UK coronavirus LIVE: Face masks mandatory in takeaways and shops as death toll rises by 19

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  • July 23, 2020
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It will be compulsory to wear a face covering when buying food and drink to take away from cafes and shops from Friday, the Government has said.

Face coverings will be mandatory for shops and supermarkets, banks, building societies and post offices. But they will not be mandatory in places such as restaurants and pubs, hairdressers, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.

It comes as the coronavirus death toll in UK hospitals rose by 19 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson arrived in Scotland earlier to meet with businesses hit by the pandemic, as well as military personnel to thank them for their efforts in the response to the crisis. Ahead of his visit, the Prime Minister said the “the sheer might of our union has been proven once again” in the last six months.

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Live Updates


Death toll rises by 19 in hospitals in England

A further 19 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,231, NHS England said.


Patients were aged between 35 and 89 years old and all had known underlying health conditions.


Another six deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.


Staff contracted coronavirus after being incorrectly fitted with mask

Fourteen staff at a Northern Ireland health trust contracted coronavirus after having been incorrectly fitted for a protective mask.


The chief executive of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said it was working on the assumption that the staff could have contracted Covid-19 as a result of their failed FFP3 masks.


Seamus McGoran told the Assembly’s Health committee that all affected staff had recovered from the virus and were back at work.


Northern Ireland’s chief nursing officer Charlotte McArdle later told committee members that none of the other four trusts in the region had recorded Covid-19 infections among staff who required refitting for FFP3 masks.


Public not expected to report people not wearing masks in shops, Downing Street says

Downing Street said it did not expect members of the public to report those who were not wearing masks in shops from Friday due to voluntary take-up of the policy.


The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “You’ve seen over the course of recent months the British public have voluntarily chosen to follow the guidance because they want to help slow the spread of the virus and I’m sure that will be the case with face coverings as well.


“With shops, we would expect them to give advice to customers and remind them that they should be wearing a face covering and I’m sure the overwhelming majority of the public will do so.”


Those not wearing their masks properly over both mouth and nose will be “advised as to the right and safest way to wear a face mask” rather than be immediately fined up to £100 for non-compliance, said the Number 10 spokesman.


“That would be the sensible approach,” he said.


Nicola Sturgeon thanks those who are shielding

The First Minister also sent a “sincere and heartfelt” thanks to those who are shielding.


Nicola Sturgeon said: “That has been incredibly tough and it’s easy for me to say that but the reality is I actually find it hard to fully imagine just how difficult it has been.”


The First Minister also said that the shielding category has shown the collective effort needed from Scots to ensure that the virus remains at a low transmission rate.


She said: “Shielding and shielding people demonstrate, perhaps more powerfully than anything does, just how all of us are dependent right now on each other’s actions.


“The reason that we can pause shielding, hopefully at the end of next week, is because all of us have stuck to the guidance so far – and all of us need to continue to do that in order that we continue collectively to protect those at risk.”


The First Minister also told employers and schools in Scotland to reach out to those who have been shielding to discuss what can be done to keep them safe upon their return and to offer reassurance.


Coronavirus crisis shows the UK stronger together, says Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the coronavirus crisis has shown the benefits of the union working together at the start of a trip to Scotland.

He said the strength of the UK has been critical in the response to Covid-19 and spoke about his desire to “build back better” after the pandemic.

Ahead of his arrival in Stromness, a town on the Orkney islands, a small group of masked protesters gathered, waving signs that said “Hands off Scotland” and “Our Scotland, our future”, while an “Indy Ref Now” placard was seen on the side of a van.

Mr Johnson told the BBC: “What you have seen throughout this crisis is the union working together with money for supporting people through furlough, the Army working on the testing, moving people around.

“But now what you want to do is build back better together with a green recovery and here in Orkney they are streets ahead on hydrogen technology, on green technology.”

The UK and Scottish Governments are both contributing £50 million to a £100 million growth deal for the Northern and Western Isles.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed his presence north of the border highlights one of the “key arguments” for independence.

She tweeted: “I welcome the PM to Scotland today. One of the key arguments for independence is the ability of Scotland to take our own decisions, rather than having our future decided by politicians we didn’t vote for, taking us down a path we haven’t chosen. His presence highlights that.”

Mr Johnson will not meet the First Minister during the visit to Scotland.


Government buys ‘state-of-the-art’ vaccine production facility

The Government has bought a vaccine manufacturing facility to help ensure any coronavirus vaccine can be produced at scale in the UK.

Ministers announced that the Government will invest an extra £100 million in the new state-of-the-art centre to scale up Covid-19 vaccine and gene therapy manufacturing.

The investment will fund a Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Braintree, Essex – due to open in December 2021.

The Government said the centre, bought from Benchmark Holdings, will have the capacity to produce millions of doses a month, ensuring the UK has the capabilities to manufacture vaccines and advanced medicines, including for emerging diseases, far into the future.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “We are taking all necessary steps to ensure we can vaccinate the public as soon as a successful Covid-19 vaccine becomes available.

“This new Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre, alongside crucial investment in skills, will support our efforts to rapidly produce millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine while ensuring the UK can respond quickly to potential future pandemics.”


Road traffic returning to pre-pandemic levels

Road traffic is fast approaching levels from before the pandemic, new figures show.

The number of vehicles on Britain’s roads on Monday was 88 per cent of an equivalent day in early February, according to Department for Transport data – up four percentage points week-on-week.

The figures were even higher over the weekend, at 94 per cent on Saturday and 98 per cent on Sunday.

A breakdown of the data shows that on Monday the number of cars on the road was 85 per cent of what it was before the coronavirus outbreak, with vans and lorries at 97 per cent and 99 per cent respectively.

In comparison, the latest confirmed data for trains show demand on July 13 was only 22 per cent of what it was pre-lockdown.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, told the PA news agency: “The national figures suggest that we are fast heading for pre-lockdown traffic levels in the round, but not necessarily at the same times of day.

“With many office staff still working from home, schools only re-opening to a limited extent and delivery vans stopping us driving to the high street, we’ve escaped the full misery of the morning rush hour.”


83 per cent of close contacts of people with Covid-19 identified

Since the launch of Test and Trace, 169,546 close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 have been reached through the tracing system and asked to self-isolate.


This is 83.6% out of a total of 202,781 people identified as close contacts.


The remaining 33,235 people (16.4%) were identified as close contacts, but were not reached.


The weekly figures show that 77.9% of close contacts were reached in the week ending July 15, up from 72.0% in the previous week, but down on the 90.7% reached in the first week of Test and Trace (week ending June 3).


Latest figures on contact tracing

A total of 38,877 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England have had their cases transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system since its launch, according to figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.


Of this total, 29,962 people (77.1%) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts, while 7,614 (19.6%) were not reached.


A further 1,301 people (3.3%) could not be reached because their communication details had not been provided.


The figures cover the period May 28 to July 15.


Shopworkers’ union calls for clear guidance on face coverings

Commenting on the wearing of masks in shops in England from Friday, Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “It is right to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in shops, but we must recognise that expert advice says it is an additional protection on top of existing safety measures.


“There now must be clear and detailed guidance from the Government and we urge them to work with Usdaw and retail employers to draw that up, as we successfully did on joint safety guidance for the reopening of high street retail with the British Retail Consortium.


“Usdaw is urging employers to stay with the established two-metre social distancing, using screens at tills and limiting the number of shoppers in store at any one time.


“Employers must also be aware that staff will need regular breaks when they can take their face covering off and have the opportunity to replace it. Staff on tills who are behind screens should not be required to wear a face covering.


“We welcome the indication that shop workers will not be expected to enforce the wearing of face coverings. They are already dealing with more abuse than normal and this could be another flashpoint.


“There must also be clarity on age identification procedures, under the ‘Think-25’ policy, when a customer is wearing a face covering.


“We now need a public information campaign to explain the correct use of face coverings, that some people are exempt from wearing face coverings and the importance of maintaining existing social distancing and hygiene measures.”


Jeremy Hunt: NHS staff should be given weekly coronavirus tests from September

NHS staff should be given at least weekly Covid-19 tests from September, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.


In a letter to the current Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the head of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens, Mr Hunt said nurses, doctors, cleaners and porters needed the reassurance of regular testing given fears of a second spike in virus cases in the winter.


The chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee also said patients are being left in limbo by interruptions in NHS care caused by the pandemic.


Mr Hunt said: “NHS staff want to know they will get the weekly testing that has now been offered to care home staff so they can be confident they won’t pass on infections to patients.


“The chief medical officer for England (Professor Chris Whitty) says he supports this in principle so there should be no further delays given the complicated logistics necessary to set it up ahead of winter.”


Doctor runs 22 miles in face mask to show they do not lower oxygen levels


London mayor launches online cycle training course to aid ‘green recovery’

Sadiq Khan has launched a new online cycle training course as part of measures to promote a “green recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic.


Cycle Skills helps participants get their bike ready for their first ride, offers tips for avoiding potential hazards and has guidance for cycling with children.


It is available on Transport for London’s (TfL) website and is “tailored to cycling in London”, according to City Hall.


Everyone who completes the four training modules will be sent a free 24-hour access code for rental scheme Santander Cycles.


Bahrain and Qatar have world’s highest per capita rates of coronavirus

The small, neighboring sheikhdoms of Bahrain and Qatar have the world’s highest per capita rates of coronavirus infections.

In the two countries, Covid-19 epidemics initially swept undetected through camps housing healthy and young foreign laborers, studies now show.


In Qatar, a new study found that nearly 60 per cent of those testing positive showed no symptoms at all, calling into question the usefulness of mass temperature checks meant to stop the infected from mingling with others.

In Bahrain, authorities put the asymptomatic figure even higher, at 68 per cent.


Third of women told to dress ‘sexier’ and wear make-up for work video calls


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Face masks WILL be mandatory at takeaways and coffee shops, minister confirms


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British tourists in Spain dismiss coronavirus second wave fears despite surge in infections


Domestic abuse commissioner calls for plan to help tackle abuse in the home amid pandemic

Domestic abuse commissioner Nicole Jacobs has called for the Government to put a plan in place to help tackle abuse in the home, warning of a surge beyond the autumn in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.


Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said a 77 per cent rise in use of domestic abuse helplines during June was “stark” and that charities were seeing a “surge in demand for services” since the lockdown was eased.


Ms Jacobs added: “There has been some Government funding but just to point out that that funding is in place and has been given to charities and services until the end of October.


“Of course, this surge is going to go well beyond that so one thing the Government needs to put in place is a plan post-October and that is quite urgent to do now because we can see the evidence is right in front of us.”


She said it was part of employers’ “responsibility” to protect staff wellbeing and understand how their workers were faring during lockdown, including in respect of the possibility of domestic abuse.


MPs slam Government’s ‘astonishing failure’ to plan for economic impact of pandemic


SNP Westminster leader says he does not think PM’s message about Scotland’s dependence on the Union during coronavirus will be well received during visit


Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ian Blackford said: “I think he’s going to find that this message is going to go down particularly badly in Scotland.


“Is he really saying that any other small nation in Europe and any other part of the world doesn’t have the capability to deal with the Covid crisis?


“I think the days of telling Scotland that we are either too wee, too poor or too stupid really is over.


“I think what we’ve demonstrated over the past two months in the areas of devolved responsibility and of public health is that the leadership that has been shown by our First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) is in sharp contrast with the bluster we have seen from Boris Johnson.”