2.50pm BST

The number of unemployed people in Britain could soar to almost 15% of the working population if the country experiences a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has said. My colleague Phillip Inman has the full story here.

2.48pm BST

Only about half (53%) of film and TV workers expect to regain normal levels of work by June next year, a survey from the Bectu union indicates.

As PA Media reports, the entertainment and media union surveyed 1,500 people working across the industry and asked them to rate each of the next 12 months from “I expect to have no work” to “I expect to be working normally/busier than normal”.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) said they were not working in June and 50% expected to return to work in July.

However, 7% expected not to be working by October.

On average the respondents expected to earn 42% of their usual income in 2020.

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2.36pm BST

Public Health Wales has recorded a further three coronavirus deaths, taking the total in Wales to 1,534. The full details are here.

2.14pm BST

NHS England has said that a further 36 people have died in hospitals in England after testing positive for coronavirus. The patients were between 53 and 98 years old and all but two of them (who were both in their 80s) had underlying health conditions. The full figures are here.

To provide a comparison, here are the equivalent daily figures from NHS England for the past fortnight.

Tuesday 23 June – 46

Wednesday 24 June – 51

Thursday 25 June – 55

Friday 26 June – 67

Saturday 27 June – 78

Sunday 28 June – 18

Monday 29 June – 19

Tuesday 30 June – 37

Wednesday 1 July – 50

Thursday 2 July – 35

Friday 3 July – 38

Saturday 4 July – 39

Sunday 5 July – 18

Monday 6 July – 15

2.08pm BST

In an article for the Guardian comment pages today Paul Harrison, who was Theresa May’s press secretary, makes an important and often-overlooked point about the difference between a televised No 10 briefing (which is what Boris Johnson wants to introduce in the autumn) and the sort of off-camera briefing that takes place every day now (which I often cover in some detail on this blog). With an off-camera briefing, the reporting is “only really about the answers”, Harrison says. That means that if the spokesman giving the briefing refuses to engage with the questions, and just ends up parroting the same line to take ad nauseam like a stuck record, there is no real downside for No 10. It may infuriate the journos, but the full extent of officialdom’s stonewalling remains invisible to the public.

Today HuffPost’s Paul Waugh has pulled aside the curtain for a moment and posted a transcript of the exchanges at today’s lobby about the PM’s comment about care homes. (See 12.23pm.) It does not reflect well on No 10, not least because it is obvious that when Boris Johnson said yesterday “we discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have”, he was not in fact saying (as No 10 now claims ) that no one knew at the time what the correct procedures should be (a different point – also contestable, but that’s another issue).

Paul Waugh

Here is the full exchange between Lobby journalists and the PM’s official spokesman.
Read in all its glory: pic.twitter.com/A77dZRsuFk

July 7, 2020

In his article Harrison argues that Johnson might want to think twice before putting briefings like this on TV.

The obvious solution, of course, would have been just to say that the PM expressed himself badly, that he meant to say something different and that he was sorry of any offence caused. But the spokesman was speaking from a script agreed with his bosses, and like all politicians (except more so) Johnson is hyper-allergic to admitting error, even when to most observers it would seem by far the more sensible option.

1.44pm BST

In the Commons MPs have now moved on to another urgent question from Labour, this time on the £1.5bn bailout for the arts announced by the Treasury yesterday. Ministers are supposed to make major announcements like this in parliament, but Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, made this public via a press release on Sunday night, followed by a round of interviews the following morning.

In his London Playbook briefing this morning Politico Europe’s Jack Blanchard suggested that Dowden might be facing a reprimand from the Speaker. But Dowden has not even turned up, and he has left it to his junior minister, Caroline Dinenage, to respond. So far she has just been summing up what was unveiled on Sunday night.

1.30pm BST

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will have a private dinner tonight in Downing Street with his UK counterpart, David Frost, No 10 has said. No ministers will be present. The dinner will be followed by informal talks tomorrow, No 10 said.

This is from the BBC’s Adam Fleming.

Adam Fleming

All I’ll say is that this is a very ⁦@MichelBarnier⁩ menu for tonight’s dinner in Downing’s St, after previous fails by the U.K. to cater to his healthy habits. pic.twitter.com/uANAfYs8RG

July 7, 2020

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1.27pm BST

NHS Providers, a group that represents hospital and other NHS bodies, has joined the chorus of bodies criticising the PM for what he said about care homes yesterday. This is from its deputy chief executive, Saffron Cordery.

The staff working in care homes and across the social care sector have done an amazing job during the pandemic, managing incredible pressure in very difficult circumstances, often with inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and little if any testing.

Trusts have worked in close partnership with social care in confronting the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19.

The prime minister’s comments risk undermining the key role played during the pandemic by social care services, which in many places has been nothing short of heroic, and has doubtless saved many lives.

1.16pm BST

In the Commons, asked when the UK will be most at risk of a second wave, Hancock says the measures in place are designed to avoid this. But he says there is an element of “seasonality” in the illness, and the risk will be higher in the winter, he says.

1.06pm BST

In the Commons Labour’s Clive Betts asks Hancock to consider the case for allowing people who are exempt from the need to wear a face covering (for example, for a medical reason) to wear a special badge showing they are exempt (which might make it harder for others to avoid wearing a face covering). And he asks if Hancock will do more to promote the wearing of face coverings in shops.

Hancock says yes to both suggestions.

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12.58pm BST

Local lockdown lifted in south-west Scotland

A local lockdown restricting movements around six towns and villages after an outbreak in south-west Scotland has been lifted, after no new cases emerged, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The first ministers said residents living in the areas around Gretna, Dumfries, Canonbie, Lockerbie, Annan and Langholm were now allowed to travel more than five miles from home, visit care homes and enjoy beer gardens.

Sturgeon also announced there had been one further death of a hospital patient with confirmed Covid-19, after four days with no reported deaths. There were 699 people in hospital, up by 17 on Monday, but only seven patients in intensive care, down by one on Monday.

Those lockdown restrictions were lifted across the rest of Scotland last Friday but maintained in the affected area after 10 new cases emerged, including one involving a healthcare worker based at the Cumberland hospital in Carlisle. Sturgeon said a total of 12 cases had come to light in that cluster.

She thanked local residents and the managers of two factories in Annan Young’s Seafood and Alpha Solway, which makes personal protection equipment for the Scottish and UK governments, where some of the affected people worked, for observing the lockdown.

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12.55pm BST

Labour’s Angela Eagle asks Hancock if he agrees with the PM’s “despicable comments” blaming care workers.

Hancock says the government has been learning more about the virus throughout the crisis. He goes on:

My admiration for those that work in social care is second to none.

12.54pm BST

In the Commons Labour’s Debbie Abrahams says what Hancock said on Sunday about how public health officials in Manchester needed help understanding the testing figures was “nothing short of insulting”. She urges him to apologise.

Hancock claims that he will “not allow a divisive approach” to this crisis and that he wants everyone to work together.

Abrahams was referring to this comment from Hancock on The Andrew Marr Show, when Hancock was asked to respond to Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, saying that central government was not giving his officials enough data about local infections. Hancock told Marr:

Well, I saw the quote from Andy Burnham and I checked, and Manchester has had access to the data, and if Andy wants support and help in interpreting it, then we can give him more experts.

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12.46pm BST

Hancock is responding to Ashworth.

On Leicester, he says the data is moving in the right direction.

As for the criteria for lifting the lockdown, he says the government does not have a precise figure, because the level of infection and the rate of increase both matter.

On regular testing of NHS staff, Hancock says a scheme for this is now in place. On care homes, he says they have done “amazing work”.

Echoing the line from No 10 (see 12.23pm), he says that what the PM was saying was that because asymptomatic infection was not fully understood, the correct procedures were not followed.

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12.43pm BST

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, is responding to Hancock now.

On Leicester, he asks what is the exit strategy is for the city’s lockdown.

In Germany lockdowns are lifted when cases fall to 50 per 100,000. What is the criteria here?

He says cities like Leicester need up-to-date testing information.

And he asks the government to look again at sick pay entitlement. Low pay has been an issue in cities like Leicester, he says.

And he asks why NHS staff are not being routinely tested. Premier League footballers are, but not NHS staff.

Referring to care homes, he asks if Hancock can understand why they were “so insulted” by the PM’s comment yesterday. Which care homes did not follow procedures? And will Hancock apologise for the PM’s “crass remarks”?

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