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Coronavirus 1) Bid to end school chaos

“The number of pupils self-isolating at home quadrupled in a fortnight to 375,000, it has been revealed, piling pressure on the government to relax Covid-19 rules. One in 20 children at schools in England were self-isolating last week. Most did not have the virus but when a pupil tests positive all those in their bubble, which could be an entire year group, have to go home. Last night Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said he was preparing to scrap bubbles in line with the easing of other restrictions. However, this will not be until September and absences are expected to continue to rise in the last weeks of the summer term. About 200 schools have been involved in a trial that avoids bubbles, instead allowing classmates of those who test positive to stay at school and take a lateral flow test each morning.” – The Times

  • School self-isolation hitting poor pupils hardest – Daily Telegraph
  • Lockdowns leave half of teenagers battling anxiety and trauma – Daily Telegraph

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Coronavirus 2) Double-jabbed Brits won’t have to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with Covid victim from July 19

“BRITS who have had both jabs will no longer have to isolate for ten days if they come into contact with a Covid victim from July 19, The Sun can reveal. Currently, anyone alerted by Test and Trace that they have been near someone who has tested positive must — by law — isolate at home. But after a successful pilot scheme running since April, ministers are set to replace that rule for the fully vaccinated with 20-minute lateral flow tests taken each day for the same amount of time. If you are negative, you would be free to leave the house that day — in a major boost for workplaces. Our revelation comes as travel bosses, publicans and punters demand clarity from the Government about exactly what next month’s Freedom Day will mean.” – The Sun

  • Foreign bosses exempt from Covid quarantine ‘to boost business’ – The Times
  • Not enough Pfizer and Moderna doses to vaccinate against Covid faster – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Javid opens way for EU travel to resume with NHS app

“Sajid Javid is set to pave the way for reopening travel to EU countries with a new NHS app that is ready to bypass Angela Merkel’s quarantine demands. The app has been updated to serve as a Covid passport that will enable British travellers to prove they are fully vaccinated, show a negative pre-departure test or show that they have had the virus in the past 180 days. It is now ready to be integrated into the EU’s identical green pass system, which will allow people to travel freely throughout the bloc by revealing their vaccination or test status at borders. “We are technically ready to be integrated into the EU database that will recognise your digital NHS signature and allow you to demonstrate your Covid status,” said a senior industry source.” – Daily Telegraph

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Coronavirus 4) Hospitals can cope, so let’s end restrictions soon, Whitty tells cabinet

“The chief medical adviser has warned ministers of a challenging winter but said that England is on course to ease restrictions on July 19. Professor Chris Whitty said at a cabinet briefing on Monday that the increase in coronavirus cases was not leading to a sharp rise in people needing hospital treatment. The chief medical officer for England said that summer was the time to ease as many restrictions as possible, provided there was not a rise in Covid-19 patients in hospitals, and that winter would be harder because the virus spread more when people were indoors. Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, has previously said that face coverings may be needed if there is a resurgence of infections in winter.” – The Times

  • Protection for Whitty after more harassment – The Times

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Coronavirus 5) Cabinet agrees it’s time to ‘live with Covid’… and you won’t have to show proof of vaccination to attend mass gatherings

“Covid passports will not be compulsory at music festivals, sports events and other mass gatherings when lockdown restrictions are lifted next month. Ministers are set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after Freedom Day on July 19. Plans for pubs and restaurants had already been put on the backburner following a backlash from MPs and the hospitality sector. The Mail can now reveal that ministers have also dropped the idea of imposing them on mass events. Organisers will, however, be permitted to run their own schemes, with the Premier League among those expected to introduce some form of certification to prove those attending football grounds do not pose a Covid risk.” – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • There is no case for Covid restrictions beyond July 5 – let alone the official ­freedom date of July 19 – The Sun

Hancock CCTV inquiry ‘should take 10 minutes’

“The investigation into who released CCTV video of Matt Hancock kissing his aide will be “the easiest leak inquiry in history”, security sources have said. The company contracted to manage security at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is called Emcor UK, according to documents obtained by The Times. Sources said that all staff with access to the CCTV network were being interviewed about the video, which was leaked to The Sun. Its publication last Friday led to Hancock’s resignation as health secretary the following day. A source in another facilities management company in charge of security at other government departments said it would be easy to find the whistleblower because all members of staff who accessed the video on the internal systems would have left a digital trail.” – The Times

  • Lord Bethell admits using account for work but insists he has done nothing wrong – Daily Mail

Sunak prepares £15bn green savings scheme for public

“Plans for £15 billion of green savings bonds are expected to be announced by the chancellor this week, allowing people to invest in renewable energy projects such as wind and solar power. Rishi Sunak will use a speech at Mansion House in the City of London to reveal details of the scheme, which is expected to be one of the biggest issues of green bonds in the world. They will be available through NS&I, the Treasury-backed savings organisation that also offers Premium Bonds. Germany and Sweden have similar bonds for retail investors. Sunak’s announcement will be part of the government’s efforts to enhance its green credentials before the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow in November. Britain has committed to hitting net-zero emissions by 2050.” – The Times

Post-Brexit handouts won’t be like 1970s, says Kwarteng

“The government will set out today its “agile and flexible” post-Brexit state aid system, which ministers will be able to use to support selected industries. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said that the rules would “empower public authorities across the UK to deliver financial support, without facing burdensome red tape”. State aid rules were the source of key rows during the Brexit negotiations. The EU wanted Britain to stay aligned to its rules to ensure a level playing field on rules for public subsidies to business but Boris Johnson resisted. Kwarteng said that the new system would be more “agile and flexible” but added: “I have been clear that we will not return to the failed 1970s approach of the government trying to run the economy, picking winners or bailing out unsustainable companies.” – The Times

  • UK unveils post-Brexit state aid scheme to support industry – FT

Starmer faces hard-left leadership coup if Labour lose Batley & Spen by-election

“Embattled Sir Keir Starmer could face a leadership coup by the hard-left if he loses tomorrow’s Batley & Spen by-election. Gloomy Labour activists fear the party could end up coming third in the contest – losing the Red Wall seat to the Tories and coming behind George Galloway and his Workers Party. Corbynista darling Dawn Butler has been forced to deny she would trigger a contest if they lose after growing rumours that she is eyeing a tilt at the top job. While the Unite trade union – Labour’s biggest union paymaster – is said to be “casting around” for a left-wing candidate they can get behind. One Labour insider told The Sun said activists knocking doors in Batley have warned the party could come third. They added: “If that happens that’s obviously a huge pressure moment for Keir.” Sir Keir has faced mounting questions over his leadership after losing the once rock-solid Labour seat of Hartlepool last month.” – The Sun

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The Union hasn’t faced such peril in my lifetime – but it can be saved, Gordon Brown

“One of my most vivid recollections as a teenager was the funeral service of Sir Winston Churchill in the winter of 1965, when his coffin was carried in a gunboat that sailed down the Thames. Our wartime leader had planned the commemoration himself with military precision under the title ‘Operation Hope Not’. Like thousands of others joining a series of events across the United Kingdom, I, and my school, attended a service marking his passing. The Boys’ Brigade, the Girl Guides, the Scouts and the Royal British Legion in my home town of Kirkcaldy paid their respects. The Union Flag was unfurled. The National Anthem sung, and Land Of Hope And Glory came later. It was a high moment of Britishness: the UK coming together, under one flag, to mark the death of a leader who had led our country to its finest hour.” – Daily Mail

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New £3.2bn Ajax tanks withdrawn again after troops suffer hearing loss

“New light tanks that have so far cost the army £3.2 billion have been withdrawn for a second time after more troops reported suffering hearing loss during trials, The Times has learnt. All trials involving the Ajax armoured vehicle were paused in mid-June on “health and safety grounds” amid concerns that mitigation measures put in place to protect soldiers — including ear defenders — were not sufficient. Ministers believe senior officers in the army may have hidden the extent of the problem with Ajax over recent months to prevent it being axed as part of this year’s “integrated review” of Britain’s defence and foreign policy. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, is said to be “distinctly unhappy” with the handling of the programme and has appointed a team to review it and find out what the army has kept “hidden” from politicians because of concerns about cuts.” – The Times

Woke brigade ‘could tear the UK apart despite being just a noisy minority’

“WOKE culture warriors are a noisy minority but they risk tearing the UK apart, researchers say. Throwing around baseless allegations of racism and white privilege will lead to deep US-style social divisions, they warn. And social media platforms need to be held to account better for fuelling divisive movements, the Kings College London team insisted. The experts found that cancel culture had exploded in the last year — with 82 per cent of people having first encountered it in the past 12 months. Liberal or left-leaning sides of the culture war were less likely to engage in debate than those on the traditional or right-leaning side, they found. More than half of Brits believe that people are too easily offended, they discovered. Meanwhile, 26 per cent see woke as a compliment, 24 per cent reckon it’s an insult and the rest don’t know what it means.” – The Sun

Comment:

  • Indoctrination of a generation: Racially segregated clubs, white pupils told they’re ‘oppressors’, and teachers banned from saying ‘boys and girls’. A dangerous and divisive dogma has gripped the classroom – but, writes Guy Adams, parents are fighting back – Daily Mail

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Workers face paying £55 more each day with flexi rail tickets

“Commuters face spending up to £55 more each day to travel using the government’s new “flexi-fares” rather than relying on traditional rail season tickets, according to analysis. Research by Labour shows that passengers can pay almost 150 per cent more a day when using the much-anticipated tickets from this week. The party said the tickets — aimed at passengers who travel two or three days a week — could discourage people from getting back on to the rail network when lockdown restrictions end. However, the government insisted yesterday that the tickets were never intended to provide savings for all passengers. It pointed out that an online fares calculator had been introduced to find the cheapest option, including conventional day tickets, full-time season tickets or the new flexible fares.” – The Times

Life expectancy key to success of levelling up in UK’s poorer areas

“Boris Johnson’s post-Covid levelling-up agenda will fail unless it addresses declining life expectancy and deteriorating social conditions in England’s poorest areas, a leading authority on public health has warned as he published figures showing the impact of the pandemic on Greater Manchester. Sir Michael Marmot revealed the coronavirus death rate in Greater Manchester was 25% higher than the England average during the year to March, leading to “jawdropping” falls in life expectancy and widening social and health inequalities across the region over the past year. The deteriorating health equalities picture in the region and across similarly deprived areas of the country was a result of longstanding, avoidable socioeconomic inequities and ethnic disadvantage, exacerbated by a decade of spending cuts and amplified by Covid and the effect of prolonged lockdowns, he said.” – The Guardian

England beat Germany as Sterling and Kane send them to Euro 2020 last eight

“For England, it was always going to be about finding the moment, the one to blow apart a tight game, to cut through so much negative tournament history – particularly at the hands of Germany. And for long spells, as the tension rose to near unbearable levels at a raucous and emotional Wembley, the home crowd wondered whether it would come. Gareth Southgate had reverted to a 3-4-3, ignoring the clamour for greater fantasy and more creative players. It was the England manager sticking bravely to his principles, seeking security, the platform for the moment, and a part of the equation was patience, which was not in abundant supply inside the stadium. Germany had shown their quality in the first half, particularly early on, yet England came to match them physically and tactically.” – The Guardian

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