UK coronavirus live: Boris Johnson tells people to stop 'taking too many liberties' on lockdown easing – as it

Comments · 41 Views

That’s all for the UK coronavirus blog today - updates will be .....chest man.

That’s all for the UK coronavirus blog today - updates will be continuing on our global blog into the evening.

You can also follow the latest developments on the incident in Glasgow, in which a suspect was shot dead by police and a 42-year-old police officer was among those injured.

Evening summary

The latest coronavirus news from across the UK today:

  • A further 186 people die from Covid-19 in the UK. The total number of deaths, according to this mode of calculation, is 43,414.
  • Boris Johnson tells people to stop ‘taking too many liberties’ on lockdown easing. After a major incident was declared on the south coast yesterday due to large crowds on the beaches, the prime minister warned the public the “the virus is still out there”.
  • Council workers appeal for calm after “frightening” levels of abuse on beaches. The GMB union said its members employed by Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council were subjected to verbal abuse and threats of physical violence.
  • Social care workers at increased risk of death from coronavirus, ONS finds. Men working in social care in England and Wales are 2.5 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than working-age men as a whole, the Office for National Statistics has found.
  • Millions went hungry during first months of UK lockdown, figures show. Government figures have revealed that lack of money forced millions of people to go hungry or rely on food banks during the first few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, with families and young adults worst affected.
  • Shopping centre owner Intu collapses into administration. The company, whose centres include Lakeside in Essex, the Trafford Centre in Manchester and Gateshead’s Metrocentre, has debts of more than £4.5bn and has been unable to persuade lenders to grant a debt repayment holiday ahead of a Friday night deadline.
  • Death rate from Covid-19 in England’s hospitals in falling, experts say. The University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine studied deaths in hospital in England and found that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is reducing by 2.4% every day - halving every 29 days.
  • Health chiefs urge UK public to cooperate with contact tracers. Health chiefs said there was “a real reluctance among some British people” to provide the details of people they have been close with and may have infected.
  • Improve test and trace before schools reopen, Sage report says. Fully reopening schools without substantial improvements in the performance of the test-and-trace system could risk a new surge in cases of Covid-19, according to calculations by the government’s scientific advisers.

Hardline policing may provoke civil unrest, government warned

Political leaders taking a draconian line on how police should respond to unrest lifts risk fanning the flames of disorder as the coronavirus lockdown lifts, the government was warned on Friday.

After days of tension between police officers and the public culminated in 22 officers being injured in a confrontation with residents attending an outdoor party in Brixton on Wednesday, the home secretary met with Met chief Cressida Dick to demand a “full explanation” of the circumstances of the incident.

Her intervention was seen as a sign of hardening determination in the government to respond sternly to disorder. Over the past two weeks there have been two illegal raves in greater Manchester, street parties in London broken up by police amid isolated pockets of violence, and tens of thousands of people at beaches on the south coast, leading Bournemouth council to declare a “major incident”.

Tim Newburn, professor of Criminology and Social Policy at the LSE who led the Reading The Riots collaboration with the Guardian following unrest in 2011, said political leaders “talking about crackdowns and firm policing” was “really fantastically unhelpful.”He said:

It tells young people that there’s likely to be conflict so be ready for it, but it also restricts the freedom of the police to act,” he said.

Taking the Colston statue incident as an example, he said: “If you say a particular kind of behaviour will be met with the full force of the law it puts operational commanders in a very difficult position.

“What is needed at the moment is clear and firm messaging about the rules around the pandemic, but allowing police to exercise their judgement in difficult circumstances. That’s been lost.”

Fully reopening schools without substantial improvements in the performance of the test-and-trace system could risk a new surge in cases of Covid-19, according to calculations by the government’s scientific advisers.

A report presented to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on 20 May, at a time when the government was weighing up the impact of school reopening in England, indicated little leeway for increasing school attendance and relaxing other physical distancing measures without a test-and-trace system that reaches 80% of contacts within 48 hours.

“Highly effective contact tracing would give us much more room to manoeuvre, but that even in that scenario, if all schools are reopened, some kind of social distancing would still be required,” the scientists suggest.

The scientists caution that the modelling is not designed to give precise predictions – and circumstances have changed since the calculations were made.

But as a general indication of the importance of test and trace, the model suggested that with highly effective contact tracing it would be possible to fully reopen schools and resume social contacts at 60% of normal levels without the “R” rate returning above the critical value of 1.

With only ineffective contact tracing (20% of contacts reached), active work and leisure contacts would need to stay at 20% of normal levels for schools to fully reopen and avoid an uptick in cases.

There is a “very real danger” the government’s failure to provide enough support to the theatre industry will result in venue closures, a theatre boss has said.

Tamara Harvey, who is the artistic director of Theatr Clwyd in Mold, north Wales, said that time is “short” and venues urgently need assistance.

She added that the impact of coronavirus has been “absolutely disastrous” for theatres. She told the PA news agency:

There is a very real danger that unless the government gives us a timeline and gives us a serious investment package very soon, more theatres and more individuals will reach the point of no return.

We talk about the venues and the buildings because they are more immediately visible because of their size, but this is also about the majority of the people who make the shows work - the freelancers.

They are “the lifeblood of theatre in this country and they are the reason that we are world-class leaders in culture”, Harvey said, adding that freelancers are “waiting for any indication as to whether the government will continue to invest in them”.

She added that there is still time for the government to prevent theatres from going under.

“It is too late for some... but it is not too late to save the sector,” she said.

Harvey added that Government support would be an “investment”.

We are not asking for a handout with no return. Our contribution as a sector, our economic contribution, is massive.

Our contribution in terms of the health and well-being of society is equal to that if not greater.

Earlier this week the Theatre Royal in Newcastle announced plans to make half of its staff redundant and the Theatre Royal Plymouth said they are starting consultations about job losses following a plunge in revenues.

On Thursday, the culture secretary Oliver Dowden set out a five-page plan for the reopening of theatres, where live performances are currently banned.

He said he “desperately” wants live performances to resume in theatres and concert venues, adding he is “determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary”.

Venues have been entitled to government support such as the furlough scheme and loans.

Two primary schools are in a “stand-off” with a county council after their plans to get children back to school were rejected.

Angry parents have started a petition and staged a protest outside a council building on Friday morning.

Kingslea and Heron Way primary schools in Horsham, West Sussex, said there had been “unwavering support from the whole school community” for their plans to bring back Years 2 to 5 this coming Monday.

However, at the last minute the plans had to be postponed, after West Sussex County Council raised an objection.

The schools would be open to possible litigation issues if they pushed ahead.

Parents and children stage a protest outside a West Sussex County Council building after plans to get children back to school were rejected.
Parents and children stage a protest outside a West Sussex County Council building after plans to get children back to school were rejected. Photograph: Mary Bennison/PA

Mother-of-three Mary Bennison, whose daughter Kitty, 10, had been excited to go back to school, says it is crucial that all pupils get some time back in school before the summer holidays.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Bennison, 41, said:

It’s about the social and mental wellbeing of our children.

This was about them having some resolve for the end of the year.

Our children have their own lives at school and they have had that completely taken away from them.

I know the school have worked really hard to facilitate a system so they could get the year groups all back, obviously only for a limited time.

The core issue, Bennison told PA, seems to be that the schools and West Sussex county council have different interpretations of government guidance.

She added: “I would like to think that we resolve what has now become this stand-off in terms of the Department for Education telling us one thing and the council having a different interpretation.”

A council spokesman said:

We have been supporting all West Sussex schools to follow government guidance and prioritise provision for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, as well as continue to give places to children who are vulnerable, disadvantaged and those of key workers.

The latest national guidance is clear that this should be on a full-time basis for these core groups, and that only if schools then have additional capacity they can accommodate pupils from other year groups, if their own risk assessment shows this can be safely managed.

We have made this clear to all schools, including Kingslea and Heron Way, who decided to go against this advice in inviting all pupils to return on a part-time basis without consulting with us, something neither the Department for Education or the council is able to support.

Everyone involved in education in West Sussex shares the same aim, to get children back to school as soon as the national health advice shows it can be done safely.

In a letter to parents on Thursday seen by PA, Kingslea head teacher Alexis Conway and chairman of the governors James King informed them that the wider school reopening had been postponed.

However, they criticised the council’s stance, pointing to the part of the government guidance which states: “Schools are not required to use this guide, and may choose to follow alternative approaches to preparing for wider opening, or to use some sections of this guidance alongside other approaches.”

In a joint statement, the head teachers of the two primary schools said: “Wellbeing is the school’s top priority and there has been unwavering support from the whole school community for the plans that both schools had in place to open the school to Year 2 to year 5 from Monday June 29.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Primary schools have the flexibility to welcome children from other year groups back into the classroom,

Boris Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, visited Pizza Pilgrims in West India Quay in London today, ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening in July.
Boris Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, visited Pizza Pilgrims in West India Quay in London today, ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening in July. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/DOWNING STREET HANDOUT/EPA

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the government was “losing control of the communications” after crowds flocked to beaches during the hot weather this week.

I’m really worried about the scenes we’ve seen from some of our beaches with overcrowding.

This dates back to Dominic Cummings and that affair, where essentially the government had a message that the public read as one rule for them, another for us.

The prime minister has to take responsibility for this. When he was asked about this in parliament ... the prime minister simply said ‘show some guts, support your communities’.

He urged Boris Johnson to “up your game on communications because this is very serious”.

Boris Johnson tells people to stop 'taking too many liberties' on lockdown easing

Boris Johnson urged people to stop “taking too many liberties with the guidance” after a major incident was declared on the south coast yesterday, warning people “the virus is still out there”.

The prime minister said on Friday:

Let me be very clear about the scenes in Bournemouth - it’s very important for people to understand if you look at what’s happening elsewhere in the world where people have been coming out of lockdown.

I’m afraid what you’re also seeing is people taking too many liberties with the guidance, mingling too much, not observing social distancing.

In some parts of the world - I won’t name them - you’ve got really serious spikes in the instances of the diseases.

Earlier today a Number 10 spokesman said the government would not be closing beaches, other than in the form of localised lockdowns if there are spikes in certain areas, and said it was up to local authorities to control the crowds.

“It’s crucial people understand that on 4 July we get this right and we do this in a balanced way and we recognise the risks,” Johnson added.

You may think you’re not going to get it and you’re immortal and invincible and so on. And very likely that’s true, particularly if you’re a young person.

“But the bug you carry can kill elderly people particularly. It’s still dangerous. The virus is still out there.

Updated

With the virus now more under control – at least for now – Boris Johnson will use a major speech next week to switch the focus back to the “people’s priorities” of December’s Tory manifesto: including a rash of infrastructure projects aimed at “levelling up” Britain.

“We’re going to be building loads of stuff,” said one Whitehall source.

Some of the priorities, including a major boost to road-building, and a series of green investments such as electric vehicle charging, were already announced by Rishi Sunak in March.

But Johnson is expected to push ahead with other plans, including building more of the 40 new hospitals promised during the election campaign – and potentially also handing schools pots of money to be spent on improving their buildings.

With an urgent need to create jobs, as sectors hardest hit by the shutdown accelerate layoffs, relatively small-scale projects can be started much more quickly than the high-profile cable cars and bridges Johnson has tended to prefer in the past.

Environmental projects such as refurbishing homes to make them more energy efficient – lagging lofts, for example – also create large numbers of jobs, rapidly.

And they have the advantage of being geographically well-spread, giving Tory MPs up and down the country tangible benefits to point to in the run-up to the 2024 general election.

Conservative backbenchers, including even some from the 2019 intake who owe their seats to Johnson, have grumbled in recent weeks about what they regard as shaky leadership by a centralised and insular No 10 operation.

Many would cheer the prospect of increased investment in grassroots projects.

Another three cases of coronavirus have been confirmed at a meat processing factory in the Midlands.

Tulip Ltd confirmed on Friday that three employees, including two from the same household, had tested positive after a fresh batch of tests were carried out on more than 100 staff on Monday.

All three, alongside other employees who may have been infected during close contact, are isolating at home.

The company said it was continuing to work with Public Health England Midlands, the Health and Safety Executive, the local NHS and Sandwell council, after confirmation of other coronavirus cases last week.

Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell’s director of public health, said:

We have now proactively tested 104 staff at Tulip Ltd for coronavirus and have had three positive cases. Tulip has asked a further 16 employees to isolate at home as a precautionary measure.

The site has had a number of cases since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK and are able to report that they have all returned to work safely. We will be conducting further testing across the workforce in the coming days so that we can identify and isolate any further positive cases.

Unless the government comes up quickly with a financial package for them, about a third of Britain’s fringe theatres will not reopen after the coronavirus crisis, writes Francis Beckett.

The fringe is where risks are taken; where new writers, actors, stage managers and directors get their chance.

The big names adorning West End and big subsidised theatres more often than not started out here. Without it we might never have heard of Jez Butterworth or Meera Syal, to pick two out of a countless number.

Some artists stay on the fringe, writing, directing and performing work that bigger venues won’t risk. [...]

Uncertainty is dreadfully demotivating. I intended to use the lockdown to write a new play that’s been nagging at me, but I’ve hardly written a word. For the first time in a decade and a half, I cannot see much prospect of getting it performed.

Writers, actors and directors – as well as audiences – need fringe theatre to be healthy and secure.

Although Covid-19 scuppered Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary, organisers Michael and Emily Eavis discuss the moments that made it the world’s greatest festival – from the healing fields to Stormzy.

More than 50 organisations have urged the prime minister to develop a new mental health plan to prevent and respond to damage arising from the coronavirus outbreak.

The current system will not be able to cope with an expected surge in demand as the nation starts to rebuild after Covid-19, Boris Johnson has been warned.

The Samaritans, Rethink Mental Illness and Mind are some of the charities who have said he must place mental health at the heart of the government’s recovery plan.

Almost half of the UK population have experienced high levels of anxiety during the pandemic, while 80% of people living with mental illness say it has deteriorated, the charities say.

They estimate a further half a million people are likely to go on to experience mental health problems as a result of the economic impact of the crisis.

The coalition of voluntary and social sector organisations is calling on the government to work with them to develop a mental health renewal plan.

Their letter to Johnson reads:

We know, as you do, that no one organisation, agency or government department can provide the solutions to the enormous challenge facing us.

But as prime minister, you have the authority to convene all the right people to make this happen.

Together we can lead the world in delivering a Covid-19 recovery that puts the nation’s mental health at its heart.

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Mental health care has been chronically underfunded for decades and we were only just starting to see the impact of investment when the pandemic hit.

“Covid-19 has changed the course of the journey we are on and we need to pool all our knowledge and resources to navigate the challenges ahead, with support at every level of government.

“There’s an opportunity here to provide the nation with a renewal plan for mental health and to reduce some of the most damaging health inequalities in society. If we do not seize this chance, we will feel the impact of that failing for decades.”

Ben Waugh, who runs a bicycle hire shop on the seafront at Bournemouth, has lived in the seaside resort all his life but has never seen so many people packed on to the beach – and so much terrible behaviour.

“I understand why people wanted to come,” he said, as the cleanup continued around him. “It’s the best beach around and when the weather’s good it’s like being in Benidorm. But what happened here this week was horrific.”

Waugh watched aghast as groups of revellers took drugs and drank their way through countless crates of beer. “There was a Lord of the Flies vibe to it. The atmosphere was ugly.”

“I miss the joy of random events, of not knowing what will happen between the hours of 2pm and 4pm,” writes Guardian columnist Zoe Williams.

I am having the unsettling realisation that it was never organised entertainment that entertained me, but the random stuff in between.

I miss outdoor events taking place, but, even with a gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you which outdoor event I want to attend (there is usually a county show in my local park, where you can pet a cow. I would consider that, obviously having first checked bovine potential as a transmission vector).

I want non-essential shops to be open, but there is nothing I want to buy. Sure, I want to see my friends.

Really, though, I want to be in a room that is at least half full of people I don’t know and have a meandering conversation with them for no reason – and who would waste their friendship allowance on that?

Mr Z said that the problem isn’t any one thing; it is waking up knowing that every day is going to be the same as the previous 95.

It is Groundhog Day retold as tragedy (at least Bill Murray’s endless day began in a new place, with new people); it is a fairytale curse, which none of us will be allowed out of until we have learned something about ourselves.

Council workers appeal for calm after "frightening" levels of abuse on beaches

Union leaders have called for calm this weekend after council workers suffered “frightening” levels of abuse as huge crowds flocked to Bournemouth beach this week.

The GMB union said its members employed by Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council (BPC) were subjected to verbal abuse and threats of physical violence.

More than 550 parking control notifications were issued on Thursday around the area, which had become gridlocked with visitors, with more than 40 tons of rubbish needing to be removed from the beaches.

One council worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said:

While we are trying to go about our job, the levels of abuse are frightening.

Be it clearing rubbish or asking people not to light barbecues, we are seeing abuse and confrontation like never before and we simply want the public to consider the impact of their actions not only for themselves, but also for the wider community.

Adrian Baker, GMB regional organiser, said: “GMB are calling for calm ahead of the weekend when we anticipate more and more visitors coming to the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch area.

“While people are obviously looking to enjoy the hot weather, our members should not have to put up with these kind of attacks - not to mention that we want them to be able to remain safe doing their jobs.

“We ask for members of the public to respect social distancing at all times according to the government advice and help our members and their families to stay safe and protected.”

Updated

A “large amount” of the Covid-19 virus is still circulating in Greater Manchester according to new testing data, the region’s mayor Andy Burnham said.

He warned the public to stay cautious as the country emerges from lockdown after the region received pillar 2 test results - swabs of the wider population - for the first time across its 10 boroughs.

Previously the authorities in Greater Manchester had only been able to release pillar 1 test data in which swabs are taken at Public Health England labs and NHS hospitals for those with a clinical need, and health and care workers.

This week, Burnham said the number of positive pillar 1 positive cases was 78 - a continued decrease - but leapt to 465 when combined with the pillar 2 data.

Speaking at his weekly coronavirus press conference, he said:

Finally we have been able to put pillar 1 and pillar 2 together and get much more of a truer picture in terms of what’s going on with the spread, the circulation of Covid-19 in Greater Manchester.

It represents a significant number of new cases and while the overall numbers are coming down and transmission is reducing, nevertheless there is still a significant amount of Covid-19 circulating within Greater Manchester. For the first time we are seeing the true picture.

He stressed though that more tests were being carried out in the region than “pretty much anywhere else in the country” and the figures were a reflection of increased testing activity.

However he added it was a “warning sign” and they would monitor the figures in the coming days and weeks.

He said: “Council leaders in Greater Manchester are concerned the message is going out - as people look at the images of beaches across the country, particularly Bournemouth, and what we have seen in gatherings in towns and cities - that lockdown is over. Well what I would say is it can’t be.

“Everyone needs to refocus on what the Chief Medical Officer (Chris Whitty) is saying. The risk is clearly present and people need to focus again on the government’s advice, particularly in this period where people are beginning to emerge from lockdown and return to a degree of normality.

“Clearly it can’t be the case we are back to normal, we are not. There is a large amount of this virus circulating in Greater Manchester and people need to know that and they need to take precautions.”

186 people die from Covid-19 in the UK

Today’s statistics have now been published. They relate to information covering the whole of the UK.

  • As of 5pm on June 25, a further 186 people had died from Covid-19 . The total number of deaths, according to this mode of calculation, is 43,414.

  • As of 9am on June 26, there had been 1,004 positive tests conducted in the UK over a 24 hour period.

The DHSC says data on the number of invidivuals tested for Covid-19 has been temporarily paused to ensure consistency of reporting.

Updated

The Department for Health and Social Care, which this afternoon will publish the latest data on Covid-19 infections and deaths, has today posted a new advert on the importance of maintaining social distancing in the outdoors.

Updated

Hallo, this is Paul MacInnes stepping in for Jessica as she has a deserved lunch break.

HSBC has restarted its plans to cut 35,000 jobs around the world, after pausing the redundancies as the coronavirus pandemic worsened.

The UK-listed bank had initially announced the plan to cut about 15% of its 235,000-strong workforce in February but put the process on hold in March because it did not want to leave workers unable to find new work during the various lockdowns.

The bank’s interim chief executive, Noel Quinn, wants to cut costs by £3.5bn, with the aim of increasing profitability as the lender chases opportunities in Asia. Almost half of HSBC’s 2019 revenues came from Asia, compared to only 29% in Europe.

Quinn had previously said there would be “meaningful” cuts in the UK. The main focus is expected to be head office operations as well as its global bank and markets business, which are largely London based.

Michael Winterbottom is to bring Boris Johnson’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic to television

The film-maker, whose credits include 24 Hour Party People and the Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon series The Trip, will co-write and direct a co-production between Fremantle, Passenger – which makes the anthology series True Detective – and Revolution Films.

The Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman will act as a consultant to the programme makers. Shipman’s book All Out War also served as the basis for the Channel 4 drama Brexit: The Uncivil War, in which Benedict Cumberbatch played Dominic Cummings.

Announcing the project, Passenger’s Richard Brown described the premise as “a story which appears to demonstrate that fact is indeed sometimes stranger than fiction.”

Fremantle’s group COO Andrea Scrosati added:

There are rare moments in history when leaders find their private lives uniquely connected to national events, where personal experience and official role collide in an unusual way. The last few months in the life of the UK prime minister clearly mark one of these moments.

Updated

First minister Nicola Sturgeon wears a tartan face mask during a visit to Ford Kinaird retail park in Edinburgh, Scotland.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon wears a tartan face mask during a visit to Ford Kinaird retail park in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/PA

Death rate from Covid-19 in England's hospitals in falling, experts say

The proportion of Covid-19 patients in hospital who are dying is falling, research suggests.

The University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine studied deaths in hospital in England and found that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is reducing by 2.4% every day - halving every 29 days.

The number of deaths is also reducing by 4.3% per day - halving every 16 days.

On 2 April, at the height of the epidemic, there were 644 deaths in 10,737 people in hospital with Covid - giving a 6% death rate, the researchers said.

But by 15 June, there were 50 deaths and 3,270 people in hospital - giving a death rate of 1.5%.

The authors suggested several reasons for the “steep and continual decline in the death rate in hospital of patients”.

One could be that patients with Covid-19 in late March and early April included a significant proportion of patients who caught the infection in hospital, they said.

“These patients, because they were in hospital, were more likely to be sicker and more vulnerable than patients who acquired infection in the community and so more likely to die from Covid-19.”

But as this changed, and patients with community-acquired infections became a greater proportion of patients in hospital, the death rate could fall, the researchers suggested.

Other reasons may be that medics have become more skilled at treating patients with Covid-19, patients over time have become younger with fewer underlying health conditions, or people are now suffering less severe disease.

The researchers said: “The reasons for the declining death rate in hospitals may be a combination of one or all of these factors or due to some other reason we have not considered.

“In either case, further research is warranted to understand why the hospital death rate has declined so markedly over the past eight weeks.”

Shopping centre owner Intu collapses into administration

Intu Properties will collapse into administration on Friday afternoon after the heavily indebted shopping centre owner failed to secure an agreement with its creditors.

The company, whose centres include Lakeside in Essex, the Trafford Centre in Manchester and Gateshead’s Metrocentre, has debts of more than £4.5bn and has been unable to persuade lenders to grant a debt repayment holiday ahead of a Friday night deadline.

The company employs 2,500 people and owns 17 shopping centres across the UK.

The company said that all shopping centres would continuing to trade.

Intu had been under pressure before the coronavirus pandemic with the value of its centres – as well as those of rival operators such as Hammerson and British Land – falling as some of the high street’s big space occupiers, including Debenhams, House of Fraser and Topshop, closed stores and demanded rent cuts so that they could stay in business.

In March, after lockdown had taken effect, Intu received only 29% of the revenue it was due on rent day. UK retailers are estimated to have stumped up just 14% of the £2.5bn quarterly rent due this week as they try to conserve cash and negotiate new, lower rent deals.

With the shift to online shopping undermining the economics of physical store retailing before the health crisis, the high street shutdown has raised the stakes.

Updated

Police are responding to a serious incident in Glasgow that has forced road closures in the city centre.

In a statement on Twitter, police said the incident is “contained” and there is no danger to the general public.

Images on social media showed armed police entering a building and a large number of emergency vehicles.

Greater Glasgow Police tweeted: “Emergency services are currently dealing with an incident on West George Street in Glasgow.

“The street is currently closed off and the public are asked to avoid the area at present.

“The situation is contained at this time and there is no danger to the general public.”

Updated

'Breakdown in public behaviour' led to major incident on Bournemouth beach: council leader

An unprecedented “breakdown in public behaviour” led to a major incident being called on Bournemouth beach, according to the leader of the local council.

Vikki Slade, Liberal Democrat leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said that many of the hundreds of thousands of people who descended on the Dorset beaches had caused multiple incidents of anti-social behaviour, were abusive and left large amounts of litter.

She said:

We had so many people here and the behaviour was so bad, the road blockages were such a problem that had someone been seriously ill there is a very good chance emergency vehicles wouldn’t have been able to get to them properly.

Leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, Vikki Slade, near Bournemouth pier on Friday.
Leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, Vikki Slade, near Bournemouth pier on Friday. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Slade said the beaches have previously seen such high numbers, which were in the hundreds of thousands, but the problem stemmed from the lack of infrastructure which would normally be available. She said:

On bank holidays the pubs are open, the cafes are open, the hotels are open, people aren’t just congregating here, they are not bringing vast quantities of alcohol.

The behaviour of people, fly-parking on the middle of roundabouts and pavements - unprecedented - people defecating in a cardboard box on the beach and leaving it for our staff to deal with, refuse collectors being abused for doing their job, that is what made it unprecedented and that is why we had to take action.

The people who behaved badly, and there were lots of them, ruined it for everybody else, are trashing our environment, and our local residents are fed up with it.

Slade said the main threat of a Covid-19 spike would be people taking it back to their own communities, and added: “There is a Covid-19 issue but it’s very much about this breakdown in public behaviour that we are seeing.

“Other councils have told us they have never seen the levels of litter ever in their history, never seen the levels of illegal parking, never seen the abuse thrown at public servants.

“I asked somebody whether they were going to park on a junction and I got the finger.

“You are trying to be a good citizen and there were some really unpleasant people out there, and it’s not acceptable for our staff to be having to deal with that.

“We have recruited security guards to protect our beaches - that’s not a good sign is it?”

A security guard looks over Bournemouth beach.
A security guard looks over Bournemouth beach. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

She added:

There was an ugly mood. Nobody is going on a foreign holiday at the moment, people can’t go to the pub, football match, theme park, can’t see their friends where they normally see them.

That frustration and anti-authority thing was played out here with large, large groups of people who we don’t normally see, with a bad attitude, treating this place with disrespect.

We have to hope that as other things open, the pain is shared with other people. At the moment it’s concentrated in small areas and that’s part of the problem, there is conflict between local communities and visitors.

We would like to have lots of visitors that respect where we live.

A serious police incident has closed roads in Glasgow city centre.

There is a heavy police presence on West George Street with more than a dozen police vehicles in attendance.

A traffic information bulletin issued by Glasgow City Council said: “Due to a serious police incident the following roads are currently closed until further notice.

  • West George Street - between Hope Street and West Nile Street.
  • Renfield Street - between West Regent Street and St Vincent Street.
  • Renfield Street traffic is being diverted onto West Nile Street and road users should avoid the area if possible.

More to follow.

At her daily media briefing, Nicola Sturgeon was asked about chaotic scenes in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove park yesterday where a large police presence was required to disperse crowds, with two arrests.

Sturgeon said:

Particularly for young people, I understand it’s the hottest day of the year, you’re in your flat and you want to get out and about.

She said that she remembered enjoying spending time in Kelvingrove herself as a student at Glasgow university, but that everyone needed to understand the risks posed by large gatherings.

Sturgeon also confirmed that there were no registered coronavirus deaths in Scotland in the past 24 hours for the first time on a weekday since 20 March, before lockdown began.

Sturgeon had a strong message for groups organising protests over the coming month – including pro-independence activists: “Please don’t do it”.

Asked about a Police Scotland warning about planned protests, including a Black Lives Matter event, this weekend, and All Under One Banner plans for July, she said:

We strongly advise against [protests] – my advice to anybody, whether All Under One Banner or young people gathering in Kelvingrove park is ‘please don’t do it’.

I’ve been involved in political activism all my life, I know how important protest is...but right now they are risky so find other ways to make your views known.

She emphasised that avoiding an immediate spike now allows the health service to plan for a potential second wave in the winter.

Nearly 1.4 million people in the UK cannot access public funds during the coronavirus pandemic because of their immigration status, a charity estimates.

Some 1,376,158 people have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) because their immigration status is not finalised, suggests research by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

This means they cannot access most benefits, such as Universal Credit, child benefit, housing benefit, and a range of allowances and tax credits.

Citizens Advice, which shared the research, said the number of people seeking help about this and non-EU migrants’ access to benefits during the pandemic has more than doubled compared with last year.

Since 11 March, it has been supporting someone regarding these concerns every 20 minutes on average.

People of colour are disproportionately affected by NRPF, with 82% of those helped by the charity in the last year being from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

The charity says the rules mean families are risking their health to work and some may be split up in future.

Some have faced the “impossible choice” between returning to work while ill or shielding so they can continue to earn, and staying at home, as per public health guidance, but losing their income.

Migrants from non-European Economic Area countries are disproportionately likely to work in frontline roles, including in healthcare, care work and security jobs, it added.

Briana, a Jamaican national with NRPF who usually works in a care home, is shielding due to heart and respiratory problems, Citizens Advice said.

While she is receiving statutory sick pay, she cannot afford to pay her rent or bills and feels forced to return to work because she is so worried about rent arrears and eviction.

Chief executive Dame Gillian Guy said that despite measures put in place by the government, the charity is seeing “significant increases” in people seeking help.

The government has made people with NRPF eligible for the Job Retention Scheme and provided emergency funding to councils.

But the charity said people are racking up “significant levels of debt” in order to avoid jeopardising their immigration status by attempting to claim benefits.

Cross-party MPs urge government to stop homeless migrants being forced back on streets

Twenty-nine Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green MPs have signed a joint letter warning of a coming “cliff-edge” as the programme to house people experiencing homelessness in hotels during Covid-19 ends across England at the beginning of July.

While the government announcement of £85m in new funding to house rough sleepers will ease the burden faced by local authorities, they still face budget shortfalls, an immense logistical challenge to accommodate thousands of rough sleepers, and no clarity on the status of those migrants who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), the MPs said.

The letter, written by the Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum, and signed by MPs including the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the acting Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, calls on the government to take the opportunity of guaranteeing rough sleepers long-term help.

It urges the government to extend contracts with hotels and temporary accommodation under the “Everyone In” homelessness scheme, unless everyone housed has been guaranteed move-on accommodation.

It also calls for the suspension of NRPF rules to prevent migrant rough sleepers from facing eviction, and asks for more funding to meet the £10bn shortfall in local authority budgets during Covid-19.

The MPs also express support for an open letter published on 18 June by more than 100 homelessness and migrants’ rights organisations which warned that a lack of clarity on NRPF rules meant thousands of homeless migrants were in danger of being forced on to the streets, in a “moral, humanitarian and public health catastrophe”.

The call to immediately scrap NRPF conditions, which are driving migrants into destitution and homelessness, has been supported by the Commons work and pensions committee, and by many local authorities as well as the Local Government Association (LGA).

Some hotels housing people experiencing homelessness have already closed, and street homelessness numbers are growing as some become newly homeless during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Updated

The Office for National Statistics has found that more children are returning to school in England, based on surveys it carried out last week.

Four out of five parents or carers with eligible school-age children say they are now going into school at least some of the time, compared with earlier in the month when only around three out of five did so.

The ONS also found that the average time spent on learning for those children being home schooled was 12 hours a week, but that a majority of families reported struggling to keep their child engaged, owing to lack of time for parents or motivation on the part of the pupil.

Here’s what the ONS said:

  • Almost one-third (32%) of adults with children of school age reported that they had been asked to send their children back to school, with nearly eight in 10 (78%) of these saying that their children were now attending school some or all of the time.

  • This is an increase on last week when 21% of adults with children of school age reported that they had been asked to send their children back to school, and 67% of these reported that their children were now attending some or all of the time.
  • Of those who have been asked to send their children back to school or college but have taken the decision not to, more than six in 10 (63%) said this was because they were worried about them catching Covid-19 there.
  • For children still being home schooled, this week they spent on average 12 hours learning.
  • Of those who have home schooled their children this week, six in 10 adults (60%) said their children were struggling to continue their education at home – a similar level to last week (59%). Lack of motivation, limited parent or carer time to support, and lack of guidance and support were the most common reasons for children to be struggling.

Updated

Downing Street says local authorities should manage numbers on beaches

Responding to the major incident declared on the south coast yesterday, Downing Street said it was the responsibility of local authorities to manage numbers on beaches and people should not “undo the hard work of the British public”.

A spokesman told a Westminster briefing:

Everyone should be able to enjoy the sunshine, and we understand that people want to enjoy public spaces, but it is important we don’t undo the hard work of the British public in reducing the transmission of this virus.

It is a matter for local authorities to manage numbers, alongside emergency services and Public Health England.

As we saw yesterday they are best placed to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis.

We have been clear that should we see case numbers increase we will introduce local lockdowns.

Pressed on whether the government would close beaches, the Number 10 spokesman said: “I believe Matt Hancock, when he spoke, was referring to the powers to impose localised lockdowns, which we have been clear throughout may need to be the case if we see case numbers rise in a particular area.”

Updated

Residents have described the “mayhem” as tens of thousands of people descended on Bournemouth beach yesterday “with no idea of social distancing”.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the government will take action to close beaches and public areas if people flout safety restrictions.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council declared a major incident after services were “completely overstretched” by the huge numbers of visitors who crowded on to the beach on Thursday.

The council said extra police patrols had to be brought in following the “irresponsible” behaviour of crowds who gridlocked roads, dumped rubbish, abused refuse collectors and parked illegally.

Police and security workers were seen patrolling the beach on Friday morning, although the crowds had not arrived in such numbers.

Police patrol near Bournemouth pier on Friday, as thunderstorms and torrential rain are forecast to sweep across the UK.
Police patrol near Bournemouth pier on Friday, as thunderstorms and torrential rain are forecast to sweep across the UK. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Local resident Pat Munday, 73, described how cars were double-parking and blocking driveways, preventing emergency vehicles from getting through, while people were using the gardens of her apartment block as a toilet on Wednesday and Thursday. She said:

It was just mayhem, people just want to have a good time but they just don’t give a monkey’s about others.

It’s a shame, it’s such a beautiful part of the country but people just need some control, people have lost all sense of respect - when they urinate in your garden, it’s the pits.

Vic Williams, 75, said: “There was no idea of social distancing, when we left at 2pm the crowds were still arriving, there wasn’t any two metres.

“Because the restaurants are closed, there’s nowhere else for people to go.”

Williams said the council’s tractors had been out in the early hours clearing up the tonnes of rubbish left.

He added: “The litter afterwards was unbelievable, they just walk away from the beach and leave their rubbish, there were tents left, BBQs, it costs us ratepayers a fortune.”

Rubbish litters Bournemouth beach after visitors leave on Thursday.
Rubbish litters Bournemouth beach after visitors leave on Thursday. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Jessa Bane, 18, and a group of friends travelled down from the Reading area to enjoy the beach after finishing college.

She said: “We have created our own social bubble by drawing a line in the sand around us to make sure we can social distance.”

Updated

A former mayor has resigned after comparing Black Lives Matter protesters to monkeys jumping on a car.

Peter Kraus, 68, resigned as a councillor after putting the images side-by-side on his Facebook page.

The images showed a group of monkeys on top of a car at a safari park paired with an image of black protesters standing on a police car during riots.

It was deleted after residents and fellow councillors in Pembroke Dock, west Wales, protested about the racism from their ex-mayor.

Kraus first claimed he was hacked but later admitted he had posted the images.

The grandfather – who served as Pembroke Dock mayor between 2012 and 2013 – said: “I have lots of black and white friends around the world. I have never in my whole life been racist in any way or form.

“The picture in question actually means to me that some people are worse than animals and enjoy destroying things, whether it be vehicles, buildings or statutes.”

His fellow ward councillor Joshua Beynon complained to the local government and social care ombudsman about the post.

Labour member Beynon said:

I’m sad to see another derogatory post, this time one that compares black people to monkeys, it is the lowest of the low.

While it seems that there is a lot of hatred and negativity around, this whole event has highlighted the urgent need to fight racism that is clearly evident in our county.

I will continue to call it out when I see it.

Pembroke Dock town council confirmed Kraus had resigned by letter.

The statement said: “Members of the council would like to thank Peter for all his hard work which he has undertaken over the years throughout the town and for his continued efforts within the town council.”

Updated

Just 175 prisoners out of up to 4,000 have been freed early under emergency measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus behind bars, figures show.

Campaigners accused ministers of moving at a “glacial rate”, warning thousands were still being held in overcrowded conditions or in prolonged solitary confinement.

Low-risk inmates in England and Wales who were within two months of their release date and had passed a risk assessment were eligible to be let out on temporary licence under the scheme, which was brought in to avoid thousands of inmates - many who share cells - from becoming infected.

Pregnant prisoners or inmates with children behind bars were also among those to be permitted temporary release on compassionate grounds.

The latest Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures from 3 April to 19 June show that out of the 175, 43 were granted compassionate release.

A blunder resulted in the programme being temporarily suspended just weeks after it began when six inmates were freed by accident.

They had been let out too soon after an “administrative error”, but were all returned to prison, the MoJ said at the time.

Another plan to build 2,000 temporary prison cells has so far seen 896 earmarked in 26 sites but just 477 built so far and only 289 already in use.

Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:

With the spread of coronavirus confirmed in almost every prison in the country, it is vital that as many people as possible are enabled to return to the community safely.

Instead, the glacial rate of early release means that tens of thousands of people are being held either in overcrowded conditions or prolonged solitary confinement.

Ministers must move more quickly to reduce the prison population and provide a purposeful regime that gives people an opportunity to make amends.

The justice secretary, Robert Buckland, earlier this week denied the release scheme was being “stood down” and insisted the department was “still using it in a careful way”.

Defending the department’s efforts, he told MPs they were initially faced with a “very alarming and stark set of predictions” but responded with a “regime that has saved lives and protected staff”.

There were a series of legal challenges from charities early on in the crisis calling for urgent measures to protect staff and prisoners.

According to the latest available data, published in a weekly report for the first time, there are 510 prisoners in England and Wales who currently have confirmed symptoms of coronavirus.

Of those, 500 were in adult prisons and 10 in youth jails. All had tested positive for the virus.

So far, 23 prisoners and 21 offenders being supervised by probation have died during the pandemic with Covid-19 being the suspected cause, the figures also showed.

There are 79,600 people in prison, the number having dropped by 4,300 since 13 March due to the lack of new cases coming to court amid the outbreak.

Updated

Britain’s beleaguered theatres have warned that panto season could be cancelled, leading to catastrophic losses in revenue, unless the government is able to reassure people that live performances will continue in the winter.

The annual pantomime season is more than just a festive tradition for British theatres; in some cases it accounts for more than a quarter of their annual box office and acts as a cash injection to fuel other work and investment.

But the impact of Covid-19, which has already devastated theatres, is threatening their golden goose as directors weigh up whether to risk going ahead with expensive productions that may not happen.

“That could really mean the closure of an awful lot of theatres. It’s that impactful,” Jo Hemmant, executive director of the Hackney Empire, said, adding that without a pantomime season many theatres could face closure. “We’re planning for it but knowing in the back of our minds it may not happen.”

Last season the the Theatre Royal Nottingham’s panto brought in £1.5m, which was approximately 8% of the total box office income for that year. For some theatres that figure is far higher.

The Liverpool Everyman Rock’n’Roll Panto generates 26% of its total box office takings and brings additional income via increased sales of drinks, programmes and merchandise.

Three men stabbed at Bournemouth beach

Three men were stabbed at the popular holiday resort hours after a major incident was declared when thousands of sunseekers flocked to beaches amid the heatwave.

The men, all in their 20s and from London, were hurt during a fight near the amusements on Bournemouth pier on Thursday evening.

The three men were taken to hospital for treatment by the ambulance service.

Dorset Police said one man sustained a stab wound to his back and has since been discharged from hospital.

A second man sustained an injury to his face and the third was injured in the chest and arm.

Their conditions are not described as life-threatening.

DI Gavin House, who is leading the investigation, said:

We are carrying out a full and thorough investigation to determine who was responsible for this incident.

The public can expect to see an increased police presence near to the pier today as detectives continue their inquiries in the area.

I understand there was a large number of people on the beach at the time of the incident and I would urge anyone who may have important information to assist my investigation to please get in touch.

I am keen to hear from anyone who may have video footage of the incident and would please ask that you do not post or share this online out of respect for the injured people.

On Thursday Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council declared a major incident and condemned the “irresponsible” behaviour of crowds who gridlocked roads, dumped rubbish and parked illegally.

A member of the ambulance service looks out from Bournemouth pier as crowds gathered on the beach yesterday.
A member of the ambulance service looks out from Bournemouth pier as crowds gathered on the beach yesterday. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Extra police patrols have been brought in and security is in place to protect refuse crews who the council said faced “widespread abuse and intimidation” as they emptied overflowing bins.

Thirty-three tonnes of waste was cleaned up along the full stretch of coastline on Thursday morning, in addition to eight tonnes collected between the piers on Wednesday, the council said.

Council leader Vikki Slade said:

We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks.

The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe.

We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said 500,000 people had visited Dorset and added his voice to the calls for people not to go to the area.

“This place was deluged and social distancing went out the window and that’s why a major incident was declared, because the local authority and indeed the police couldn’t cope,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“The beach should have been closed down, or at least shut down to prevent further people from entering it.

Updated

Police chiefs have said people must take “more personal responsibility” when Covid-19 lockdown measures are further eased on 4 July as fines for breaches dropped to their lowest level.

Tickets handed out in the two weeks to 22 June fell to just 189 from a high of 5,280 in the fortnight to 27 April, according to provisional data released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

A total of 18,439 fixed penalty notices (FPNs), including 15,856 in England and 2,583 in Wales, were recorded by forces up to 22 June, according to the provisional data.

Some 1,691 tickets were issued in England since Covid-19 restrictions were first eased on 13 May, with just 358 handed out from 1 June, when groups of six people were allowed to meet outdoors.

Police were first given powers to break up gatherings and fine people for breaching restriction of movement rules under the Health Protection Regulations 2020 on 27 March.

The NPCC said there was an upward trend to a peak in the week ending 16 April, which included the Easter Bank holiday, with a fall from mid-May as restrictions began to be eased in England.

The latest figures, which could be revised upwards, show the lowest levels of enforcement since the lockdown began.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said:

As restrictions ease further from 4 July in England, it is important for everyone to take more personal responsibility for their safety by continuing to follow official advice and government regulations.

Limiting the spread of the virus should still be everyone’s priority.

The figures come amid concerns over people flouting Covid-19 guidance at beaches and street parties.

Visitors on the beach in Bournemouth yesterday.
Visitors on the beach in Bournemouth yesterday. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation, warned the government’s announcement about loosening the lockdown on 4 July could be “a countdown to party time”.

Firstly, of course, there are worries about alcohol consumption leading to drunken and irresponsible behaviour, and there’s also the concern that people who can’t get into pubs because of restrictions that are still in place may cause conflict.

This will, without doubt, add more pressure on policing, paramedics and the wider NHS.

The latest NPCC figures show 79% of fines handed out in England and Wales were to men, with 68% given to people aged under 35.

Some 787 tickets went to repeat offenders, with two people receiving eight fines and three people seven.

The fines carried penalties of £60, reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks, with the fine doubled for each repeat offence up to a £960 maximum.

Higher fines were brought in England, £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days, and rising to a maximum of £3,200 for subsequent offences, from 13 May.

Updated

There was dismay and frustration when Boris Johnson failed to include any type of swimming pool in the 4 July lockdown relaxations for England, despite rigorous preparations across the sector.

Swim England has launched a national Open Our Pools campaign and, with no firm dates forthcoming from Scottish or Welsh governments either, those desperate to tone up physically and mentally after weeks confined to home are joining a growing clamour from passionate outdoor swimmers.

“The wonderful thing about outdoor swimming is that it looks after everybody,” says Eleanor Kennedy, the chair of the Parliament Hill Lido Users’ Group in London and – before lockdown – a 7am open-air enthusiast.

“We have young swimmers, families, key workers, retired people, disabled people. You don’t need a huge amount of kit or expensive gym membership, and on a concession rate you can pay a few pounds to swim in a beautiful environment.”

Further up Hampstead Heath from Parliament Hill, a group of frustrated bathers last month raised a banner calling on the City of London authorities to “stop drowning in bureaucracy”, as the three famous single-sex and mixed ponds remain shut.

Updated

A musical retelling of Sleepless In Seattle starring Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh will open in September with a socially distanced audience wearing masks, it has been announced.

Sleepless, A Musical Romance, was due to open at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre on 24 March but the run was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The show will now open on 1 September, with previews from 25 August, pending government guidance.

Boris Johnson previously announced that theatres can open from 4 July but live performances are still not permitted. Producers hope this will have changed by the time the show is due to open.

The size of the venue means that there will be no physical contact between the staff and audience at any time and social distancing measures can be applied.

Audiences will be temperature checked on entering the building and will be required to wear face masks.

Food and drink orders will be contactless, hand sanitiser will be available around the building and all areas of the venue will be deep cleaned after each performance.

The new musical is based on the screenplay of Sleepless In Seattle, which starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Producer Michael Rose, of Encore Theatre Productions, said:

Lockdown has affected and frightened a huge number of people in this country - particularly in our industry.

Our story in Sleepless deals with mending something that is broken - it’s about putting a family back together after a loss - and we feel it’s time to do exactly that - it’s time to start the healing process - that’s part of what we do in theatre.

Producers have previously announced they will hold a special NHS Gala, A Night for Sleepless Heroes, for NHS and care workers on 27 August.

Britons bought 60% more bikes in April as the nation turned to two-wheeled transport during the coronavirus lockdown.

Government advice to avoid public transport and to limit travel to essential journeys led to a complete turnaround in the cycle market. In the first three months of the year, the value of bike sales was down 4% and 8% fewer bikes were bought in the UK, according to the Bicycle Association.

However, in April, the value of sales surged by 57% as the number of bikes sold rose 60%. The biggest change was in more affordable bikes valued at £400 to £1,000, sales of which doubled in April. Sales of bikes costing more than £3,000 fell.

Almost 50% more electric bikes were sold in April, a big step up in the pace of growth from the 29% seen in the first quarter of the year. However, the Bicycle Association said the increase in electric bike sales was disappointing because it was only in line with long-term growth patterns that could be expected for the as yet small market.

Public Health England has conceded that it does not need to keep personal data about people with coronavirus for 20 years, as it had previously claimed.

The body will shortly be issuing a revised privacy notice setting a new maximum retention period of eight years for the data it gathers while running the NHS test-and-trace programme, the Guardian has learned.

In a letter to the Open Rights Group seen by the Guardian, Public Health England said:

A revised NHS Test and Trace Privacy Notice is currently being prepared.

The amended notice will now state that the personal data processed for Covid-19-related contact-tracing purposes will be retained by the NHS test and trace programme for 8 years. The retention period of 8 years is the standard practice for medical records.

Whilst Covid-19 is a new form of coronavirus infections and the natural history of the disease is unclear, our current view is it would b appropriate to keep the personal data of data subject who have tested positive for coronavirus for this length of time, allowing us to monitor and analyse the epidemiology of coronavirus.

Jim Killock, chief executive of the Open Rights Group, which successfully campaigned to reduce the retention period, said:

Eight years is a long time. Track and trace in an emergency is not the same as general health records. Information about friends, family and contacts is shared with the NHS ad-hoc. People may feel uncomfortable about handing this over if it is kept for such a long time.

We have still seen no trace of a proper data protection assessment. If they had done this on time, maybe they would have worked out that 20 years retention is too much.

The Track and Trace programme seems very poorly managed. We need to know what other privacy risks the Government are running. At this stage, we are unsure the Government knows itself.

The current privacy notice for the test and trace programme still says that data will be stored for 20 years.

That includes the full name and date of birth, as well as phone numbers and home and email addresses, of people with coronavirus, or symptoms of Covid-19, alongside data about those symptoms. People identified as contacts of those with the virus will still have their data stored for five years.

Asked in May why the retention period was so long, a Public Health England spokesperson said “Covid-19 is a new disease and it is not yet clear what its longer term impacts on public health will be, either on people who have been diagnosed with the disease or their close contacts.”

The agency has been contacted for comment.

Health chiefs have urged the public to cooperate with coronavirus contact tracers and said there was “a real reluctance among some British people” to provide the details of people they have been close with and may have infected.

Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s Covid-19 special envoy, also warned European countries about new cases emerging as lockdowns ease, with health systems potentially being pushed to the brink if a significant resurgence was left unchecked.

NHS contact tracing went live on 28 May. The latest figures, for the third week of the scheme’s operation, show a quarter of people who tested positive for Covid-19 have not shared with contact tracers the phone numbers or email addresses of those they have met.

The data for 11-17 June shows 6,923 people with positive tests were transferred to the contact-tracing call centre teams. Of those, 4,869 were reached and asked for details of people they had spent time with in the past two days.

That means 70.3% of people who tested positive for the virus between 11-17 June were reached. This was much the same proportion (72%) that the Department of Health and Social Care said were reached in the first week, rather than two-thirds as it originally appeared in the first week of data, because some call centres succeeded in making contact later.

There were a further 1,791 people (25.9%) the contact tracers either failed to reach or failed to persuade to stay at home.

Updated

Millions went hungry during first months of UK lockdown, figures show

Government figures have revealed that a lack of money forced millions of people to go hungry or rely on food banks during the first few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, with families and young adults worst affected.

Households with children, people with health issues and people aged 16-24 were most likely to either skip meals or use food charities to feed themselves or their family in April and May, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) data showed.

The FSA said this meant between 6.3 million and 7.7 million adults had reduced meal portion sizes or missed meals altogether because of a lack of money, and between 2.7 million and 3.7 million adults sought charity food or used a food bank.

Despite rising public concern in recent weeks over pandemic-related hunger and poverty issues – most notably in the government’s U-turn over holiday support for children on free school meals – these are the first official figures showing the scale of the problem.

Updated

Hi everyone, this is Jessica Murray, I’ll be running the blog for the rest of the day - feel free to get in touch with your questions, experiences and story suggestions.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @journojess_

Updated

Tui has cancelled all holidays to Florida until December following the introduction of new hygiene rules at the Walt Disney World Resort (WDWR), such as mandatory face coverings.

The travel firm said it made the decision because the regulations would “significantly impact the holiday experience” for its customers.

WDWR, which includes four theme parks, will require visitors aged two and older to wear face coverings at all times, except when eating or swimming, once it reopens.

Temperature screenings may be required for entry to some locations, and the number of entry tickets will be limited.

Tui said in a statement:

As part of Tui’s new holiday promise, the UK’s biggest tour operator commits to only operating holidays where it’s able to guarantee an enjoyable, relaxing and safe holiday without significant changes at their destination.

Customers are being offered a range of alternative options, including delaying their trip until next year or changing their destination – both with a booking incentive – or a full refund.

The company is to resume its holiday programme by serving eight destinations across Spain and Greece from 11 July, as long as government travel restrictions are eased.

WDWR is planning to partially reopen on 15 July, but more than 11,000 people have signed a petition calling for a delay due to the recent increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Florida.

Updated

ONS figures: two-thirds of coronavirus deaths in working-age population March-May were men

Here are some headline figures from new ONS figures that have gone up this morning looking into the number of deaths in the working age population in England and Wales.

Men make up two thirds of the deaths in this group, with men in elementary occupations worst hit.

Among specific occupations, security guards were the most likely to die. Other occupations with higher death rates include taxi drivers and chauffeurs; bus and coach drivers; chefs; and sales and retail assistants.

Among women, four specific occupations had raised rates of death involving Covid-19, including sales and retail assistants.

Care workers – both men and women – had an increased death rate. And of the 17 specific occupations among men in England and Wales with higher death rates, 11 have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from black and Asian ethnic backgrounds.

Here’s the main points:

  • A total of 4,761 deaths involving the coronavirus in the working age population (those aged 20 to 64 years) of England and Wales were registered between 9 March and 25 May 2020.
  • Nearly two-thirds of these deaths were among men (3,122 deaths), with the age-standardised mortality rate of death involving Covid-19 being statistically higher in men, at 19.1 deaths per 100,000 men aged 20 to 64 years, compared with 9.7 deaths per 100,000 women (1,639 deaths).
  • Compared with the rate among people of the same sex and age in England and Wales, men working in elementary occupations had the highest rate of death involving Covid-19, with 39.7 deaths per 100,000 men (421 deaths); of the specific elementary occupations, men working as security guards had the highest rate, with 74.0 deaths per 100,000 (104 deaths).
  • Men and women working in social care, a group including care workers and home carers, both had significantly raised rates of death involving Covid-19, with rates of 50.1 deaths per 100,000 men (97 deaths) and 19.1 deaths per 100,000 women (171 deaths).
  • Among health care professions as a whole, including those with jobs such as doctors and nurses, only men had higher rates of death involving Covid-19 (30.4 deaths per 100,000 men or 130 deaths) when compared with the rate among those whose death involved Covid-19 of the same age and sex in the general population; of the specific health care professions, nurses had elevated rates among both sexes (50.4 deaths per 100,000 men or 31 deaths; 15.3 deaths per 100,000 women or 70 deaths).
  • Among women, four specific occupations had raised rates of death involving Covid-19, including sales and retail assistants (15.7 deaths per 100,000 women, or 64 deaths).
  • Because of the higher number of deaths among men, 17 specific occupations were found to have raised rates of death involving Covid-19, some of which included: taxi drivers and chauffeurs (65.3 deaths per 100,000; 134 deaths); bus and coach drivers (44.2 deaths per 100,000; 53 deaths); chefs (56.8 deaths per 100,000; 49 deaths); and sales and retail assistants (34.2 deaths per 100,000; 43 deaths).
  • Of the 17 specific occupations among men in England and Wales found to have higher rates of death involving Covid-19, data from the annual population survey (APS) show that 11 of these have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from black and Asian ethnic backgrounds; for women, APS data show that two of the four specific occupations with elevated rates have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from black and Asian ethnic backgrounds.
  • This analysis does not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving Covid-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure; we adjusted for age, but not for other factors such as ethnic group and place of residence.

Updated

Lockdown restrictions will not be eased if large parties and fights at beaches continue in Wales, the first minister has warned.

There were violent clashes in Wales on Thursday evening, after large crowds went to Ogmore-by-Sea, Vale of Glamorgan.

Here is some footage from social media:

Current travel restrictions in Wales are set to be lifted on 6 July, but Mark Drakeford said if such behaviour continued his government would “not be able to continue easing restrictions”.

South Wales police said two men in their 20s had been detained following the incident at Ogmore-by-Sea at approximately 8pm on Thursday.

Updated

Attacks on police officers who are breaking up illegal parties as lockdown eases have been condemned as “completely utterly unacceptable” by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick.

She said officers across London were on the lookout for unlicensed music events on Thursday night, and had “closed down several before they even got going”.

There was “quite a large gathering” which was shut down “very firmly and clearly” along with another event in Mitcham.

The commissioner said violence broke out at a gathering in Notting Hill “where some missiles were thrown and some aggression shown to the officers which is completely utterly unacceptable”.

Updated

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has told the Today programme that some statues in Canterbury Cathedral “will have to come down” and the names on others will have to change.

All of the cathedral’s statues are going to be looked at “very carefully” to see if they all should be there, he said.

Welby was asked if people should forgive the “trespasses” of people immortalised in the form of statues, rather than tearing them down.

He said:

We can only do that if we’ve got justice, which means the statue needs to be put in context. Some will have to come down.

Some names will have to change.

I mean, the church, goodness me, you know, you just go around Canterbury Cathedral, there’s monuments everywhere, or Westminster Abbey, and we’re looking at all that, and some will have to come down.

But yes, there can be forgiveness, I hope and pray as we come together, but only if there’s justice.

If we change the way we behave now, and say this was then and we learned from that, and change how we’re going to be in the future, internationally, as well.

Welby did seem to contradict himself somewhat, when pressed on whether he was saying statues will be torn down in the cathedral, Welby said: “No I didn’t say that. I very carefully didn’t say that.”

He added that ultimately, it would not be his decision if statues came down:

We’re going to be looking very carefully and putting them in context and seeing if they all should be there.

The question arises. Of course it does.

And it’s a good thing, but there has to be, for forgiveness, there has to be this turning round, this conversion, the Pope called it.

The change of heart that says we learned from them not to be like that, and to change the way we are in the future.

Updated

There are worries that beaches will fill again today, despite weather warnings for storms this afternoon

Local MP Tobias Ellwood has been speaking from Bournemouth beach this morning to BBC Breakfast and said the beach should have been closed yesterday:

This place was deluged and social distancing went out the window and that’s why a major incident was declared, because the local authority and indeed the police couldn’t cope.

The beach should have been closed down, or at least shut down to prevent further people from entering it.

We need to learn from this and recognise that if we’re going to be serious about tackling this pandemic then we need to be swifter in being able to provide support to local authorities who are unable to cope.

Ellwood asked for local authorities to be given more help to deal with incidents as lockdown measures are lifted and called for the establishment of a national situation centre that could monitor events across the country. He expressed his fears about the opening of pubs on July 4.

Don’t forget on July 4 we’re going to add alcohol to this equation as well, and I would hate to see Bournemouth or any seaside resort become that place where the second spike is the first to appear.

That can only be avoided if local authorities are given the necessary and swift support.

That means in an emergency being able to respond to requests for help, that didn’t happen yesterday.

Updated

Tesco sales have surged over the past three months, after rapidly expanding its online business amid increased demand for grocery deliveries in the face of coronavirus.

The company said group sales jumped by 8% to £13.4bn in the three months to May, reports PA Media.

It said this was particularly driven by a 48.5% jump in UK online sales for the period, with online sales soaring by more than 90% in May.

Tesco said it doubled its online capacity over a five-week period to help support vulnerable customers unable to go to its stores due to the outbreak.

Updated

2,500 to be recruited for antibody tests

At least 2,500 volunteers are being recruited to test the reliability of Covid-19 home-based antibody testing kits, the government has said.

PA Media reports:

The Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are recruiting people from the NHS and other key workers to test a finger-prick blood test.

A DHSC spokeswoman said:

We are working with Public Health England and the MHRA to recruit volunteers from the NHS and wider public service for a study exploring the potential of home-based antibody tests.

No reliable home test has yet been found, and we do not know whether antibodies indicate immunity from reinfection or transmission.

This research is part of our ongoing surveillance work to increase our understanding of how to tackle this virus.

Volunteers will be recruited who have tested positive for the virus previously, alongside those who have tested negative.

The government said it was “essential that we understand exactly how effective these home kits are when used by the public, and how easy they are to use”.

A number of the rapid response kits are to be studied.

Updated

There has been a strong focus on the scenes from the beaches of England, but there is plenty of condemnation of bad behaviour in Scotland too. This from my colleague Libby Brooks:

The environment secretary, George Eustice, has been speaking on the BBC this morning, and has said that Britain is working on an a plan to relax its quarantine for international travellers with some countries where there is a lower risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast he said:

I know that Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, is giving this a lot of consideration so that the quarantine provisions that we have got in place can perhaps start to be relaxed with certain countries where the risk is low.

I don’t know exactly when further information will be announced but I know that it is something the government is working on. I know it is being considered.

Asked about crowds gathering on beaches or in celebration of Liverpool’s Premier League win, Eustice said:

I think we have to recognise that some time ago now, well over a month, we said that in outdoor environments the risk of transmission was lower so we said that it was OK for people to go to the beach provided that they observed social distancing.

Generally, people have done that.

Eustice suggested the weather had a role and things could change as temperatures cool off. The minister added:

We just have to recognise, yesterday was the hottest day of the year, incredibly hot, a lot of people had the same idea, they all went to the beach, and yes, of course, those scenes at Bournemouth are a matter for concern.

The British weather being what it is, maybe that will be short lived and people will return to the type of social distancing they’ve actually demonstrated quite well.

Updated

Dr David Nabarro, a World Health Organization Covid-19 special envoy, said it is “touch and go” that local virus outbreaks can be controlled.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said:

I’m pretty confident that most European countries are going to do well.

We’ve seen for example in Poland, Germany, Spain, a really effective response to these kinds of resurgences but it is touch and go.

I really think that Chris Whitty’s [England’s chief medical officer] point that ‘the virus is still in general circulation’ is important.

So let’s hope that we are able to prevent these small clusters and little outbreaks from becoming overwhelming as we had earlier this year.

Nabarro said there was “a real reluctance among some British people” to cooperate with contact tracers.

He said:

When I saw the early figures I thought ‘this is a great start but there’s more to be done’. Then I’ve seen actually the numbers have stayed pretty static for the last three weeks.

And if I was in charge of the contact-tracing system I would be really asking myself: why is it proving so hard to find all those who have got the disease and to get to their contacts?

It does appear there is still a real reluctance among some British people to be open about their contacts and perhaps they feel it’s an intrusion into their privacy.

And I say here and now when you’re trying to get rid of this virus, contact tracing is absolutely critical. It’s the only way to do it. And we have that information now from all over the world.

So if you’re in any doubt please do cooperate on this contact-tracing issue because it is key to getting down to the low levels that we need for life to recover and people to go about their lives as they wish to.

Updated

This story from my colleague Hannah Devlin is very much worth a (troubling) read. According to a preliminary study of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 the disease can damage the brain, causing complications such as stroke, inflammation, psychosis and dementia-like symptoms in some severe cases.

She writes:

Brain complications, including stroke and psychosis, have been linked to Covid-19 in a study that raises concerns about the potentially extensive impact of the disease in some patients.

The study is small and based on doctors’ observations, so cannot provide a clear overall picture about the rate of such complications. However, medical experts say the findings highlight the need to investigate the possible effects of Covid-19 in the brain and studies to explore potential treatments.

Here is the full story:

Updated

The row over the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey by Labour leader Keir Starmer continues to rumble on today.

You can read the whole story here:

Jon Lansman, chair of the leftwing grassroots group Momentum, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Starmer had made the wrong decision because sacking Long-Bailey had undermined party unity.

He argued “factionalism promoted antisemitism” because “it led people to reach for tropes when they were angry”.

He said:

Keir wanted to include the other candidates from the leadership election ... which was quite right, but what he’s now done is sacked the leading left opponent in that election.

And in order to unite the party he’s got to build trust, across the party, trust from the left.

That’s one of the ingredients necessary if you are going to reunite the party and from what he’s done he’s made it much harder for himself.

But he did add that he thought other left-wingers in the shadow cabinet should remain, and strive for unity and conflict resolution.

Yesterday, Lansman argued that Maxine Peake’s comments were not antisemitic.

The Today programme also spoke to Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who welcomed Starmer’s sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey.

She said:

I think it’s an awful situation and Rebecca Long-Bailey’s response was pathetic.

As someone who aspired to be an education secretary she would be expected to read and understand materials – and that doesn’t make Maxine Peake’s position acceptable or not – she should be fully aware as well of what she was saying.

Keir Starmer has made a very good start, we said, on tackling antisemitism in the party.

We had a meeting with him only last Friday and we have made it clear that we judge what he does, what his actions are.

And in this case, he’s absolutely acted decisively and has taken very swift action and it’s very reassuring to the Jewish community.

Updated

Morning summary

  • Keir Starmer is facing a showdown with the left of Labour after his decisive sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey reignited the party’s internal turmoil over the issue of antisemitism. In a swift move, Long-Bailey was summarily dismissed as shadow education secretary for sending an approving tweet about an interview in which the actor Maxine Peake said the US police tactic of kneeling on someone’s neck was taught by the Israeli secret service.
  • Robert Jenrick is facing new questions over his links to wealthy Conservative donors after it emerged that he met an Israeli businessman with an interest in the future of a multibillion-pound project that the minister was overseeing. The housing secretary is already under pressure to resign over a disclosure that he “insisted” that a £1bn property development be rushed through so that the Tory donor Richard Desmond’s company could save £45m. The Guardian has obtained information about his ties to another billionaire, Idan Ofer, a London-based shipping and mining heir whose father, Sammy, was once Israel’s richest man.
Comments