The range of the coronavirus r-rate in the UK has remained between 0.9 and 1.1 for a second week, the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has revealed.
It comes as the boss of Notting Hill Carnival Matthew Phillip urges revellers to stay off the streets this weekend as the event moves online for the first time in its 54-year history.
And thousands of travellers are racing to try and get back to the UK after Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic were added to the quarantine list. The new measures come into force at 4am on Saturday.
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Arsenal are likely to be missing a number of quarantining players when they face Premier League champions Liverpool in the Community Shield on Saturday.
The FA Cup winners are expected to be without goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, winger Nicolas Pepe and French pair Alexandre Lacazette and Matteo Guendouzi following their holidays, while more could also be absent due to quarantine rules introduced to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Pablo Mari (ankle), Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring) Gabriel Martinelli and Calum Chambers (both knee) are injured, with a number of youth-team prospects likely to make up the squad numbers.
R Rate update:
Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, leader of Pendle Council, said: “The rate of infection and the percentage of people testing positive is coming down in Pendle but we are not complacent.
“We have tested more people than anywhere in the North West – over 15,000 people in Pendle have been tested so far and this approach is working.
“The Government is expected to confirm today that the restrictions for Pendle are still in place, including the local guidance residents in Nelson and Brierfield need to follow.
“We are urging everyone to please continue following the local measures in place to bring the down the percentage of people testing positive.
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Hungary to close borders from Tuesday to curb infections
Hungary will close its borders to foreigners from September 1 to curb a rise in coronavirus infections, the country’s government has announced.
Hungarians returning to from abroad will have to go into quarantine, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s cabinet chief said today.
Gergely Gulyas said Hungarian citizens could leave quarantine only with two negative Covid-19 tests.
Exceptions for foreigners’ entry would be military convoys, humanitarian transit and business or diplomatic travel.
Exam fiasco update:
Four education unions have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson calling for an urgent and independent inquiry into what went wrong with the process for awarding grades in A-levels, GCSEs and other qualifications this summer.
The letter, signed by the general secretaries of the ASCL, NAHT, NEU, and NASUWT, also calls for the suspension of school performance tables in the 2020/21 academic year because of the likelihood of continuing disruption.
The letter says: “This year’s process for awarding grades in A-levels, GCSEs and other qualifications has left many young people, parents and teachers with a sense of deep injustice.
“It has undermined public confidence, and raises questions about governance and oversight within the Department for Education and Ofqual. Parents and taxpayers will quite rightly be asking what went wrong and why.
“We are asking you to commit to an urgent and independent inquiry into what happened this year in order to understand what went wrong and to learn lessons for the future.
“We are particularly concerned about the arrangements for examinations in summer 2021 and the fact that there is no contingency plan in the event of further disruption. The overriding priority must be focused on ensuring that there is a robust strategy in place to ensure that young people are not disadvantaged next year.”
Read the full letter here:
Over in Cardiff…
A member of staff makes sure the roulette wheel is Covid-secure as Wales’ casinos prepare to reopen
There have been no further reported deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus in Wales, health officials have said.
The total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic remains at 1,595.
Public Health Wales said the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country had increased by 34, bringing the revised confirmed cases to 17,877.
There should be “no question of people’s jobs being vulnerable if they do not return to the office” – EHRC
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said there should be “no question of people’s jobs being vulnerable if they do not return to the office” following comments by an unnamed Government source to the Telegraph.
Interim commission chair Caroline Waters said:
The pandemic has seen many employers rip up the red tape and scale up their flexible working practices.
Having been forced out of offices and to adapt to working from home overnight, many employers have seen the benefits of flexible working and have said they will continue with a more flexible approach beyond the pandemic.
This has presented an opportunity to drive up flexibility for everyone, unlocking more career opportunities for disabled people and helping people to balance the complexity of working from home with caring responsibilities and family life.
Having seen how it is possible to work flexibly and retain productivity, we cannot backtrack now.
Reopening offices does not need to mean the end of homeworking and there should be no question of people’s jobs being vulnerable if they do not return to the office.
The coronavirus death toll in the UK has risen by 10.
No new deaths have been reported in Wales or Scotland in the last 24 hours, while a further 10 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England.
It brings the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 29,541, NHS England said.
Latest hospital death figures in…
A further 10 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 29,541.
The patients were aged between 63 and 95 and all had known underlying health conditions.
Another five deaths have been reported with no positive COVID-19 test result.
The workplace row continues:
Union bosses have urged ministers to accept that working practices have changed amid a row over a Government push to get people back in offices.
Ministers are encouraging people to stop working from home with many coronavirus restrictions lifted, as fears grow that firms reliant on city centre trade are suffering from a lack of commuter business.
Stricter coronavirus lockdown measures in Burnley, Hyndburn and Trafford are set to be lifted, according to local officials.
In the Lancashire areas of Burnley and Hyndburn, meetings between different households in homes or gardens will be allowed from next Wednesday in line with the rest of England.
Gatherings between households in Trafford, Greater Manchester are also set to be removed.
Nicola Sturgeon has said she will not “countenance” people being intimidated into going back to work in offices.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said reopening offices too soon would risk the virus spreading and compromise the ability to keep schools open.
“I will not countenance in Scotland any kind of narrative around this that is seeking to almost intimidate people back to work before, as a country, we have taken a decision that that is safe,” she said.
The UK Government is planning a newspaper and television blitz to get people back into the office, with an unnamed source suggesting to the Telegraph that those opting to keep working from home could make themselves more “vulnerable” to redundancy in any post-Covid business shake-ups.
Ms Sturgeon said people should not be told they risk being sacked if they do not go back to the office.
She said “we want to get back to normal as quickly as possible” and her Government will work in a “phased way” to support the return of offices that have not yet reopened.
But she added: “That has to be done in the context of suppressing the virus.”
Angela Merkel warns coronavirus pandemic likely to worsen in coming months:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday the coronavirus pandemic was likely to worsen in coming months, and that life would not return to normal until a vaccine to combat it had been developed.
Even though Germany would not fully repay debt incurred due to relief measures to offset the virus’s economic impact until 2058, such stimulus was essential as the economy could not be allowed to grind to a halt in the meantime, she said.
In response to the pandemic, her government would also work in a spirit of social cohesion, she said, urging citizens not to drop their guard against the virus.
“This is a serious matter, as serious as it’s ever been, and you need to carry on taking it seriously,” she told a news conference.
Meanwhile, the European Commission was working on signing further contracts with drug companies to secure COVID-19 vaccines, she said.
With none of the many vaccines under development around the world having yet passed through phase III trials, the European Commission has made a 336 million euro ($400 million) downpayment to British drug maker AstraZeneca to secure at least 300 million doses of its potential COVID-19 drug.
“Further such contracts are in the works,” Ms Merkel said.
Birmingham orders restrictions on restaurant in crackdown on coronavirus measures:
The Birmingham City Council-issued order, coming into effect on Saturday, states the Tipu Sultan restaurant must properly restrict entry, introduce a new booking system to cut outside queues and not allow bookings of more than 30 people.
Tipu Sultan management must also separate large parties from other diners, and allow time for tables to be cleaned.
Mark Croxford, the council’s environmental health chief, said “numerous reports” to the council, police and councillors had been made about rule breaches at the restaurant.
At least five confirmed Covid-19 cases had been linked to the premises in four weeks, he said.
The order will be reviewed but failure to comply with the measures could result in a fixed-penalty fine or a direction to shut the restaurant.
In a statement titled “Covid-19 update from the management” on its website, the Birmingham-based Tipu Sultan restaurant said: “Following Government guidelines we endeavour to provide a safe dining environment and would ask you to comply with social distancing measures of a minimum of one metre with other dining guests.
“We wish you a joyful and safe dining experience.
“If you require any further clarification or guidance please do not hesitate to seek advise (sic) from one of restaurant representatives.
“Look after yourselves and each other.”
Restrictions on social gatherings to be lifted in Trafford:
Restrictions on social gatherings between different households in Trafford, Greater Manchester, are also set to be removed, despite the local council recommending they should stay for the immediate future following advice from its own director of public health.
Councillor Andrew Western, Labour leader of Trafford Council, said: “It is apparent that for all of their claims of working in collaboration with local authorities, the Government has decided to overrule the council and lift restrictions in Trafford.
“This action by Government makes a mockery of the claims of locally led decision making and once again shows that local government is being ignored in spite of being on the front line of this crisis.”
He added that many residents and businesses would be pleased to see restrictions lifted and accepted it was a “finely balanced issue”.
Birmingham restaurant becomes first in city to be warned for breaching Covid-19 guidelines amid crackdown:
A popular Birmingham restaurant has become the first in the city to be warned for breaching Covid-19 guidelines during an enforcement crackdown, Birmingham City Council said.
The Tipu Sultan eatery in Alcester Road, Moseley, was given a direction order from the city council on Thursday.
The order came after local authority officers responded to “approximately 25 reports” of events being held on the premises with “significantly more” than the maximum 30 people allowed.
Officers also found the restaurant’s own safety measures in its risk assessment were not always followed, and queuing was not being controlled “in an acceptable manner”.
New powers to force premises to follow Government Covid-19 guidance were handed to the local authority on Wednesday.
Scotland’s museums prepare to reopen:
Conservator Dr Jonathan Santa Maria Bouquet inspects an 18th Century French Trompe Dauphine (1721) at the Musical Instruments Museum, St Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh, ahead of reopening its doors to members of the public on September 3 as Scotland continues in phase three of the Scottish Government’s plan for gradually lifting lockdown.
Burnely and Hyndburn to see some restrictions lifted:
Restrictions on mixing between different households in homes or gardens in Burnley and Hyndburn will be lifted from next Wednesday in line with the rest of England, according to public health officials in Lancashire.
Lancashire’s director of public health, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, said: “People living in Burnley and Hyndburn will be pleased that Government has lifted the additional restrictions in their areas, but this should not lead to complacency.
“In both Burnley and Hyndburn infection rates are significantly above the national average with an increasing rate in Hyndburn.
“Coronavirus does not respect administrative boundaries and there is a high volume of social, educational and commuting travel between these areas and Lancashire’s hotspots.
“The virus is very much still present in both Burnley and Hyndburn so residents must play their part to help protect themselves, their families and their communities.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said employees in the country would continue to be advised to work from home “where possible”.
“In Wales, we continue to advise people to work from home where possible,” he said.
“We recognise, however, that there will be situations where there is a pressing organisational need for employers to ask staff to return to an office, or where employees feel working from home is impairing their wellbeing.
“Employers are under a duty to take all reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus, which will include ensuring they do not require staff to return to workplaces in the absence of a clearly demonstrated business need.”