Primary schools open today – but up to a million children may not return

“Ministers last night reassured parents that reopening primary schools today is safe amid fears that up to a million children may be kept away. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was ‘extremely important’ children went back to school. It comes as a study suggested up to half of families may shun sending their youngsters to lessons due to worries about the spread of coronavirus. This means that a million children, half of those in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, could be kept off, in a blow to the government’s hopes of getting back to normal. Headteachers have also predicted that more than one in five teachers will be forced to work from home because of health conditions, their age or because members of their family are vulnerable. The majority of primaries are expected to open from today, despite fierce opposition from the National Education Union.” – Daily Mail

  • Teachers’ unions may refuse to back plan for summer classes – Daily Telegraph
  • Early years and childcare sector at risk of collapse in England – The Guardian
  • The most vulnerable children need help catching up, says Children’s Commissioner – Daily Telegraph

Gavin Williamson: We are moving forward with reopening schools so that children do not take a step back

“Over the next few weeks we are going to see the gradual return to school for many children. While I fully understand the nervousness that some will feel, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to start providing more children with the opportunity to be in the classroom once more. While everyone has worked so hard to support learning at home, this can never be a substitute to being in nursery or school – with all the inspiration and motivation they provide. As we all know, there simply is no substitute for a teacher sharing their passion for learning with our children. I understand that some don’t want to see schools return yet. But we need to take a step forward and we also need to make sure our children don’t fall back. So we should look at what children are missing out on when they are away from school.” – Daily Telegraph

Lockdown measures are eased across the country…

“The public have been told to play their part to avoid a second coronavirus spike after lockdown measures ease from today, because the “room for manoeuvre is quite limited”. People from different households can now meet in groups of six, as long as they stay two metres apart. The government is ready to impose local lockdowns if a rise in cases suddenly becomes apparent. Primary schools are set to reopen as are outdoor markets and car showrooms. More than two million vulnerable people who have been shielding since March will be allowed to spend time with other people outdoors.” – The Times

  • More than two million Brits “shielding” now allowed outside – Daily Mail
  • Coronavirus patients can suffer “extreme tiredness and shortness of breath for months” – Daily Telegraph
  • Testing capacity target reached a day early – Daily Telegraph
  • Catholic Archbishop calls for churches to open – The Times

… as the police warn that they are “unenforceable”

“”Lockdown rules are now “unenforceable” and the public will “do what they want to do”, policing leaders have warned. They said the sunny weekend had been marked by widespread breaches of the lockdown which one senior police figure suggested was “to all intents and purposes ended.” With meetings of six people outdoors, private barbecues and garden parties and unlimited travel to exercise allowed from today (Mon), it is understood police chiefs have told the Government that lockdown is unenforceable unless it is a large gathering. New official guidance, issued to police forces, is expected to tell officers to continue to engage, explain and encourage but the “last resort” of enforcement will be largely limited to big gatherings such as parties.” – Daily Telegraph

Thousands attend Black Lives Matter march in London

“Twenty three people were arrested in London today as thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters peacefully marched on the US Embassy in London, with hundreds more taking to the streets of Cardiff and Manchester, to demonstrate against the killing of George Floyd. Chants of, ‘I can’t breathe,’ rebounded across the Thames this afternoon, the words Floyd was heard gasping before his death as a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Monday. They defied the ban on mass gatherings to rally at Trafalgar Square before making their way to the gates of Downing Street and then south of the river towards the US Embassy.” – Daily Mail

  • US cities impose curfews as protests continue over Floyd killing – FT

Contact tracers have concerns about “shambolic” system

“Contact tracers hired to run the government’s crucial test and trace programme have raised concerns about its state of readiness as lockdown restrictions are relaxed today. The tracing programme, which aims to identify and isolate all those who have come into contact with anyone testing positive for Covid-19, is central to the government’s efforts to prevent a second wave of cases. The government insisted yesterday that the system was up and running and had encountered no problems. However, contact tracers say the programme remains “shambolic” and unfit for purpose. Some of the 25,000 people hired have been waiting weeks for login details for key parts of the system, while others are unable to complete required training because of technical problems.” – The Times

Quarantine plans face Tory revolt

“The Government’s quarantine plans face a Tory revolt when they reach the Commons this week, as a senior MP warned it was the “wrong policy” that will damage the economy. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, will on Tuesday lay the regulations in Parliament enacting the quarantine under which all international arrivals, including returning Britons, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. However, more than 20 Tory MPs including at least seven former ministers are demanding a rethink of the plans that are scheduled to come into force on June 8 and the introduction of “air bridges” with low-risk countries.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Aviation leaders urge the Government to rethink – The Times
  • Britons’ hopes of summer holiday dashed by Spanish tourism minister – Daily Telegraph

Missing cancer tests hit 2.4 million

“Some 2.4 million patients have missed out on cancer tests and treatments due to a backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic, charities have said. According to Cancer Research UK 2.1 million patients are awaiting screening appointments for breast, cervical and bowel cancer while a further 290,000 have not had referrals for tumours. It is also estimated that about 21,600 patients have had surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy postponed in the past nine weeks. Sarah Woolnough, policy chief at Cancer Research UK, warned that hospitals were facing a “huge backlog to clear”. She told the Daily Mail: “It’s a massive backlog of services and treatment to deliver. It’s absolutely huge, it’s thousands and thousands.” Cancer Research’s figures found that 12,800 patients in the UK have missed out on surgery, 6,000 on chemotherapy and another 2,800 on radiotherapy.” – The Times

UK banks warn 40 to 50 per cent “bounce back” borrowers will default

“UK banks are warning that up to half of the £18.5bn of “bounce back” coronavirus loans are unlikely to be repaid and are lobbying the chancellor to prepare for the collapse of hundreds of thousands of small businesses. Three senior bankers estimated between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the 608,000 borrowers who have accessed the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, or BBLS, could eventually default on the debt as the prospect of a quick economic recovery fades. The emergency BBLS facilities are capped at £50,000 with a term of up to six years and come with a 100 per cent government guarantee on the capital and interest.” – FT

  • Red-wall towns worst hit by job lossesThe Times

Tory poll rating stabilises

“The Conservative Party’s image has nosedived since early April as voters increasingly view it as out of touch and incompetent, a new poll suggests. The Tories have slightly widened the gap in their lead over Labour since the beginning of last week, however, suggesting the party has partially recovered from a fall in support during the row over Dominic Cummings’s trip to the northeast during the lockdown. Support for the Tories is at 45 per cent, up one point from the beginning of last week, while Labour is at 35 per cent, down three points, according to a YouGov poll for The Times conducted last Friday and Saturday. The Conservatives have a ten-point lead over Labour, up from a six-point lead early last week, but it is still some way off the 15-point gap Boris Johnson’s party had over the opposition before the controversy involving Mr Cummings erupted two weeks ago.” – The Times

Developer “lobbied” Jenrick at Tory dinner

“The developer of a controversial £1 billion housing development lobbied the housing secretary at a political fundraiser two months before the project was approved, it has been discovered. Richard Desmond’s application to build 1,500 homes in east London was approved by Robert Jenrick in mid-January, a day before Tower Hamlets council was due to approve a change in community charges which would have cost Mr Desmond’s company, Northern & Shell, £40 million. Mr Jenrick has admitted showing “apparent bias” in giving the go-ahead to the development on the site of the former Westferry Printworks. The approval has been quashed. Mr Jenrick had been seated next to Mr Desmond, who has donated to the Conservatives, at the Carlton Club political dinner in November, the Mail on Sunday reported.” – The Times

5G: Johnson considers investment for British telecoms companies

Boris Johnson is examining options to boost state investment into domestic telecoms companies to help them compete in the 5G technology market, The Times understands. The proposal is part of a wider plan to reduce Britain’s reliance on Huawei for its next-generation mobile network, amid growing security fears over the Chinese firm’s equipment. Working with international partners to create a new democratic alliance that would pioneer a wider selection of future technologies is another pillar of the plan. The government has approached Washington about the proposed club, which could include nations such as South Korea and India as well as western states. Last week the National Cyber Security Centre, a branch of GCHQ, said that it was reviewing the security and resilience of Huawei products after the US placed new sanctions on the company.”  – The Times


Downing Street warns EU they must “kick things into gear” over trade talks

“The European Union needs to “kick things into gear much faster”, government sources warned on as they said foot dragging over negotiations would leave it “too late” to agree a deal. On Tuesday, the UK will enter into its fourth round of trade talks with Brussels and continue until Friday. Speaking ahead of the talks, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, accused Britain of not keeping its commitments and said:  “The UK has been taking a step back – two steps back, three steps back – from the original commitments.” However a senior British government source said:  “It is the UK that is driving any progress being made in this negotiation. The Commission are either not ready or not willing to inject momentum.” – Daily Telegraph

Illegal migrants could be treated leniently if they report traffickers

“The National Crime Agency hopes to turn illegal immigrants into whistleblowers against traffickers by offering them the possibility of improving their chances of staying in the UK. The approach is aimed at achieving more arrests and convictions. Rob Richardson, head of the NCA slavery and human trafficking unit, said that prosecutions were difficult to secure unless victims went on the record. In return for helping the police, they could have any potential immigration offences handled more sensitively, Mr Richardson said. The NCA’s Operation Fort smashed a trafficking ring in the West Midlands last year. As many as 400 people, many of them Polish, were saved from rat- infested homes and menial, unpaid work.” – The Times

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