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Johnson expected to ease lockdown measures

“Boris Johnson will on Tuesday reject misgivings from some leading scientists and press ahead with a plan to cut England’s contentious two-metre social-distancing rule, as he adds cinemas, galleries and museums to the list of premises able to reopen on July 4. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers will also be given approval to reopen their doors with coronavirus precautions in place on July 4, to the relief of Conservative MPs who have been urging the prime minister to press ahead with further lockdown easing. In a sign of increasing efforts to boost the economy amid the Covid-19 crisis, Mr Johnson is hoping to announce in the next few days the lifting of the UK’s 14-day quarantine arrangements for travellers arriving from countries including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and Spain.” – FT

  • PM will consult with Cabinet first – Bournemouth Echo
  • The two-metre rule will be cut as part of “Super Saturday” – Daily Telegraph
  • Pub bosses blast “bonkers” check-in plan – Daily Telegraph
  • People from two households will be able to meet – The Times
  • Britain records fifteen Covid-19 deaths in lowest daily toll since March 13 – Daily Mail
>Today:
>Yesterday:

Coronavirus shielding scheme to be relaxed in England from July 6…

“People with underlying health issues who are most at risk from Covid-19 will no longer have to shut themselves away in their home and can mix with other people from 6 July in England, the health secretary has said. Support for people who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, have a damaged immune system or have had an organ transplant will continue to the end of July, said Matt Hancock. But from 1 August, the 2.2 million “clinically extremely vulnerable” who have been shielding from the virus in England will receive only local authority and voluntary help and can return to their jobs if their workplace is “Covid-secure”. The government says it is safe for the most at-risk to leave their homes, but the new guidance will cause anxiety.” – The Guardian

  • A second wave of Covid-19 could overwhelm hospitals in the new year, warn experts – The Times
  • The Government was “negligent” in its handling of care homes, says Tory MP – Daily Mail
  • Department of Health and Social Care’s most senior civil servant defends care home record – The Guardian

…as holidays are set to resume in a fortnight

“Britons will be able to go on holiday within a fortnight as the government prepares to allow trips in the UK and travel to up to ten approved countries. Ministers are preparing to relax the UK’s two-week quarantine rules to save summer holidays abroad, amid warnings from officials that the move could increase the spread of Covid-19. The government is understood to be close to agreeing a list of ten countries that it is considered safe for Britons to travel to without needing to self isolate when they return. These include popular summer destinations such as France, Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey, which have lower levels of coronavirus infections than the UK.” – The Times

  • Minibars and buffets to go as England’s hotels prepare to reopen – The Guardian
  • Spain fears British tourists will bring influx of Covid-19 with them – The Telegraph
  • MPs demand travel firms issue customer refunds – The Times

Parliament to introduce legislation to speed up businesses’ recovery

“Pub car parks and hotel grounds will be able to convert into temporary beer gardens under plans being drawn up by ministers to help the hospitality sector bounce back from the coronavirus. Legislation due to be introduced to Parliament on Thursday is expected to include changes to the law to enable restaurants, hotels and pubs to turn their “spaces inside out” over the summer months. According to Whitehall and industry insiders, the Business and Planning Bill will temporarily relax licensing laws to enable more companies to serve alcohol outdoors on their premises. The Bill also contains provisions on outdoor seating in order to make up for reduced capacity inside while social distancing measures are in place, as well as making it easier for companies to close roads to hold events throughout July and August.” – Daily Telegraph

Paul Goodman: There’s method in Boris Johnson’s madness

“During the past 12 months, Boris Johnson has become prime minister, suffered repeated defeats in the Commons, been thwarted by the Supreme Court and forced to apply for a Brexit extension — before winning a thumping election victory, taking Britain out of the EU, nearly dying of the coronavirus and becoming a father again. I don’t know how that near-death experience has affected Mr Johnson, and it is possible that he doesn’t yet know himself. But the helter-skelter events of the last year provide the right background against which to view his present difficulties and the calls in some quarters, not least in his own party, for him to change his ways.” – The Times

Slash taxes and ramp up spending for recovery, says Javid

“Britain should reduce the National Insurance tax and pour money into infrastructure and the poorest regions of the country to boost the UK’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, according to former chancellor Sajid Javid. Javid, who left the Treasury as part of Boris Johnson’s February cabinet reshuffle, warned against a return to the austerity measures which the Conservative government turned to in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In a report written by Javid and the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, he said the current crisis was likely to exacerbate the gap between rich and poor, and that the government’s plans to “level up” the economy which formed a major part of Boris Johnson’s election strategy last year were more important than ever.”

  • The Government would have run out of funds without us, says BoE governor – FT
Comment:

GCSEs and A Levels to “start a month late in 2021”

“GCSEs and A-level exams in England look likely to be delayed next summer so that children can catch up on lessons missed in the lockdown. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, told MPs yesterday that he wanted to “move those exams back” to allow more teaching time, and would start talks shortly with the exams regulator Ofqual on new dates. A similar proposal had already been announced in Scotland. Kent county council announced that it would delay this year’s 11-plus entrance exam for its grammar schools for a month, from September to October, to help children get back into the swing of school before they sit the test.” – The Times

  • Children have become “collateral damage”, warns letter from 300 doctors and healthcare professionals – Daily Telegraph

Male survivors of Covid-19 asked to give plasma for treatment trials

“Men who have recovered from Covid-19 are being asked to donate plasma to be used to treat sick patients in trials because they have higher levels of virus-fighting antibodies in their blood than women. Convalescent plasma is being trialled around the world as a possible treatment for the disease. It contains antibodies generated by the immune systems of people who have fought off the virus. NHS Blood and Transplant, which is making the appeal for donors, says it has found that more male donors have high antibody levels in their plasma than female donors – 43% to 29% – because men have tended to become sicker.” – The Guardian

  • Oxford vaccine will be rolled out in October under “best scenario” – Daily Telegraph
  • Doctors warn of long-term damage to Covid-19 patients – Daily Telegraph

Reading suspect was on Government’s anti-terror programme…

“The terror suspect accused of killing three men in a Reading park had been involved in the government’s Prevent deradicalisation programme, The Times has learnt. Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan given asylum in 2018, was assessed by mentors in the anti-extremism scheme, which aims to stop individuals becoming terrorists. Prevent officials did not consider Mr Saadallah to be a terror threat, according to well-placed sources. He was given support from a number of agencies. MI5 investigated intelligence that he wanted to travel to Syria, but it was not considered credible. Mr Saadallah, 25, is suspected of murdering three men during a knife attack at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre on Saturday night.” – The Times

  • … as his mother says he should have been admitted to mental health unit – Daily Telegraph
  • Lone actors are a threat, cautions Patel – The Times
  • Deportations to Libya are banned under tribunal ruling – The Times
Comment:

Cummings pledges to overhaul “appalling” planning system

“Dominic Cummings pledged last night to overhaul the “appalling” planning system as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis and heaped praise on Rishi Sunak. The prime minister’s most senior adviser said that there would be no return to austerity and that the government would address “long-term problems” such as the planning system. He denied that there would be a reshuffle and dismissed suggestions that Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, could be moved on as “invented bollocks”. He repeatedly singled out Mr Sunak, the chancellor, for praise, saying that he has done an “amazing job”. In his first conference call with government advisers since his alleged breach of lockdown rules, Mr Cummings criticised the media and described Sir Keir Starmer as a “Remainer lawyer”.” – The Times

Japan rushes UK to agree first post-Brexit trade deal

“Japan has given the UK just six weeks to strike a post-Brexit deal, putting Boris Johnson’s government under pressure to agree one of the fastest trade negotiations in history — and Britain’s first in more than 40 years. Time is so short that both sides will need to “limit their ambitions”, warned Hiroshi Matsuura, Tokyo’s chief negotiator, in comments that dash UK hopes of winning deep trade liberalisation from Japan. While meeting the timetable would hand Mr Johnson an early trade victory, it also highlights the risk of the UK being bounced into bad deals before the Brexit transition expires at the end of the year.” – FT

EU welcomes UK move to share criminal suspects’ DNA data

“Britain’s chances of remaining part of European data-sharing arrangements to fight serious crime have improved after the UK government accepted EU demands to share more information, European diplomats said. The UK government confirmed last week that it was willing to start sharing criminal suspects’ DNA data with other European countries, responding to complaints that Britain has benefited from EU cross-border data sharing while failing to show full reciprocity. The tensions arose because of Britain’s policy of sharing DNA data of convicted criminals but not of criminal suspects, while EU member states share both. The information-exchange is part of the EU’s so-called Prüm arrangements for cross-border access to European DNA, vehicle licence plate and fingerprint databases.” – FT

>Yesterday:

Trump administration warns UK over £400 million Huawei research centre in Cambridge

“The Trump administration has strongly criticised plans for Huawei to build a £400 million research facility in Cambridgeshire, warning that the UK is on a “slippery slope”. A senior US official issued a robust warning before a planning decision is due this Thursday on the first phase. The planning officer at South Cambridgeshire district council has recommended that the application by the Chinese telecoms giant be approved. Keith Krach, US under-secretary of state for economic growth, accused Huawei of being “an extension of the Chinese government” and urged the UK “to put the whole thing in perspective — aggressive tactics of the Chinese Communist party, because it all starts from there”.” – The Times

Jenrick mired in new planning row

“The housing secretary is facing fresh scrutiny over his use of planning powers after he intervened in a development project backed by prominent Conservatives and party donors. Robert Jenrick has used his ministerial planning powers to recover an appeal by Britain’s largest horse-racing organisation, the Jockey Club, for its development of 318 homes and a hotel at the Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, Surrey. The Jockey Club launched its appeal after Elmbridge borough council rejected the application because it was on green-belt land and would deliver only 20 per cent affordable housing, against its target of between 40 and 50 per cent.” – The Times

News in brief:

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