The latest headlines in your inbox twice a day Monday – Friday plus breaking news updates
At least three pubs in England have been forced to shut after customers tested positive for coronavirus, just two days after so-called Super Saturday.
The affected bars, in different parts of the country, said they were working carefully to contact all patrons who had visited them over the weekend, and hoped to reopen as soon as possible.
Concerns over a surge in Covid-19 spreading come as new research suggests that people who suffer mild virus symptoms may carry protective antibodies for just a matter of weeks, pouring water on herd immunity hopes.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been accused of an “absolute travesty of leadership” for claiming “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures” during the outbreak.
And the number of people dying with the virus in England and Wales has fallen for the 10th consecutive week, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.
Follow all the latest updates here…
New updates availableRefresh
Shielding patients have been forced to adapt during the pandemic. Here’s one such example:
Patients with severe asthma who are shielding from coronavirus have been taught how to administer life-saving medication at home to prevent them having to go to hospital.
More than 400 people have benefited from the initiative at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS trust after home deliveries were arranged. Normally the injections, such as the biologic benralizumab, are administered by clinical staff in hospital.
Without the scheme, the patients would have had to go without the treatment or would have had to go against Government shielding advice to visit hospital.
Some happy news here:
This is the moment a care home manager is reunited with his family after three months of separation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Chris Dando, the manager of Court House in Cheddar, Somerset, lived apart from his family for 12 weeks along with the other care home staff in order to protect the residents during lockdown.
But on Tuesday morning, he was finally able to reunite with his wife and four-year-old daughter, Edith – a long-awaited moment, which was aired on BBC Breakfast.
‘True’ virus death toll hits 55,398
The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK remains a little over 55,000, according to the latest available data.
Figures published on Tuesday by the ONS show that 50,219 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to June 26 (and had been registered by July 4).
Figures published last week by the National Records for Scotland showed that 4,155 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to June 28, while 826 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to June 26 (and had been registered up to July 1) according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Together these figures mean that so far 55,200 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.
A further 198 deaths have occurred in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since June 27, according to NHS England, Public Health Wales and the Northern Ireland Department of Health.
Added together with the number of registered deaths, this means the overall Covid-19 death toll for the UK remains a little above 55,000, at 55,398.
Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak has hailed small businesses as the economy’s ‘powerhouse’:
The Government has said that over one million bounce back loans, worth over £30 billion, have been approved for small businesses.
New figures from the Treasury also revealed that more than 53,500 coronavirus business interruption loans have now been approved, providing £11.5 billion worth of funding since midnight of July 5.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said of the numbers: “Our small businesses are the powerhouse of our economy and will help drive our recovery as we bounce back from this global crisis.
“We’ve worked hard to give small businesses the help they need – from loans and grants to paying the wages of their staff.
“I’m delighted that more than a million loans have been approved – and we will continue to do all we can to support small business as they reopen their doors in the weeks ahead.”
Some more interesting stats from the ONS published this morning:
UK productivity tumbled in the first three months this year as coronavirus forced workers into their homes.
Official stats from the Office of National Statistics showed labour productivity fell by 0.6 per cent from January through to March compared with the same period a year ago.
Output per worker was down by 3.1 per cent over the same period.
Productivity was a major problem for the UK economy even before coronavirus struck.
Here’s more on the latest ONS stats:
Coronavirus-related deaths drop below five-year average for second week
There were a total of 8,979 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to June 26, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is 314 fewer than the five-year average of 9,293.
This is the second week in a row that deaths have been below the five-year average.
The number of deaths in care homes and hospitals in the week to June 26 was also below the five-year average (103 and 815 deaths lower respectively), while the number of deaths in private homes was 745 higher than the five-year average.
Of those deaths registered in the week to June 26, 606 mentioned ‘novel coronavirus (Covid-19)’ on the death certificate – the lowest number of deaths involving Covid-19 since the week ending March 27.
Registered deaths involving coronavirus decreased in all but one region in England in the week ending June 26, the ONS said.
In the North East there were two more deaths registered compared to the previous week.
Not wearing face covering should be considered “antisocial behaviour” similar to drink-driving, a leading UK scientist has said:
No one should leave the house without a face covering, a leading UK scientist has said.
Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, said the UK “way behind” many other countries in using coverings to protect against the spread of coronavirus.
He pointed to mounting evidence suggesting masks protect both the wearer and those around them.
Here’s more on the business secretary’s defence of the PM:
A minister was forced to defend Boris Johnson this morning after his comments over care homes sparked fury.
The Prime Minister has been criticised for saying “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures” during the coronavirus outbreak.
Care leaders and MPs have accused Mr Johnson of attempting to shift the blame for the high death toll.
Insulation will cushion job losses – minister
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the funding for home insulation, such as loft insulation and triple glazing installation, will protect jobs and help reduce energy bills.
A total of £2 billion out of a £3 billion fund due to be announced as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s economic recovery plan on Wednesday has been earmarked to improve energy efficiency in homes in England, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Ultimately this is about providing and supporting jobs,” he said.
“We believe that, as result of this £3 billion going in, we will be supporting around 130,000 jobs in England.
“This is tradespeople, this is builders, plumbers, and ultimately this is a policy which is about putting money into people’s pockets – people will save hundreds of pounds a year in terms of lower energy costs.
“It is good for jobs and, of course, ultimately it is also very good for the environment.”
PM isn’t blaming care homes, minister insists
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the Prime Minister was “certainly not blaming care homes” for social care coronavirus deaths in comments made on Monday.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Sharma said: “Specifically on the point the Prime Minister was making yesterday, I think what he was actually pointing out is that nobody knew what the correct procedures were at the time because, quite frankly, we didn’t know what the extent of asymptomatic transmission was.
“That wasn’t known at the time.
“We then put in place very detailed action plans for care homes, we made sure there was a rigorous testing regime put in place, and we also ensured there was extra money – there was £600 million that went in as part of an infection control fund.
“So we have supported the sector throughout.”
Put to him that Boris Johnson had criticised care homes for not following the set procedures, Mr Sharma said: “The Prime Minister is certainly not blaming care homes.”
He praised the “really brilliant job” done by carers during the pandemic and recognised that they had carried out their work in “difficult circumstances”.
Melbourne and some nearby regions in Australia are going back into lockdown after a surge in coronavirus cases.
As of midnight on Wednesday, people who live in Melbourne, its greater suburbs and those who live in the northern area of Mitchell Shire will be placed back under stage three restrictions for six weeks.
The south-eastern state of Victoria had some of the nation’s toughest pandemic measures and was among the most reluctant to lift its restrictions when the worst of the outbreak seemed to have passed.
Sunak will have to accept that businesses will collapse – Hammond
Former chancellor Philip Hammond has said his successor must be prepared to let some businesses fail.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to announce fiscal measures designed to aid the UK’s economic recovery after Covid-19 on Wednesday.
Mr Hammond, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said: “I think it is important to recognise that the Chancellor faces an extraordinarily complex challenge.
“He’ll want to continue to support businesses and people who are affected by regulatory shutdown in what are otherwise viable businesses.
“But he will also sadly need to facilitate a transition for those businesses and people who are, what they are doing is no longer viable.
“Some businesses will close, some viable businesses will close units – we have already heard the announcement of retailers closing stores – and that’s where a focus on re-training and re-skilling, getting people turned around and ready to go back into the workforce as quickly as possible, will come into it.”
If you’ve already had coronavirus, you may not be protected against getting it again:
Coronavirus patients suffering mild symptoms may carry protective antibodies for just a matter of weeks, new research suggests.
A study of almost 70,000 people in Spain found that 14 per cent who initially positive for antibodies then showed a negative result two months later.
The apparent antibody disappearance was predominantly seen among those reporting very mild symptoms or who had been asymptomatic, according to the analysis published in the Lancet journal.
Having dozens of doctors and nurses staying at Premier Inn hotels throughout the pandemic has helped staff work out how to ensure that guests stick to hygiene and social distancing routines when they reopen to the public.
The company, which has taken advantage of lockdown to refurbish several hotels, said customers are flocking to regional holiday hotspots, which are getting a good number of bookings.
However, Alison Brittain, chief executive of Premier Inn owner Whitbread, tried to temper investor expectations by pointing to slow restarts in other countries.
“It is still very early days and therefore too early to draw any conclusions from our booking trajectory, especially as there has been volatility in hotel performance in other countries that relaxed controls before the UK,” she said.
She added that demand “remains subdued” in other areas, including cities such as London.
Ms Brittain said the company has taken “key learnings” from keeping 39 of its UK hotels open in order to house key workers, including many NHS staff.
She said these can now be applied to the rest of its sites.
Everyone should wear a mask indoors – scientists
Professor Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, said people should wear a mask whenever they are in a crowded indoor environment.
It follows the publication of two reports by the society into the wearing of masks.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “inconsistent” for ministers to recommend the wearing of masks while in hospitals or when using public transport but not in other places.
Prof Ramakrishnan said: “I think what we would like for the Government is to be a bit stronger and clearer about the messaging and require it whenever you are in crowded public spaces where you cannot get more than two metres away from the next person.
“If you’re in a crowded setting, you ought to wear a mask.”
He said “outdoors was less of a problem” for transmission and that mask-wearing was largely required in indoor settings.
Photographic evidence from Oxford Street might suggest otherwise but…
JD Sports has said that shoppers remain “nervous” about visiting shopping centres due to the risk of the spread of coronavirus in crowds.
The retailer, which began reopening stores in some countries in April and in England on June 15, said: “Initial footfall has been weaker in malls and shopping centres, particularly in Northern Europe at weekends, as consumers remain nervous about the risks associated with densely occupied enclosed spaces.”
However, the company did say that those who visited stores are more inclined to spend, rather than simply browse.
Care home ‘crying out’ for weekly testing – charity chief
Mark Adams said the care sector had been “crying out” for weekly testing for months.
The chief executive of charity Community Integrated Care told the BBC’s Today programme: “I think what we’re getting is history re-written in front of us, when you could list pages and pages of Government failure which the system has had to cope with.
“And to get a throwaway comment, almost glibly blaming the social care system and not holding your hand up for starting too late, doing the wrong things, making mistake after mistake, is just frankly unacceptable.”
When asked whether his staff were being tested enough, he said: “We didn’t test social care until the end of May.
“So us, like most social care operators, had our losses before we started having any testing at all.
“Yes, the testing has now reached a point where most of our people in care homes and most of the residents have been tested once but once is absolutely useless because if you get tested and then get back on the bus and pick up the virus on the bus, within a week you’re potentially asymptomatic and infectious.
“We have been crying out for weekly or ideally twice-weekly testing for months and we’ve only just got that commitment – it is a question of the horse bolting and shutting the stable door.”
Here’s more on the reaction to Boris Johnson’s care home comments:
Boris Johnson is facing criticism after saying that “too many” care homes did not properly follow procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Prime Minister appeared to cast some blame on care homes for their response to the Covid-19 outbreak, saying that many “didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have”.
But care providers have said the basis for his comments was unclear while the head of the National Care Forum (NCF) said they were “frankly hugely insulting”.
PM’s care home comments were ‘at best clumsy’ – charity
Mark Adams, chief executive of charity Community Integrated Care, said he was “unbelievably disappointed” to hear the Prime Minister’s comments about the actions of care homes during the coronavirus crisis.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think this at best was clumsy and cowardly but to be honest with you, if this is genuinely his view, I think we’re almost entering an… alternative reality where the Government set the rules, we follow them and they don’t like the results and they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best.
“It is hugely frustrating.”
When asked to explain why he called Boris Johnson’s words “cowardly”, Mr Adams added: “Because you’ve got 1.6 million social care workers who when most of us are locked away in our bunkers waiting out Covid, really trying to protect our family, we’ve got these brave people on minimum wage, often with no sickness cover at all, going into work to protect our parents, our grandparents, our children, putting their own health and potentially their own lives at risk.
“And then to get the most senior man in the country turning round and blaming them on what has been an absolute travesty of leadership from the Government, I just think it is appalling.”
Office for National Statistics