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Coronavirus 1) Travel rules for amber list countries ditched in weeks for vaccinated

“Fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on the amber list are set to avoid quarantine from as early as July 19 as airlines prepare to check vaccine status on flights into Britain for the first time. Ministers will meet tomorrow to sign off a policy that will allow people to travel from amber destinations without isolating for up to ten days. Boris Johnson is believed to favour introducing the system from July 19 to coincide with the lifting of other lockdown restrictions in England. Significant concerns remain over the logistical challenge of the move, though, including the prospect of long queues at the border caused by extra passengers and additional checks.” – The Times

Coronavirus 2) We won’t return to some sort of normal until spring, says Whitty

“Britain is unlikely to be free from further waves of the coronavirus before next spring, Chris Whitty said yesterday. He added that returning to normality was likely to take “quite a long time”. In a gloomier assessment of the situation than he gave alongside Boris Johnson last Thursday, England’s chief medical officer told a conference of local government officials that it was likely to be a “difficult” winter. He also said that ending lockdown restrictions this month risked a sharp rise in the number of people suffering from long Covid. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, confirmed that government modelling showed new cases of the virus could reach 100,000 a day over the summer after social-distancing rules are scrapped.” – The Times

  • Shops give mixed messages on mask-wearing after July 19 – The Times
  • Follow UK out of lockdown, Merkel urged – The Times

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Coronavirus 3) Business warns of England work chaos from delay to ending self-isolation

“Business and health chiefs on Tuesday warned that England faces weeks of workplace chaos, with about 2m people a week at risk of contracting Covid-19 or being asked to self-isolate. Health secretary Sajid Javid admitted there could be a record 100,000 new Covid cases a day if most remaining restrictions are lifted on July 19 as planned. The projected number of daily cases would far exceed the 61,240 new daily cases when the virus peaked on January 1. But recent data show that a ratio of two people are asked to isolate for 10 days per original case, suggesting that if 700,000 a week were infected a further 1.4m could be asked to self-isolate. Javid on Tuesday said self-isolation rules would be lifted on August 16 to be replaced by a lighter testing regime for anyone who had received two jabs. But that would still leave employers facing weeks of staffing problems.” – FT

  • Isolation rules ‘slam the brakes’ on freedom – Daily Telegraph
  • Scientists query delay in lifting coronavirus quarantine – The Times
  • Ministers overruled Sage and ditched masks after being told the economy would lose billions – i Paper

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Coronavirus 4) School bubble system to be scrapped from July 19

“The education secretary announced the scrapping of bubbles, masks and staggered school days in England as the number of pupils missing lessons because of the coronavirus rose above 600,000 yesterday. The figure has more than doubled in a fortnight, with the vast majority forced to self-isolate after contact with someone testing positive. Gavin Williamson said the use of restrictions including bubbles, under which whole classes or year groups are sent home if a child tests positive, would end in the move to step 4 expected on July 19. Secondary schools will test pupils twice on their return in September and encourage home tests, but after that tracking contacts would be left to NHS Test & Trace.” – The Times

  • Pupils missed more than half of classroom time during Covid pandemic – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 5) Sunetra Gupta: Children should never have been locked down

“Nowhere has the injustice of lockdowns been more apparent than in what they have required of children. We have obliged them to forgo more than a year of schooling and endure the uncertainties imposed by test, track and isolate policies, not to mention the dystopian atmosphere of masks, Perspex barriers and all the crude and corrosive accoutrements of social distancing. Now, even with other lockdown restrictions ending, they will still be subjected to regular testing. I have heard it proposed that children are innately resilient and will not sustain any significant long-term damage from these experiences. Time will tell if that is the case, but the short-term damage, particularly to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, is already apparent. Was this avoidable? We knew at the outset that the risk of severe disease and death to children from SARS-CoV-2 was far too low to argue that any individual benefit might accrue to them from halting its spread.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 6) Virus left 7 million without routine NHS care, says Javid

“Hospitals have told Sajid Javid that his determination to press ahead with full freedoms this month will hamper efforts to clear the post-pandemic backlog, and that seven million people have missed routine care. The health secretary has dismissed the concerns, arguing that lockdown has caused depression and deterred people from coming forward for treatment. A&E units were full of patients who had been unable to see GPs during the pandemic, and lifting restrictions on July 19 would allow them to seek normal care, Javid argued. He said: “If we want to start dealing with those non-Covid health problems, then we have to start easing and moving away from these restrictions.”” – The Times

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Coronavirus 7) Jenrick ‘admits’ government is in no rush to end WFH ‘because empty cities could solve UK housing crisis’

“Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has admitted that the government is not in a rush to stop people working from home because empty offices will help it meet its ‘housing objectives’. The admission comes amid mounting fury from business leaders who called for ‘urgent’ clarity on the Prime Minister’s vague and half-baked guidance to get millions of Britons back into the office from July 19, as lawyers told MailOnline that workers who refuse to return could be sacked. Now, in a startling admission, the Housing Secretary has said that it is unlikely that office working would return to exactly how it was prior to the pandemic, but claimed that the change could be beneficial in other areas.” – Daily Mail

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The economy 1) Surging cost of pensions triple lock piles more pressure on Chancellor

“Rishi Sunak is facing fresh pressure to scrap the triple lock on state pensions after the Government’s own fiscal watchdog warned that retirement payments could surge this year in a £3bn hit to the public purse. Unless the Chancellor takes action, payouts for pensioners will rise in line with earnings growth – which the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said could jump to 8pc in 2021 as crushed salaries recover from the impact of Covid. The triple-lock, a Conservative manifesto pledge, guarantees state pensions rise by whichever is highest out of consumer price inflation, earnings growth of a 2.5pc baseline. Mr Sunak has repeatedly refused to say if the Government will alter the triple lock to prevent this bumper rise, dismissing claims of a huge increase as “speculation” in a GB News interview last month.” – Daily Telegraph

The economy 2) Taxpayers face unknown bill to cover trains’ Covid losses

“Taxpayers will have to prop-up Britain’s loss-making railway for years because of the lack of a “convincing and timely plan” to get passengers back, MPs said. The Commons public accounts committee said that £8.5 billion of public money had been spent keeping rail services running after a sharp drop in passengers during the pandemic. Temporary contracts have been signed with private train companies, which are intended as a stopgap until more fundamental reforms can be introduced by Grant Shapps, the transport secretary. The cross-party MPs said that there was no detail about how the deals would be used to “incentivise improved performance” by operators while reducing costs.” – The Times

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The economy 3) Ditching fossil fuels will cost Britain £1.4 trillion by 2050

“Decarbonising Britain by 2050 will cost £1.4trillion — the equivalent of £50,000 a household. Tearing out gas boilers, cleaning up industry and switching to electric cars will all carry big price tags, a shock Treasury watchdog report warns. Chancellor Rishi Sunak would have to impose carbon taxes to make up for the loss of fuel duty and other hits to its ­coffers when fossil fuels are ditched, the 242-page Office for Budget Responsibility study predicted. Boris Johnson has vowed to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050 in a global bid to halt climate change. But the OBR forecasts the bill will be £1.408trillion over 30 years — or £50,647 for every UK home. The OBR reckons the state will have to find £344billion towards the cost. Yet it insisted a large chunk of the bill — £1.086trillion — will be ­covered by savings as cars and homes become more energy efficient and cheaper to run.” – The Sun

The economy 4) UK households face energy bills surcharge to fund nuclear plants

“British households face paying a surcharge on their energy bills to pay for new nuclear power stations in the UK as the government draws up legislation to underpin the new financing plan. Ministers aim to unveil legislation in the autumn that would enable Sizewell C, a £20bn nuclear power plant, proposed by France’s EDF for England’s east coast, to go ahead through a financing model called the regulated asset base, said several people briefed on the government’s thinking. This model would mean that energy bill payers start contributing towards the cost of the plant at Sizewell in Suffolk long before it generates any electricity.” – FT

Johnson aims to bring football ‘home’ with England World Cup bid

“Boris Johnson urged England’s football players to “bring it home” last night as he stepped up efforts for Britain to host the World Cup in 2030. While Gareth Southgate’s team made final preparations for the biggest football match on home soil in 25 years, the prime minister said: “Gareth Southgate and the England squad have done the nation proud in the Euros, and tonight we will all be wishing them the best of luck in getting to the final. Bring it home!” England tonight meet Denmark in the semi-finals of the European Championship with victory securing their first appearance in a big tournament final for 55 years.” – The Times

New laws strengthen Border Force powers to detain Channel migrants

“Border Force agents will for the first time be given the legal power to use “reasonable force” to detain asylum seekers crossing the Channel under laws published today. They will be authorised to stop, board, divert and detain any vessel they suspect of carrying people seeking to enter the UK illegally under the Nationality and Borders Bill. Existing laws allow Border Force officials to use batons and handcuffs for personal protection but under the new legislation, they will be allowed to use these devices when boarding migrant boats if people resist arrest or pose a threat. They will be able to use the same definition of “reasonable force” as immigration enforcement officials can do when forcing illegal migrants off a plane.” – The Times

Fast-track Greensill to save UK steel, ministers told bank

“Ministers pressured a government-owned bank to fast-track the finance firm Greensill Capital and allow it to extend taxpayer-guaranteed loans before it collapsed into administration. A report by the National Audit Office found that the department for business repeatedly contacted the British Business Bank to ask it to speed up its accreditation process. Once accredited, Greensill could issue government-backed Covid support loans. The bank told the audit office that the department had shown an “unusual” level of interest in Greensill’s application, with ministers arguing it could be critical in supporting the British steel industry. Officials sent eight email inquiries over 19 weeks regarding Greensill’s status and asking whether it might be accredited to lend more than the standard £50 million per borrower.” – The Times

Schools are using ‘overtly political materials’ to teach children about gender and must be neutral in the face of ‘increasing sensitivities’, Ofsted warns

“Schools are using ‘overtly political materials’ to educate children about gender issues, Ofsted has warned. Despite a statutory requirement for neutrality, some staff are ‘confusing’ their legal obligations under The Equality Act 2010 with moral issues and often ‘inadvertently’ teaching without acknowledging certain material as political, the watchdog said. Ofsted’s director of corporate strategy Chris Jones said that ‘increasing political sensitivities’ in areas addressed by the act ‘have made it harder for schools to handle equalities well’. He added: ‘We have also seen recent examples of schools and parents being unable to see eye-to-eye on the content and age-appropriateness of curriculum materials used to teach primary school pupils about same-sex relationships.'” – Daily Mail

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Ban on boiling lobsters alive under plans to boost welfare rights of crustaceans and molluscs

“Boiling lobsters alive will be banned under plans being drawn up by ministers to strengthen the welfare rights of crustaceans and molluscs. The government is preparing to recognise that lobsters, crabs, octopuses, squids and other invertebrates feel pain as part of legislation that will formally acknowledge that animals are sentient beings. At present the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which is making its way through the House of Lords, covers only vertebrates — animals that have a backbone. In response to calls from campaigners, ministers are preparing to back an amendment by peers to extend the legislation to shellfish and cephalopod molluscs.” – The Times

Lord Bethell is under formal investigation by Lords standards watchdog over sponsoring parliamentary pass for Hancock’s lover

“Health Minister Lord Bethell is formally under investigation over a complaint that he sponsored a parliamentary pass for the aide Matt Hancock was caught kissing on leaked CCTV. The Lords Commissioner for Standards today confirmed that the Tory peer is being investigated over his ‘use of facilities’ in relation to Gina Coladangelo. Mr Hancock’s embrace with the former adviser ultimately cost him his Government job after it was revealed the pair breached social distancing rules. Ms Coladangelo, a long-term friend of Mr Hancock, was brought into the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) first as an unpaid adviser before getting a £15,000-a-year director role in September. Members of the House of Lords can sponsor passes for secretaries and research assistants if they ‘genuinely and personally’ fulfil those roles for the sponsoring member.” – Daily Mail

Row over ‘loophole’ that could let foreign firms dodge junk food advert ban

“Major confectionery brands including the makers of Chupa Chups lollipops and Mentos mints could still be allowed to advertise despite new restrictions on junk food promotions, it has emerged. The Department of Health and Social Care announced last month that all large companies in Britain would be banned from advertising products high in fat, salt and sugar online and before the 9pm television watershed.  However, senior British industry sources are calling on the Government to rethink the legislation amid fears that a “loophole” in the plans will be exploited by multinationals. While the rules will stop family favourites including Jammie Dodgers, Haribo and McVitie’s Digestives from advertising before the watershed, companies that employ fewer than 250 people will not have to abide by the rules.” – Daily Telegraph

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