Coronavirus latest news: More countries on England’s safe list expected to ease restrictions on UK travellers, says No 10

Downing Street said it expected more countries on England’s coronavirus “green light” safe list to announce an easing of travel restrictions on travellers from the UK.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman was asked during a briefing with journalists whether it was “misleading” to have published a quarantine-free list when not all of those featured were allowing UK visitors in without restrictions placed on them upon arrival.

The No 10 spokesman said: “Many countries already don’t impose quarantine restrictions on travellers from the UK and we expect more to ease restrictions on UK travellers following our announcement.

“We are working closely with international partners around the world to discuss arrangements from travellers arriving from the UK.

“It is obviously a changing situation across the world and passengers should check the individual country pages that we make available on gov.uk for travel advice and any restrictions at their destination before they book their trip and before they travel.”

  Follow the latest updates below.

No 10: More countries expected to announce easing of restrictions for UK travellers

The Government expects more countries on England’s coronavirus “green light” safe list to announce an easing of travel restrictions on travellers from the UK.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman was asked during a briefing with journalists whether it was “misleading” to have published a quarantine-free list when not all of those featured were allowing UK visitors in without restrictions placed on them upon arrival.

The No 10 spokesman said: “Many countries already don’t impose quarantine restrictions on travellers from the UK and we expect more to ease restrictions on UK travellers following our announcement.

“We are working closely with international partners around the world to discuss arrangements from travellers arriving from the UK.

“It is obviously a changing situation across the world and passengers should check the individual country pages that we make available on gov.uk for travel advice and any restrictions at their destination before they book their trip and before they travel.”

Today’s top stories so far

Good afternoon. If you’re just joining us, here’s a summary of the day’s key developments so far:

  • Greece will permit direct flights from Britain to resume on July 15, a Greek Government spokesman has confirmed.
  • Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has said it “may make sense” for children to drop a subject so that they can focus on English and maths when schools reopen.
  • Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when environmental conditions were right for it to thrive – rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.
  • The border between the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales will be closed Monday night for the first time in over 100 years as Victoria struggles to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases.
  • Almost 230,000 renters could lose their home when the Government’s ban on evictions comes to an end in August. 
  • Kosovo’s Government has re-imposed nightly curfews in the capital Pristina and three other towns in a bid to curb an increase of Covid-19 infections in the Balkan nation.
  • India has reported its highest daily spike in Covid-19 cases yet after recording more than 24,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking its overall case number to 697,413 and overtaking Russia as the country with the third-highest tally in the world. 
  • Results from the final stage of a nationwide antibody study found that some 5.2 per cent of the Spanish population has been exposed to the coronavirus, confirming findings from earlier stages and signalling that so-called “herd immunity” to Covid-19 is not realistic.

No 10: Police forces reported being ‘quieter than expected’ on Saturday

Number 10 said police forces reported being “quieter than expected” after pubs and restaurants were allowed to open on Saturday.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think far and away the vast majority of people acted in a safe, sensible and responsible manner and as I understand it many police forces across England reported a quieter than expected evening with few arrests.

“We would urge people not to overdo it. This was a cautious step towards opening more of our economy and it does look like the vast majority of people acted in a sensible and responsible way.”

Asked whether Boris Johnson was concerned about busy scenes seen in some places, the spokesman added: “As I say, overall people did act in a responsible way.

“There were a small number of individual incidents but my understanding is that numerous police forces reported a quieter than expected weekend.”

Comment: Britain faces a deadly new cancer crisis thanks to lockdown

I‘m no fan of apocalyptic predictions, but 50,000 people could lose their lives unless we act now, writes Professor Karol Sikora, a British physician specialising in oncology.

I remember how those horrifying images of Italy’s overwhelmed hospital system shocked us into action. Ensuring we were never short of hospital capacity was a great achievement. But cancer is hidden – the enemy within. There is no such emotive imagery to serve as an effective wake-up call. And deaths from heart disease and strokes can be drastically reduced by preventive action. But all this has been put on hold.

I’ve been one of the biggest critics of apocalyptic predictions, but I am going to make one myself. If we don’t get cancer diagnosis and treatment moving immediately, tens of thousands of people will lose their lives, potentially up to 50,000. This number doesn’t even include the countless patients who have suffered with other problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and mental health issues – the list goes on.

Read the full piece here. 

Weekend footfall still down more than 50pc despite lockdown easing

Revellers came out in force over the weekend to celebrate the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants after three months of lockdown. 

Visits to the high street rose by more than a third on Saturday and were up nearly 50pc on Sunday in the evening – suggesting that customers were eager to return to their favourite eating and drinking spots. 

The data from Springboard compared the weekend just gone with Saturday and Sunday the week before and suggests a recovery is now underway for the tottering hospitality industry. Nevertheless, weekend footfall was still down more than 50pc compared to year earlier. 

There was a particularly large pick up in London, with footfall almost two-thirds higher on Sunday after thousands packed the streets of Soho the night before to celebrate lifting of restrictions.

Laura Onita and Lizzy Burden have more here. 

Cases in Qatar pass 100,000

The number of Covid-19 cases in Qatar has exceeded 100,000 today, adding 546 new cases and five deaths in the past 24 hours.

With a population of about 2.7 million people, the Gulf state has one of the world’s highest per capita number of confirmed cases.

Vietnam records first virus cases in 81 days

Vietnam’s health ministry has today reported 14 new Covid-19 infections, all among Vietnamese citizens held in quarantine upon their arrival from overseas.

The southeast Asian country has been 81 days without a domestically transmitted infection due to successful programmes to contain the virus.

It has yet to report any deaths from Covid-19 and has confirmed 369 cases in total, over 90% of which have recovered, according to official figures.

Sturgeon: Bars and restaurants shouldn’t feel normal right now

The First Minister has called on customers at the newly reopened businesses to be respectful of staff members.

She said: “Hospitality staff, just like retail staff right now, are getting used to new ways of working in very difficult circumstances for them and they’ll be asking you to go about your business in different ways as well, so please show respect for them and for your fellow customers.

“If we all do that then we can really help to support our hospitality and tourism sector to help it in that process of recovery and ensure that as we do so, we continue to suppress the virus and keep everybody safe.”

Ms Sturgeon added that regular social distancing and hygiene measures such as hand washing should continue to be adhered to.

She also said that those visiting a place where there is a large crowd should consider leaving or not going there at all, adding: “If you go to a bar or a restaurant outside right now, if it feels totally normal, exactly like it was before this pandemic, then something is wrong.”

Sturgeon welcomes UK Government funding pledge for arts and culture

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus press briefing, Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the announcement by the UK Government of extra funding for the arts and culture.

On Sunday, a package of £1.57 billion was announced for the sector, which would amount to £97 million for Scotland. The announcement came after a similar £10 million package announced by the Scottish Government on Friday.

The First Minister said: “We very much welcome the announcement from the UK Government last night of a significant package of financial support.”

Ms Sturgeon said she was looking to find out how the funding “would work” from the UK Government and would be engaging with those in the sector about how the money could best be spent.

She added: “I want to give an assurance today that the funding announced last night by the UK Government will be passed on in full in Scotland to our arts, culture and heritage sector.”

5.2 pc of Spanish population have been exposed to virus

Results from the final stage of a nationwide antibody study found that some 5.2 per cent of the Spanish population has been exposed to the coronavirus, health officials said today, confirming findings from earlier stages and signalling that so-called “herd immunity” to Covid-19 is not realistic.

Reuters reports that the study, which tested nearly 70,000 people across Spain three times over the past three months, found the virus’ prevalence had not altered significantly since preliminary results were published in May.

It said: “The relatively low seroprevalence observed in the context of an intense epidemic in Spain might serve as a reference to other countries.

At present, herd immunity is difficult to achieve without accepting the collateral damage of many deaths in the susceptible population and overburdening of health systems.”

The Spanish study’s lead author, Marina Pollán, who is director of the National Center for Epidemiology, told CNN: “Some experts have computed that around 60 per cent of seroprevalence might mean herd immunity. But we are very far from achieving that number.”

No new deaths reported in Scotland

No new Covid-19-related deaths have been reported in Scotland in the last 48 hours, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

A total of 2,488 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for the virus, Ms Sturgeon said, giving figures for a two-day period as death figures could not be reported on Sunday for technical reasons.

Speaking during the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, the First Minister said 18,300 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by four from 18,296 on Sunday.

There are 646 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of 20 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, eight were in intensive care, down by three.

Heathrow arrivals could be offered testing for £140

Coronavirus testing will be made available for passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport if the Government amends its quarantine policy.

Travel assistance company Collinson and ground-handling firm Swissport announced they have developed a system for people flying in to the UK’s busiest airport to get tested, find out their results within 24 hours, and avoid self-isolation if they get the all-clear.

Tests would cost around £140 each and would be aimed at people returning to or visiting England from countries not included on the quarantine exemption list published by the Department for Transport on Friday, such as China, Portugal and the US.

But the Test On Arrival trial will only begin if the Government’s quarantine policy is updated to also allow people who test negative at Heathrow to travel freely.

Vienna Airport is already offering coronavirus tests for arriving passengers willing to pay 190 euros (£172).

Dutch cull virus-infected mink farms

Dutch authorities have today culled thousands of mink on two farms infected with Covid-19, bringing the total to 20, health authorities said.

AFP reports that the outbreaks were reported in Gemert, in the same area in southern Netherlands where previous infections took place.

“All mink on 18 infected farms previously reported have been culled, with two more farms following today,” the health ministry said in a statement.

The Netherlands first reported in April that two mink farms had been infected with the virus. At least two workers were also infected in what the World Health Organization said could be the first known animal-to-human transmissions.

The Netherlands has reported more than 50,000 coronavirus infections, with more than 6,100 deaths, according to official figures.

Kosovo reimposes curfew as Covid-19 infections surge

Kosovo’s Government has re-imposed nightly curfews in the capital Pristina and three other towns in a bid to curb an increase of Covid-19 infections in the Balkan nation, AFP reports.

The country of 1.8 million people has registered around 3,500 known infections and 75 deaths from the virus so far.

“Any movement of people outside their homes is banned,” due to the curfew introduced in towns with the highest number of infections, a Government statement said. People will not be allowed to go outside between 9pm to 5am next day, it said.

Kosovo, whose poorly equipped healthcare system is unprepared for a major emergency, introduced curfews on the whole territory in March, and the restrictions were lifted in early June.

The Government also ordered public and private sector to temporarily cut the number of employees “only to the level of necessary staff”. Restaurants and bars throughout Kosovo will have to close early and limit their services to terraces and other open-air spaces only.

Watch: Arts funding will prioritise ‘crown jewel institutions’, says Culture Secretary

200,000 renters to lose homes in summer of evictions

Almost 230,000 renters could lose their home when the Government’s ban on evictions comes to an end in August. 

An estimated 3 per cent of adults living in rented accommodation owe almost two months’ worth of money to their landlord, research by charity Shelter has shown. Normally, any tenant who owes eight weeks of rent or more can be automatically evicted.

Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced that no one would be kicked out of their home during the crisis. The ban on evictions was originally due to end on June 25 but was extended until August 23. 

Marianna Hunt has more here. 

Indian scientists alarmed over ‘unrealistic’ vaccine aims

A group of Indian scientists have warned that a deadline to launch a Covid-19 vaccine for public use is unfeasible, BBC reports.

The Indian Academy of Sciences warned against “any hasty solution that may compromise rigorous scientific processes and standards”.

It follows the news that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had said it “envisaged” the vaccine to be launched by August 15, which is India’s Independence Day. The ICMR has since said the date was “not a deadline”.

The controversy first arose after a letter written by ICMR chief Balram Bhargava to 12 institutes selected for conducting human trials for the vaccine – named Covaxin – was shared widely on social media.

In it, he had directed them to expedite human trials so that the vaccine could be launched on 15 August by fast-tracking all approvals related to it. Non-compliance, the letter warned, would be treated “very seriously”.

Deprived communities should be front of line for vaccine, expert says

Deprived communities should join healthcare workers at the top of the queue for a vaccine as “wealth is the best shielding strategy” to protect against the coronavirus, according to a leading expert. 

Prof Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told The Telegraph that there is a consensus that all healthcare staff – from hospital cleaners and porters to intensive care unit (ICU) doctors and care home nurses – must be protected first. 

Who comes next is debated. But inoculating deprived communities would protect many of the groups most at risk of catching Covid-19, Prof Sridhar said. Far from being the “great leveller”, the pandemic has disproportionately affected the poorest in society. 

Sarah Newey has more here. 

Greece to lift ban on UK tourists from next week

The Greek Government has announced that as of Wednesday next week, it will be lifting its ban on travel from the UK and permitting direct flights to popular destinations nationwide.

The decision to re-open air links was made in conjunction with British authorities, the Government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters. Flights to and from the UK were suspended in March. 

Pestas told a news briefing: “In cooperation with the British Government, and following advice of experts, the Government announces the resumption of direct flights from the United Kingdom to all airports of the country from July 15.”

The country had previously placed no restrictions on European travellers other than those from Sweden and the UK, where incidence of the virus remains comparatively high.

​Read more: How Greece moved quickly and decisively to keep Covid-19 out

Bali to welcome foreign tourists from September

Indonesia’s resort island of Bali will allow international tourists to visit from September 11, and Indonesian tourists will be allowed to return from July 31.

The island held a mass prayer on Sunday to ask for permission and protection from the Hindu God at the sacred Besakih Temple.

Tourism contributes about 70 per cent of Bali’s GDP. As a result, the island has been among the hardest hit in Indonesia amid the pandemic. Foreign arrivals dried up by almost 100 per cent in April as many countries, including Indonesia, closed their borders.

In his reopening decree, Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster implemented guidance on crowd avoidance, physical distancing and personal hygiene, including regular hand washing and wearing facial covering or masks.

Bali has recorded more than 1,800 positive Covid-19 cases so far and 20 virus-linked deaths as of Sunday.

Comment: The arts bailout is welcome – but for some institutions it’s far too late

A package of £1.57 billion for the arts and heritage industries must be paired with clear guidelines on when live venues can reopen, writes Ben Lawrence.

So culture has not been forgotten. After months of uncertainty surrounding the arts, entertainment and heritage industries, the announcement of £1.57 billion investment comes as welcome news.

Hitherto, Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has sounded defensive about the future of those sectors in his purlieu, stressing the support already given through the furlough scheme, for example. But now we have a package that trumps even Germany’s 1billion euro bailout, and those who have stressed that our current administration cares nothing about the arts have been momentarily chastened. 

However, the funding announcement currently offers more questions than answers. A mixture of grants and loans have been promised, but it is not clear yet who will receive what. My feeling is that loans on easy terms will be given to bigger institutions such as the Royal Albert Hall (whose chief executive Craig Hassall announced that the 149-year-old institution would go bust next year if it didn’t receive more funds), while smaller operations such as the country’s repertory theatres will be in line for grants.

Read the full piece ​here. 

Pret A Manger to close 30 stores as job cuts loom

High-street sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to close 30 of its 410 UK outlets as part of a coronavirus-related restructuring, BBC reports.

The company will also reduce staffing to “reflect lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures”.

Pret said the impact of Covid-19 on trading meant it had to make a “difficult decision”.

It said 339 of its shops have so far reopened following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Sales are down 74 per cent year-on-year, the company reported.

44 more deaths reported in Bangladesh 

44 more people have died with Covid-19 in Bangladesh, according to the latest update from health authorities, as 3,201 more people tested positive for the virus.

The total death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in the south Asian country is now 2,096, while 76,149 have recovered, from a total caseload of 165,618. So far, 863,307 tests have been carried out in the country.

TBS News reports that 63,801 people are quarantined across the country.

​Read more: Coronavirus exposes the deep divide in Bangladeshi society

Starmer: Government to blame for schools not reopening, not unions

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that trade unions are not to blame for the delay in getting children in England back to school, and has instead suggested the blame lies with the Government for not showing leadership and having a clear plan.

Last week when he was live on LBC, the Prime Minister left a question for Call Keir: “Keir, Boris Johnson here. Could you possibly say once and for all that schools are safe to go back to – point one.

“And that the teaching unions should drop their opposition and allow every pupil to go back to school that can go back to school now and that every pupil should go back to school in September. No ifs, no buts, just say it.”

Mr Starmer responded: “Yes, schools are safe for some children to go back to at the moment. My children are in school. And I want all children back at school in September.

“I don’t actually buy his argument that it’s the trades unions who have caused the problems. What this needed was leadership at the top and a plan. And frankly, every school I’m spoken to has said it comes down to the space they’ve got. If they’ve got a lot of space, they can do it, if they haven’t, they can’t.

“The day the schools were closed, the Prime Minister should have set up a plan to get them back open. Do you need pre-fab, do you need more classrooms built? Is there a library or a community centre you can use? These are the practical things we needed.”

French bus driver brain dead after attack for refusing maskless riders

A bus driver in France was declared brain dead today after being attacked by several people he refused to let onboard because they were not wearing face masks, AFP reports.

A police source in Bayonne, near the ritzy Atlantic resort of Biarritz in southwestern France, told AFP that one person was in custody and other suspects were being sought.

The individuals tried to board the bus on Sunday night without tickets or masks, which are mandatory on public transport across France. When the driver, in his 50s, tried to prevent their entry he was repeatedly punched in an assault that resulted in serious head injury.

He was unconscious when brought to hospital, and doctors declared him brain dead today, the police source said.

Regional bus services have been disrupted after several of the driver’s colleagues refused to work in protest against the attack.

A Covid-19 update from Spain…

Two areas in Spain are now locked down, affecting 300,000 people, with the Mariña area of Galicia adding to Lleida in Catalonia over the weekend, reports James Badcock.

The Catalan government health chief has said today that the confinement of Lleida and the surrounding area may last more than two weeks. Asturias, Spain’s first region to reach zero Covid cases for a two-week period, is controlling traffic from neighbouring Galicia.

The Covid-19 crisis is also exposing Spain’s poverty trap, says outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston. Mr Alston said that the pandemic has shown just how badly Spain’s welfare system is, leaving millions more on the brink of destitution than was the case during his visit to the country in January, when he saw “appalling levels of poverty and exclusion and shockingly high inequality”.

In his final report, released today, Mr Alston said: “Poverty in Spain is rooted in a social protection system that is broken, underfunded, impossible to navigate and not reaching the people who need it most”, with lockdown seeing “millions unable to work encountering delays, glitches and inadequate support”.

He said the Government’s introduction of Spain’s first national minimum income scheme to help 850,000 vulnerable families was a step in the right direction and a sign that the Government was not going to abandon the poorest to their fate as occurred in the last major crisis 10 years ago.

UK construction sector rebounds to growth after building work restarts

The UK construction industry surged back to growth in June as the phased restart of building work helped to drive a sharp turnaround for the sector.

The closely followed IHS Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) surged to a reading of 55.3 last month, from 28.9 in May. A consensus of analysts had forecast a reading of 46 for the month, and any reading above 50 represents an expansion in business activity.

Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, said: “June’s survey data revealed a steep rebound in UK construction output as more sites began to reopen and the supply chain kicked into gear.

“As the first major part of the UK economy to begin a phased return to work, the strong rebound in construction activity provides hope to other sectors that have suffered through the lockdown period.”

The influential survey signalled the steepest pace of growth for the sector since July 2018, as supply chains for the UK construction sector reopened following stoppages and business closures due to the lockdown.

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

The Louvre has reopened today for the first time in four months

Credit:
AP

A health worker screens people for Covid-19 at Dharavi, one of Asia’s biggest slums, in Mumbai, India, which now has the world’s third-highest case tally

Credit:
AP

Waterloo Station still looks eerily quiet during rush hour

Credit:
Reuters

Visitors wear face masks as they walk past the common ostrich enclosure at Singapore Zoo at its reopening today, which involves strict contact tracing, disinfection protocols and attendance limits

Credit:
Shutterstock

Three quarters of exporters eye recovery after Covid hit

Most exporters whose businesses were hit by Covid-19 are now recovering or are expecting to, according to a survey.

The Institute of Directors found that nearly half of exporters had experienced a fall in overseas sales since the outbreak of Covid-19, with the biggest drop coming from the European Union, mainly due to reduced demand abroad and travel restrictions.

Nonetheless, 76 per cent of the poll’s 978 respondents said the situation had either improved or was projected to.

Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy, said: “It’s hardly surprising to see that exports have taken such a hit from the pandemic given so much of our trade is linked to the EU, where the virus struck so swiftly and to such an extent. There is clearly light at the end of the tunnel, however, given most of those affected expect to see a rebound as Europe gets back to business.”

Lizzy Burden has more here. 

Scottish weather expected to be kind as pubs reopen beer gardens

Dry weather is expected today as pubs, cafes and restaurants reopen outdoor areas in Scotland for the first time since March.

The Met Office said the Scottish weather was not expected to spoil long-awaited trips to beer gardens, although Nicola Sturgeon warned that going for a drink should “not feel the same” as it did before lockdown.

Those visiting bars will have to leave their contact details with staff, with two metre distancing to be observed initially. While pubs reopened indoor areas in England on Saturday, those in Scotland will not be allowed to reopen indoors until July 15.

Some planning regulations are also being temporarily relaxed to help Scottish hospitality businesses make better use of outdoor spaces. However, some will choose to remain closed until July 15.

Daniel Sanderson has more on what the new hospitality normal will look like in Scotland here. 

Government accused of confusing holidaymakers over travel lists

Despite the Department for Transport naming 74 destinations that British people can travel to without having to quarantine upon their return, only 25 countries on Government lists are accessible for British visitors, causing industry bodies to accuse the Government of confusing travellers. 

The PC Agency chief executive Paul Charles said: “Consumers are confused by the two lists produced by Government, as it’s just not clear which countries are actually accessible without having to quarantine on arrival.

Mr Charles continued: “It’s vital that the Government provides clarity to consumers who are booking, and provides just one list that is accurate and up to date in terms of where we can actually access.”

Emma Coulthurst, consumer advocate for price comparison site TravelSupermarket, said: “The Government’s latest information released late on Friday on where UK citizens can holiday this summer has the potential to confuse people and see them unwittingly book holidays which, due to restrictions imposed by the destination country, they might not be able to take.

“There are some countries on the UK Government FCO and DfT lists which are refusing UK citizens entry or imposing strict entry requirements, which either completely prevent holidays or make them extremely difficult or more costly.”

​Read more: Holidaymakers can only visit 25 of the 74 ‘travel corridor’ countries without restrictions

The Louvre reopens after four long months

Paris’ Louvre Museum, which houses the world’s most famous portrait, The Mona Lisa, reopened today after a four-month coronavirus lockdown.

Face masks are a must and visitor numbers will be limited, with reservations required.

Around 70 per cent of the large museum — 45,000 square meters (484,000 square feet) of space, or the equivalent of 230 tennis courts — housing 30,000 of the Louvre’s vast trove of works is again accessible to visitors starved of art in lockdown.

“It’s very emotional for all the teams that have prepared this reopening,” Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum director, told Associated Press.

Martinez said the museum was expecting just 7,000 visitors on the reopening day. Before the pandemic, as many as 50,000 people per day toured the Louvre in the busiest summer months.

Visitors wearing face mask stands in front of “The Wedding Feast at Cana” oil on canvas painting by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese

Credit:
AFP

Visitors hold reproductions of the Mona Lisa outside the museum 

Credit:
Getty Images Europe

Visitors appreciate The Mona Lisa for the first time in four months

Credit:
Bloomberg

Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation urge people to social distance

Following the changes to shielding guidance which come into effect today, Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation have released a statement urging people to continue social distancing and wearing face masks.

Alison Cook, Director of External Affairs at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said:

“Some of the 500,000 people shielding in England with a lung condition will now be able to meet up outdoors with friends and family, which will be a welcome relief after months of isolation. However we know that many people with lung conditions are feeling understandably anxious at the prospect of being outside in public spaces, where their safety could be compromised if others behave carelessly.

“As figures suggest cases of Covid-19 are rising in some areas, we all still have a part to play in supporting those who have been shielding as they socialise outside for the first time in months.  We’ve all seen anecdotally that a minority of people are disregarding rules on social distancing but for those who have been shielding this can make the difference between people feeling they can go out or remaining trapped in their houses.

“We really need everyone to keep practising social distancing, wear face coverings where advised to, and be mindful that not all health conditions are visible.”

​Read more: What are the latest rules on social distancing and shielding?

Was lockdown really worth it?

The coronavirus pandemic has cost Britain dear. The virus has claimed over 44,000 lives. Nine million people have been furloughed and the national debt has soared.  The sport, arts, travel and hospitality sectors have been decimated. 

And yet lockdown has saved many lives.  In March, Imperial College research indicated that, with no lockdown, Britain would suffer 260,000 deaths. Currently, the country’s death toll stands at just under a fifth of that projection. 

What might have happened had the UK followed a different path? Has the last 15 weeks of hardship been worth it? It will take years to properly answer these questions. The pandemic is not yet over. But now, Telegraph writers and experts give their early impressions.

Read their full analysis here.

Fiji records first new case in 78 days

Fiji’s 78-day run without Covid-19 is over, with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama confirming today that a 66-year-old man tested positive after returning from India.

It is the 19th case in the small South Pacific island nation, and more are now expected.

“We’ve confirmed a border case of Covid-19 among a returning citizen while he was securely in the confines of Government-funded quarantine,” Bainimarama said.

All arrivals to Fiji have to undergo 14 days of quarantine.

The acting permanent secretary for health, James Fong, said Fiji had deliberately refrained from calling itself “Covid-free” and was not surprised when the positive test was recorded Sunday.

“While Fiji may be free of community-based transmission of COVID-19, this pandemic is still raging beyond our shores,” he said. “We don’t expect this to be Fiji’s last border quarantine case.”

Demand for new cars fell by 35pc

Demand for new cars fell by 34.9 per cent last month, an automotive industry body said.

Only 145,377 new cars were registered in June compared with 223,421 during the same month in 2019, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The trade body said the decline reflects uncertain economic confidence and dealerships in Wales and Scotland remaining closed for much of the month due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Nearly 616,000 fewer new cars have been sold in the first six months of 2020 compared with the same point last year.

Russia’s case tally rises to 687,862

Russia’s official Covid-19 case tally has risen to 687,862 today after officials reported 6,611 new infections in the last 24 hours, Reuters reports.

Authorities also said that 135 people had died overnight, bringing Russia’s official death toll to 10,296.

India overtook Russia over the weekend as the country with the third-highest number of infections, behind the US and Brazil.

Today’s front page

Today on the Daily Telegraph’s front page: Rishi Sunak is to hand out £1,000 cash bonuses to firms that hire young trainees; the plan to cut Huawei out of UK networks by 2029 is too slow, Tory rebels have warned Boris Johnson; and the arts have been given a £1.5bn rescue fund but ‘curtain will remain down’ for months to come. 

Are other areas of the UK heading for local lockdown? Ask our experts 

As Leicester became the first city to be placed under a local lockdown on Monday, many have been left wondering whether other areas of the UK could also be heading towards renewed lockdown restrictions.

Government sources have told The Telegraph that the northern towns of Barnsley, Oldham and Rochdale and the city of Bradford, along with Bedford, are all at risk of being placed under a local lockdown to help reduce rising infection rates. 

But how does the Government identify which regions could be placed under a local lockdown? How long do the revised restrictions last for and are local lockdowns actually effective? 

You can join the Telegraph’s Global Health Security Editor, Paul Nuki, and Front Bench Editor, Daniel Capurro, at 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Monday, July 6 as they discuss the subject of local lockdowns while answering your questions. 

Click here to register and send in your questions. 

Theatre performances without social distancing are ‘some way off’, says Culture Secretary

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said theatre performances without social distancing are “some way off”.

He said the reduction of social distancing rules, such as on planes, has only been implemented in “exceptionally limited circumstances” and insisted “slow and baby steps” must be taken.

The chief executive of the Lighthouse venue in Poole, Elspeth McBain, had earlier told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that theatres cannot be viable with social distancing.

“With social distancing even at a metre-plus, the economics don’t work for live performance. Most venues work on a really tight margin – we need about 80% capacity to be able to turn a profit,” she said.

Reducing curriculum to focus on maths and English at primary school ‘may make sense’, says chief schools inspector 

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has said it “may make sense” for children to drop a subject so that they can focus on English and maths. 

Her comments come as experts warned that the Government proposals for some pupils to focus on English and maths when they return to school in September could lead to a “cultural apartheid”.

The Telegraph previously reported that schools may teach a slimmed-down curriculum focusing on maths and English when children return in ­September, with the full syllabus not reappearing until next summer, ­according to draft government plans.  

Some subjects may be put on hold until 2021 to allow time for pupils to catch up on the core subjects given ­insufficient attention during lockdown, under plans being considered by ministers.

Ms Spielman told BBC Radio 4’s The Today Programme:  “It may make sense for a small minority of children to perhaps drop a subject that they might otherwise have been doing, or for schools to decide that they will provide a curriculum with slightly less scope in some subjects in primary school to make sure that the core English and maths do get fully back on track. 

“But that’s very different to wholesale slicing out of big chunks of the curriculum.” 

Ms Spielman said that any decisions made by schools should be made “in the interest of each individual child not in a blanket way to do what’s convenient for the school”. 

Theatres opening in time for Christmas pantomime season will be ‘challenging’ 

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said it would be “challenging” to get theatres back open for the Christmas pantomime season.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I would love to be able to announce that pantos can return but I have to say it will be quite challenging to be able to get to that point.

“Because if you think about a panto, and we all love going to the panto for the joy of it, but it also supports local theatres, you’ve got granny through to grandchild all packed in together, you know how kids are encouraged to shout and scream at panto season, there’s lots of sort of interaction.

“So I would love us to be able to do it. We’re working with Public Health England and others to see about mitigations but I just want to be a bit realistic about the challenges of getting us back to that point any time soon.”

Health Secretary thanks those who have shielded

The Health Secretary has said that those shielding have played a “critical” role in the national effort to protect the NHS throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. 

On Monday, Matt Hancock thanked those who had shielded as restrictions are relaxed for them for the first time. 

He wrote on social media: “I’m so pleased that from today, we have been able to relax the restrictions for shielding individuals. Your role has been critical in our national effort to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed & saving lives.

“I want to say thank you to all who have been shielding. I know how hard it has been for you but your effort has been so important in our fight against.” 

1/3 – I’m so pleased that from today, we have been able to relax the restrictions for shielding individuals.

Your role has been critical in our national effort to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed & saving lives.

— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) July 6, 2020

Young Vic theatre welcomes Government support package 

The artistic director of the Young Vic theatre has welcomed the Government’s support package for the arts.

Kwame Kwei-Armah told Times Radio: “I think for me and for many of my colleagues, we are relieved.

“When we heard last night, we slept for the first time since March.

“It is a real vindication that we have been listened to and that the Government understand that we were dying on our knees and also that we are an important part of our country’s recovery.

“So we are very pleased for this intervention that will hopefully get us from here to April.”

He added that he has been speaking to artistic directors at other theatres and knows that many of them are planning to use a portion of their money to support freelancers in the theatre industry.

First Minister of Wales urges visitors behave safely as lockdown measures ease 

The First Minister of Wales has urged visitors to the country to behave safely and respectfully as restrictions on travel are lifted.

On Monday, the “stay local” requirement – advising people to remain within five miles of their home – will end.

This means visitors will be able to travel into and around Wales for the first time since lockdown measures were introduced in March.

Outdoor attractions can also reopen, with this paving the way for the tourism sector to begin welcoming guests from July 11, if conditions allow.

People from two households will be able to form one extended household from Monday, enabling families to be reunited.

On Sunday, Public Health Wales said one person had died after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total number of deaths there to 1,531.

The total number of positive tests increased in Wales by 15 to 15,890.

The Bradford Arms in Llanymynech, where the border for England and Wales runs along the A483 

Credit:
PA 

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, said: “We live in such a beautiful part of the world and I know many of us are looking forward to visiting beaches, the countryside and our many beauty spots.

“People throughout Wales have done so much over the last few months to follow the rules and help reduce the spread of coronavirus – I thank them for their patience and understanding. I ask them to continue in this spirit.

“Unfortunately, over the recent weeks we’ve seen the results of people not treating parts of Wales with respect, with crowds leaving piles of litter in their wake.

“This selfish behaviour is a blight on our beauty spots and puts people at risk.

“While many footpaths and car parks are reopening, not all facilities will be available in every location straight away.”

It comes as Llanymynech, a village straddling the border between England and Wales, dealt with a torn Super Saturday over the weekend, with the Welsh side subject to very different rules.

Helen Chandler-Wilde speaks to its business owners here. 

‘Young people are going to come out of this really badly,’ warn Association of Colleges

The Association of Colleges has welcomed the traineeships funding but called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to go further with £3,000 of funding per apprenticeship to reduce damage to young people.

Chief executive David Hughes told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We know that young people get treated really badly in recessions.

“We’re really worried about the end of furlough and the hit to the labour market on that so we need really bold action now on both labour market and on skills.”

He called for “an incentive to employers” of about £3,000 per apprentice they take on, and for students to get an extra year in college to prevent young people facing decades of insecurity and poorer outlooks in the job market.

“That scarring, as many people call it, is really, really worrying us,” he added.

“This is a really different type of recession where young people are going to come out of this really badly.”

‘No chance’ French Open will make same mistakes as Djokovic’s tour

French Open organisers are taking every precaution to ensure the Grand Slam does not meet the same fate as Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour, which was abandoned after several players tested positive for Covid-19, tournament director Guy Forget said.

Djokovic has come under fire after the charity event was played in front of packed crowds in Serbia and Croatia and saw players hugging at the net and posing for pictures together.

Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki have all tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The French Open will allow up to 60 per cent of the usual capacity inside the Roland Garros grounds when the rescheduled claycourt tournament starts on Sept. 27 and Forget said there was no chance of them repeating the mistakes of the Adria Tour.

“Maybe some people were overconfident there,” Forget said.

“Luckily no one got hurt really bad but even a few cases is too much and we want to avoid that as much as we can.

“We want to reassure everyone that having people getting ill will be terrible for us. Let’s be really careful, really cautious.”

Novak Djokovic, second left, Grigor Dimitrov, left, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive

Credit:
AP

Pandemic could lead to an extra 35,000 cancer deaths

Britain’s covid crisis could lead to an extra 35,000 cancer deaths a year, research shows.

Medics have raised concerns that the numbers dying could soar,  because of late diagnosis and delayed access to life-saving treatment during the pandemic. 

Previously charities have forecast that the death toll could rise by 18,000.

But the new UK data modelling suggests a worst case scenario could be almost twice that. 

Read the full story

Was lockdown really worth it? 

The coronavirus pandemic has cost Britain dear. The virus has claimed over 44,000 lives. Nine million people have been furloughed and the national debt has soared.  The sport, arts, travel and hospitality sectors have been decimated. 

And yet lockdown has saved many lives.  In March, Imperial College research indicated that, with no lockdown, Britain would suffer 260,000 deaths. Currently, the country’s death toll stands at just under a fifth of that projection. 

What might have happened had the UK followed a different path? Has the last 15 weeks of hardship been worth it? It will take years to properly answer these questions. The pandemic is not yet over.

Read the verdict of  Telegraph writers and experts 

South Korea’s spread of infections continues

South Korea reported 48 new infections on Monday, 24 of them each linked to local transmissions and international arrivals.

The figures continue a weeks long spread that has inspired second-guessing on whether officials were too quickly to ease social restrictions in May.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national caseload to 13,137 infections and 284 deaths.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo during a virus meeting on Monday said the outbreak remains controllable while urging vigilance to slow the spread.

A visitor examines a statue of Pengsoo at a beach in the southern port city of Busan, South Korea

Credit:
YONHAP/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Broadway star dies after battling virus for 95 days

Broadway and TV actor Nick Cordero, who spent months in intensive care being treated for the coronavirus and lost his leg from complications, died on Sunday aged 41, his wife said.

“My darling husband passed away this morning. He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth,” Amanda Kloots wrote on Instagram.

“I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere. My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him.”

“Elvis and I will miss him in everything we do, everyday,” she added, referring to the couple’s one-year-old son.

Kloots  said he had battled the disease for 95 days.

After nearly three weeks in intensive care, Cordero’s doctors were forced to amputate his right leg because his blood flow had been impeded by a clot, another dangerous coronavirus complication.

He had been awaiting a double lung transplant when he died.

Cordero was known for his roles in the musicals “Waitress”, “A Bronx Tale” and “Bullets Over Broadway”, for which he was nominated for a Tony award.

Nick Cordero during the Broadway Opening Night Perfomance Curtain Call for ‘A Bronx Tale’

Credit:
WireImage

British universities face bankruptcy without bailout

Thirteen British universities face bankruptcy without a Government bailout, an analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has found.

Institutions at the greatest risk of financial collapse would need with a £140 million cash injection or debt restructuring to keep them “afloat” in the future.

A new report by the IFS estimates that 13 universities across the UK – which educate approximately 130,000 students – could end up with negative reserves by 2024 as a result of the pandemic.

Read the full story

Border closing in Australia for first time in 100 years

The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close from Tuesday for an indefinite period, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday, following an outbreak of the coronavirus in his state.

The decision marks the first time the border with neighbouring New South Wales has been shut in 100 years – officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social-distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown.

The state reported 127 new Covid-19 infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. It also reported one death, the first nationally in more than two weeks, taking the country’s total tally to 105.

Read more: Melbourne lockdown – Thousands ordered to stay home after virus surge

India records biggest daily spike in cases

One high-profile victim of the global shutdown – the Taj Mahal – will remain closed, it was announced on Sunday as India reported 25,000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours – the biggest daily spike since the first case was detected in late January.

In the capital New Delhi, medical staff started treating patients at a spiritual center converted into an isolation facility and hospital with 10,000 beds, many made of cardboard and chemically coated to make them waterproof.

Critics allege India is conducting very few tests, leaving the true scale of the pandemic unknown.

A makeshift barricade set up to restrict entry in a containment zone during lockdown in Bengaluru, India

Credit:
AP

Heathrow ready to host UK’s first Covid-19 airport testing trial

Passengers arriving at Heathrow will be among the first to be offered medical Covid-19 tests at a UK airport, pending Government approval.

Heathrow is ready to host the UK’s first airport Polymerase Chain Reaction testing trial, using the same type of saliva swab test as the NHS.

British and international arrivals from countries not exempt from UK quarantine could be checked for the virus upon landing and know within hours if they have tested positive.

This could help thousands of people avoid a 14-day quarantine, if the British Government extends exemption to travellers who test negative. It is expected that 95 per cent of those tested will receive a negative result.

Read the full story

Read more: British holidaymakers can only visit 25 of the 74 ‘travel corridor’ countries without restrictions

Heathrow is ready to host the UK’s first airport Polymerase Chain Reaction testing trial

Credit:
AP

News in brief from around the world

  • Authorities in northwestern Spain have ordered the lockdown of a county with a population of 71,000 for fears of an outbreak.
  • Residents of the Mexican town of Sonoyta, across from Lukeville, Arizona, briefly blocked the main road leading south from the US border over the weekend over fears of coronavirus outbreaks.
  • Slovenia says 15 people have been infected with the new coronavirus at a nursing home for the first time in weeks as the country faces a spike in cases.
  • After five straight days of small increases, the number of day-to-day confirmed cases in Italy has dipped.
  • Greece has banned Serbian travelers because of a spike in Covid-19 cases in that country.
  • The Kosovar government on has reimposed curfew times in the capital and three other cities following a significant spike of the new virus cases.
  • The Food and Drug Administration commissioner is declining to back up US President Donald Trump’s claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are “harmless”.
  • Pope Francis is praising UN Security Council efforts for worldwide cease-fires to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The United States has dipped under 50,000 new cases for the first time in four days, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, but experts fear celebrations for the July 4th Independence Day weekend will act like rocket fuel for the nation’s surging outbreak.

Beaches and indoor restaurant seating in Los Angeles County were closed on July 4

Credit:
AFP

Covid-19 may not have originated in China, expert believes

Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when environmental conditions were right for it to thrive – rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.

Dr Tom Jefferson, senior associate tutor at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), at Oxford, and visiting professor at Newcastle University,  argues that there is growing evidence that the virus was elsewhere before it emerged in Asia.

Last week, Spanish virologists announced they had found traces of the disease in samples of waste water collected in March 2019, nine months before the coronavirus disease was seen in China.

Read the full story

Workers of the ecology and environment bureau collect samples from the sewage system in Xinle, Hebei province, China

Credit:
Reuters

Today’s top stories

  • Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when environmental conditions were right for it to thrive – rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.
  • Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure to condemn “disgraceful” border protests where nationalists in hazmat suits urged English visitors to stay away from Scotland.
  • Britain’s theatres, galleries and music venues will receive a £1.57 billion rescue package, which Boris Johnson said will help while their “doors remain closed and curtains remain down”.
  • Parts of Wales have overtaken Leicester for rates of Covid, analysis shows. Official statistics show that Merthyr Tydfil has recorded 179 cases per 100,000, compared with 141 per 100,000 in Leicester. 

  • The Government has “significant concerns” about clothing factories in Leicester opening behind closed doors and won’t hesitate to shut them down if they break the rules, Matt Hancock has said.