UK coronavirus LIVE: Boris Johnson orders review of two-metre rule as shops prepare to open in latest lockdown easing

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  • June 14, 2020
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Boris Johnson has ordered a comprehensive review of the two-metre social-distancing rule amid calls it should be scrapped to allow businesses such as restaurants and pubs to re-open sustainably.

There have been warnings that any maintaining of the rule, along with a closing of the furlough scheme, could be a “horrendous” situation for the hospitality sector, with the Prime Minister facing pressure from some of his own MPs to reasses the situation.

The move comes as thousands of non-essential shops in England are set to re-open on Monday for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.

Meanwhile, the Government is set to make fresh push to get more children back into the classroom ahead of the summer break .

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Violent scenes in London ‘completely unacceptable’

Mr Thomas-Symonds also said he was “extremely disturbed” by the “completely unacceptable” scenes of violence on the streets following protests on Saturday.

He added: “I want to say a particular word as well about that awful scene of someone urinating next to PC Keith Palmer’s memorial.

“Absolutely despicable behaviour and I hope that individual is identified and brought to justice.”

A man was pictured urinating next to the memorial, with MP Tobias Ellwood urging the public to help identify him. 

Mr Thomas-Symonds said he also would back the Government in creating a specific offence against damaging war memorials and said he would be willing to work cross-party to support such efforts in Parliament.


Government must be ‘vigilant’ with 2m-rule easing

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has said that the Government should only reduce the two-metre rule if the science backs it up.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that there could be a second peak if restrictions were eased without expert advice.

He said that ministers should “approach it in a structured way and publish the evidence”. 


Fresh push to get pupils back into the classroom

The Government is set to make fresh push to get more primary school children back into the classroom ahead of the summer break.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was this week forced to abandon the aim of getting all primary pupils in England back for at least a month before the holidays.

Currently primary schools in England – which closed following the coronavirus lockdown in March – are opening to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

However, ministers will next week reaffirm that they can take children from other year groups provided they have the capacity to do so safely.

Read more here


China, South Korea and Egypt report rise in virus cases as restrictions ease

China reported its highest daily total of new coronavirus cases in two months on Sunday and infections in South Korea also rose, showing how the disease can come back as restrictions on business and travel are lifted.

China had 57 new confirmed cases in the 24 hours to midnight on Saturday, the National Health Commission reported. That was the highest since mid-April and included 36 in the capital, Beijing, a city of 20 million people.

Beijing’s cases were all linked to its biggest wholesale food market, which was shut down on Saturday. It said 27 worked there and nine had direct or indirect exposure to it.

The Xinfadi market was closed after 50 people tested positive for the virus in the Chinese capital’s first confirmed cases for 50 days.

Meanwhile, Egypt reported its biggest daily increase on Saturday and infections were rising in some US states as President Donald Trump pushed for businesses to reopen despite warnings by public health experts.


Two-metre rule to be scrapped?

Boris Johnson has ordered a comprehensive review of the two-metre social-distancing rule amid calls it should be scrapped.

Easing the restriction is seen as vital if businesses such a restaurants and pubs are to be able to re-open sustainably.

The Mail on Sunday reported the review would effectively take control of social-distancing guidelines out of the hands of the Government’s scientific advisers, who have been deeply reluctant to countenance relaxation.

The move comes as thousands of non-essential shops in England are set to re-open on Monday for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.


Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Stick with us as we bring you all the latest news from the UK and around the world. 


That’s all for our live coronavirus coverage tonight. Tune in again tomorrow for more live updates. 


AstraZeneca agrees to make vaccine for Europe

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has struck a deal with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance to supply up to 400 million doses of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine, as efforts to boost manufacturing capacity continue at pace.

The alliance, which was forged by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands to speed up production of a vaccine, is set to take delivery of the material being tested by the University of Oxford by the end of 2020.

The agreement with AstraZeneca also aims to make the vaccine available to other European countries wishing to take part.

The cost is expected to be offset by funding from the governments involved.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said: “This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University’s vaccine following approval.

“With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly.”

The agreement is the latest in a series to make the vaccine – even though it is not certain it will work. But the need for a vaccine is so great that the scaling up of manufacturing continues despite the risk.

The Anglo-Swedish company recently completed similar agreements with the UK, the US, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for 700 million doses.

A licence also has been agreed with the Serum Institute of India for another billion doses.

The vaccine was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, working with the Oxford Vaccine Group.

Testing of the experimental Covid-19 vaccine began in healthy volunteers in Britain in April with more than 1,000 people aged 18 to 55. Another round with 10,000 volunteers began last month.

Other companies, including Moderna and Sanofi, are racing to develop and produce a vaccine against the new coronavirus, a step experts say will be crucial to allowing countries to ease their lockdowns and restrictions on public life.


Here’s the latest figures:


Coronavirus death toll figures in:

UK coronavirus death toll rises by 181 to a total of 41,662

The number of people who have died in the UK after testing positive for Covid-19 has jumped by 181.

As of 5pm on 12 June, the total number of people do have died across all settings reached a total of 41,662. Meanwhile, a total of 294,375 people have tested positive – up by 1,425.  Devolved regions have separately issued the number of reported fatalities.


Just in…

Another five people with Covid-19 have died in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team said, bringing the overall death toll to 1,705.


A flare-up in Beijing sparks a local lockdown:

Coronavirus resurgence near Beijing market sparks local lockdown

Beijing’s largest wholesale food market and its surrounding neighbourhood has been locked down after a local flare-up of coronavirus. 

More than 50 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the Chinese capital with the outbreak coming more than 50 days after the city’s last local case. It comes amid global fears that the virus can easily resurge after restrictions are eased.


Margaret Payne has raised nearly £400k

Prince Charles hails 90-year-old raising money for by climbing stairs

Evening StandardThe Prince of Wales has written a letter of support to a 90-year-old raising money to help fight coronavirus by climbing the height of Suilven on her staircase.

Margaret Payne has raised over £390,000 for the NHS, Highlands Hospice and RNLI in the last two months. 


With high levels of UV and pollen in the air and people beginning to spend more times outside as lockdown eases, they should wear sunscreen and suitable clothing – Met Office spokesman. 

UK brace for thunderstorms and humidity as hot temperatures continue

The UK will be hit by thunderstorms and heavy humidity as hot temperatures continue into next week.

Forecasters say that moist air is being blown in from eastern Europe with muggy conditions and thunderstorms set to sweep across Britain. While the mercury continues to hover in the low-mid 20s tomorrow and early next week, the country will see a mixed bag of sunshine, humid air and heavy showers.


A five-year-old has hugged her grandmother for the first time in three months as the Government’s new “support bubble” scheme came into effect in England on Saturday.

Heidi, from Worthing, West Sussex, was able to embrace Nana Pam because her grandmother lives alone and can now pair with one other household for support without observing social distancing rules.

Heidi’s father Gareth Snow, 37, filmed the moment the “best friends” were reunited.

“Today we have been able to reunite Nana Pam with her granddaughter and best friend Heidi,” he told the PA news agency.

“It has been a long three months of FaceTime and doorstep hellos at a distance, which has been hard on both of them as they are usually so close.

“For those living alone this will make life so much easier – a little bit of ‘normal’.

“They can now go for a walk along the seafront, picnic in the park together… Simple things that have sadly not been possible during lockdown.”

In Ashtead, Surrey, another grandparent was reunited with her family, including Emily, 10, Daisy, seven, and Benjamin, four, who had travelled from Bromley to see their grandmother.

Susan, who did not wish to give her second name, is retired and has been knitting jumpers for the trio during lockdown but it was the first time she had seen her grandchildren since March.

The new rule, which commenced on Saturday, means adults living alone or a single parent with children under the age of 18 can be treated as a single household for the purposes of following lockdown rules.

That means they can visit each other indoors in their homes – even staying overnight if they wish – and they will not have to observe the previous two-metre social-distancing rule.

The move comes ahead of a further easing of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England, with the reopening of non-essential shops on Monday.


UK coronavirus death toll up by 80

The total consists of figures from each devolved region, including NHS England hospital figures. It does not include deaths in England which have taken place in other settings.


    The latest statistics from NHS England

    Another 67 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died in hospital in England, taking the total number of confirmed deaths in hospitals in England to 27,927, NHS England said.



    We will be bringing you the news from today’s UK protests amid calls for people to stay away due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    But we also have a dedicated blog here when you can keep up to date with all the latest developments. 


    And from Wales

    Public Health Wales said another six people had died after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total number of deaths to 1,441.

    A further 45 people had tested positive for the virus, taking the total of confirmed cases in Wales to 14,703.


    Figures from Northern Ireland

    Two further coronavirus-linked deaths have been reported in Northern Ireland, taking the total recorded by the Department of Health to 541.

    There were three new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total to 4,841 since the pandemic began.