End of lockdown in sight…

“Boris Johnson is preparing to end the “big national lockdown” with a raft of announcements to reopen England in the next fortnight after the official threat rating from coronavirus was reduced for the first time. The government’s scientific advisers have given the go-ahead for the two-metre social distancing rule to be cut in half – providing masks are worn in certain circumstances – which will pave the way for pubs, restaurants and hotels to reopen early next month. Schools will also be provided with new guidance to allow all children to return in bigger classes of up to 30 in September. Ministers are also in the final stages of negotiations to set up holiday “air bridges” with about 10 countries – and plans are being drawn up to allow overnight stays in this country so families who live significant distances apart can reunite.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson lowers alert level – FT
  • Scientists prepare way to slash two-metre rule in half – Daily Mail
  • Two-metre rule to be scrapped – The Sun
  • Government accused of downplaying death toll – Daily Mail

…as leaked plans show how pubs, restaurants and hotels will reopen…

“Beer gardens will be patrolled to enforce social distancing, hotels will leave room service at the door and restaurant tables will not be set in advance under plans to reopen the hospitality sector seen by The Times. Boris Johnson will announce next week that the two-metre rule will be relaxed from July 4 and that pubs, restaurants, cafés and attractions can reopen as he attempts to revive the economy. Separately, ministers will publish legislation next week to encourage an “al fresco revolution”. Every pub, bar and restaurant will be automatically entitled to serve alcohol for people to drink on the pavement and in the street. The prime minister said yesterday that coronavirus was now “diminishing among us all” and social-distancing measures would be eased imminently.” – The Times


…and PM announces every school to open in September

“Schools could double the size of teaching “bubbles” to 30 to get every child back to full-time education in September, Gavin Williamson said yesterday. The education secretary’s comments came hours after Boris Johnson pledged that every child would go back to school after the summer holidays. Asked if the school plan would see children return full-time from the autumn, Mr Johnson said: “Absolutely. Provided we can make the classroom safe, and I think we can, I want every child, every student, every pupil back in September and I’m sure we can get it done.” – The Times

  • England to drop bubbles and class caps by September – The Guardian
  • But schools told to increase pupil bubbles to 30 – The Sun

But Hancock is underestimating app’s importance, say scientists

“Claims by ministers that Britain does not need a smartphone tracking app to control the spread of Covid-19 were challenged by scientists yesterday. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has downplayed the significance of the app of late as project failures repeatedly delayed its introduction. Epidemiologists said that he was underestimating how difficult the virus was to control. Documents released by the government’s scientific advisory group (Sage) showed that manual contact tracing was only likely to reduce infections by between five and 15 per cent.” – The Times

  • Contact app fiasco reveals limits of technology – FT
  • Airport coronavirus testing to end quarantine rule –The Times
  • R rate in England falls below 1 – The Sun
  • Air bridges to begin – Daily Telegraph
  • Banks may be forced to keep cash for elderly – The Times
  • Private school unveils its own tracing app – Daily Telegraph

Recession ‘would kill 12,000 per year’, warns ONS

“A deep recession would cause as many as 12,000 avoidable deaths a year for as long as it lasts, according to the Office for National Statistics. Deprivation caused by an L-shaped recession — when an economy does not return to trend-line growth for many years — could cost one life a year for every four already lost directly to the virus, a previously confidential 56-page report states. That includes all potential excess deaths from Covid-19, ranging from those directly attributable to the virus to those caused by mental health and suicide after a lockdown recession. It concludes that “the benefits of government intervention far outweigh the costs” in terms of lives lost.” – The Times

  • National debt now bigger than the economy – The Times
  • Debt exceeds 100% of GDP for first time since 1963 – FT
  • Chancellor ‘to slash National Insurance payments’ – The Sun
  • Sunak settles in as Downing Street’s ‘Captain Sensible’ – The Times

Moore: Johnson has right instincts. It is about time he started following them…

“In December’s general election, this Government won the biggest mandate for either party since 2001. It was the Conservatives’ best result since 1987. So why does the Government seem to run scared? Under our system, a mandate is defined by the number of MPs returned for each party. Yet the symptoms of that big mandate – backbench Conservative MPs – feel ignored. This week, one of them, Robert Halfon, complained tweetingly that the No 10 Policy Unit saw his colleagues as “hobbits in the shire who are told what to do”. – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories begin to fear Johnson has lost his vim – The Guardian
  • Patel to unveil two-year sentences for ‘thugs’ who assault emergency workers – Daily Telegraph
  • Macron will cave to UK fishing stance, but there is a catch – Daily Express
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…as Johnson stands up for Swing Low

“Boris Johnson has insisted that the England rugby anthem, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, should not be banned as a backlash grows against a threat by the sport’s governing body to scrap it. The row over the song, written by a freed American slave, deepened when Trevor Phillips, a former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, also questioned the Rugby Football Union review of its use. Mr Phillips complained that “black people’s own culture is also now to be cancelled” and urged the authorities to “take a deep breath”. The RFU announced on Thursday that “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was under review as a consequence of its “historical context” as a song that had its roots in American slavery and subsequently became an anthem of the US civil rights movement in the 1960s.” – Daily Telegraph

‘An odour of disrespect is wafting across the road from No 10’, says Mitchell

“One word sums up the current mood of Tory backbenchers: “sulphurous”, says Andrew Mitchell, the former chief whip. At the end of a week that has seen U-turns on free school meals and the contact-tracing app, an announcement that the Department for International Development was being scrapped and concerns about the government’s handling of the pandemic, the Conservative grandee says MPs are rapidly losing patience with No 10. “There is a strong sense that Downing Street is a land apart from the parliamentary party,” he says. “There already seems to be a bunker mentality. They don’t reach out, they don’t talk and, if I may use a military metaphor, they are on send rather than receive.” – The Times

Parris: Oldies should cough up to fund the recovery

“Never mind whether it was right to do it: it’s been done. In my generation’s name and mostly for my generation’s benefit our government has smashed this country’s bank balances and raided Britain’s future prospects and prosperity. Just as, overwhelmingly, the virus’s victims would have been among my age group, so, overwhelmingly, the victims of our war on the virus will be the under-55s. So for us, the lucky older generation, the decade ahead should be payback time. It was for our sakes this debt was run up. Soon we must help repay. The moral case is unanswerable but practically speaking, are the over-55s in the position to offer extra help?” – The Times

Villiers axed from intelligence committee for disloyalty

“Boris Johnson has delayed the formation of parliament’s intelligence watchdog after removing a provisional member for disloyalty. The government has been questioned over why the intelligence and security select committee has yet to be reconvened more than six months after the election. Its formation has been delayed after Theresa Villiers, the former environment secretary, was barred from joining after defying the Tory whip in a vote on food standards. Ms Villiers, who was one of the prime minister’s appointments to the panel, was blocked after she rebelled to vote for an amendment that would have banned the import of chlorinated chicken in any trade deal with the United States.” – The Times

Toxic culture and Corbyn’s leadership blamed for election thrashing

“The crushing defeat was “a long time coming”, according to Labour Together, a group of MPs, party members, union leaders and media figures. Its no-holds-barred report sets out the political, organisational and digital failures that led to Labour’s worst result since 1935. It says the party “has a mountain to climb” to win the next election and called for root and branch reform. The report said under Mr Corbyn, Labour had been unprepared for an election, went in with no clear message and, ultimately, with a complex manifesto, marked by a plethora of policy announcements seen as impossible to deliver. The report also points to issues that marred Mr Corbyn’s leadership, including anti-Semitism.” – The Sun

  • Labour will need to take seats like Rees-Mogg’s – Daily Telegraph
  • Unprecedented turnaround needed by Labour – FT
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