THE UK’s strict lockdown measures will ease from Monday after Boris Johnson announced a relaxing of the rules this week.
But experts have warned the country risks seeing a second peak of coronavirus over fears the easing of restrictions is coming too soon.
The latest UK Covid-19 death toll now stands at least 38,307 after 146 more fatalities were recorded in England in the last 24 hours.
Mr Sunak said employers will have to start footing some of the bill from August, paying at least 20 per cent towards the scheme, along with national insurance and pension contribution.
The latest UK Covid-19 death toll stands at 38,161 after 324 more fatalities were recorded.
Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates…
HOLIDAYS TO EUROPE MAY BE BACK NEXT MONTH
Summer holidays to Europe could be back on next month via “air bridges” – as Portugal tells Brits they will not be quarantined.
Countries being mooted as potential destinations under the “holiday corridor” proposals also include Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece.
Ministers are working with airport and airline chiefs amid mounting criticism in and outside government to Britain’s 14-day quarantine, which is due to start on June 8.
Border Force and police officials fear the plans to quarantine travellers entering the UK for 14 days are “unenforceable” and the Prime Minister could “water down” the scheme or scrap it entirely.
Industry chiefs are desperate for the first “air bridges” to open early next month – effectively exempting certain countries from a 14-day quarantine on arrival into the UK – although it is thought June 29 is a more likely target.
It is understood the “air bridges” plan has been backed by Public Health England.
SECOND ROUND OF STIMULUS CHECKS ‘COULD BE IN DOUBT’ IN US
A second round of stimulus checks ‘could be in doubt’ as some Senators push for ‘more targeted’ relief.
As another coronavirus stimulus package was passed in the House and makes it way through the Senate, some members of Congress have pushed for other ways to give financial relief.
“So I hope we can target this a little bit better to those who have been hit hard because of COVID-19,” he added.
Democrats have largely supported the HEROES Act – a $3trillion package that was passed in the House earlier this month.
Included in the bill is another round of stimulus checks that would give $1,200 to single Americans, and up to $6,000 per household.
When a $2.2trillion COVID-19 relief package was passed in late March, some representatives have pushed for a second round – or recurring wave – of checks.
Now, even some Democrats have begun to call into question the second round of checks.
For the full story, click HERE.
BRITS AVOID QUARANTINE IN PORTUGAL
Brits planning holidays in Portugal will not be quarantined according to the country’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
Mr Costa said Brits heading to parts of mainland Portugal, like the Algarve, will not be forced to self-isolate when they arrive.
Hotels in the country are set to reopen on Monday and beaches on June 6 as the country prepares to welcome holidaymakers.
He spoke out after a spike in the number of coronavirus cases, with the Lisbon region bearing the brunt of the largest rise in three weeks with 350 new positives being notified between Thursday and Friday.
MPs URGE BORIS TO SCRAP 2 METRE RULE
Tory MPs have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scrap the two metre social distancing rule to help kickstart the economy.
There are concerns that the rule, if rigidly enforced, could prevent the hospitality industry in particular from being able to set up for business after lockdown is eased.
Greg Clark, who chairs the the Commons Science Committee, told the Daily Telegraph he had written to Mr Johnson in favour of a new 1.5-metre rule instead.
He wrote: “The difference between two metres and 1.5 metres may seem small but it can be the difference between people being able to go to work and losing their jobs.”
According to SAGE documents, a 1.5 metre distancing rule is sufficient in order to halt the spread of infection.
RUSSIA TO BEGIN VACCINE TRIAL
Scientists in Russia are set to begin clinical trials within two weeks on a new vaccine for the coronavirus.
The country has the third-highest toll of coronavirus infections following the US and Brazil, as the Kremlin claimed that researchers were now working on nearly 50 different vaccine projects.
“The tests are under way and we plan to start clinical trials in the next two weeks,” Health Minister Mikhail Murashko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.
He said volunteers had been selected to take part in the trials.
INDIA SEES HUGE JUMP IN CASES
India has registered a record number of coronavirus cases in a single day, with 7,964 infections recorded in 24 hours.
It comes just a day before the 2-month lockdown – the largest in the world- is set to end.
The Health Ministry put the total number of confirmed cases at 173,763 with 4,971 total deaths, up by 265 yesterday.
More than 70% of the cases are concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states.
The country has just begun to ease out of lockdown, with shops and manufacturing returning to normal and train services starting to resume normal timetables.
NO RETURN FOR RUGBY WORLD CHAMPIONS
World rugby champions South Africa will not return the field anytime soon, as the country announced a blanket ban on contact sports earlier today.
The announcement by sports minister Nathi Mthethwa came as South Africa prepares to further ease lockdown on Monday and open up most of its economy as part of a phased relaxation of restrictions.
But the cash-strapped Springboks won’t be part of a relaxing of rules, after announcing salary cuts of between 25% and 43% earlier this month for its players.
Mthethwa will allow professional non-contact sports like golf, tennis, cricket, athletics and swimming to go ahead from Monday, without spectators and under strict conditions.
SHADOW HEALTH SEC: GOVT ‘MUST GET LOCKDOWN EASING RIGHT’
Labour’s shadow health Minister Justin Madders has said it is crucial that the government gets the next stage of easing lockdown measures right.
It comes after remarks from SAGE members that relaxing restrictions in the UK might have come too early – as the ‘R’ rate remains high in some areas of the country.
Mr Madders said: “It is crucial for all of us that the Government gets this right. Easing lockdown must be done as safely as possible.
“It will only work if there are effective, flexible and local systems in place that have the confidence of the public to ensure that we avoid a second peak of infections”
BRITS HIT THE BEACHES
Brits have been hitting the beaches today to make the best of the 28C heatwave.
It comes as police forces warn that people shouldn’t meet up in groups until Monday, when restrictions are eased.
Bournemouth beach and Sandbanks beach in Dorset were pictured heaving this morning, with car parks also filling up in East Sussex.
TWO-METRE DISTANCE RULE COULD BE SCRAPPED
Senior Tories have demanded the Prime Minister scrap the two-metre social distancing rule to get pubs open and serving more people.
Lowering the two metre rule to 1 or 1.5 metres could mean tens of thousands more pubs could reopen and avoid many of them having to lay off staff or even close their doors forever.
Chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee has written to Boris Johnson asking him to “urgently review” the rule, and consider reducing it to 1.5 metres in light of new evidence to help British boozers get back on their feet.
Mr Clark said he hoped any change to the rule would also be implemented before non-essential shops reopen on June 15.
Countries around the world including Denmark and Australia have followed social distancing with either 1 or 1.5 metres in between people, rather than 2 metres.
World Health Organisation guidelines tell people to maintain “at least 1 metre” between each other.
Mr Clark told The Telegraph: “The difference between two metres and 1.5 metres may seem small but it can be the difference between people being able to go to work and losing their jobs.”
For the full article, click HERE.
COPS BUST LUXURY HOTEL FOR HOSTING GUESTS IN LOCKDOWN
A five-star hotel that charges £850 a night has been caught hosting guests during the coronavirus lockdown.
Police were called to the Ramside Hall Treehouse in County Durham following reports of a domestic incident but found clear evidence that lodgers had flouted restrictions for a getaway in the hotel.
Officers were originally called to a domestic incident at the luxury hotel just after midnight on April 7.
It is thought that the man had won money on a scratch card, and booked a night at the hotel and had travelled there by taxi with a woman from Chester-le-Street to stay overnight, the Evening Chronicle reports.
A Durham police spokeswoman said: “We were called at 12.20am on April 7 to reports of a domestic incident at one of the Treehouse lodges at Ramside Hall, near Durham.
“Officers attended and spoke to the couple involved, neither of whom wished to make a formal complaint.
“On arrival at the premises, it was clear to the officers that a number of guests were staying at the hotel, despite the Covid-19 lockdown.
“This information was shared with Durham County Council.”
For the full article, click HERE.
LOCKDOWN THREATENS WIDER GENDER PAY GAP
Lockdown is threatening to widen the gender pay gap, meaning women will be paid less than men for even longer.
New research shows that female workers – and mothers in particular – are disproportionately bearing the financial costs of the coronavirus crisis.
The knock-on effect of this could mean that the gender pay gap lasts decades more than initially predicted.
Mums are 23 per cent more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently, according to new research.
The study, which was carried out by the Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London (UCL) also found that women were 14 per cent more likely to have been furloughed.
Where mothers have been able to keep their jobs, they have reduced their paid working hours substantially and by more than fathers.
School closures, massive rates of job loss and furloughing, and a shift to home working are all affecting how parents divide responsibilities for paid work, housework and childcare.
For the full article, click HERE.
NAZANIN ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFE BEEN TOLD TO WAIT FOR CLEMENCY DECISION
British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told she will have to wait longer to find out whether she can return to the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak in Iran.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe has said she was hoping to find out on Wednesday if a decision has been made on granting her clemency but when she contacted authorities she was told to get back in touch next week.
Richard told Sky News on Saturday morning: “Nazanin telephoned the prosecutor’s office and no news, got told to call back again next week. Clearly there’s no decision so we’ll be back in touch again next week with the prosecutor’s office to see if there’s any news.”
Mr Ratcliffe added: “She’s obviously a bit deflated, it was a fairly flat call I had with her this morning. It’s been a few of these moments where we were hoping it would happen.”
PIERS MORGAN SAYS NO ONE ‘CARES’ ABOUT CELEBRITIES IN LOCKDOWN
Piers Morgan has insisted celebrities have been “put firmly back in their box” during the coronavirus crisis insisting no one cares about them any more.
The 55-year-old Good Morning Britain host said health workers were the new heroes in a wide-ranging interview with The Sun’s TV Mag.
He said: ” I don’t miss the celebrity stuff at all – celebrities have been put firmly back in their box.
“The real stars are the health workers. They’re the people that we need to value highest.”
Singled out for particular criticism were Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who Piers branded “utterly irrelevant” in the current climate.
He said: “I don’t really care about them anymore. They seem so utterly irrelevant, stuck in their rented Hollywood mansion, desperately trying to get attention. Doing stupid lawsuits and whining about the media. No one cares.”
For the full story, click HERE.
SOCIALLY-DISTANT CLUBBING RULES FOR TOURISTS
Brits heading to Spain ready to hit the clubs will be forced to wear masks and dance in their own squares.
DJs will also be confined to their own personal booths and jackets in the cloakrooms will be placed in bags.
The new rules have been proposed by Nightlife Spain, the National Association of Entrepreneurs of Leisure and Shows and are to be adopted by the Spanish government in the next few days.
Nightclubs will slowly start to open from June, depending on the control of Covid-19.
The group’s president, Ramon Mas Espinalt has said it’s vital for nightclubs and discos in Spain to follow the rules to stop the spread.
COPS WARN LOCKDOWN FLOUTERS WILL BE FINED
Police forces have urged the public to stick to the lockdown rules until they are eased on Monday – despite a heatwave forecast this weekend.
The Prime Minister’s decision not to relax lockdown until Monday means Brits are facing a weekend of temptation with temperatures of 25C forecast.
The Government’s latest lockdown relaxation, which comes in to force on Monday, means people can meet safely in groups of six in a household’s garden or outdoors.
But this weekend, people in England can only meet with one other person in a public space.
However last night, people were pictured gathering in large groups across the country – in a clear breach of the rules.
With temperatures set to soar, police forces urged people to follow the current guidelines.
For the full story, click HERE.
HUGE SCHOOL GATE QUEUES EXPECTED
Headteachers have said they expect queues outside schools similar to those outside supermarkets when pupils return to the classroom.
The government has given the go ahead for reception, year one and year six pupils to return to school from Monday as the five key tests required for easing lockdown have been met.
Schools preparing for the return of children have put measures in place to ensure safety, with new rules for parents at drop off times to one-way systems in the corridors.
Hartford Manor Primary School in Cheshire announced it is taking a “phased approach”, with headteacher Simon Kidwell saying parents will queue at drop-off and pick-up times.
He said: “Social distancing for adults is going to be stringent, with a dropping-off system where parents will have to queue a bit like at the supermarket.
“The children will be kept in ‘bubbles’ of 15 to ensure social distancing between each other by using cones in the playground.”
FLIGHT TO LANZAROTE QUARANTINED
A flight from Madrid to Lanzarote with 140 passengers on board was quarantined on arrival after a passenger tested positive for the coronavirus while in the air.
Shocked passengers were hurried off the plane after landing at Cesar Manrique airport on the Canary Islands yesterday.
An investigation has now been launched by Spanish authorities to determine why the 53-year-old man was allowed to fly.
Current restrictions in Spain only allow people to fly for essential travel reasons, such as work or a personal emergency.
The passenger reportedly took a coronavirus test prior to travelling as he had been in contact with someone who had passed away from the virus, and also attended their funeral.
But according to reports, he had not received his results prior to boarding the flight – and only discovered the positive result while in the air.
Police and health authorities on the island scrambled to the airport after being contacted by Castilla y León public health department, which neighbours Madrid.
The man now faces prosecution and a hefty fine for skipping quarantine as well as a possible crime against public health.
For the full story, click HERE.
WORLDWIDE CORONAVIRUS CASE TALLY APPROACHES SIX MILLION
More than 5.93 million people have been reported infected with the novel coronavirus globally and 364,043 have died, a Reuters tally shows.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
The figures were reported at 3.25am GMT on Saturday.
MCDONALD’S ADDS VEGGIE OPTIONS AFTER LOCKDOWN MENU BACKLASH
McDonald’s has added two vegetarian options to its limited lockdown menu after a backlash.
The fast food chain is reopening more than 1,000 restaurants for drive-thru and deliveries.
However, it said it found that Veggie Dippers and the Vegetable Deluxe could be prepared safely and added them.
A spokesperson for McDonald’s said: “Ever since our first restaurant safely reopened over two weeks ago, vegetarian and vegan products have been available on both our main and Happy Meal menus.
“Before making the decision to reopen, we carried out a number of tests to ensure we were able to maintain social distancing.
For the full article click HERE.
SECOND PEAK ‘INEVITABLE’ DUE TO RELAXED MEASURES
A second coronavirus peak is “inevitable as relaxing measures will push R rate above 1 again”, documents published today reveal.
The Sage documents suggest easing back to what resembles a more “normal” life is highly likely to trigger a second spike of cases.
The minutes from a Sage meeting – held on May 5 but only published today – warns that phase four is “highly likely” to push the crucial R rate above 1 – meaning that the epidemic would grow.
They suggest phase 4 could kick in around August 15, and would involve all kids heading back to school in September, most leisure facilities being open and most people being back at work.
The documents state: “As things currently stand, Phase 4 of the modelled options is highly likely to push R above 1.
“This phase of the option involves more extensive relaxing of measures across a range of areas.”
For the full story click HERE.
MANCHESTER MAYOR WARNS LOCKDOWN EASING IS ‘TOO SOON’
Mayor Andy Burnham has said he believes that lockdown restrictions are being eased too soon on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He said: “I think we have arrived at quite a dangerous moment.
“This is premature, this easing of the lockdown.
“Test and trace is not fully operational and it should be, in my view, before these steps are taken.”
Referring to the coronavirus infection rate, Mr Burnham said: “The R number… is still quite high.”
He also added that he had concerns over the ending of the government’s furlough scheme in October and that it could lead to huge redundancies in the hospitality sector.
SCIENTISTS WARN IT’S TOO EARLY TO EASE LOCKDOWN
Government advisers are worried the easing of lockdown measures from Monday could lead to a spike in the spread of Covid-19.
Scientists Sir Jeremy Farrar and Professor John Edmunds, both members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – which advises the Government on the coronavirus crisis – said ministers were taking risks by following their current plans.
They expressed concern at allowing the gradual reopening of shops and schools and larger gatherings to meet in private while the number of new cases each day remains “relatively high”.
Sir Jeremy also said the newly-introduced NHS test-and-trace system needed to be “fully working” before measures were eased.
6 AM CORONAVIRUS SUMMARY
– MONKEYS ROB COVID BLOOD SAMPLES IN INDIA A pack of primates set upon a lab technician and stole blood samples of COVID-19 patients in India.
– MERKEL REJECTS TRUMP’S G7 SUMMIT INVITE German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Trump’s invitation to the G7 Summit next month, citing coronavirus.
– FEARS 14-DAY TRAVELLER QUARANTINE ‘UNENFORCEABLE’ It is feared Britain’s two-week quarantine for travelers arriving in the country is “unenforceable.”
– COVID-19 ‘R’ RATE COULD BE AS LOW AS 0.5 Newly released documents have revealed the UK’s coronavirus ‘R’ rate is far lower than previously published.
– ALMOST ALL PRIMARY SCHOOLS TO REOPEN Almost every primary school in England is set to defy teaching unions and reopen on Monday, a poll has found.
MONKEYS ROB COVID BLOOD SAMPLES IN INDIA
A band of errant monkeys set upon a laboratory technician and stole the blood samples of COVID-19 patients in India this week.
The lab worker was walking in a Meerut medical college campus when the pack of primates attacked him and took off with the positive samples.
“Monkeys grabbed and fled with the blood samples of four COVID-19 patients who are undergoing treatment,” Dr S. K. Garg, a college official, told Reuters. “We had to take their blood samples again.”
Officials aren’t sure if the monkeys spilled the infected blood or if they can even contract the virus from it – but locals fear an outbreak if they carry the samples into residential areas.
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