Evidence from Europe indicates reopening schools is safe

“Reopening schools across Europe has not caused a spike in coronavirus cases. Evidence from 22 EU states that have restored classes suggests little or no risk to pupils, teachers or families. The revelation piles pressure on unions resisting plans to send younger children back from June 1. The National Education Union yesterday even claimed it was not safe for teachers to mark workbooks. But an EU meeting was told that the gradual return to school had not resulted in ‘anything negative’. Denmark reopened primaries and nurseries a month ago and has seen infection rates continue to fall. Norway, which is outside the EU, has taken similar action without a rise.” – Daily Mail

  • At least 300 UK primary schools will not open to more pupils on June 1st – Financial Times
  • Schools could be forced to reopen – The Sun
  • Councils fight pressure to reopen – The Times
  • Union guidance suggests marking books is not safe – The Guardian
  • Starmer can make his mark as Labour leader by taking on the teachers’ unions – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • You would think teachers’ unions would want to heed science and re-open schools – Leader, The Sun
  • How ironic that thanks to the teaching unions, it’s working class children who will suffer the most  – Justine Greening, Daily Mail
  • Getting children into school is vital if we want to get back to normal – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • The return to school must be cautious and gradual – Leader, Financial Times

>Today: Mark Lehain on Comment: The rivalries and Corbynism that are driving the biggest education union’s extremist stance on school reopenings

Young are the “worst hit with wage cuts and job losses”

“More than one in three 18-24 year olds are receiving less pay than they did at the start of the year. And three in ten workers in their early 60s have seen their income fall during the crisis. This compares to less than a quarter of workers aged 35-49 who have seen a fall in their income. The study by the Resolution Foundation warned that wage reductions and job losses could hit the incomes of some workers in younger and older age brackets permanently…The Resolution Foundation described this contrast in the way earnings have been hit as a “U-shaped” crisis for living standards. A survey carried out along with the Health Foundation of 6,000 adults in early May found young people are disproportionately affected because they are more likely to work in the hardest hit sectors such as hospitality, leisure and retail.” – The Sun

  • Vulnerable not exempt from furlough winding down, employers told – The Guardian
  • Huge rise in unemployment, claimant count in April went up by 856,500 to 2.097 million – BBC
  • 6,000 jobs at risk at Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge – Daily Mail
  • Coronavirus will blight the prospects of a generation – Financial Times


Shapps proposes “air bridges” to avoid quarantine and allow foreign holidays

“Holidaymakers could be able to travel abroad this summer after the Government announced plans to create “air bridges” with other nations. The proposal, announced by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, would mean that holidaymakers would be able to travel to foreign resorts and return to Britain without entering quarantine. This week the Government is expected to announce a 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals. Anyone who breaches the quarantine faces fines of between £1,000 and £10,000. It was feared that the plan would end any realistic hopes of foreign travel this summer given that any holiday would be followed by two weeks in isolation. But on Monday night Mr Shapps said that the plans would be reviewed every three weeks and exemptions with countries with similar levels of the virus could be introduced. It raises the prospect of agreements with Spain, France, Italy and Germany.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The number of Brits who have recovered from coronavirus is to be published for the first time in a bid to coax people back to work – The Sun
  • Blair outlines plans for return to work – Daily Express
  • Italy and Spain further ease restrictions – The Sun
  • Daily death toll in Italy falls below a hundred – Daily Mail
  • We need a coherent plan – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Andrew Griffith on Comment: A blanket and indefinite 14-day quarantine would put our aviation sector at risk

MPs challenge Government over “inadequate” testing

“The government’s ability to test people for coronavirus has been “inadequate” throughout the pandemic, a committee of MPs has said. The Science and Technology Committee said capacity had not been increased “early or boldly enough”. It said a lack of capacity had driven initial decisions in mid-March to scale back contact tracing and largely restrict tests to hospital patients. No 10 said testing had since been expanded on “an unprecedented scale”. Committee chairman Greg Clark said ministers would need to “apply the lessons” from the “slowness” of increases to testing to other areas. In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP added that capacity “drove strategy, rather than strategy driving capacity”. The UK significantly increased its testing capacity throughout April, although it has previously faced criticism it was initially too slow to do so.” – BBC

  • Outbreaks reported in nearly four in ten care homes – The Sun
  • Losing your sense of smell or taste is a symptom – Daily Mail
  • Tory MPs’ unease over handling of coronavirus crisis – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Michelle Lowe on Local Government: We need to shift away from care homes towards retirement villages

Hancock wants anyone over five who has coronavirus symptoms to be tested

“People rushing to book a coronavirus test after eligibility was extended to anyone with symptoms were warned last night that priority would be given to key workers. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said yesterday that anyone over the age of five with a cough, fever or loss of sense of smell could now apply for a test on the NHS website as capacity rose. Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hancock also revealed that more than 21,000 contact tracers had been recruited to track people who had been at close quarters with known cases. This is crucial to stop a resurgence of cases as the lockdown is eased and Mr Hancock insisted that with this workforce the government “has capacity for the current level of new cases”.” – The Times

  • Daily death toll of 160  is the lowest since March 24th – Daily Mail
  • Transport for London “misses tube target” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: Raab on the Covid-19 alert system – “We’re in the process of moving from level 4 to level 3”

Scotland aims to ease lockdown by May 28th

“Coronavirus lockdown measures in Scotland could begin to be lifted from 28 May, Nicola Sturgeon has announced. The first minister said this would mean people could meet someone from another household as long as social distancing is maintained. More outdoor activities and sports like golf and fishing will also be allowed. Ms Sturgeon also announced that coronavirus testing will be extended to everyone in Scotland over the age of five who is displaying symptoms.” – BBC

  • Welsh manufacturers expect ‘gradual’ return – BBC
  • Religious leaders call limited reopening for Northern Ireland’s churches a sign of hope – Belfast Telegraph

>Yesterday: Craig Hoy on Comment: We must be ready – the Scottish Nationalists certainly will be

Trump is taking hydroxychloroquine

“Donald Trump has revealed he has started taking hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug he has repeatedly touted as a possible coronavirus treatment despite concerns about dangerous side-effects. The US president said he had been taking the drug daily in pill form for around 10 days and had discussed it with the White House doctor before doing so. Mr Trump said many front line workers were using hydroxychloroquine to prevent getting Covid-19, citing a letter he had received from a doctor talking up the possible benefits.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Vaccine tested on people in the US has shown signs of stimulating an immune response against the virus – The Times
  • Promising results boost stock markets – The Times

Germany and France unite in call for €500bn Europe recovery fund

“Germany and France have joined forces to push for a €500bn EU recovery fund, boosting the effort to create a co-ordinated European fiscal response to the coronavirus pandemic. German chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s president Emmanuel Macron announced the initiative in a joint videoconference on Monday afternoon. The funds would be raised by the European Commission borrowing on capital markets — which to date has only been done on a relatively modest scale — and would be used to support EU spending rather than loans to national governments.” – Financial Times

  • Macron loses parliamentary majority as 10 MPs quit – Daily Express

Hague: prepare for an ideological conflict in the post-coronavirus world

“We can be sure that, as the drama of today’s health crisis is followed by the long agony of massive unemployment and a slow economic recovery, any last attempt at political consensus will disappear. This is merely the phoney war, and an immense ideological conflict will shortly commence. It will be a conflict in which the natural supporters of free enterprise as the foundation of human progress, and fiscal responsibility as the bedrock of a confident economy, will suddenly find themselves on the back foot. In Britain, and many other countries, the state has intervened in the lives of families and businesses more than ever before in peacetime.” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

Other coronavirus comment

  • Crisis must not be allowed to delay Brexit – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Lockdown libertarians take road to tyranny – Melanie Phillips, The Times
  • Killjoy councils should be helping people to enjoy the great outdoors – Jill Kirby, Daily Telegraph
  • How can Britain trust this floundering crew? – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • Social distancing makes running the railways impossible – Christian Wolmar, The Times
  • Honest mistakes – Leader, The Times

£4 billion refurbishment of Parliament to be reviewed

“Plans for the £4 billion refurbishment of parliament could be torn up as a result of the “altered political and economic landscape” caused by the coronavirus outbreak. There will be a review into whether to overturn a decision by MPs two years ago to move out of the Palace of Westminster while the work is carried out. Remote working has raised doubts over the need for all those based on the parliamentary estate to be relocated close by during the construction work. Downing Street is also understood to be concerned about embarking on a multibillion-pound “vanity project” in London amid a deep economic slump and Boris Johnson’s election pledges to “level up” other parts of the country.” – The Times

Patel wins Commons approval for points-based immigration system

“A law to introduce a new post-Brexit immigration system for the UK has been given initial approval by MPs. The immigration bill repeals EU freedom of movement and introduces the new framework – though not exact details – for who can come to live in the UK. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government’s plans will lead to a “high skill” economy. But critics said the coronavirus pandemic has changed public attitudes towards those considered “unskilled”. The House of Commons approved the general principles of the law by 351 votes to 252 on Monday. It will now go on to receive further scrutiny. The legislation will put EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens on an equal footing to immigrants from outside the bloc. It also paves the way for the government to introduce a new points-based system, which some say will affect the ability of care workers to come to the UK.” – BBC

  • Truss pushes the US to make it easy for the British to work in America – The Sun
  • Open Britain – Leader, The Times
  • A Ministerial power grab – Leader, The Guardian

Truss announces cuts in tariffs

“The UK government has said that food and household appliances will be cheaper under a new post-Brexit trade tariffs regime set to begin in January. Britain will scrap all levies on £30bn of imports when it formally leaves the European Union at the end of the year. International trade secretary Liz Truss said the new regime will simplify trade and lower administrative burdens on businesses. Products like fridges and dishwashers are currently marked up by up to three per cent, but will have no tariffs come January. Tariffs will remain on UK-produced cars, at 10 per cent, and on agricultural products including lamb, beef and butter. Truss said today: ‘For the first time in 50 years we are able to set our own tariff regime that is tailored to the UK economy.’ …The tariffs will be applied to trade with any country the UK has not negotiated a trade deal with by December. The UK government is aiming to negotiate a deal with the EU by December, but there has not yet been a breakthrough.” – City AM

Jewish Labour Movement “encouraged” by talks with Starmer

“The Jewish Labour Movement has said it is “encouraged” by Sir Keir Starmer’s commitment to change the party’s rules and culture to eradicate anti-Semitism. But following talks with Labour’s leader, the group said it wanted to see “actions, not just words”. Issues discussed included Labour’s response to an imminent report into its procedures by the equalities watchdog. Sir Keir has promised an independent complaints process to help to rebuild trust among the Jewish community.” – BBC

News in brief

  • Why Tory MPs are pushing for a speedy return to parliament – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • The BBC has lost the plot – Guy Birchall, Spiked
  • Does national character exist? – Daniel Johnson, The Article
  • The key to Britain’s recovery is free trade – Andrew Rosindell, Global Vision
  • Mayor Khan – travelling safely? – John  Redwood