Hello, I’m taking over for the next few hours. As ever, feel free to get in touch with updates relating to the pandemic from wherever you are, you can get me on Twitter at @JedySays or via email.
at 4.13pm BST
Travellers wearing face masks arrive from Paris to St Pancras Station in London after quarantine restrictions were imposed at 4am on Saturday morning. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA
Tens of thousands of UK tourists in France made last-ditch bids to return home before the imposition of quarantine restrictions at 4am today.
Tickets for planes, trains and ferries were snapped up by travellers at increased prices as they attempted to beat the deadline.
Governments around the world – including the UK – face a wave of lawsuits from foreign companies who complain that their profits have been hit by the pandemic.
Webinars and presentations shared with clients reveal that leading global law firms anticipate governments around the world will soon face claims over their response to the Covid-19 crisis. The actions are being brought under investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses which are embedded in trade and investment agreements and allow foreign investors and firms to sue other countries’ governments.
The claims are heard in highly secretive ad hoc tribunals before a panel of three judges. Often it is not apparent that a case is being brought until the panel sits.
The law firm Alston & Bird used a recent webinar to predict that the UK would be sued over Sadiq Khan’s decision to close Crossrail construction sites during the pandemic. The decision was at odds with the government’s policy of allowing sites to operate throughout lockdown, an inconsistency that they say opens up the way for a legal challenge.
Law firm Reed Smith has predicted that measures taken by governments to deal with the crisis are affecting investments “directly and significantly and could give rise to substantial claims”.
And Ropes & Gray has issued an alert advising clients to consider actions brought under investment treaties as “a powerful tool to recover or prevent loss resulting from Covid-19-related government actions”.
There are particular concerns about claims being brought against governments in the developing world.
at 4.17pm BST
Almost half of all Brazilians think president Jair Bolsonaro bears “no responsibility at all” for the country’s more than 100,000 dead from the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s second highest death toll, according to a new Datafolha poll.
The poll was published on Saturday in Brazil’s Folha de São Paulo newspaper and says 47% of Brazilians do not assign him any blame for the body count, whereas 11% do.
Brazil has the world’s worst outbreak outside of the United States and Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic has been widely condemned by health experts.
Rightwing Bolsonaro has pushed for the use of an unproven anti-malarial drug to fight the disease, replaced health ministers who opposed his agenda, encouraged Brazilians to oppose lockdown measures and shown indifference to the rising death toll.
at 3.19pm BST
Four more people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,456, NHS England said on Saturday, PA reports.
The patients were aged between 66 and 88 and they all had known underlying health conditions.
Six deaths have been reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
at 2.48pm BST
It should have been a great year for Spanish wine: a bumper crop of grapes resulting in millions and millions of extra bottles for sipping or swilling at home and abroad.
But with Covid-19 leading to a catastrophic drop in wine sales, the Spanish government is offering growers subsidies to destroy part of this year’s record grape harvest.
Faced with over-production in a shrinking market, €90m is to be spent either on destruction or on the distilling of grapes into brandy and industrial alcohol. Lower limits have also been set on the amount of wine that can be produced per hectare – and have already been imposed on makers of cava, Rueda and Rioja.
This year’s grape harvest is expected to produce 43 million hectolitres of wine, compared with 37 million in recent years. Even without Covid, this exceeds the combined domestic and international demand of 31 million hectolitres, but, to make matters worse, restaurant sales have fallen by 65% and exports by 49% since the start of the pandemic.
at 2.48pm BST
The German health minister defended a decision to declare nearly all of Spain, including the tourist island of Mallorca, a coronavirus risk region following a rise in cases there, Reuters reports.
Jens Spahn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper:
I know how much the Germans love Spain … But unfortunately the infection rates there are rising sharply, too sharply.
Whoever goes to Spain despite the warning should protect themselves and others while on holiday. Party holidays are irresponsible in this pandemic.
People returning to Germany from designated risk regions face a coronavirus test or two weeks’ compulsory quarantine.
Spahn’s comments came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 1,415, the biggest increase since late April, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed today.
Infections in Spain have also risen in recent days after it ended a tough lockdown seven weeks ago. The German move deals a new blow to hopes for a swift revival of mass tourism after months of lockdown all but wiped out this year’s high season.
at 2.12pm BST
The first set of quarantiners from France began arriving at Gatwick airport at 10.20am on Saturday, missing the UK deadline to get back by a handful of hours. Returning holidaymakers expressed fury, resignation and confusion as five flights from the south of France arrived within an hour.
Reda, who had spent two weeks in Bordeaux with his wife, Elodie, and their five-year-old daughter, Sara, said:
How does it make sense? Either you allow people proper time to stagger getting back or you say quarantine is effective immediately.
A 12- or 24-hour deadline just means that 100,000 people rushed back one day earlier than us.. They’re more high risk because of that, and we are in quarantine and they’re out in open spaces.
at 1.54pm BST
British holidaymakers have arrived back from France with minutes to spare before the new quarantine deadline, PA reports.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, announced late on Thursday that anyone arriving from France after 4am on Saturday would be required to quarantine for 14 days because of rising coronavirus cases in the country.
Travellers arrive back in the UK at St Pancras International station in London. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
Matt, a teacher from Manchester, took his car on a Channel Tunnel train which was due to arrive back in the UK at 3.55am.
His family had been camping in the Dordogne and had planned to come home on Monday but changed their tickets for an extra £115. The family drove for 10 hours to Calais to catch the train and spent another £66 to stay at a hotel in the early hours before driving on to Manchester.
“We literally got on the last available train … we’d been keeping up to date with the chaos at Calais so we were fearing the worst,” he said.
“Luckily, once we got to Calais we sailed through and actually got back at just gone 3am.”
Matt said he did not want his family to be in quarantine on his daughter’s eighth birthday next Friday, and the new measures would also have prevented a trip to see family in Scotland next weekend.
at 2.49pm BST
An Oxford college said it would accept all students with offers regardless of their A-level results, as thousands of Oxbridge alumni call on others to show equal “kindness and generosity” to downgraded pupils.
Laura Ashe, the tutor for admissions at Worcester College, Oxford, said it had decided to honour all UK offers this year because it is the “morally right thing to do”.
Read the full report:
at 1.15pm BST
Vietnam’s health ministry reported 21 new coronavirus infections and two deaths today, Reuters reports, bringing the total number of cases in the south-east Asian country to 950, with 23 fatalities.
More than 470 of the cases are linked to the central city of Danang, where a new outbreak began late last month.
The ministry said 115,858 people were being quarantined, including 4,182 at hospitals, 25,952 at centralised quarantine centres and the rest at home.
at 12.20pm BST
Public health experts, researchers and manufacturers say the coming flu season could bring a twin respiratory disease outbreak in the US, just as autumn and winter are expected to exacerbate the spread of Covid-19.
At the same time, researchers said the strategies currently used to prevent coronavirus transmission – namely, hand-washing, mask-wearing and physical distancing – could also help lessen flu outbreaks, if Americans are willing to practice them.
“We will be faced with basically a double-barrel respiratory virus season, both influenza and Covid,” said Dr William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee.
at 11.47am BST
More than 400 grassroots music venues in Britain are said to be at imminent risk of closure, although the government is currently pledging £2.25m in a ‘culture recovery package’, that will not be sufficient. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP
When Keiron Marshall was 15, he found his way out of a desperate situation with help from an unexpected source: Eric Clapton. The guitarist hosted the first gig Marshall ever attended, and he was joined on stage by Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, The Who’s Pete Townshend and Ringo Starr from the Beatles.
Since then, London’s music scene has been a liferaft for Marshall, a musician who now runs a group of small concert venues with his wife. Growing up in south London, he’d endured racial slurs and regular beatings because of his Pakistani heritage. His uncle was killed in a racially motivated attack; his mother was a heroin addict.
“Music for us is a really personal thing”, said Hannah White, Marshall’s wife. “Its been totally life-changing.”
But the music scene they know and love may soon be unrecognisable because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has plunged the UK economy into its worst recession on record.
Live music venues have been forced to shut doors for nearly five months – and scores are at imminent risk of permanent closure. According to the charity Music Venue Trust, which represents 670 grassroots venues, more than 400 across the country are in crisis.
One of those is Marshall and White’s south London venue group, the Sound Lounge.
The government announced on Saturday that indoor and physically distanced live music could resume. But this does not mean that the live music scene will be immediately restored.
at 11.33am BST