That’s it for the UK live blog today, thank you for reading.
If you want to continue following the latest coronavirus developments, do head over to our global liveblog.
Here’s a quick round up of all the latest stories from across the UK today:
- Thousands return to school in England but many parents still wary. This week marks the start of the government’s phased reopening of schools in England, with pupils in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 returning to classes from 1 June, but a survey of school leaders suggested about half of the 2 million pupils entitled to return this week would not turn up.
- Public trust in UK government over coronavirus falls sharply. Trust in the UK government as a source of accurate information about the coronavirus has collapsed in recent weeks, suggesting ministers may struggle to maintain lockdown restrictions in the aftermath of the Dominic Cummings affair.
- Travel in Scotland may be restricted after hundreds flout rules. Nicola Sturgeon has threatened to introduce new laws against travelling for leisure outside local areas after widespread breaches of Scotland’s lockdown rules at the weekend.
- Shopper numbers surge 36% as lockdown in England relaxed. Shoppers rushed back to high streets and retail parks on Monday with the reopening of car showrooms, markets and some Ikea stores. The number of shoppers soared 36% compared with last week’s bank holiday Monday.
- Rees-Mogg accused of disenfranchising vulnerable MPs by abandoning electronic voting. He will ask MPs tomorrow to agree to a new system of voting, reportedly one that would involve MPs queuing around parliament to vote in person while observing social distancing. The Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who is in the “vulnerable” category, says the proposal will disenfranchise MPs like her.
- Far too soon to ease lockdown in north-east England, leaders warn. Political leaders in the north-east of England have urged residents to disregard the government’s “reckless” relaxation of the lockdown amid concerns it will lead to a second spike of coronavirus in a region with the UK’s highest infection rate.
- UK protesters accuse police of targeting black people during lockdown. Organisers of anti-racism protests in the UK have accused the police of unfairly targeting black people during the lockdown and called for further demonstrations this week.
Police Scotland have revealed they gave more than 2,000 people dispersal orders for breaching lockdown regulations over the weekend, after Friday’s easing of Scotland’s lockdown restrictions saw people flooding to beauty spots and beaches.
The force said they issued 1,391 “compliant” dispersal orders between 7am on Friday 29 May and 7am on Monday, as well as 650 dispersal orders “after police warning”; they issued 16 £60 instant fines but made no arrests.
The data was released after Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, warned the Scottish government may seek to strengthen the lockdown regulations by introducing new laws against travelling too far from home.
On Friday, people in Scotland were allowed to travel more than five miles from home to see close family, and to see up to 8 people from other households, but only outdoors and two metres apart. The five mile radius rule is not set in statute.
However, that advice was ignored by thousands of people; the police had to erect a checkpoint at Drymen, a village near Loch Lomond, as Transport Scotland reported a 200% increase in traffic near the loch on Saturday. Some people camped out overnight, or drove to beauty spots with their caravans and camper vans.
She told Monday’s daily press briefing that Scots who ignored the lockdown regulations were putting lives at risk, and threatening a second wave of infections and hospitalisations. If that rate of breaches continued, she said, new legislation was likely.
Deputy Chief Constable Matt Kerr said the force was relying on people to accept they had a civic duty to act responsibly; his officers would use persuasion before enforcement. He said:
Complying with the legislation about meeting only one other household outdoors at any one time and following the Scottish government’s guidance about avoiding travelling long distances will stop our parks, beaches, lochs and hills from becoming over-crowded.
We all want to enjoy our outdoor spaces safely and, whilst our officers will continue to robustly tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, please take reasonable steps to keep yourself safe and act responsibly.
Matt Hancock's press conference - Summary
Here are the main points from Matt Hancock’s press conference.
- Hancock, the health secretary, said that the latest daily figure for the number of UK coronavirus deaths, at 111, was “the lowest figure since lockdown began on 23 March”. But the figure is only this low because some coronavirus deaths added to the overall total have been treated as historic additions, not new additions (ie, they have been added to previous totals, not yesterday’s.) See 6.01pm. These headline numbers are also an underestimate because they only cover people who tested positive for coronavirus and died. Thousands more people have died from coronavirus without having been tested. Today’s chart (see 5.13pm) also suggests that in recent days the rolling average for the daily number of deaths has been levelling off rather than continuing to fall.
- Hancock urged people not to throw away the progress made in fighting the disease. He said:
We must all remember that in the war against this virus we are all on the same side. We have come so far together, we can take these steps together. But do not step too far, the disease is not done yet. We mustn’t throw away the progress that has been made.
- He said that, although reimposing lockdown measures nationally was not being ruled out, the government was more likely to do so locally. He said:
We are attempting to move the system from these national, blanket measures to a more targeted approach - this is why test and trace is such an important part of that.
But we have always said that we are prepared to reintroduce measures - whether that is nationally or in response to a localised outbreak - if that is necessary.
- He said that the “vast majority” of new coronavirus infections were being traced through the new test and trace system. But he refused to give precise figures, or to say how many contacts were being identified, and what proportion of them were agreeing to self-isolate. Prof John Newton from Public Health England said data would be published in due course. When it was put to him that some contact tracers have said they have had nothing to do, Hancock said that was a good thing. He explained:
The level of incidence of disease has come down and so actually we have more capacity than we need, this is a good thing.
I think to err on the side of having too many contact tracers is the right side to err on. I’d rather have too many people trained and ready to go.
- Hancock said the new joint biosecurity centre, that will have to assess the coronavirus alert level, was still in the process of being set up.
Organisers of anti-racism protests in the UK have accused the police of unfairly targeting black people during the lockdown and called for further demonstrations this week.
Protests took place in London, Cardiff, Manchester and Nottingham on Saturday and Sunday against the killing last week of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota, which has led to widespread unrest across the US.
As well as showing solidarity with demonstrators in the US, Britons have expressed anger and frustration at the increased use of stop and search during the lockdown in areas with large black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) populations.
The Guardian revealed last week that BAME people in England were 54% more likely to be fined under coronavirus rules than white people.
British demonstrations were called spontaneously by young black people who are not affiliated with any organisations. They said they wanted to shine a spotlight on the impact of institutional racism in the UK.
During the protests, the rallying cry that “the UK is not innocent” was accompanied by Black Lives Matter banners.
Aima, 18, who did not wish to give her last name, was one of the organisers of a protest in London on Sunday. She said: “I started the LDNBLM hashtag and it blew off. I didn’t expect that to happen. What inspired me was how much pain I’ve suffered while in the UK.
“I moved here from Nigeria when I was 10 and as soon as I came here I experienced a lot of discrimination from the police and from people around me. People need to understand in the UK, we’re suffering too.”
The protest was not associated with the more established group Black Lives Matter UK. A spokesperson for the group said:
Although we are supporting newly founded groups in their demonstrations, we are currently not calling protests due to the life-threatening reality of the pandemic, which is killing members of our communities at a rate far greater than their white counterparts.
We are the first to work, first to die and now, first to fight.
Norwich Market, having survived wars, plagues and recessions in over 900 years of trading from the same site, has reawakened once again after the coronavirus shutdown had closed all but a handful of stalls selling food and essential goods.
From early Monday morning, traders selling fruit and vegetables, vintage clothing and household items, rearranged their stalls, hoping to entice the shoppers slowly returning to the quiet city centre.
Council workers had hurriedly installed a one-way system in the market alleyways and laid floor stickers to encourage shoppers to keep 2 metres apart.
A steady trickle of customers were buying seasonal peonies and baby’s breath at Pond’s Flowers, next to Gentleman’s Walk, which has been run by Alexander Pond’s family for more than a century. “We’re starting on the bottom rung of the ladder, building it back up,” said Kevin Howes, who has worked on the stall with Pond for 25 years.
Only about a fifth of the 90 businesses that operate at the market, known for its distinctive candy-striped roofs, had raised their shutters on Monday morning. Many are waiting for high street stores to reopen later this month and for footfall to pick up in the city.
“I’m not sure how many traders will come back,” said Mark Wright, the chair of the market traders’ association and owner of Taxi Vintage Clothing, “I hear some have done well online.”
Without his own online business, Wright was hoping his rail of floral Hawaiian shirts would catch a shopper’s eye so he could “break the ice” and make his first sale in 11 weeks.
Wales could place lockdowns on certain parts of the country if hotspots of coronavirus are found, the first minister has said.
Mark Drakeford said he would not rule out “precise, localised” restrictions on the public if a new contact-tracing system showed spikes of transmissions, despite Wales’ finance minister saying doing so would cause “confusion”.
Drakeford was asked about localised lockdowns at the Welsh government’s daily press briefing, to which he said ministers “definitely haven’t ruled out” doing so.
I’ve referred to identifying hotspots, and if there are hotspots and the best answer is to take particular measures in that area then that is what we will do.
And that would be a very ordinary response to a public health problem, that you take the action in the place where the problem comes to the surface.
On Wednesday finance minister Rebecca Evans said local lockdowns were not being considered by the government after being questioned about a recent spike in cases in North Wales.
She said: “At the moment we’re not considering differential lockdowns across different parts of Wales, and part of that is because I think that one of the strengths of the message is it’s a very clear message that applies to everybody equally across Wales.
“And I think that if you do look for differential lockdowns or lockdowns in small areas, then there is the potential for a great deal of confusion.”
Drakeford also ruled out any other sports currently restricted in Wales being allowed until the next review of measures in three weeks’ time, but said there were people who could make “a good case” for why non-team sports like tennis should be made an exception.
He added: “What I have to explain to them is their exception would be met by somebody else’s exception.
“And by the time you’ve added all these exceptions up, the risk is considerably bigger than it would be otherwise.”
PA Media has obtained an explanation as to why today’s UK coronavirus death figures and yesterday’s don’t appear to add up. (See 5.55pm.) It reports.
The number of people in the UK who have died after testing positive for Covid-19 is 556 higher than the equivalent total announced yesterday, although the government is reporting the day-on-day change as 111.
The reason for the difference in these two figures is to do with how deaths are being incorporated into historic data retrospectively.
Yesterday’s cumulative total announced by the Department of Health was 38,489, which is 556 below today’s cumulative total of 39,045.
But since yesterday, 445 deaths have been added to the historic data.
These additional deaths are linked to cases that have been identified through testing that has been carried out by commercial partners, rather than testing that has been done in NHS and Public Health England laboratories.
Rather than include these 445 deaths in today’s increase, the Department of Health has incorporated them within the previous cumulative total, to create a notional total for yesterday of 38,934 (38,489 + 445).
The difference between this notional total of 38,934 and today’s total of 39,045 is 111, and this is the one being reported by the government.
UPDATE: And here is the explanation from the Department for Health and Social Care. A spokesperson said:
A further change to the reporting process was introduced on 1 June 2020 and affected data from 24 May onwards. Deaths linked to cases identified through ‘pillar 2’ testing (see ‘Total and daily UK cases’ section on this page) are included as well as ‘pillar 1’ cases. All deaths before 24 May 2020 of people who tested positive through ‘pillar 2’ testing are included in the reported daily figure for 24 May 2020.
This change resulted in an additional 445 deaths being included (as at 1 June 2020).
'Far too soon' to ease lockdown in north-east England, leaders warn
Political leaders in the north-east of England have urged residents to disregard the government’s “reckless” relaxation of the lockdown amid concerns it will lead to a second spike of coronavirus in a region with the UK’s highest infection rate.
Martin Gannon, the leader of Gateshead council, which has the second-highest rate of infections in the UK, said:
The current approach from government is reckless and they haven’t put systems in place to keep it safe.
Our advice is that [people] should be staying with the initial advice, which was lockdown, stay socially isolated within our homes until such time as we can have an effective testing, tracking and tracing system in place.
The north-east has the highest per-capita infection rate of any region in the UK.
It is thought to be particularly vulnerable given its relatively high proportion of people with secondary illnesses linked to heavy industry, such as mining and shipbuilding.
Of the 10 worst-affected local authorities, the top four are all in the north-east: Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Middlesbrough.
The region’s current R value – the number of people an infected person will on average infect – is the highest in the UK, at 0.8, double the rate in London, according to analysis by Cambridge University scientists working with Public Health England.
If the R value reaches 1, it means the virus is spreading.
At the start of the press conference Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that there had been 111 new UK deaths, taking the UK total to 39,045. (See 5.13pm.)
But yesterday the UK headline total was given as 38,489. That implies an increase of 556, not 111.
The Department of Health has yet to explain the discrepancy.
Guardian reporters Mattha Busby, Amy Walker and Sally Weale have reported on how the first day back at school (for some children) went today.
There were nerves, excitement, laughter – and some tears – as children, who have been stuck at home since schools were closed as part of a national lockdown to contain the coronavirus, returned to their classrooms for the first time in 10 weeks.
For staff, who have had to work flat out to adapt their schools and timetables to ensure safe social distancing in the Covid era, it was a happy – though anxious – moment to see children back in classrooms that have remained largely empty, apart from small numbers of children of key workers and vulnerable pupils.
While many parents remained fearful and chose not to send their children back, despite the government’s exhortations, those pupils who arrived could be seen queuing patiently at school entrances, keeping two metres apart, before being welcomed back to school and promptly sent to wash their hands.
At Cooper Perry primary school in Stafford, in the West Midlands, head teacher Emily Proffitt said she had been “very relieved” that the first day back had gone to plan as some reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils returned. She said:
I’ve been the most nervous I’ve been as a headteacher. When all the staff came in this morning, you could just see the nervous energy amongst us.
Our fears were unwarranted, because the children came in brilliantly. They were automatically social distancing. Even our reception pupils were stood at two-metre intervals down the line.
All children are in groups of 15 or smaller, while break times are on a rota to allow each group space to play safely.
Teachers have also been encouraged to head out to the school’s playing fields and adjoining forest area for classes because there is less risk of transmission outdoors.
A prep school once attended by Boris Johnson is to shut down as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.
Ashdown House preparatory school in East Sussex, which has been in existence for 180 years, will close its doors at the end of the academic year after a ruinous downturn in pupil numbers.
The independent schools sector in the UK has been severely affected by the coronavirus, which has seen many parents lose income and a significant drop in interest from overseas pupils. As a result, the school was expecting to be less than a third full from September.
Announcing the closure, Tom Beardmore-Gray, chief executive of the Cothill trust of which Ashdown is part, said:
The harsh reality is that the impact of the coronavirus has changed everything.
In recent years the trust has invested heavily in the school, and there has been a relentless drive to keep the school moving forward. Given the challenges the sector as a whole is now facing, it is not possible to maintain this support.
He went on: “Ashdown is a prestigious school, rich with heritage and tradition. We take some solace from the fact that, while the school is unable to continue, Ashdown’s impact will be felt for generations to come.”
The prime minister attended the school in the 1970s.
In her latest Guardian column Polly Toynbee says “the government will not escape the ghosts of needless care-home deaths”.
Here is an excerpt.
Care beds are essential with over-85s doubling over the next 25 years. But the service needs to be free for rich and poor alike by the time they use it, to stop this financial conflict. There is no better time for brave reform, with care newly valued by all who have stood and clapped. The former Tory pensions minister Ros Altmann has slammed big care companies, “bought up by hedge-funders at knockdown prices, loaded with debt, tripling their money”. If they think they’re too big to fail, she says, “don’t bail them out, take them over”.
[Boris] Johnson is no nationaliser. But families will not forgive the scandal of care-home deaths on his watch, left with tragic images of grandparents dying alone, feared to be without morphine or tranquillisers. Divorced from the NHS, private ownership of social care is a key reason why this horror is happening.
And here is the full article.
Q: There are thousands of people who cross the England/Scotland border every day. Wouldn’t it be easier if the same advice applied in both countries?
Hancock says, in most respects, the advice is the same. He says the two countries are trying to move together as closely as possible.
Q: Shielded people in Scotland cannot go out, but shielded people in England can. Who’s right?
Newton says they try wherever possible to give the same advice in England and Scotland. But the mechanisms for implementing advice in the two countries are different. And sometimes political decisions are involved, and some of those are devolved.
That’s it. The press conference is over.
Q: GPs have said they have been inundated by complaints from worried patients who don’t understand why the shielding advice has been changed so quickly.
Hancock says this is important for people. People do not realise how demanding staying at home was for people. So, when the scientific advice changed, it was important to publicise this.
Q: How would a localised lockdown work? Would it just cover schools? Or transport too?
Hancock says taking local action is “an incredibly important part of the toolkit”. It could involve stopping new admissions to a local hospital.
The joint biosecurity centre would provide advice to the chief medical officers, who would advice ministers.
The toolkit is “as broad as the legal toolkit that we have nationally”, he says.
Newton says they would have a “whole system response”. All services might contribute, he says.
If an area had to close a healthcare unit, another area could step in to help.
Q: If the R rate goes up, how likely is it that you will reimpose some blanket lockdown measures?
Hancock says the government is trying to move to a more targeted approach.
But it has always said that, if necessary, it will reintroduce blanket measures.
He says he has also changed the basis of the law. It used to say you could not leave your home unless you had a specific reason. Now that has been reversed, he says; now the regulations say you can leave home unless you are doing so for specific reasons.
Q: Will we get data this week on what proportion of infected people have been contacted by contact tracers, how many of the people they have been in contact with have been contacted, and how many are complying?
Newton says these are new systems. They are quite complicated. A number of different systems are being used. They want to make sure the data is reliable, and they plan to do a bit more work before the results are published.
Q: Since the system started last week around 9,000 new cases have been reported. How many of those have been contacted?
Hancock says he does not have the number, but it is high.
Newton says some people do not need contact tracing. For example, some might be in a care home, he says.
He says the system is working well. Figures will be published soon, he says.
Q: Does the joint biosecurity centre actually exist? It has no website, and has published no reports.
Yes, says Hancock. He says it is being set up at the moment.
Q: Some contact tracers have told us they have had very little to do since they started work on Thursday. What is happening?
Hancock says the system is up and running, and is successful. He says people being contacted are responding positively when being asked to self-isolate.
He says the government has more capacity than it needs. That’s a good thing, he says.
Q: How many contacts have been made since Thursday? With 2,000 new cases a day, that should generate quite a lot of work.
Hancock says he would rather have too many contact tracers than too few.
There are 7,500 clinicians in the system, he says. That means six for every new case.
And he says the number of contacts people have is lower than expected.
Hancock is now taking questions.
Jill from Warrington asks what has changed to allow the advice for people shielding to change.
Hancock says asking people to stay at home was hard. So, when the clinical advice changed, the government changed its advice. This is a positive change for people, he says. He says it has been welcomed.
(That is not what our colleague Frances Ryan has found. See 1.19pm.)
Hancock says UK daily death toll at 111 is at lowest level since lockdown began
Here is the slide for the number of people being admitted to hospital.
And here are the death figures.
Hancock says, at 111, the daily figures is the lowest it has been since the lockdown was announced.
(This figure just covers people who have tested positive for coronavirus and died. There will be other people who will have died from coronavirus without testing positive.)
The family of a man who died with Covid-19 after attending the Liverpool v Atletico Madrid march in March are calling for an inquiry into why the match was allowed to go ahead, the BBC has reported.
Richard Mawson, 70, was “fit and healthy” before the match on 11 March his wife Mary said.
He was admitted to Aintree Hospital two weeks later after developing Covid-19 symptoms which left him “completely breathless”, and he died on 17 April.
The match was attended by 52,000 people, including around 3,000 Madrid fans who travelled to Anfield when Spain was already under partial lockdown due to a high number of Covid-19 cases.
The government halted football two days later, but Mary says it was too late.
“You go and do what your government tells you,” she said. “The government acted too late.”
Richard’s son Jamie said he was certain his father had caught the virus at the game and his sudden downturn in health had been a severe shock.
Public health authorities are already investigating a potential link between the match and a potential coronavirus rise in the city.
Liverpool’s mayor, Joe Anderson, said he had commissioned “a full investigation into any potential link between that match and the situation with coronavirus in the city.”
Liverpool’s metro mayor, Steve Rotheram, has also called for an independent inquiry.
The scientist leading the UK’s largest Covid-19 tracking project has said the Cheltenham Festival and the Liverpool v Atletico Madrid match “caused increased suffering and death” and rates of cases locally “increased several-fold” .
A government spokesperson said: “There are many factors that could influence the number of cases in a particular area, including population density, age, general health, and the position of an area on the pandemic curve.”
Hancock starts with testing numbers.
He says the government has the capacity now to carry out 206,444 tests per day. That is important, he says. It means anyone who needs a test should get one.
And he says the number of confirmed cases, at 1,570, is the lowest it has been since 25 March (which was two days after the lockdown was announced).
Hancock is starting now.
He says he is going to introduce the daily slides.
Normally the minister leading the press conference lets one of the medical or scientific experts introduce the slides.
Matt Hancock's press conference
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is taking the UK government’s daily press conference. It is due to start any minute now. He will be joined by Prof John Newton from Public Health England, who is overseeing the government’s testing programme.
Labour has united with almost all the other opposition parties in the Commons behind a move to reject Jacob Rees-Mogg’s plan to abandon electronic voting and hybrid debates (ie, with some MPs participating by Zoom) tomorrow. (See 4.05pm.) They are backing an amendment that would keep the arrangements that have been in operation during the lockdown.
Valerie Vaz, the shadow leader of the Commons, said:
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s discriminatory proposals would result in two classes of MPs. Those who can physically attend and those unable to owing to the government’s own rules, including having an underlying health condition or shielding responsibilities.
The abolition of the hybrid remote parliament which allowed all MPs to take part regardless of their personal circumstances is discriminatory and would not be acceptable in any other workplace.
We remain ready to work with the government and all parties to reach a consensus that would allow all MPs to participate on an equal basis.
The amendment has been signed by MPs from Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Greens, the SDLP and the Alliance party. But there is no signatory from the DUP.
A major survey of doctors has revealed fears around a second peak overwhelming the health service, as lockdown measures are relaxed in England.
The British Medical Association’s (BMA) latest tracker survey of more than 7,000 doctors found that almost half of respondents were not confident in their ability to manage a second influx of Covid-19 cases.
The latest ONS figures indicate there remains significant community spread of the infection – with an estimated 8,000 new cases daily.
The BMA said to reduce the risk of a second peak, government priorities must be:
- A widescale, accurate and systematic approach to test, trace, isolate, support and follow up with people with Covid-19 symptoms or those who have come into contact with people with symptoms.
- To take mitigating actions preventing the public and workers from contracting and spreading the virus while carrying out essential duties.
- Supporting the public in adhering to social distancing and infection control measures as restrictions are relaxed.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
As the government relaxes lockdown measures, we absolutely must not forget that the infection rate in the community remains worryingly high, with 8,000 new cases daily.
The risk from this highly infectious illness remains significant and if there is further spread thousands more families could lose loved ones before their time.
Doctors working on the front line are therefore rightfully worried about the devastating impact a second peak could have for their patients, the health service and the wider population.
This is not the time to be complacent.
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the prison estate continues to rise, the Ministry of Justice daily update shows.
As at 5pm on Sunday, 466 prisoners had tested positive for the coronavirus across 79 prisons, a 1.5% increase in three days.
The number of prison staff with the virus increased 2% to 923 workers across 105 prisons in the same period.
The figures are not live cases and include those who have recovered.
There are around 80,000 prisoners across 117 prisons in England and Wales, and around 33,000 staff working in public sector prisons.
So far, 23 prisoners and nine staff are known to have died, as well as one prison escort driver and one NHS trust employee working in a secure training centre.
And Public Health Wales has reported five more coronavirus deaths in Wales, taking the total to 1,347. The full figure are here.
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has recorded one more coronavirus death, taking the total to 524. The full details are here.
Public trust in UK government over coronavirus falls sharply
Public trust in the UK government as a source of accurate information about the coronavirus has collapsed in recent weeks, suggesting ministers may struggle to maintain lockdown restrictions in the aftermath of the Dominic Cummings affair, our colleague Jim Waterson reports.
Millions of sub-standard masks and thousands of fake hand sanitisers have been seized from Heathrow airport during the since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Trading standards teams have stopped 6.5m sub-standard face masks and 8,000 counterfeit hand sanitisers coming through the airport since the pandemic started, according to London Trading Standards (LTS).
LTS reports that the majority of masks seized had been labelled with false claims or fake safety certificates and around 4.25m had to undergo label amendments before they were subsequently released.
However, 2.25m have been found not to comply with legal safety standards. Trading standards teams examined a further 1.5m face masks and no issues were found.
The teams also seized 8,000 fake hand sanitisers, branded Andrex and Comfort.
Suspicions were raised as they had identical packaging and labelling, except for the brand name, and the same batch code on the entire consignment.
A further 4,500 hand sanitisers with false labelling were seized at the airport, according to LTS.
As well as stopping dodgy imports, trading standards are increasingly concerned about unsafe UK-made hand sanitisers being sold that fail to meet safety standards. Tower Hamlets trading standards have, for example, recently found UK-made hand sanitiser on sale online from a local shop that contains the banned substance Triclosan.
Ealing council’s trading standards team recently detained 454,500 face masks described as “anti-virus”, where fake safety certification was supplied.
The borough also seized 3,390 hand sanitisers, which lacked any legally required information regarding ingredients, batch, traceability, warnings or instructions.
Rees-Mogg accused of disenfranchising vulnerable MPs by abandoning electronic voting
Tomorrow MPs return to the Commons after the Whitun recess. As Toby Helm reported in the Observer at the weekend, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, has abandoned the system that allowed MPs to vote remotely. But the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, says it is not safe to return to the old system of voting, involving large numbers of MPs crowding into the division lobbies. Instead Rees-Mogg will ask MPs tomorrow to agree to a new system of voting, reportedly one that would involve MPs having to form an enormous queue all around parliament so that they can vote in person while observing social distancing.
In an article for the House magazine Rees-Mogg explains why he thinks it is so important for MPs to return to the Commons in person. Here’s an excerpt.
It comes down to the quality of communication between MPs and ministers. Politics is better done face-to-face, even if the whites of the ministerial eyes are six feet away. In the chamber frontbenchers will have to keep on their toes as interventions are once again made possible. This exceptional aspect of British democracy, curtailed under the hybrid halfway house, can once again flourish.
Out of the chamber, too, MPs will be able to come together - at the right social distance - to represent shared problems faced by those in multiple constituencies. This is what Edmund Burke meant when he wrote that parliament should be a “deliberative assembly of one nation” rather than a “congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests”. Cross-party work is often under-reported but is an important part of our system. With MPs present in Westminster, rather than scattered hither and thither, voters’ interests will be better represented.
The Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who is in the “vulnerable” category, says the Rees-Mogg proposal will disenfranchise MPs like her.
Criminals are exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic and targeting those most vulnerable at home and in the care sector, Scotland’s serious organised crime taskforce has said.
Reports of incidents involving organised crime groups have included:
- A care home in the Forth Valley area was left without PPE after the supplier claimed they had not received the £10,000 payment, despite it being sent. A police investigation showed that the payment had been moved from the bank account it was paid into and they believe organised criminals were behind it.
- A number of reports of people knocking doors and offering to disinfect the householder’s driveway to rid it of any Covid-19 for a fee.
- Businesses emailed by scammers urging them to click on an official-looking link for a £25,000 grant. The link leads to a fake ‘UK government’-branded website asking for business and banking details.
- £10,000 fraud intercepted by Scottish Borders Council when an application for a business support grant was hacked by criminals who requested the redirection of the payment to a different bank account. Due to the checks in place the council were alert to the scam and the money was not paid out.
Humza Yousaf, justice secretary and chair of the taskforce, said:
People are understandably concerned about their health, and that of their family, as well as concerned about their jobs.
It is abhorrent, but not unexpected, that these groups are looking to exploit those fears and concerns.
Police Scotland assistant chief constable Angela McLaren said:
During the current pandemic, we are seeing targeted attempts by fraudsters to adapt well-known techniques to include references to coronavirus, lockdown measures and PPE. We remain vigilant to this and circulate alerts and preventative messages, not just those associated with Covid-19, where appropriate.
According to Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), attendance at primary schools in England today seemed to be “highly variable”, with head teachers reporting that the attendance ranges between 40% and 70% of the eligible pupils.
Although we have been talking about schools “reopening” (which is the experience for most parents), schools have largely stayed open during the lockdown for the children of key workers and for children who are deemed vulnerable. According to Department for Education statistics, 80% of schools were open in late May. But only 2.6% of pupils were in school, which is less than was expected when the key worker/vulnerable children exemptions were announced at the start of lockdown.
Barton said that, with some primary school pupils going back, he expected more pupils in the two exemption groups to start returning. He said:
School leaders are also reporting that they are seeing an increase in the number of key worker children who are attending across all year groups.
Schools have remained open to vulnerable and key worker children throughout the lockdown period, and as the lockdown eases, it is likely this will lead to greater demand for places.
This will be extremely challenging for primary schools to accommodate, particularly small primary schools, in addition to bringing in the eligible year groups.
Almost 2.5 million Britons have not been screened, tested or treated for cancer because the Covid-19 pandemic has led to “enormous disruption” of NHS care for the disease, experts have warned.
More than 24,000 cases of cancer have gone undiagnosed as a result of the suspension of normal services while delays in treatment mean some people’s disease is now inoperable, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) says.
Analysis by the charity has found there is a backlog of what it estimates to be 2.1 million people across the UK waiting to undergo screening for breast, bowel or cervical cancer because the NHS has not offered those appointments while hospitals have been busy tackling Covid-19.
As a result 3,800 people whose cancer would usually have been picked up by screening have gone undiagnosed, CRUK believes.
Another 20,300 cancers have also been missed because an estimated 290,000 people were not urgently referred by their GP for investigation within two weeks of possible cancer symptoms, it says.
The suspension of much normal NHS care during the lockdown has also meant that 12,750 fewer cancer patients have had surgery, 6,000 fewer have received chemotherapy and 2,800 fewer have undergone radiotherapy.
Services were put on hold to reduce the risk of people with cancer, who have lower immunity, contracting coronavirus if they came into hospital for treatments.
“My colleagues and I have seen the devastating impact this pandemic has had on both patients and NHS staff. Delays to diagnosis and treatment could mean that some cancers will become inoperable,” said Prof Charles Swanton, CRUK’s chief clinician.
Police can tell people to leave a property if breaking lockdown rules
Police in England can tell people to leave someone’s home if they are breaching new lockdown rules but cannot make them go, according to guidance issued to forces.
Gatherings of up to six people can now take place outdoors, for example in open spaces or in private gardens, but people are banned from staying overnight anywhere other than the place where they are living.
Any indoor gatherings of two or more people are also prohibited unless they are members of the same household or fall under a short list of exceptions to the rule.
A document from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing said:
You may only direct a person to return home.
There are no powers in the regulations to remove someone or use force.
Fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) and arrest still apply, where appropriate.
The document also points out the laws put in place “provide no power of entry” and Downing Street said police did not have the power to enter gardens to check numbers.
However, officers still have existing powers at their disposal to gain entry to a property where they suspect illegal activity to be taking place.
In public places “direction, removal and/or use of force can still be used”, the guidance said, adding: “If you are lawfully in a private place you can only direct a prohibited gathering to disperse, or any person in the gathering to return home.
“FPNs and arrest still apply, where appropriate.”
The latest laws define a gathering as two or more people “together in the same place in order to engage in any form of social interaction with each other, or to undertake any other activity with each other”.
Tourism leaders in Wales have signed an open letter calling for clear reopening dates and consistency with the leisure and tourism sector elsewhere in the UK, saying the negative impact of the extended lockdown “could be felt for years to come”.
Leaders from some of the most popular visitor attractions in Wales wrote to first minister Mark Drakeford calling for urgent clarity around dates for reopening.
The letter, signed by over forty bosses from a range of tourist destinations including Snowdon Mountain Railway, Zip World and the National Botanic Garden of Wales, warns of “writing off 2020 for Welsh tourism” without a clear roadmap to reopening such as those published in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The letter reads:
What needs to be made clear is that nearly 100% of Welsh tourism is fast approaching the half way point of its trading season and is in real danger of running out of time.
This really is ‘harvest time’ for our leisure and tourism industry here in Wales.
The UK population are now choosing to plan or book England and Scotland destinations for their summer break, day trips or family holiday.
Wales will not just be three weeks behind the other countries but will lose out altogether on the tourism volumes and market share.
Shopper numbers surge 36% as lockdown in England relaxed
Shoppers rushed back to high streets and retail parks on Monday as the reopening of car showrooms, markets and some Ikea stores marked the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
The number of shoppers out and about soared 36% across all retail destinations compared with last week’s bank holiday Monday, and was up 21% on Monday two weeks ago, according to analysts at Springboard.
“It appears that even though only markets and car showrooms have opened today in addition to essential stores, shoppers are heading back into bricks and mortar destinations,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s insights director.
While the vast majority of non-essential stores, including clothing, shoe and toy stores, will not reopen until 15 June, a range of other retailers selling products classed as essential such as DIY, furniture and bicycles, have gradually been reopening under lockdown.
Ikea is the latest in a wave of furniture stores to open in the last few weeks, including Dunelm, Furniture Village, DFS and ScS.
A council leader has called for stricter travel rules following the weekend’s chaotic beach scenes in Dorset which saw three people seriously injured after jumping off cliffs into the sea.
Councillor Vikki Slade, the leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council, has written to local MPs and the chief constable of Dorset Police after widespread scenes of irresponsible behaviour witnessed across the area’s beaches, including at the limestone arch of Durdle Door.
She said she had witnessed first-hand incidents of people failing to adhere to social distancing rules, illegal parking, widespread barbecues and staff facing abuse when going about their work.
Slade said many of the visitors to the beaches were people who had travelled from outside of the county.
We have asked the police for extra support in enforcing social distancing and we have been told that we are policed by consent and that this is not practical, and that the capacity of the police makes it impossible to achieve.
We have even been asked to stop councillors and residents from calling the police when they have concerns about gatherings, groups and breaches.
We saw the most awful scenes in Durdle Door with the arrival of two helicopters to deal with the stupidity of people jumping from the top of cliffs, cheered and clapped by thousands of beachgoers.
We saw the kettling of people to give space to the helicopters and the closely packed paths as people were told to leave.
We have seen crowds on our beaches, in large groups clearly not from the same household, we have had council officers spat at, abused and intimidated as they go about their work, and I am asking you all to go back to ministers in Westminster and ask them to put a travel restriction on England, as they have done in Wales and Scotland.
In those devolved nations you can only travel five miles from home for reasons other than work or risk fines, and I am asking that a similar policy is brought in for England with immediate effect.
After the three men were seriously injured in Saturday’s incident after jumping from the top of the Durdle Door arch, the popular beauty spot and nearby Lulworth Cove were closed.
However on Sunday, scores of people defied attempts to close the beach and so-called tombstoners could even be seen jumping from the 200ft high sea arch.
England records 108 more hospital deaths, taking total to 26,722
NHS England has announced 108 new deaths in hospital of people who tested positive for coronavirus bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 26,722. The full figures are here.
Of the 108 new deaths announced on Monday, 13 occurred on 31 May, 40 occurred on 30 May and 16 occurred on 29 May.
For reference, here are the equivalent NHS England headline death figures for the last two weeks. Today’s figure is higher than last Monday’s (a bank holiday), but lower than a fortnight ago.
Monday 18 May - 122
Tuesday 19 May - 174
Wednesday 20 May - 166
Thursday 21 May - 187
Friday 22 May - 121
Saturday 23 May - 157
Sunday 24 May - 147
Monday 25 May - 59
Tuesday 26 May - 116
Wednesday 27 May - 183
Thursday 28 May - 185
Friday 29 May - 149
Saturday 30 May - 146
Sunday 31 May - 85
'Vast majority' of prep schools in England open as state primaries start readmitting pupils
Earlier in the comments PaulyLans asked this.
My colleague Richard Adams, the Guardian’s education editor, says that, although there have been a lot of claims on social media to the effect that private schools are refusing to bring pupils back in the way that state schools in England are being ordered to, in reality that’s not the case. He explains:
As state primary schools in England open today, so too do their independent counterparts, often known as prep schools. Christopher King, the chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, says almost all of the 550 prep schools in England belonging to IAPS have opened to year 6 pupils this morning. Those with nurseries or “pre-prep” are also opening to reception and year 1 age groups, with what King calls a mixture of enthusiasm and apprehension.
‘The vast majority of prep schools in England are open today, apart from a few that are opening tomorrow. They are enthusiastic about reopening, but for staff and parents there is a degree of apprehension particularly because of the younger year groups and the difficulty in social distancing,’ King said.
Like state schools, prep schools remained open for the children of key workers and to provide remote learning for the rest of their pupils. Initial reports of unhappy parents saw many private schools cut their fees by 10%-20% for this term.
The situation is different in secondary schools, where neither state nor independent senior schools are reopening for the rest of the school year in England, other than for brief visits by year 10 and year 12 pupils from 15 June. In any case, boarding schools such as Eton would face additional complications in reopening because of the coronavirus regulations around residential education.
UPDATE: Although in the past it was true that Conservative MPs mostly sent their children to private schools, that is probably not the case now. This is from the Labour MP Karl Turner.
No 10 rejects claims lockdown being eased too soon as it urges public to stick to 2 metre rule
The Downing Street lobby briefing has now finished. Here are the main points.
- The prime minister’s spokesman suggested that the government is backing away from its plan for all primary school pupils in England to spend at least a month in school before the start of the summer holidays. In its coronavirus recovery plan (pdf) the government said it wanted “all primary school children [in England] to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible”. Asked if that was still the plan, the spokesman said this proposal remained “under review”. The spokesman also said the government accepted that some primary schools were not able to reopen today. He said:
We have only taken this step because we believe it is safe to do so. The medical evidence considered by government scientists has been published.
It’s hugely important that children do have the opportunity to get back into school and to learn but we are doing this in a very cautious and safe way.
We fully understand that there will be some schools who feel that they need more time to prepare.
- The spokesman indicated that the government backed a call from Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, for children to get catch-up tuition during the summer holidays. Asked about this proposal, the spokesman said the government wanted to ensure young people did not miss out. He went on:
We are [looking at] what additional measures may be required to ensure every child has the support they need, including over the summer.
- Downing Street urged people not to abandon social distancing rules. Asked about reports that in some places over the sunny weekend people people seemed to have abandoned social distancing, the prime minister’s spokesman said:
Over the course of the pandemic people across the country have made huge sacrifices and we thank them for it. We all need to still play our part. And it’s important that people should continue to follow social distancing guidelines and to stay two metres apart.
We will only continue to keep the virus under control if people continue to follow social distancing rules.
- No 10 rejected calls for the easing of lockdown to be paused. Asked about the statement from the Association of Directors of Public Health (see 9.25am) saying it was too soon the relax the lockdown, the spokesman said the changes being made were “limited and ... cautious” and that the government was only implementing them because it had met its five tests. (The ADPH does not accept that the five tests are being met. See 10.02am.) The spokesman also claimed it was “unlikely” that the measures taken to relax the lockdown in England would push R, the reproduction number, back above 1. He said:
We have worked to gradually and safely ease the lockdown measures, the consensus from the scientists is if test and trace is up and running and the public follow the social distancing guidance then it’s unlikely the measures will push the R above one.
- The spokesman defended the government’s decision to start easing the lockdown in England even though the Covid alert level has not fallen. In its recovery plan (pdf) published last month, the government said:
The content and timing of the second stage of adjustments will depend on the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus. The five tests set out in the first chapter must justify changes, and they must be warranted by the current alert level.
At the time the government said that the alert level would have to go down from 4, the current level, to 3 before the current restrictions could be eased. Here is a slide it produced at the time.
But the alert level, which is determined by the joint biosecurity centre, is still at 4, even though restrictions are being eased in England. Asked to justify this, the spokesman said that the alert level was “moving down from 4 to 3” and that the five tests had been met.
- The spokesman defended the government’s decision to issue new advice to the 2.5m people in the “shielding” category (extremely clinically vulnerable) at the weekend. (See 1.19pm.) He said it was a “very cautious change”, issued in accordance with medical and scientific advice. But he refused to say the move had been explicitly authorised by Sage, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. The announcement caught those affected by surprise. One person who did not know it was coming was Dr Nikita Kanani, head of primary care at NHS England.
- The spokesman said the police would be expected to “exercise discretion” when enforcing rules that technically make it illegal for a couple not living together to have sex indoors. See 10.38am. Asked about this apparent consequence of the way the regulations have been drafted, the spokesman also stressed that the police did not have the power to enter people’s homes to investigate alleged breaches of lockdown rules. “They cannot enter your home unless they suspect serious criminal activity is taking place,” the spokesman said.
- The spokesman said the government had not been including figures for the number of individuals tested in its recent daily testing figures because one of the government’s commercial partners doing testing had not provided figures.
- The spokesman said there was no requirement for MPs to vote on the move to impose quarantine on people arriving in the UK. There has been speculation that, if there were a vote, the government might be at risk of losing because so many Tory MPs oppose the plan.
- The spokesman did not deny reports in the Sunday papers saying that Priti Patel, the home secretary, and Alok Sharma, the business secretary, would be included in a beefed-up coronavirus inner cabinet. Currently all key decisions are taken at the No 10 C-19 morning meeting, attended by Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock. The spokesman said that a series of organisational changes were being made and that there would be an announcement in the next couple of days.
- The spokesman said the UK was opposed to Russia being re-admitted to the G7. But, asked about President Trump’s plan to invite Russia to attend the next G7 summit, the spokesman said it was customary for the G7 host country to invite non-members to attend.
- The spokesman said the attacks on journalists covering the rioting in America were “very concerning”.
- The spokesman was unable to say how many people with coronavirus have had their contacts traced through the new test and trace system that went live last week. But he confirmed that the system was not yet operating at full capacity.
- Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is taking the government press conference this afternoon, the spokesman said.
- The cabinet will meet tomorrow, the spokesman said.
The first horse race in Britain since the coronavirus lockdown has been won by Zodiakos in Newcastle.
Trained by Roger Fell and ridden by James Sullivan, Zodiakos won the Betway Welcome Back British Racing handicap at Newcastle racecourse - the first race in Britain since meetings were last held on 17 March.
Follow all the latest coverage with our horse racing live blog:
Early indications suggest the number of pupils back in the classroom across England today varies significantly depending on local area.
Schools have begun reopening to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6 in England, and nurseries have also opened their doors to more children.
However, a survey of councils by the PA Media news agency has found dozens of local authorities across England, predominantly in the north, are advising against a return to school on Monday amid safety concerns.
Some have raised concerns the test and trace programme is not yet “robust enough” to sufficiently reduce Covid-19 transmission in schools, where social distancing is hard to maintain with children.
But in some areas of England - such as Kingston and Richmond in London - local authorities report the vast majority of primary schools are providing some provision for priority year groups from Monday.
It is not yet clear how many parents opted to send their children back to school but a recent survey suggests heads were expecting around half of families to keep pupils at home.
Cathy Moden, headteacher of Hiltingbury infant school in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, said she had anticipated 45 of the 90 children in reception to attend on Monday but only 39 turned up.
Kieron Smith, from Blyth in Northumberland, who has a son in reception, told PA he would not be sending his child back to school until he has more confidence in the government’s approach.
“All in all, it’s not worth it. It’s not a risk I’m able to tolerate. The government have not assured us of our children’s safety.”
The government’s aim is for all primary school pupils to return to school before the summer break.
In a message to heads ahead of the reopening, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said:
We will be arguing that a full return before the summer break is not possible based on the advice we have from the Department for Education.
Despite the narrative from the government, the level of confidence for a return to schools remains low.
The next few days will reveal whether the government has passed the confidence test. We will discover how many families feel confident to come to school. And we will get a sense of the reaction from staff too.
Telling the most vulnerable they can now go out fits the ‘good news’ narrative. But where is the evidence behind this U-turn?
The announcement came out of the blue. On Sunday, the government said 2.2 million high-risk “shielders” in England and Wales will be allowed to go outside for the first time from Monday if they feel “comfortable”, either with members of their household, or, if they live alone, to meet one other person. These are people who, for the last 10 weeks, have been told to stay in their homes 24/7, without any break for exercise or fresh air.
This marks a remarkable U-turn from ministers. Previous guidance advised that people with serious underlying health conditions, such as lung disease or low immunity, would need to shield until the end of June. And there was no mention of an anticipated change in last week’s announcement easing lockdown for the wider public, nor any advance warning to health professionals. Disability organisations and charities appear to have been taken aback by the move, with the MS Society telling me they were “extremely concerned”.
From the outset of the pandemic, the government’s communication to shielders has been found wanting, to the extent that many didn’t even know how long they were supposed to shield for. The latest update – announced via tweets at 10pm on a Saturday night and trailed in the press – was like moving the goalposts on the quiet. Rather than hearing it first from a government briefing or from their doctor, shielders had to find out about the change on social media.
When I spoke to people affected, the reaction was one of confusion, anxiety, and anger. Some noted that they had been told by their doctors only 24 hours earlier that they would need to shield for at least another month. “There’s no way I’m trusting the government’s advice,” was the general response.
Nicola Sturgeon concluded her speech by speaking directly to young people, who she said will be very frustrated about being stuck inside and unable to see their friends.
This virus can still be very harmful to you. Even if you yourself are not adversely affected, you can still pass the virus on to other young people, who can then pass it on to parents and grandparents, who are at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill.
So please do think of that wider risk when considering your own behaviour in the coming weeks and months.
She added: “Lets remember that each decision we take as an individual, will affect the safety and wellbeing of all of us.”
Thousands of people have been queuing outside Ikea stores after the furniture chain reopened 19 shops in England and Northern Ireland.
Some customers reported waiting for four hours to enter stores as they opened for the first time in nearly three months at 10am on Monday.
Pictures showed huge numbers of people snaking across car parks and even alongside a road in Belfast, while maintaining strict social distancing rules.
Ikea said a limited number of customers were being allowed into its 19 stores including Warrington, where hundreds of people were pictured waiting on Monday morning.
A maximum of two people per household were allowed into each shop, which were accepting cashless payments only. The Swedish chain said “social distancing wardens” were patrolling each of its stores to ensure customers stick to the 2-metre rules.
Hotels in Northern Ireland to reopen in July
Northern Ireland’s hotels can reopen from 20 July as long as the rate of infection is under control, Stormont’s economy minister, Diane Dodds, said.
The industry has been devastated by a shutdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic in March. Dodds said:
Covid-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge for our tourism industry, as it has for tourism markets around the world.
I believe the time is right to provide the tourist accommodation sector with clarity about opening dates.
I want to build upon the positive progress in managing the spread of the virus and begin to reopen our tourism industry in a safe and managed way.
The 20 July date covers guesthouses, guest accommodation, B&Bs, hotels and hostels, as well as holiday and home parks, caravan sites and self-catering properties - although the latter may be opened earlier depending on scientific advice.
Sturgeon warned that if people in Scotland continue to flout lockdown restrictions, measures which are currently only put in place as guidelines will be enforced as law.
If there is continued evidence of even a minority not abiding by these guidelines and travelling unnecessarily, if people meet up in larger groups or if they’re making journeys which risk spreading the virus, we will have to put these restrictions on group size and travel distance into law - and we won’t hesitate to do that.
The stipulation that no more than two households should meet is already in enforced as law in Scotland, she added.
Police in Scotland were forced to disperse people five times more often on Saturday than the previous week, as people flouted social distancing rules as the lockdown was eased.
Nicola Sturgeon said she was pleased to see the majority of people enjoying long-awaited family reunions over the weekend stuck to the social distancing rules, but said there were many who did not.
On Saturday, the police in Scotland recorded 797 dispersals, people being moved on for not following social distancing guidance, she said.
She said there were also cases of people driving more than five miles to beauty spots, and people staying overnight in tents, caravans and campervans.
Transport in Scotland was up 70% on Sunday compared with the week before, Sturgeon said.
In some places, such as Loch Lomond and Glen Coe, the increase was even higher, she added - up to three times higher.
Scotland records one further coronavirus death, taking total to 2,363
The latest coronavirus figures from Scotland, as first minister Nicola Sturgeon begins her press conference:
- A further 18 confirmed cases, taking the total to 15,418.
- 1,046 Covid-19 patients in hospital, a decrease of 27 from yesterday.
- 27 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, the same as yesterday
- 3,695 Covid-19 patients have now recovered and left hospital
- 1 further death, taking the total death toll in Scotland to 2,363.
Sturgeon warned that the recording of deaths over the weekend tends to be lower than other days of the week. Last week she reported three deaths on Monday, but 18 on Tuesday.
With schools in England reopening their doors to pupils today, parents have been in touch to say some pupils in year 6 - the final year of primary school in two-tier systems - have been told they are unable to return, with priority instead going to reception and year 1.
Katherine Blaker has a son in year 6, and has been told by his school it is “unable to accommodate year 6s back to school safely” at any point before the end of the academic year.
She is concerned about the wellbeing and mental health implications for children navigating the transition to secondary school without support.
I am angry that little consideration appears to have been given to the long-term impact on our children’s wellbeing and ability to settle and be productive at secondary school.
We know from research that a disrupted transition period can impact on children for several years into their secondary education and at a sensitive time emotionally and socially.
Government guidance suggests schools should prioritise reception and year 1 where space is limited.
Blaker suggested that schools could dedicate the last two weeks of the summer term to year 6, alongside secondary schools, with transition activities. She added:
While I am sympathetic to the pressures on schools and teachers, I am concerned that the way in which the wellbeing and mental health needs of year 6 children have been deprioritised.
A survey of 2,000 school leaders by the NAHT headteachers’ union found 72% were planning to bring back year 6 today, 71% reception class and 62% year 1.
Worshippers feel “disappointment and hurt” at not being able to visit places of worship, despite some shops being allowed to open to the public, a bishop has said.
As of Monday, car showrooms and outdoor markets in England are allowed to reopen while non-essential shops can start to trade again from 15 June.
But places of worship remain shut, with the government saying they could open for individual or private prayer before opening up for small weddings and services.
The continued closure is a blow for worshippers, the bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, said, with questions being raised about how and where lockdown restrictions are being eased.
There is no doubt that a second wave of the virus could be devastating for our way of life.
Yet with shops reopening and some people appearing to be returning to a degree of normality, it is understandable that questions are being raised as to how and where the lockdown is being relaxed.
Churchgoers are amongst those feeling real disappointment and hurt, as places of worship remain closed to the public.
She said the Church of England (CoE) was working with local churches to develop a detailed plan to help them open for individual prayer as well as weddings and eventually services.
We believe it could help bring healing and strength to many who are hurting amid this traumatic time, with our churches acting in so many places at the centre of community life, which is now beginning to resume.
It comes after the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said people of faith may find it “strange” that places of worship would remain closed when shops and other places may open in the coming weeks and months.
At the Downing Street briefing on Sunday, he said:
I understand how important it is for millions of people in this country, and I can understand how people of faith would consider it strange that shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, many other settings, might be open in the weeks and months ahead, but not somewhere as important as a place of worship.
I think the first logical step is probably to open places of worship for individual or private prayer, and that’s what we’re working towards with the faith leaders.
The government’s Social Security Advisory Committee, a statutory body that scrutinises welfare policy and makes recommendations to ministers, has said that some benefit claimants are unfairly losing out because they are not eligible for a coronavirus-related increase.
When the crisis struck, the Treasury approved a £1,000 annual increase in universal credit (UC). But the same increase was not available to people on employment support allowance or jobseekers’ allowance, two of the “legacy” benefits being replaced by UC.
In a letter (pdf) to Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, the SSAC’s interim chairwoman Liz Sayce called for action to help those who are not on UC.
The SSAC was told that the legacy benefits were excluded because they could not be changed quickly or safely and would have required overcoming “serious IT challenges”.
While we understand the reasons for not including ESA and JSA in the original announcement, we are of the strong view that it is increasingly untenable for this group of claimants to be excluded and to continue to have a lower level of income than those in receipt of universal credit and working tax credit.
We recommend that the government finds a way to ensure that this group of claimants, that includes some of the least well-off, are brought up to the same level as those in receipt of universal credit as soon as it is possible to do so.
On “grounds of equity”, the government should consider backdating the increase to 6 April, she added.
As our colleague Richard Adams reports in the Guardian today, a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that primary school heads expect 47% of families in England to keep their children at home today.
This morning the GMB union says a survey of 1,601 of its members on Friday found that more than 80% said they did not intend to send children back to school today.
Given that GMB members are more likely than average parents to be Labour supporters, this might not be particularly surprising. Some YouGov polling from last month found support for the government’s policy of reopening primary schools for some pupils in England from today varies considerably along party lines. Conservative supporters mostly approve, and Labour supporters mostly disapprove.
England’s three-match rugby league Ashes series against Australia in October and November has been cancelled “with great reluctance and disappointment”.
The competition had been revived after a 17-year absence and talks have already begun about a series in 2022 after next year’s World Cup.
Ralph Rimmer, the Rugby League chief executive, said
We make this announcement with great reluctance and disappointment, as we had been looking forward so much to welcoming the Kangaroos for the revival of the Ashes in 2020.
The prospect of the series had captured the imagination of our players, broadcast and commercial partners, supporters and media alike.
However the current circumstances have had a seismic impact on rugby league, as on all other sports, and we all now need to give in order to find solutions for the greater and longer-term good of the game.
Good news for soap fans, Coronation Street will resume filming next week, bosses have confirmed - but without kissing scenes or older cast members.
Filming will start again at the show’s studios in Trafford, Greater Manchester, on 9 June, with cast and crew having their temperatures checked on a daily basis.
Coronation Street actor Andrew Whyment, who plays Kirk Sutherland, said “there definitely will be no kissing scenes”.
Cast “who are over the age of 70 or have an underlying health condition won’t be on set in the initial period of filming”, ITV has said.
Those who fall into a clinically vulnerable category will “follow an individual risk assessment process, which will enable them to return to work if it is safe for them to do so”.
Older cast members include William Roache (Ken Barlow), Barbara Knox (Rita Tanner) and Maureen Lipman (Evelyn Plummer).
The number of episodes to air will continue to be fewer than before the pandemic, at three a week initially.
Series producer, Iain MacLeod, said:
The whole team at Coronation Street has pulled together to generate an ingenious, intricate set of protocols to allow filming to restart as safely as humanly possible.
We are really pleased to be able to resume making the nation’s favourite soap at a time when people need the reassurance of their regular Corrie fix more than ever.
ITV said that the return to filming will ensure the soap, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in December, stays on air in July.
Intensive cleaning and sanitisation of areas where filming is taking place will occur on a daily basis and props will be sanitised, with the design team working at a safe distance.
And, for an alternative take, this is from Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, on the easing of the lockdown, which is going ahead more rapidly in England than in the rest of the UK.
Another parent who wasn’t able to send their child to school today has got in touch. The mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said:
We live in Lancashire and my son is in year 6. He attends a rural village school where total school size less than 40 children and his year group is fewer than 10 children.
We were perfectly happy with the arrangements that the Head and teachers were putting into place but then Lancashire CC decided late last Wednesday evening to “advise” schools not to reopen today. We think that is a ridiculous generalisation but the head and governors did not feel that they could go against this advice.
Our son is really upset this morning and we are trying to cheer him up but asking him to sort out a shopping list for his year 7 start in the autumn. It’s very unfair and there will be many other parents and schools in this situation this morning.
Boris Johnson has been tweeting about the new lockdown rules in England. They will bring “joy and relief for many”, he claims.
While some parents will not be sending their children to school as part of the government’s phased return, there are many who have.
Jo Frost, 37, who was dropping off her five-year-old son Max at Queen’s Hill primary and nursery school near Norwich, told PA Media:
It’s obviously a difficult decision but you’ve got to weigh up everything in life.
You can’t just shut yourself away and wrap yourself up in cotton wool.
You could just walk out the door and anything could happen.
The school have really thought about it. They’ve sent out lots of letters, pictures and given us all the information we need.
I feel confident that they’re doing everything right.
They’ve put everything in place, they’ve put a lot of thought into everything. I’m really happy with it.
We were quite relieved, to be honest, as it’s quite a long time that he’s been off and at his age it’s really important to be with his peers.
I’m more than happy for him to come in.
Two parents got in touch earlier this morning to say they want to be able to send their children back to school, but weren’t able to because of caps to classroom sizes.
Due to the requirements for social distancing, one primary school in Middlesex sent a letter to parents stating they can safely accommodate an average of nine children per class room. For this reason, every place the school has available has now been taken by critical worker and vulnerable families. The school told parents they would not be able to allocate any additional places for reception, year 1 and year 6.
Yesterday the UK government published a new Q&A explaining what is and is not allowed now in England under the slightly more relaxed version of the lockdown rules now in force.
In his London Playbook briefing Jack Blanchard has published a sceptical assessment.
And guess what? It’s all a little confusing. So the guidance says you CAN go to a friend’s garden party … but you CAN’T go within 2 meters of the host … but you CAN tuck into their BBQ buffet … but you CAN’T sit on their garden chair … but you CAN nip inside to use the loo … but you CAN’T help carry food on your way back out … but you CAN walk through the house to get to the front door … but you CAN’T stay the night under any circumstances. All clear?
The Q&A has been published alongside an amendment to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 that gives legal force to the lockdown in England. They have been updated to make allowance for the new rules.
As the lawyers George Peretz and David Allen Green point out on Twitter, the new version of the regulations has some peculiar consequences.
I’m grateful to dfic1999 in the comments for flagging this up.
In his Today interview this morning Alok Sharma, the business secretary, said the government had launched its test and trace programme last week. Sir Chris Ham, a former head of the King’s Fund health thinktank, says the government is overstating what has been achieved. He says that an effective test and trace system won’t be in place for weeks, and that the government is easing the lockdown too quickly.
PM has not met five tests for easing lockdown, says Association of Directors of Public Health
In her interview on the Today programme this morning Jeanelle de Gruchy, the president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, also claimed that the UK government’s five tests for easing the lockdown had not been met. But at a press conference last week Boris Johnson claimed that all five tests were being achieved.
The five tests were originally set out by Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, at a press conference in April (when Johnson was ill). Here they are, with the rival assessments for each test from Johnson in his speech last week and from the ADPH yesterday in its statement.
The PM says all five tests have been passed. The ADPH accepts that the first test has been met, but on the other four it says it is too soon to be sure.
1 - NHS’s ability to cope must be protected
What PM says:
At the start of the outbreak, there was significant concern that the NHS would not be able to cope. That turned out not to be the case, thanks to the heroic efforts of everyone who works in the NHS. And the heroic efforts of the British people to contain this virus.
The data show that on 26 May, 475 people were admitted to hospital in England with coronavirus - down from a peak of 3,121 on a single day, on 2 April.
On 27 May, 11% of mechanical ventilator beds in the UK were occupied by patients with coronavirus, down from a peak of 41% on 10 April.
What ADPH says:
Firstly, the pressure on the NHS – and those that tirelessly and expertly work within it – has been significant but it has been able to cope with those who unfortunately need hospital treatment for the effects of Covid-19. The number of people in hospitals with Covid-19 is falling, and beds are available for those that require them.
2 - Sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates
What PM says:
As measured by a seven-day rolling average, the UK daily death rate now stands at 256, down from a peak of 943 on 14 April.
While every death is one too many, it is now the case that there has been a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate, and so the second test is being met.
What ADPH says:
Secondly, there must be a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate. While the first peak in deaths has passed, the downward trend is slow – particularly in care settings. Deaths are a measure of what happened roughly two weeks before – the effect of easing measures now will only become evident in two weeks.
3 - Rate of infection decreasing to manageable levels
What PM says:
And in the last seven days, an average of 2,312 new cases were confirmed with a positive test, that’s down from a peak of 5,066 in the first week of May.
Based on the various data available, the government is satisfied that the third test is being met.
What ADPH says:
The critical debate is about the third test – ensuring the rate of transmission of the infection continues decreasing to manageable levels (taken to mean R being well below 1). The rapid and multiple ways in which measures are being eased is likely to make it difficult to judge the cumulative impact on R. As we saw in March, R can go above 1 in a very short space of time – and once it does it can take many months to bring it back down. The room for manoeuvre is tight.
4 - Testing capacity and PPE supply at adequate levels
What PM says:
Yesterday we carried out 119,587 tests, compared to around 12,000 at the start of April. Testing capacity has now increased to 161,214 a day.
We have now signed over 100 new deals with PPE suppliers around the world. Here in the UK, thanks to the efforts of Lord Deighton and his team and the brilliance of domestic manufacturers we have signed contracts for over two billion items of PPE, including face masks, visors, gowns and aprons.
What ADPH says:
The fourth aspect, ensuring supply of tests and PPE is able meet future demand, remains an enormous challenge. PPE manufacturing and supply chains are stronger, but shortages are still being reported and it is not clear that supply can meet new demand as different parts of society, public services and the economy open. While testing capacity has undoubtedly increased, we are not yet confident that the current testing regime is sufficiently effective in getting the priority tests done and the results to where they are needed to enable swift action.
5 - No risk of a second peak that would overwhelm NHS
What PM says:
This package has been carefully designed so that we can ease the burdens of lockdown while expecting to keep that R below one. I cannot and will not throw away all the gains we have made together, and so the changes we are making are limited and cautious.
What ADPH says:
Finally, the fifth test. A second peak cannot be ruled out – whether it will overwhelm the NHS is an important question to ask. But perhaps the even bigger one is, do we really want the same number of deaths again? The scale to date represents an unimaginable tragedy and we must do everything possible to limit further loss of life.
Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, joining the blog for the day.
As we reported overnight, the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) issued a statement overnight saying it was worried that the UK government was lifting lockdown restrictions too soon. Here is our story.
Here is the full text of the statement from the ADPH president, Jeanelle de Gruchy. Here is an extract.
Directors of Public Health are increasingly concerned that the government is misjudging this balancing act and lifting too many restrictions, too quickly.
This is a new disease; evidence is still emerging and there is much uncertainty. However, based on what is currently known, several leading scientists and public health experts have spoken out about a string of recent national policy announcements affecting England which project a degree of confidence that many – including ADPH members – do not think is supported by the science.
Over the weekend we have seen signs that the public is no longer keeping as strictly to social distancing as it was – along with this, we are concerned that the resolve on personal hygiene measures, and the need to immediately self-isolate, if symptomatic, is waning. A relentless effort to regain and rebuild public confidence and trust following recent events is essential.
De Gruchy expanded on this in an interview on the Today programme this morning. She said local directors of public health could only be effective if other parts of the anti-coronavirus programme were working too. She went on:
So we need testing, the national testing programme, to be absolutely robust and ready, and we need the NHS test and trace to be robust and ready. And of course the other issue ... is about PPE and the supply of PPE. So all of those organisational challenges that we are all working really hard getting in place - we’re not feeling, just yet, that we are really confident enough to meet any potential challenge if the government goes too quickly on easing lockdown measures.
More than 200 travel and hospitality businesses have joined a campaign urging the government to overturn its planned 14-day quarantine for arrivals into the UK, PA Media reports.
The group of major hotels, travel companies and restaurateurs claim the policy is “unworkable” and are calling for air bridges to be created which enable people to travel - without being quarantined - between countries where the risk of being infected by coronavirus is deemed to be low.
George Morgan-Grenville, the chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah, who is leading the campaign, said:
This is not just a group of company bosses complaining, but employees from bottom to top calling for the quarantine plans to be quashed.
The extent of their pain is deeply worrying for our economy and our country.
More than 200 businesses have signed the letter to the home secretory, Priti Patel.
The Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast is exploring the coronavirus crisis in Britain’s prisons.
When Britain went into lockdown in March, most people were confined to their homes with little more than a short daily walk allowed. But in prisons, lockdown meant an end to an already heavily restrictive way of life. There were no visits allowed, education programmes were paused and prisoners were confined to their cells for more than 23 hours a day, something close to solitary confinement.
The podcast speaks to David Adams, who has just been released from prison where he had served more than two years for a series of burglaries; and Sarah Lewis, director of Penal Reform Solutions, who describes how devastating to inmates and staff the Covid-19 crisis has become in prisons.
The business secretary, Alok Sharma, has said he understands parents’ concerns at sending their children back to school.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I completely understand every parent wants to keep their child safe. And that’s precisely what the government wants to do in ensuring schools are safe places to return to.”
Sharma is doing the government media rounds this morning, but was called out by Piers Morgan last night for apparently refusing to go on Good Morning Britain.
Sharma denied the easing of the lockdown was a “dash”, PA Media reports, insisting measures are being eased in a “cautious” approach. He told BBC Breakfast: “This is not a dash. These are very cautious steps that we are taking. They are phased.”
He insisted there is a “good likelihood” that the R rate of coronavirus infections will not go past the crucial figure of one if the public heeds the rules. “And what they also said is if people comply with the rules and the test and trace system is up and running which it has been since Thursday then there is a good likelihood that we will not breach the R value factor above one,” he said.
Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) said it is working to reopen all its stores in England on 15 June, following the announcement by the government allowing non-essential retailers to open their doors to customers again.
ABF expects to have reopened 281 of its stores by that date, having already reopened at 112 sites across mainland Europe.
It said in a statement:
Safety has been our highest priority in our detailed preparations to welcome our customers and employees back to stores.
We are following government safety advice in all markets. Importantly, we will apply the valuable experience gained from more than 100 stores which are already open as we open the remainder of our estate, including stores across the UK.
Social distancing protocols, hand-sanitiser stations, perspex screens at tills and additional cleaning of high frequency touch points in the store are among the measures we are implementing. Personal protection, including masks and gloves, are being made available to all employees.
Government guidance requiring 2.2 million people in at-risk groups to stay indoors is to be relaxed in England from Monday, the housing and communities minister Robert Jenrick said on Sunday.
He confirmed that people shielding will be able to spend time with their households or, if they live alone, with one person from another household.
But vulnerable people who have been shielding for many months have voiced concerns that the lockdown is being eased too quickly in England.
The Guardian’s north of England editor, Helen Pidd, reports:
For the last 10 weeks, Graham Bell has been sleeping in a hotel near the Devon hospital where he works as an intensive care nurse, away from his wife and toddler triplets. His wife, Hannah Gallagher-Bell, another nurse, is shielding because of diabetes and other underlying health conditions. The triplets – William, Benjamin and Florence, who are two and a half – were born prematurely and are vulnerable to lung infections. This prompted the couple to take the agonising decision for Graham to stay out of the house in case he picked up Covid-19 on the ward and infected the rest of the family.
Hannah, who has not been able to work during the crisis because of her health vulnerabilities, has not left their house in Barnstaple since Graham packed his bags and went to a hotel on 22 March, the day before Boris Johnson put the UK into lockdown. She will not be going anywhere soon, she said: “The thought of it absolutely petrifies me.”
Five new drugs to be trialled as possible treatment for Covid-19
Five new drugs are to be trialled in 30 hospitals across the country in the race to find a treatment for Covid-19, according to an exclusive report by the Guardian’s Lisa O’Carroll.
The drugs range from Heparin, which is used for blood thinning, to therapies still in clinical trial for conditions such as muscular, lung and blood disorders, which have evidence of potent anti-viral or anti-inflammatory properties.
Researchers hope the drugs would prevent people becoming ill enough to need intensive care or ventilators
The studies are part of the Accord (accelerating Covid-19 research and development) programme involving doctors and scientists, industry, the NHS the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation.
“We are looking for a signal of both safety and efficacy, something that could reduce the severity of the disease, shorten its duration and prevent patients going into the intensive care environment,” said Tom Wilkinson, a respiratory medicine professor and consultant, who is the Accord academic lead, from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.
Just a handful of patients have enrolled for the trial so far and with coronavirus patient numbers falling, researchers are keen to quickly enlist as many as possible, said Wilkinson.
England's schools begin to reopen as lockdown eases across UK
Morning and welcome to the UK liveblog on the coronavirus.
Children in England in reception, year 1 and year 6 can start returning to the classroom today, but half of pupils are expected stay home as many parents, councils and teachers remain sceptical of the government’s assurances over their safety.
Guardian education editor Richard Adams writes:
Boris Johnson’s government has invested considerable political capital in opening classrooms to primary school pupils in three year groups – reception, year 1 and year 6 – leading to warnings by independent scientists that it is too soon to reopen while transmission and infection rates remain so high.
While most of England’s 18,000 primary schools will open to more pupils from Monday, a large majority of headteachers say they are not able to accommodate all three year groups, in some cases for the remainder of the school year.
According to a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research, primary school leaders expect that 47% of families will keep their children home, with the proportion rising to 50% among pupils eligible for free school meals.
The gradual reopening of schools is part of a raft of measures to ease the lockdown in England on Monday, which includes allowing groups of up to six people to meet outdoors and in private gardens. Outdoor markets and car showrooms can now resume trading from today, provided they socially distance.
Senior public health officials made an extraordinary last-minute plea for ministers to scrap Monday’s easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England, warning the country is unprepared to deal with any surge in infection and that public resolve to take steps to limit transmission has been eroded.
The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) said new rules were “not supported by the science” and that pictures of crowded beaches and beauty spots over the weekend showed “the public is not keeping to social distancing as it was”.
It follows comments by a second senior government medical adviser, Jenny Harries, a deputy chief medical officer for England, who effectively criticised Dominic Cummings for breaching lockdown regulations by saying it is “a matter of personal and professional integrity” to abide by the rules.
I’ll be helming the liveblog this morning. If you need to get in touch you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or reach me on Twitter.