UK coronavirus LIVE: Pubs with beer gardens 'to reopen first' as Rishi Sunak to give furlough scheme update today

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  • May 29, 2020
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Groups of six will be able to meet outside from Monday


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Pubs with beer gardens are likely to be among the first venues in the hospitality sector to reopen when coronavirus restrictions are eased, the Environment Secretary has confirmed.

But George Eustice said there would be no changes until “at least” July when he expected pubs and restaurants with outdoor areas would be the only ones able to welcome customers again.

It comes as people in England go into a final weekend under tighter lockdown measures after Boris Johnson gave the green light for the largest relaxation of restrictions so far, saying his five key tests have been met.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce major changes to the Government’s furlough scheme, with plans to taper it back and force employers to pay 20 per cent of wages.

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This favourite Soho haunt has been saved:


The Duke of Westminster, one of the UK’s richest men, has donated £1m towards Oxford University’s Covid-19 mental health research programmes.

Prince George’s godfather donates £1m to virus mental health research

The Duke of Westminster, one of the UK’s richest men, has donated £1m towards Oxford University’s Covid-19 mental health research programmes.

The grant will be made available through the Westminster Foundation to support the University’s Department of Psychiatry, which is at the forefront of mental health research in the UK.


Should we cover our faces at home?

Face masks at home might help stop Covid-19 spread, new study shows

Healthy families could consider wearing masks at home in order to stop the spread of Covid-19 before any household member develops symptoms, new research suggests. 

A study of Chinese families in Beijing has found the practice was 79 per cent effective at curbing the spread of transmission within families.


Traffic on Tower Bridge as more people head back to work:


Dominic Cummings leaves is Islington home for another day in his job at Downing Street:


Renault announces 15,000 job cuts worldwide

Struggling French car maker Renault has announced 15,000 job cuts worldwide as part of a two billion euro (£1.8 billion) cost-cutting plan over three years.

Renault said nearly 4,600 jobs will be cut in France in addition to more than 10,000 in the rest of the world.

The group’s global production capacity will be revised from four million vehicles in 2019 to 3.3 million by 2024, the company said.

In a statement, the car maker added: “The difficulties encountered by the group, the major crisis facing the automotive industry and the urgency of the ecological transition are all imperatives that are driving the company to accelerate its transformation.”

Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of the board of directors of Renault, said: “The planned changes are fundamental to ensure the sustainability of the company and its development over the long term.”

The group, which employs 180,000 workers worldwide, announced the suspension of planned capacity increase projects in Morocco and Romania.

The group is also considering “adaptation” of its production capacities in Russia and announced the halt of Renault-branded oil-powered car activities in China.


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Attorney general should apologise for defending Cummings – Labour

Labour says Attorney General should apologise for defending Cummings

The Labour Party today called on the Government’s most senior legal adviser to apologise for defending Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham.

Attorney General Suella Braverman tweeted her support for Mr Cummings on Saturday saying “protecting one’s family is what any good parent does”. The MP for Fareham also retweeted the official No10 statement which said Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser had behaved “responsibly and legally”.


Macmillan Cancer Support’s policy director has called for the Government to work with charities to ensure support for those shielding continues to be in place as the lockdown eases.

Steven McIntosh told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

The charities writing to the Government today are just not convinced that the support is going to be in place for extended lockdown in terms of their access to food, to medicines, getting financial support and help with their care and mental health – particularly when this relies on loved ones and volunteers who might be going back to work soon and on charities that are at breaking point.”

What we need from Government is a clear communications plan, particularly as this group of over two million people are often the most socially isolated and excluded.

They need to work with the organisations who are most in touch with them to set out what the next months look like and what support is going to be in place.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson flanked by detectives returns to Downing Street after exercising


Macmillan Cancer Support’s policy director has called for the Government to provide clearer guidance for those shielding.

Steven McIntosh told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

People got letters back in March and we’ve heard that people were missed off the list, they have had to negotiate their way on, that they have had texts, some people, removing them from the list without notice. GPS have told them that the period is a different length to the Government.

So there is a real lack of communication and, in terms of priorities, the guidance and support available to the people who are most at risk and most isolated should be at the top of the list and a brief mention in a press conference from the Prime Minister is not a substitute for working with the organisations who are most in touch with these people to get clear communications about what the next few months of total isolation means for them.


Environment Secretary George Eustice has said “calls were definitely made” by tracers operating the new NHS Test and Trace system in its first 24 hours of operation.

Asked how many cases were dealt with on Thursday, Mr Eustice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t know how many cases were dealt with yesterday; I’m aware though that calls were made…”

He added: “But it was only just launched yesterday so I think it is too early yet to be able to give precise data given that the calls literally happened less than 24 hours ago.”

On whether his constituents have emailed him about Dominic Cummings, the MP for Camborne and Redruth said: “Well, look, this has been a big media story so, yes, I have had lots of emails too, as have other MPs.”

Pushed on how many, he said: “It is probably well over 100 now, yes, I suspect, and that’s, I think, inevitable when you have a big media story that runs for several days.”

Mr Eustice added that Mr Cummings dealt with the matter “comprehensively” on Monday.


Another step back to normal on London transport:

London buses to resume front door boarding with new safety measures

London’s buses are set to resume front door boarding after months of safety measures brought in to protect transport staff from coronavirus, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

But TfL has now introduced a raft of new measures aimed at minimising the Covid-19 risk to drivers. Front door boarding will be reinstated on 124 bus routes from Saturday, with customers required to touch on using their Oyster, contactless or concessionary cards.


“People will have to make their own choices about the level of risk they want to take” – WHO special envoy

WHO Covid-19 special envoy Dr David Nabarro said of those shielding: “I think people will have to make their own choices about the level of risk that they want to take.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m in the shielded category and I do want to be able to see my family.

“I think it is really important that, in the next few months, all of us make sense of what we know about this virus and the risks, and then we ourselves, with support from our friends and support from of course public health authorities, are able to make choices that will enable us to live with this virus as a threat and at the same time get on with life.”

Dr Nabarro added that, when it comes to grandchildren: “I think it will be seeing at a distance, it won’t be close hugs straight away.”

Asked whether the virus will be worse in the winter, he said: “The level of disease will increase in colder weather simply because droplets hover in the air for longer and sometimes travel further in cold weather.”


Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home as the row over his trip to Durham during lockdown continues.


WHO warns “The virus has not gone away” as lockdowns ease

As lockdown begins to ease, the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 special envoy, Dr David Nabarro, warned “this virus has not gone away”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said:

So what was happening through the lockdown was that a very large amount of illness was prevented from becoming totally catastrophic right across the country and the outbreaks that did occur subsided and were contained.

And now we have to keep them at the minimum possible level by being on constant defence and at the same time by being very focused on where, if it is necessary, to have further movement restrictions where these are put in place.

I don’t think people should feel it is going to go on constantly with everybody being in lockdown, but it will be a different normal from that that we were used to six or seven months ago.

We will have to be more respectful when it comes to how we relate to other people, particularly in very confined spaces where we know this virus can easily transmit.


Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the withdrawal of the furlough scheme needs to be done gradually to avoid a spike in unemployment.

He told LBC on Friday that while no one was suggesting the scheme could last forever, “the way in which you withdraw the scheme and the speed of which you do it is extremely important”.

“I think there needs to be far greater flexibility and gradual withdrawing taking into account both the sector, because clearly different sectors will open at different speeds, but also the business,” he said.

“It is very difficult for a small family business to be able to stump up the bills in comparison to a far larger business that might of course have far greater reserves.

“I totally accept that it can’t go on forever, but at the same time there is an enormous economic and human cost to very large scale unemployment as well. The scale of which could be very, very significant.”


George Eustice admitted he does not know how many people were contacted as part of the new NHS Test and Trace scheme on Thursday.

The Environment Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t know that figure, I don’t have that figure to hand.”

On the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser not being permitted to answer questions on Mr Cummings during the Downing Street press briefing on Thursday, Mr Eustice said: “I think all the Prime Minister was really trying to do is to protect people who are there to give a scientific opinion and a medical opinion from what has been a bit of a political row over the last week where they need not get involved.”

Asked about how the easing of lockdown measures should be handled by police, he added: “The instructions to the police stay the same and they change obviously when these new provisions come in next week.”


Eustice admits rule of six people will not help families of six

Environment Secretary George Eustice has admitted that being able to see up to six people in parks and gardens will not help families of six but said the Government “have to draw a line somewhere”.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Eustice said:

We think that six is about a sensible level. We know that the risk of transmission outdoors is actually very low, but obviously if you’ve got lots of people crowded in a garden, if you’ve got two families of six crowded in, obviously that starts to be more difficult to maintain social distancing.

Pushed again on whether a family of six could meet anyone else, he added:

Obviously if they are six on their own than the answer is these rules don’t really help them very much if they want to meet as a full family.

But for instance if Claire (questioner) wanted to go with two of the children and take them to see for instance their grandparents if they have grandparents, or uncles, they would be able to do so.

So you have to draw a line somewhere otherwise it goes on and on.


Mark Drakeford acknowledged that restrictions in Wales on staying local – meaning people must not travel more than five miles to meet others – were “unfair”.

“The reason why we are advising people to stay within a five-mile radius is this: we do not want this virus travelling from one community to another,” the First Minister told Good Morning Britain.

“We have parts of Wales where there has been very little coronavirus and the last thing we want is for people to be travelling to those areas and taking the virus with them.”

He added: “It’s a sacrifice for those people whose family live further than five miles away, I understand that, and we’ll review this again in three weeks’ time.

“But for now, stay local, keep Wales safe. Those are the key messages that we’re giving people in Wales.”


Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has called on Attorney General Suella Braverman to apologise for intervening in the Dominic Cummings case.

Asked whether Mr Cummings broke the law during his trip to Durham during lockdown, Mr Thomas-Symonds told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme said: “The guidelines that were set up, he broke them.”

He added: “Look I can’t comment precisely on the communication between the Attorney General and Durham Police but what I can say for certain is this – the Attorney General was wrong to be out making public statements about an individual case before even the police had made a public statement, and particularly given her role as superintendent of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“She shouldn’t have been commenting on an individual case in those circumstances, that is to misunderstand the role of the attorney general – to give unvarnished advice to Government without fear or favour and at the bare minimum she should apologise for that.”

Ms Braverman tweeted on May 23: “Protecting one’s family is what any good parent does. The @10DowningStreet statement clarifies the situation and it is wholly inappropriate to politicise it.”

Mr Thomas-Symonds added that Labour “do support the gradual easing of lockdown”.