLORE: The reality is that the activities that we are performing at the moment are very much scattered for the nonmanufacturing activities around

the U.K. That is part of the legacy.

And the goal is to concentrate, to rationalize those activities including and that is an exploration we are performing at the moment because of the

future repurposing of Castle Bromwich site.

So, it is more a translation, you know, of activity than just a reduction of activity.

STEWART: It is certainly not been an easy year, has it? Last quarter though, you saw a strong recovery in sales in China, but of course overall,

well below the levels you saw pre-pandemic.

When do you expect to see a return to normal in terms of sales? And actually, do you -- do you worry that the pandemic will have had some sort

of long term behavioral impact? People working from home, do they need cars?

BOLLORE: For the moment, I cannot tell you exactly when we expect to recover, but the trend is pretty attractive, I can tell you, to recover

from what has happened during COVID.


BOLLORE: Concerning people working at home, I think we have learned new flexibility and we want to enjoy that like many companies of that


It doesn't mean at the end of the day that for our customers, at least in the segments that we are in and we want to be even more in those segments,

the reality would be a decrease compared to pre-COVID period of time.

STEWART: Mr. Bollore, Apple is rumored to be entering the market. Does that worry you that they would be a formidable rival or, of course, would

you be interested in partnering with them?

BOLLORE: I think it makes a lot of sense that a tech company getting interested in the car company. Why? Because the car is visibly for all of

us, the next connected object and it is an expectation as well from all of our customers so that we can offer similar experiences, you know, prove the

mobility thanks to this connectivity -- enhanced connectivity.

STEWART: Have you had any discussions with Apple?

BOLLORE: Oh, you know, we are discussing with everyone. All leaders of the industry we have discussion with and it is part of the way we are always

anticipating the next partnership that we may have.


ASHER: Nissan is the latest auto maker denying it is in talks to develop a car with Apple. Nissan shares dropped nearly three percent in Tokyo on the

news. Hyundai and Kia said they were out last week after confirming negotiations just a month earlier. That makes for a shrinking list of

potential partners for Apple who have flirted with entering the car industry for years.

The car coach, Lauren Fix joins us live now. So, Lauren, we've seen a couple times now these potential partnerships that are rumored between

Apple and various other car companies, be it Hyundai, be it Nissan. It seems to fall apart.

Why are these deals or these arrangements or even just discussions suddenly being scuppered?

LAUREN FIX, THE CAR COACH: Well, you have to remember car manufacturers know exactly where to save money, how to spend money, how to share

platforms and technology.

And so when Apple comes in and says, we want our vehicle our way, and that's not the Hyundai way, the Kia way, the Nissan way, and so that

presents a problem because manufacturing already were having a shortage of chips.

And for them to produce a whole new product line and a whole new production line, that would create some interesting situations. What it would also do

is make the dealer network, thinking about where people are going to buy these, yes, you can order them online from the Apple store, but still

service needs to be handled and that is where it is going to be interesting that there is going to be some sort of partnership with these


So, it is not just the manufacturers, it is the dealer network with their franchising rules as well. So, I think that is an issue and I always wonder

with Apple. They have a titan project going and then they stopped and that was their autonomous, electric vehicle.

And I think what they realized is, there is not a lot of money in producing short run production cars. You have to produce a lot. It is not a phone, it

is not an Air Bud, it is not a watch, it is not a computer. This is a whole different animal that has to have a certain experience.

And if you are going to use a brand name like Hyundai, Kia, or Nissan, you better share that experience and I think the manufacturers want to have a

piece of that as well.

ASHER: So what should the consumer know about what potential Apple car will look like? I mean, what is it going to -- obviously, there's been so

much secrecy about what they are planning exactly, but you know, just in terms of your knowledge, what do you think an Apple car will and should be

able to do and should the rest of the car industry be scared, do you think?

FIX: Oh, the rest of the car industry should be very scared if they figure it out and they do it properly. You know, they are going to take a big

piece of this pie, but first off, there are no autonomous cars, but even if they come up with an electric vehicle that you can drive in the interim,

you're still looking at Apple's name in itself, it has great brand recognition.

I am using an Apple ear piece. I have Apple watches, I am using all Apple devices. So, I tend to be loyal to their brand and so are millions and

millions of people.

So, think about this. You are a smaller car company like Mitsubishi and then show up on the scene with an Apple car, you're not going to be very

happy to lose a piece of that segment whether it be cars, SUVs, or trucks.

So, I think when Apple comes on the scene, it is going to be strong. It is going to be a modern vehicle, but what Apple needs to remember is that

consumers are more than just the look of the vehicle, it is the functionality, it is the -- where you sit, the comfort of the seats.

There are a lot more than just a phone or an ear piece. It is the comfort, the visibility, the technology, the features, what's offered, what's extra,

the cost of the warranty -- all of these things start to add up in play.

And yes, there is Apple care on all of their devices. Sure, you can buy that. But still a little bit more to the drivability and the safety and I

think that partnering with a brand is the smartest thing Apple can do.

ASHER: And that brings us to our next question, does that eventually change the landscape of the car industry? Do you think what we're going to

be seeing is more and more car companies thinking that in order to innovate, in order to be a product of the future, they really have to work

with tech companies? Is that going to be the future?


FIX: We are already seeing that. Yes, you are right. I think that is going to be one of the things you are going to see, but keep in mind, making this

world all electric, there is not enough power on the grid. We are talking about snow and weather that impacts the ability for solar panels to

function or for the wind mills to function. This is a huge problem.

So, I think in the end, we are going to be looking at a sort of really cool tech merging in with car companies. We'll see a really nice hybrid

technology that gets great fuel economy.

But you will have gas and diesel and compressed natural gas and hydrogen and electric if that is your choice. But I think there needs to be choices

because everybody has a different situation.

ASHER: All right, Lauren Fix, live for us there, thank you so much.

The World Health Organization team sent to Wuhan has uncovered some key findings including a wider spread of coronavirus in 2019 than originally


An exclusive interview with the lead investigator ahead.


ASHER: Hello, I'm Zain Asher. There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when France is changing the law so workers can dine at their desks

during lunch.

And Elon Musk invites Vladimir Putin for a chat in a club house and the Kremlin says the Russian President may actually be open to it.

Before that though, these are the headlines at this hour.

Half of America is under winter weather advisories with nearly 170 million people facing icy roads, power outages and dangerously low temperatures. At

least 11 people have died in weather related vehicle accidents since the cold snap began.

The World Health Organization has approved the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The decision means it can be rolled out globally

through COVAX, that is the initiative aimed at giving poorer countries equal access to COVID vaccines.


And Israel is moving ahead with a gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions. It plans to allow shopping malls, open air markets, and other

businesses to reopen on Sunday.

Hotels and gyms will be accessible to people who are either fully vaccinated or deemed immune after contracting COVID-19.

And Novavax is close to fully enrolling its 30,000-person U.S. trail. The company says that puts it on track for U.S. authorization by this summer.

It is vying to join Pfizer and Moderna on that list as well.

Myanmar's military rulers are deploying extra troops as they intensify a crackdown on anti-coup demonstrators. A protester tells CNN security forces

fired rubber bullets and used slingshots to disperse crowds today in the city of Mandalay.

A World Health Organization team sent to Wuhan, China is raising new questions about when the coronavirus outbreak began.

CNN's Nick Payton Walsh spoke exclusively to the team's lead investigator.


NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The leader of the WHO mission to China investigating the origins of the coronavirus has told CNN the virus

was likely much wider spread in China in December 2019 than was thought.

Peter Ben Embarek revealed the 174 positive cases found that first December, likely severe cases, meant there could actually have been an

estimated 1,000 plus total cases in and around the city of Wuhan that month.

PETER BEN EMBAREK, HEAD, WHO MISSION TO CHINA: The virus was circulating widely in Wuhan in December, which I think is a new finding. And the 100

(inaudible) confirmed and the 74 are clinically (inaudible) --

PAYTON WALSH: -- diagnosed. About 174 would suggest 1,000 or so, plus, even.

EMBAREK: Yes. Probably. Very likely, yes. Because, that's again -- that would fit with all the other parameters that we have looked at.

PAYTON WALSH: The team also established that, in that first December, there were as many as 13 slight variants of the virus from samples of all

or bits of its genetic code circulating in and around Wuhan where this seafood market is thought to have played a role.

EMBAREK: We have 13 strains covering individuals in December. Now some of them are from the market or linked to the market, some of them are not

linked to the market. This is something we've found as part of our mission.

PAYTON WALSH: That many variations so early on could suggest the virus had been circulating for sometime, some analysts told CNN although precise

timing is still unclear.

Their work heavily scrutinized, tense in frustrating conditions.

EMBAREK: Here, remember, we had the entire planet on our shoulders 24 hours a day for months which doesn't make the work among scientists easier.

Once in a while you -- as always, between passionate scientists, you get heated discussion and argumentation about this and that.

PAYTON WALSH: They hope to return to access biological samples they say China has yet to share, especially hundreds of thousands of blood bank

samples from Wuhan dating back two years. China's pledged transparency with the investigation.

EMBAREK: There is about 200,000 samples available there that are now secured and could be used for new (inaudible) studies.

PAYTON WALSH: And you want to look at that urgently?

EMBAREK: Yes. That would be fantastic if we could move with that.

PAYTON WALSH: Is it not amazing that they haven't already looked through those samples?

EMBAREK: You could say that but we understand that these samples are extremely small samples and only used for indication (ph) purpose.

PAYTON WALSH (Voice Over): So many more questions still to answer. First, if China would let them back in.

Nick Payton Walsh, CNN, London.


ASHER: As the U.S. Congress works to hammer out a COVID relief bill the CEO of GoDaddy says more needs to be done for small businesses.

We talk with him after the break.



ASHER: With Donald Trump's second impeachment trial over in Washington, President Joe Biden and the U.S. Congress are now moving full steam ahead

on stimulus talks.

Mr. Biden is taking his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to the American public with a trip to Wisconsin on Tuesday, his first official trip outside of

Washington as president.

The CEO of web-hosting company, GoDaddy, says that more needs to be done to protect America's smallest businesses.

He says -- "While companies of all sizes have [certainly] struggled during the pandemic, many micro-businesses lack the cash and the savings to

survive until the threat of COVID-19 subsides.

And, given that we now know these entrepreneurs make our communities and [our] economy stronger, it would be tragic to miss another opportunity to

get them the help they need."

Aman Bhutani joins us live now from Seattle, Washington. Armani, thank you -- Aman, thank you so much for being with us.

So just walk us through how much micro-businesses, these companies with only 1 to 10 employees, how much have they been overlooked? Particularly

when it comes to stimulus in the first year of the pandemic, 2020, last year?

AMAN BHUTANI, CEO, GODADDY: Yes. Even before the stimulus, Zain -- and thank you for having me on the show -- just the awareness of the impact

micro-businesses is really, really low.

So for the first PPP program, not a lot of the money went to micro- businesses and we're really happy that the second PPP program is actually leading to more for micro-businesses.

Because we've brought forward research data over the last couple of years, it's the first time this data has been there, that shows the real impact

these businesses have in their local communities and in their local economies.

ASHER: And so in terms of the next stimulus -- I'm curious how the next round of stimulus is going to help these businesses. But, more importantly

than that, beyond access to capital, what more do you think the government can actually do to help these micro-businesses stay afloat?

BHUTANI: The first piece, like I said, is awareness. If you go to your local representative and ask them do you know your large businesses,

they'll say yes. If you ask them medium businesses, they'll have a pretty good idea. But if you ask them about micro-businesses, they likely will not

know the micro-businesses in their jurisdiction.

But GoDaddy, we're going to go out to 500 mayors in 2021 and we're going to share with them the data for their community and the micro-business and the

impact the businesses are having in their communities.

And beyond that, lawmakers can do a lot for micro-businesses. Not only the access to capital, like you said, but also training. Digital is the biggest

wave for micro-businesses. They have acted quickly ,they have been resilient, they have been creative.

COVID shut their doors but the Internet, they went online, they made their businesses work.


But we can help them with training, we can help with tooling, we can also help them with broadband, because with broadband we can level the playing

field across all businesses.

So those are just some of the small ways in which everyone can make a difference for micro-businesses.

ASHER: And I was just thinking you know what, we've talked a lot on this show about this K-shaped recovery and how COVID is only going to -- yes,

anybody, whether you're black, white, rich or poor can get COVID but in terms of how it affects people economically, it's vastly different.

The K-shaped recovery means that inequality is only getting worse with COVID-19. And it's important to remember that a lot of these micro-

businesses are run by minorities.

And so when you help these micro-businesses, they're very small, they don't necessarily need that much in terms of loans, they only have 1 to 10

employees but when you help them you can actually make a dent in reducing income inequality in this country, particularly racial income inequality.

BHUTANI: That's right. Micro-businesses -- we look at density, so micro- businesses per hundred people in a community. By adding just one micro- business to that community, you can have a reduction in unemployment; in fact, one micro-business will create one or two other jobs in a community.

Over time -- we looked at data from 2016 to 2019 -- the addition of one micro-business per hundred folks in a community will lead to an increase of

$485 of median household income in that community. That's a huge dent.

And we work with unrepresented minorities all the time that are running these businesses. You talked about savings, you talked about access to

capital. Zain, these folks don't even have the relationships with the banks to get access to that capital.

So we really have to be creative in how we support them because they go back and support their local economies and make a difference where it


ASHER: Yes. It's huge. The access to capital aspect of it is huge because, obviously, larger companies they have the connections with the banks, they

know all the big banks whereas for micro-businesses, it's much harder.

I'm just wondering what people who are watching, everyday viewers, can actually do. Because I know that during the pandemic I said to myself, OK,

I'm going to try and shop local and I'm going to buy from small businesses and where I live but I've never really thought about micro-businesses.

So what can viewers do to help these micro-businesses?

BHUTANI: Micro-businesses are all around you. We don't think of them but they're actually the backbone of most local communities.

If you're shopping local, if you're buying local, if you're engaging with your yoga studio which is closed or your -- I'll give you a story.

We have a customer called Magpie, they sell vegan pies to their community in England. Well, we ended up building a relationship with them, we put

them in our advertising. They had to pivot online -- they knew nothing about the Internet but they had to pivot online, start selling online.

They happened to get some advertising with us. Now they're shipping vegan pies all over the U.K., in fact, we're hearing about them shipping pies

internationally as well.

So these folks want to make a difference. What we have to do is recognize that they're there, recognize that we have the opportunity to reach out to

them, buy from them online.

And in that manner we'll be able to support them in a manner that honestly ten years ago nobody could have imagined.

ASHER: Aman Bhutani, thank you so much. That's very inspiring, actually. It's really important to -- if you are in a position to help these small

businesses, to do what you can. Because everybody's really struggling right now. Aman, thank you so much.

BHUTANI: Thank you, Zain.

ASHER: It may seem like an unlikely invitation but the Kremlin suggests Vladimir Putin might actually be open to a social media chat with Elon

Musk. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX used Twitter to invite Mr. Putin to join him in a conversation on Clubhouse, an audio only app. The Kremlin calls it

interesting and actually, they say they want to hear more.

I'm joined now by CNN's business analyst, Paul La Monica. So Paul, I think a lot of people heard this and they scratched their heads. Why would Elon

Musk want to engage in a conversation on Clubhouse with Vladimir Putin, of all people?

PAUL R. LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: It's a bit odd to put it mildly but this is Elon Musk here. So I don't think anything is beyond

consideration for the world's wealthiest human being.

So I think what we've really got to look at here, Zain, is what exactly does Elon Musk want from a conversation with Vladimir Putin?

Is it to discuss the thorny issue of allegations that a Russian hacker was trying to infiltrate Tesla, that could be something he could talk about

with Putin although that wouldn't be the most friendly of topics, obviously.

They could talk about space exploration. There's concerns also that Russia doesn't want SpaceX to have its Internet satellite service given to or

provided to Russian consumers.


So there's a lot of business-type conversations that Putin and Musk could have. But who knows? Maybe they'll talk about rap music, they'll talk about

cryptocurrencies. I don't think anything is beyond Elon Musk's grasp and interest right now.

ASHER: If you're the Kremlin, if you're Vladimir Putin, if you're in the Kremlin, what do you make of this invitation? Because, obviously, Russia is

responsible for hacking into U.S. election, you talked about Russian hackers targeting Tesla.

Russia's been in the news a lot recently because of how badly they treat political opponents in that country, particularly Alexei Navalny and his


So not only is it strange from the Elon Musk part of it, but really, if you're the Kremlin, what would you make of this?

LA MONICA: I think the Kremlin is being polite. Because, again, Elon Musk is now wealthier than Jeff Bezos, he's is the world's richest human being.

So they probably feel that any sort of request from Musk, they should probably take it semi-seriously.

But I would be extremely surprised if the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin decided, yes, we want to have a free exchanging conversation with Elon Musk

and all of his social media followers about any sort of topic.

I don't think this is going to happen. I think it's Elon Musk just being Elon Musk.

ASHER: Paul La Monica live for us there. Thank you so much.

Dubai's Expo 2020 is set to open in October after a one-year pandemic delay. On today's "Road to Expo," John Defterios takes you to the

sustainability pavilion.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: With its space-like structure, the sustainability pavilion is set to be a major centerpiece of

Expo 2020.

At 130 meters wide, this huge roof canopy is called Terra, meaning Planet Earth. And it's the future of the world around us.

The roof and surrounding energy trees are fitted with more than 1,000 solar panels that will provide some of the energy needed to host this massive


JOHN BULL, DIRECTOR, EXPOSURE 2020, TERRA SUSTAINABILITY PAVILION: We are trying to showcase how humanity can build buildings that do live in harmony

with the environment around them. That do manage to grab resources around whether that's sun or even water.

DEFTERIOS: Expo 2020 has been delayed a year because of the pandemic.

This pavilion is the first to be completed and lucky residents and visitors are getting a glimpse inside this megastructure. Here they are brought on

immersive and interactive experiences.

A world full of forests, oceans and the impact of over consumption. All with the goal of helping visitors, particularly children, understand their

impact on the environment.

BULL: Through those immersive and interactive experiences, that's how we can really connect to people, that's we can start conversations that

matter, rather than just giving information.

DEFTERIOS: Millions of visitors are expected to attend the event from this October to the end of March next year.

Post-Expo the pavilion will continue to inspire future generations and serve as an example of sustainable design with the building to become a

science center in District 2020, a new community that will evolve from the Expo site.

MARJAN FARAIDOOR, CHIEF EXPERIENCE OFFICER, EXPOSURE 2020: Ever since we set out to plan for this pavilion, we had the future in mind, and we

designed it to be a center for children and science that would remain after the Expo.

It's going to continue inspiring the future generation about actions they can take around the environment.

DEFTERIOS: Surrounded by other sustainable structures and thought- provoking displays, Terra's visitors are until the 10th of April being given a glimpse of what is to come during Expo 2020.

And through the sustainability pavilion, imagine what our planet could and needs to look like in the future.

DEFTERIOS (Voice Over): John Defterios, CNN, Dubai.


ASHER: France gives the green light to desktop dining after many years letting workers eat lunch at the office.

An etiquette coach tells me if it's the right move. That's next.



ASHER: Lebanon has begun its coronavirus vaccination campaign after receiving its first batch of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

Ninety staff members at a Beirut hospital were among the first to receive the shots.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has more.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SNR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And so it begins, perhaps -- the beginning of the end here of the coronavirus pandemic. Alas,

just one of Lebanon's myriad of misfortunes.

The first to get a shot was Dr. Mahmoud Hassoun, the head of the intensive care unit at Beirut's Rafik Hariri University Hospital.

DR. MAHMOUD HASSOUN, ICU DIRECTOR, RAFIK HARIRI UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: For us as Lebanese population, we should take the vaccine because it is the

only solution to finish this pandemic.

WEDEMAN: Trust in the authorities in much of anything is in short supply here. A recent survey found that less than a third of those polled are

willing to take the vaccine.

(Sound of gunshots)

For more than a year, the country has been convulsed by sporadic mass protests and violence. Lebanon was already careening toward financial and

economic collapse before COVID-19 reared its head.

And last August the massive Beirut port blast added more injury to injury.

In a country where the rich and powerful tend to get all of the breaks, the vice president of the World Bank, the institution which is financing this

vaccine campaign has warned that nobody should be using "wasta," that's Arabic for connections, to jump the queue.

Caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, was scheduled to receive the first vaccination but stepped out of the queue deferring to front line medical


The country has been under a total lockdown for a month, those workers pushed to the brink.

FIRASS ABIAD, DIRECTOR, RAFIK HARIRI UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The fight is going to be a long fight, we know that. But I think that today, really, we

turned a big corner.

WEDEMAN (Voice Over): One corner turned, many more to go.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


ASHER: The U.S. is reporting encouraging new numbers in the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC reports cases and hospitalizations are declining sharply

in the U.S.

But new variants are causing fresh concerns. Nick Watt, CNN's national correspondent, reports from Los Angeles.



NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thermal cameras in Loudoun County, Virginia, ready to scan for students with high temperatures when they return to

school later this week.

When can all schools reopen?

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, U.S. CDC DIRECTOR: Somewhere around 60 percent of students are reliably masking. That has to be universal. So we have work to


WATT: And debate on one key issue rolls on.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Of course, teacher vaccinations are essential.

WALENSKY: I'm a strong advocate of teachers receiving their vaccinations but we don't believe it's a prerequisite for schools to reopen.

WATT: In 22 states, teacher is still not an eligible category.

Today, many places this is a problem.

UNKNOWN: This weather is going to slow down our vaccinations some.

WATT: Here in Los Angeles, in the 60s, partly sunny, but the vaccination site at Dodger Stadium remains closed, lack of supply.

Team Biden says they're playing catch up.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and

local leaders to try to figure it out.

And so, in many ways we are -- we're starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost an entire year.

WATT: Good news? Nationwide, in just a month, the average daily COVID-19 case count has fallen more than 50 percent. And for the first time since

mid-November, fewer than 70,000 are in the hospital fighting the virus.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I know a bunch of states are relaxing their restrictions. That makes me nervous. It's those mutations

that give me pause.

WATT: Nearly 1200 cases now confirmed here of those more contagious variants first found in the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Now they're on our radar screen. And now that we're looking for them we're finding them.

WATT (Voice Over): Seven homegrown U.S. variants also now identified. So far no evidence they evade vaccines but signs they may be more


The research goes on.


ASHER: There was no trading on Wall Street. It was still a decent day for European markets.

We'll show you the numbers when we come back.


ASHER: There was no trading today on Wall Street. Markets were closed because it is Presidents' Day, a federal holiday here in the United States.

Markets will reopen in the U.S. tomorrow.

In the meantime, in Europe, markets closed higher. The FTSE 100 was up the most, more than two and-a-half percent.

This as the U.K. announced 15 million people there in the U.K. have gotten a first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Optimism in Asia as well. The Nikkei hit its highest level in more than three decades on Monday. It crossed the 30,000 mark for the first time

since 1990.

And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Zain Asher in New York.

THE LEAD with Pamela Brown is next.