Lockdown eased today for families, friends, hospitality and leisure…

“People should ignore Monday’s easing of lockdown and avoid socialising indoors in pubs and restaurants to prevent the new Covid-19 variant first detected in India sparking a third wave of the disease, health experts say. A former government chief scientific adviser, a leading public health specialist and the union representing Britain’s doctors are urging the public to stick to meeting outdoors to reduce the risk of catching or spreading the variant. Prof Sir Mark Walport, a former director of the Wellcome Trust and a chief scientific adviser until 2017, called on the public to be cautious. “My personal judgement is that I will do things outside as far as possible,” he said. “My advice is that just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.” Asked by Sophy Ridge on Sky News if that meant he would avoid going inside a pub, he replied: “For the moment, yes.” – The Guardian

  • PM urges public to get vaccinated – Daily Telegraph
  • And Johnson’s ‘heavy dose of caution’ as pubs open at midnight – Daily Mail
  • Jabs offered to teens in variant hotspot – The Times
  • Variants cast shadow over Scotland’s unlocking – The Times
  • Welsh Government confirms further easing details for June 7 – WalesOnline

…but will it end altogether on June 21, as holiday plans threatened by Covid variants?

“Plans for foreign holidays were in chaos last night after the health secretary warned against visiting countries on the “amber list” despite lifting a ban on leisure travel outside the UK. Matt Hancock said people should “certainly not” go on holiday to nations such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece because of the risk posed by mutant strains of the coronavirus. The comments were made as Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and a member of the government’s vaccine taskforce, also warned against continental breaks, insisting that swathes of Europe were “largely unvaccinated.” – The Times

  • Foreign holidays are not a good idea, warns Oxford expert – Daily Telegraph
  • Hundreds queue at airports as travel ban ends – Daily Mail

Gaza pummelled in fresh Israeli airstrikes

“Israel launched dozens of air strikes in Gaza and the Hamas militant group kept up its rocket attacks on Israeli cities in fighting that spilled into a second week on Monday. International calls mounted for a ceasefire, but there was no sign of any imminent end to the most serious hostilities between Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas Islamists in years. Roads, security buildings, militants’ training camps and houses were bombed in Israeli attacks that seemed to be focused on Gaza City, witnesses said. The sound of explosions echoed in many parts of the Palestinian enclave overnight. The Israeli military said fighter jets struck “terror targets”, after rocket barrages from Gaza were fired at the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon just after midnight.” – Daily Telegraph

  • MP condemned for ‘racist’ tweet about Israel protests – The Guardian
  • Antisemitic abuse hurled by protestors – The Times
  • PM says antisemitism has no place in Britain – Daily Telegraph

Officials changed advice to Johnson over Downing Street flat revamp

“Boris Johnson was told he could use a charitable trust to fund the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat before Whitehall officials changed their guidance, The Times has learnt As the prime minister fretted about how he might meet the escalating cost of his redecoration, civil servants in the Cabinet Office are said to have agreed to the idea of a trust funded by private donations, which would have supported the maintenance of the two private residences in Downing Street as well as its public quarters.”– The Times

  • MP at risk of suspension for improper conduct – The Times

Labour proposes new offences for violence against women and girls

“Labour would create a slew of new offences concerning violence against women and girls, including prohibiting street harassment, making misogyny a hate crime and banning sex-for-rent. The proposals also include introducing criminal sanctions for tech executives who do not act fast enough to remove misogynistic abuse on their platforms, building on previous proposals from the party to tackle online hate speech. The party has published its own version of a government green paper to highlight what it says are inadequacies in the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill and in the Queen’s speech. Jess Phillips, the shadow domestic violence and safeguarding minister, said: “The violence that women and girls face is endemic, and no matter how much the government want to paint a picture of it being a rare crime, the figures tell a different story.” – The Guardian

Galloway prompts Labour alert in Batley and Spen by-election

“George Galloway could exploit violence in Gaza to hand the Conservatives victory in the forthcoming Batley and Spen by-election, Labour insiders fear. The hard-left maverick has indicated that he will contest the West Yorkshire marginal, which has a significant Muslim population and is considered a must-win contest for Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader. His entry into the race has been met with alarm by Labour sources locally, who do not believe the former MP can win but nonetheless fear he will split their vote and ensure a second consecutive by-election defeat for Starmer.” – The Times

  • Starmer could face leadership threats from Cooper and Burnham – Daily Telegraph
News in Brief