FACE mask wearing will not be compulsory in bars and restaurants, Environment Secretary George Eustice has said.
His comments come as officials announce that wearing a face mask in shops and supermarkets will be made mandatory in England this month.
In a statement on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that anyone failing to comply with the order – which comes into force on July 24 – could face a fine of up to £100.
Mr Hancock said: “The liability for wearing face-covering lies with the individual.
“Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply. The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.”
Meanwhile, the UK’s coronavirus death toll increased by 11 to 44,830 on July 13 – the lowest rise since the outbreak began.
Follow the latest news and updates surrounding coronavirus below…
Wearing a face covering will become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England from 24 July.
They are already compulsory in Scotland – but different rules apply across the UK.
What are the face coverings rules in shops?
It will be compulsory to wear a face covering in shops in England from Friday 24 July.
However, the rules won’t apply to shop workers, government minister George Eustice told the BBC.
Those who fail to wear a mask will face a fine of up to £100. This will be reduced to £50 if people pay within 14 days.
The rules will be enforced by the police, rather than shop workers. The National Police Chiefs’ Council says guidance will be issued to officers once the details of the new legislation are known.
People also won’t be required to wear a covering in places where it’s not practical – such as in a pub, cafe or restaurant – according to Mr Eustice. Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
In Scotland, it’s been a requirement to wear face coverings in shops since 10 July. Anyone not wearing one can be fined £60 fine (reduced to £30 if paid within 28 days) for a first offence.
People with certain medical conditions or disabilities, and children under five are exempt in Scotland.
Shop staff do not have to wear them, but it is “strongly recommended” in the guidance that they do.
Why are the rules in England changing?
Since mid-May the public in England have been advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, such as supermarkets, where it can be difficult to follow social distancing rules.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says there is growing evidence that wearing them helps protect individuals and those around them from the virus.
Making it mandatory sends a stronger signal to people about their value.
What are the face covering rules on public transport?
Since 15 June, anyone travelling by bus, train, ferry or plane in England must wear a face covering.
Some passengers are exempt from the rules including:
- Children under 11
- People with disabilities
- Those with breathing difficulties
- Anyone travelling with someone who relies on lip reading
If it is “reasonably necessary” for you to eat or drink, you can remove the face covering to do so.
People can be refused travel if they don’t follow the rules, and can be fined as a last resort.
Public transport excludes cruise ships, school transport, taxis and private hire vehicles. However, ride-sharing company Uber has made face coverings compulsory.
In Scotland, it is also compulsory to wear face coverings on all public transport
Coverings will also be made mandatory on public transport in Wales from 27 July. These coverings should be three layers thick. It’s also recommended that coverings are worn whenever social distancing is not possible.
The wearing of face coverings on most buses, trains and ferries became mandatory in Northern Ireland on 10 July.
Where am I supposed to get a face covering?
The government has been careful to use the term “face covering” rather than “face mask” – with surgical masks kept for medical use.
How many people wear face coverings?
There is a lot of variation around the world when it comes to wearing face coverings in public, according to polling company YouGov.
People in Asian countries are most likely to say they wear them. In Singapore, where it is an offence not to wear a mask outside your home, 90% of people do so – the highest rate in the world.
In Europe, the proportion of people wearing masks is highest in Spain (86%), followed by Italy (83%) and France (78%).
In the UK, just 36% of people say they wear a mask in public – although this has been steadily increasing.
In the US, the rate is 73%, which is slightly higher than its neighbour Canada (60%).
The data comes from surveys run in nearly 30 countries.
Do face coverings work?
World Health Organization (WHO) advice says non-medical face coverings should be worn in public where social distancing is not possible.
Coronavirus is spread when droplets are sprayed into the air when infected people talk, cough or sneeze. Those droplets can then fall on surfaces.
The WHO says there is also emerging evidence of airborne transmission of the virus, with tiny particles hanging in aerosol form in the air.
Homemade cloth face coverings can help reduce the spread from people who are contagious but have no symptoms or are yet to develop symptoms. This is called asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission.
Scientists in Singapore suggest the contagion risk is especially high in the 24-48 hours before an infected person is even aware they might have the disease.
Taking a face covering on and off can also risk contamination, the WHO says.
Police have raised concerns that enforcing face mask rules in shops is “unrealistic and unfair,” if shoppers refuse to wear face coverings in England.
The Police Federation, representing rank and file officers, said it was “unrealistic and unfair” to expect them to patrol the aisles looking for people breaking the coronavirus regulations.
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Policing the wearing of face coverings in shops can’t be a priority because we simply don’t have the resources.”
He added: “Only as this last resort should the police get involved.
“To expect my colleagues to be policing the supermarket aisles, looking for those shoppers not wearing a face covering, is unrealistic and unfair.”
Police in England are to be given new powers to enforce the wearing of face masks in all shops from July 24, the point at which they will become compulsory.
The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 will be amended to allow police to issue fines of up to £100 to people who do not wear face coverings.
Your new face mask etiquette guide
As the Government announces that wearing a face covering in shops will be mandatory, Rosa Silverman looks at the where, whens and hows:
After much prevarication over the question of masks, a decision has finally been reached. More than four months into the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has concluded that actually it would be a good idea to make mandatory the wearing of facial coverings in shops.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we will all agree on how to interpret the directive. As we have seen in recent weeks, the country is in an argumentative and judgmental mood. We better get some ground rules in place and establish just what our new face mask etiquette should be…
Click here to look at our must-read guide for face coverings.
Moderna vaccine induced antibodies in all trial participants, study says
An experimental Covid-19 vaccine that is being developed by US biotech firm Moderna induced antibody responses against the coronavirus in all 45 participants of a human trial, a paper published today showed.
Moderna had previously published “interim results” from its Phase 1 in the form of a press release on its website in May, which revealed the vaccine had generated immune responses in eight patients.
Though these were called “encouraging” by Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases official, the full study had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community.
The company has since moved to the next stage of its trial, involving 600 people.
The new paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Face coverings in all public places under consideration
The proposal which could see masks encouraged in offices is being considered amid fears over a second wave. Harry Yorke and Gordon Rayner have the full story:
Face coverings could soon be recommended in all public places including offices and other workplaces after ministers introduced new laws forcing people to wear them in shops, the Telegraph has learnt.
Officials have begun private talks with groups representing major employers amid growing fears within Government over the prospect of a second wave of covid infections in the autumn.
The talks came as a council in Lancashire became the first to order face coverings to be worn in all workplaces and enclosed public spaces following a rise in coronavirus infections.
President Macron also announced that face masks will soon become compulsory in all indoor public places in France as parts of America reimposed lockdowns.
You can read their full story here.
Watch: The Queen speaks to members of the Armed Forces affected by Covid-19 at home and overseas
The Queen has taken part in a video call with members of the Armed Forces to hear about the vital work that continues for the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force at home and overseas.
Her Majesty spoke to three service personnel who joined the call from around the world, as well as the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, about how their duties have been affected by the current pandemic, and the impact on their families at home.
Shop assistants fear abuse from customers over mandatory face coverings
Rizwan Ahmed, a shop assistant at a small supermarket in Maida Vale, London, said most customers arrive without face coverings despite signs requesting they wear one.
Mr Ahmed, 38, said: “I’ve been telling everyone (to wear masks), but people don’t care now.
“Some people wear them, some don’t. Say we have 100 people pass through the shop, about 10 will be wearing a mask.”
He said having to enforce the new law will create a “difficult situation” for shop assistants, adding: “There could be trouble, because some customers mind.”
Supermarket assistant Holly, 34, from Solihull, agreed the restriction is likely to cause tension between staff and customers.
She told PA: “We have had people become very irate when we have had to limit purchases and remind them about the one-way system.
“So yes, I do think myself and the colleagues will get more abuse from members of the public. Especially our regulars who probably think we will let them off.”
She added the restriction is “too little too late” and the police do not have time to deal with shoplifters, let alone people failing to wear a mask.
Sweden gives green light to indoor nursing home visits by those with Covid-19 antibodies
Family members and visiting carers must prove their coronavirus status with test results no older than six months. Henry Samuel has the full story:
Sweden has authorised asymptomatic people who have Covid-19 antibodies to visit family members inside nursing homes in a major shift in public health policy by a country that bucked the global trend for full lockdowns.
Until now, Sweden had banned indoor visits and imposed strict limits on outdoor ones.
However, in an update to its guidelines, the National Board of Health and Welfare outlined exceptions to the rules. Among these, it gave the green light to indoor visits from people who can prove they have developed antibodies to Covid-19 and provide a test no older than six months that has been approved by the public health agency.
It is a retirement home’s responsibility to ensure the individual’s test result is reliable. Visitors must also not display any Covid-19 symptoms, which can last for several months after someone is first infected.
You can read the full story here.
Mexico proposes to extend ban on land border crossings
Mexico proposed to the United States extending a ban on non-essential travel by land over their shared border for another 30 days considering the development of the coronavirus pandemic, Mexico’s foreign ministry said.
The measure would be in place until August 21, under the same terms agreed when they were first implemented on March 21, the ministry added.
Trump administration reverses course on order barring some foreign students
The Trump administration decided to drop its bid to bar some students that would force international students to leave the country if all their coursework is moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic, in a dramatic reversal from a policy announced just days ago.
US District Judge Allison Burroughs in Massachusetts said the US government and Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who sued over the measure had come to a settlement that would make the rule moot.
There’s no guarantee a coronavirus vaccine will last a lifetime – antibodies are only part of the story
Research has cast doubt on long lasting immunity and highlighted the role of T cells, which may have big implications for potential vaccines.
Sarah Newey and Paul Nuki from our Global Health Security team have the full story:
Two important studies on the human immune response to a Covid-19 infection are causing scientists to reassess how vaccines might work and be delivered.
Hopes remain that a “one-shot-and-you’re-protected-for-life” vaccine will still emerge, but the more we learn about the immune response to the virus, the less straightforward that seems.
It is more plausible, say some experts, that the first Covid vaccines will be time-limited, requiring booster shots every few years. Others may work, not by preventing infections completely, but by relieving the worst of the symptoms.
The first of these new studies shows that the protective antibodies fade relatively quickly from the blood – just as they do with other coronaviruses.
You can read the full story here.
Florida posts record high death toll
The US state of Florida – one of the current epicenters in the nation’s coronavirus crisis – posted a record number of deaths for a 24-hour period at 132.
The state department of health announced the grim milestone in its daily statistics on the virus pandemic. It reported more than 9,000 new cases in the same 24-hour span.
Overall, Florida has recorded more than 290,000 cases and more than 4,400 deaths.
The Sunshine State’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, moved quickly to begin loosening lockdown restrictions in early May, before most other states.
In an unusually direct criticism, top US health official Anthony Fauci said last week that Florida had moved out of its lockdown before public health indicators justified such a move.
DeSantis contested that, saying his decision was based on the best data at the time.
Why Boris Johnson is having to sacrifice his libertarian values in the battle against coronavirus
The Prime Minister went against his natural instincts when he made face coverings in shops mandatory this week. Camilla Tominey, our Associate Editor has the full story:
When he wrote his infamous Telegraph column about Muslim women who wear the burka resembling letterboxes, Boris Johnson made an impassioned case against face coverings while also arguing against an outright burka ban.
“If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly,” the then future Prime Minister wrote in 2018.
“Human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work.”
Having long opposed forcing anyone to do anything against their will, Mr Johnson undoubtedly went against his natural instincts when he made face coverings mandatory in shops this week. Anyone failing to comply with the order in England, which applies from July 24, could face a fine of up to £100.
You canread her full analysis here.
US deaths rise by 351
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now reported 3,355,457 cases of coronaviru.
This is an increase of 58,858 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 351 to 135,235.
The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.
Do face masks work? Here’s what the science says
Experts fear making face coverings compulsory could give people false sense of security, leading them to ignore other hygiene practices. Sarah Knapton, our Science Editor, has more:
If you are confused about whether to wear a face mask, you’re not alone. Even scientists cannot come to a consensus on whether they are a useful health intervention or could make the situation worse.
The politicians seem equally divided, with Boris Johnson signalling that mask-wearing will soon become mandatory, while Michael Gove believes people should be allowed to use their own judgment.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised against mask wearing, only changing its advice last month to encourage their use where physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport.
But even the WHO is concerned that face coverings give a false sense of protection which may lead people to abandon other crucial strategies, such as hand-washing and social distancing.
You can read her full analysis here.
Watch: UK public reacts to wearing mandatory face masks in shops
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that mandatory face coverings in shops have a role to play “both physically and financially” in the nation’s recovery.
“As we restore shopping, we must keep our shopkeepers safe,” he said. – but how did the Great British public react to the news.
Police in England will also be given new powers to enforce the wearing of face masks in all shops from July 24, the point at which they will become compulsory.
Ireland likely to move to final phase of lockdown next week, says deputy PM
Ireland looks set to enter the fourth and final phase of its Covid-19 lockdown next week, which will allow all bars and nightclubs to open and gatherings of up to 100 people indoors, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.
“There has been an uptick in the number of new Covid cases in the last week or two … (but) I don’t think that the increase has been so enormous that at this stage it should prevent us moving to stage 4,” Varadkar said.
He said he was hopeful that non-essential office workers, who have been working from home since March, might begin to return to their workplaces on a part-time basis in the coming weeks.
No vaccine, no carnival, Rio’s samba schools warn
Some of Rio’s biggest samba schools say they will not participate in next year’s Carnival unless a coronavirus vaccine is widely available, Brazilian media have reported.
Five of the 12 top samba schools, including Mangueira and Beija Flor, told Brazil’s O Globo newspaper they would vote to postpone the parades at a meeting set for Tuesday.
“It’s simple. If there’s no vaccine, there will be no samba,” said the head of the Sao Clemente school, Renatinho Gomes.
“How can you gather crowds without collective immunity?”
The mayor of the northwestern city of Salvador de Bahia, where festivities also attract thousands of tourists, has proposed postponing the carnival season nationwide until April or June.
However samba school directors remain doubtful about fixing a date without a vaccine.
“Without a vaccine, it is impossible to organize the carnival on any day, be it February or June,” said Fernando Fernandes, director of Vila Isabel school.
Extra measures in Blackburn and Darwen after Covid spike
Extra measures including a limit on the number of people allowed to visit a household have been announced in Blackburn with Darwen after a rise in coronavirus cases.
On Tuesday, the Lancashire authority’s director of public health Dominic Harrison announced the new measures to be followed for the next month with the aim of avoiding a local lockdown.
The restrictions include a limit of two people from the same household allowed to visit another home.
Figures published on Tuesday showed Blackburn had 47 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to July 11, up from 31.6 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to July 4.
The authority is third on the list of highest weekly rates, behind Leicester, which has a rate of 118.2 cases per 100,000 and is subject to a local lockdown, and nearby Pendle, with a rate of 76.6.
UK deaths up by 138
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 44,968 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Sunday – up by 138 from 44,830 the previous day.
The DHSC also said that in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 398 lab-confirmed UK cases. Overall, a total of 291,373 cases have been confirmed.
News chiefs warn of impact of fake news on public health
News chiefs have warned about the impact of fake news on public health during the coronavirus pandemic.
World leaders including Brazil’s President Bolsonaro and President Trump of the US are also responsible for pushing conspiracy theories that can be harmful, the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee was told.
Anna Mallett, chief executive officer of ITN, said: “The pandemic has emphasised the importance of trusted, regulated news, but it has also accelerated a number of trends in platform funding and operations that I think could have a profound impact on the future of news in the UK if not carefully considered.”
She added: “We have also seen an acceleration of viewing online and a wave of disinformation of consumer hoaxes, and this has posed a real risk to the health of our citizens, our economy and our democracy, and crucially fake news can undermine the response to public authorities and weaken health measures.
“We see this as part of a wider trend of unregulated and unreliable news sources on digital platforms and currently there is no value to platforms providing quality news, indeed fake news that goes viral may be of more value.”
Police raise concerns over enforcing face mask rules
Police chiefs said officers should only be involved “as a last resort” if shoppers refuse to wear face coverings in England.
Senior officers were blindsided by the announcement that it will be mandatory to wear the items from July 24, with shoppers facing a £100 fine if they refuse to comply.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said shopkeepers should be expected to manage entry into their stores and compliance with the law while inside.
The Police Federation, representing rank and file officers, said it was “unrealistic and unfair” to expect them to patrol the aisles looking for people breaking the coronavirus regulations.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs: “Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply.
“The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.”
Hungary lawmakers hand PM Orban EU virus deal veto
The Hungarian parliament has mandated Prime Minister Viktor Orban to veto a huge EU pandemic recovery fund deal if it is deemed unfair by Budapest or sets rule-of-law conditions.
EU leaders meet later this week to agree on a 750 billion euro coronavirus aid package aimed at helping countries hit hardest by the virus.
But Orban has said he will veto a deal if poorer EU members like Hungary receive less funding than richer ones, or if conditions like rule-of-law or migration policy conformity are imposed.
“Linking the funding to political and ideological conditions under the heading ‘rule-of-law’ is unacceptable,” read the parliamentary resolution text.
The money must also be used only to restart economic growth, protect and create jobs, today’s resolution said.
‘I have a phobia of face masks. It seems my lockdown is only just beginning’
Claustrophobia impacts one in ten people and can be triggered by face masks. For Hilary Freeman, it means shops will soon be out of bounds:
I have a recurrent nightmare. Something – an invisible presence – is holding me down; heavy on my chest and tight across my nose and mouth.
I am trying to scream, but no sound will come out. Often, I half wake in the middle of this nightmare, aware that I’m dreaming, but unable to reach full consciousness, until at last my voice breaks through in a squeak. It’s terrifying.
For me, the news that wearing face masks is to become mandatory in shops from July 24 is the living embodiment of my nightmare. That’s because, I’ve only recently discovered, I suffer from a type of claustrophobia that’s been dubbed “mask phobia”.
Every time I put on a face mask I panic, grow dizzy and nauseous, and I hyperventilate. I feel trapped and out of control; I get hotter and sweatier until my ears ring and I think I’m going to black out.
You can read the full piece here.
Babies may be able to contract coronavirus in the womb, according to French doctors
A study reports the case of a pregnant woman with Covid-19 passing it on to her baby via the placenta.
Previous studies have suggested transmission of the virus may occur in the period immediately before and after birth.
But it is unclear whether this takes place via the placenta, a cervical route or as a result of environmental exposure.
Now researchers have reported a case that suggests transmission in the womb may be possible.
A pregnant 23-year-old was admitted to hospital in March with a fever and severe cough, and tested positive for Covid-19.
Three days later her baby was born by caesarean. Tests one hour after birth, then again three and 18 days later, showed positive results for the presence of the virus.
Further tests on the newborn’s blood and fluid taken from the lungs revealed Covid-19 infection.
Watch: Robot chefs in growing demand due to coronavirus pandemic
The demand for robot chefs and cooks is growing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While food prep robots have been popular for some time, they could now become a necessity as the world looks to rebuild itself following Covid-19.
Food outlets are keen to observe stricter hygiene measures and put distance between the staff and customers to avoid potential transmission.
2 in 3 Britons feel plane travel coronavirus risk is too unsafe
Two thirds (64 per cent) of Britons have said they would not feel safe travelling internationally on a plane, up 40 per cent on last month, according to a YouGov poll.
Slightly more than half (54 per cent) of those surveyed said that they would feel unsafe travelling by train, and just under half (48 per cent) said they would not be happy to travel by ferry – both representing increases from 31 per cent in June.
The figures show ongoing concern among British holidaymakers, with 83 per cent having no intention to travel abroad for a holiday within the next six months.
Local coronavirus travel ban eyed by Germany to stop second wave
Germany’s point person in the coronavirus pandemic has said that the country is set to avoid a second surge in coronavirus infections, but only if people continue to practice social distancing, wear masks and if necessary, quarantine in areas that experience new cases.
Helge Braun, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff who is tasked with coordinating the government’s pandemic response, said that Germany is considering local travel bans for areas that see a sudden, unexplained surge in virus cases.
“Our measures are appropriate to preventing a a second big wave,” Braun told The Associated Press in an interview at the Chancellery in Berlin. “But this requires us to stay the course, not get careless in our measures and maintain our respect for the virus.”
Germany has so far flattened the curve of coronavirus to three per 100,000 inhabitants a week, which is a low rate by international comparisons. With a population of 83 million, the country has reported just over 200,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, and 9,077 deaths since the outbreak began.
“We looked at [herd immunity] and our conclusion was that unless one brings the infection under control very strongly, then it will tend to grow exponentially,” Braun also said in the interview. “We discarded herd immunity as a political policy completely.”
Braun refused to comment on the high number of confirmed cases in the United States at the moment, but he said that his office was in constant contact with other governments to share best practices.
How to stop your glasses steaming up when wearing a mask
Tips have today been released by Specsavers for those who might struggle to balance wearing glasses with the new requirement to wear a face mask – the advice is as follows:
- Stop slipping by wrapping the string of the facemask around the sides of your glasses, rather than your ears – just make sure you’re careful when taking off your glasses as your mask will be attached.
- If you can (and it’s comfortable), pull your mask further up your nose and place glasses on top. This will help seal the mask around your nose, stopping the warm air from your breath escaping and steaming up your lenses.
- Try using a piece of surgical tape to hold your mask in place on the bridge of your nose and give your specs additional grip.
No plans for face masks in shops in Wales
Face coverings are yet to be made mandatory in shops in Wales because coronavirus is at its “lowest ebb” in the country, the finance minister of Wales, Rebecca Evans, has said.
Ms Evans said that it was important for country to take a “proportionate response” to the pandemic, following the UK Government’s decision to enforce the use of face coverings for shoppers in England from July 24 onwards.
Face coverings will only become mandatory in Wales on public transport under new legislation that is to take effect from July 27.
Full steam ahead for museum reopenings
After 119 days of closure under the coronavirus lockdown, the National Railway Museum in York and Locomotion in Shildon, County Durham have announced their plans to reopen to the public this summer.
Locomotion will reopen on Tuesday 28 July and the National Railway Museum will reopen the following week on Tuesday 4 August, with rigorous cleaning regimes and additional site-wide cleaning in place each day.
Visitors will be encouraged to wear face masks in possible, and in a significant change visitors at both attractions will need to book a timed slot in advance, with tickets free but limited in order to avoid overcrowding.
Local lockdown clarity sought by Manchester Mayor
Working conditions could be leaving people exposed to coronavirus, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham told a press conference today as he called for more clarity from the Government.
Giving a joint address with Steve Rotheram, metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Mr Burnham said that the Government should provide more information to local authorities on those who have tested positive for coronavirus.
Mr Burnham said that the Government was “at risk of not observing their own law” by not providing daily data, which identified patients, to councils, while calling for clarity on at what point the Government will intervene to implement local lockdowns.
The metro-mayor said a high number of cases in Rochdale may be linked to a warehousing operation which had been the “focus of some extra work with regards to testing”.
In the House of Commons today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that patient identifiable data is available to local authorities, and “we plan to publish more and more of this data as open data”, but noted that “there has to be a data protection agreement”.
Virgin Atlantic lands rescue deal as new measures unveiled
Virgin Atlantic has unveiled a £1.2 billion bailout package involving only private funds, which includes £200 million provided by founder Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
Support has also been given by Delta Air Lines – which owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic – in addition to funds from new private investors and existing creditors.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said:
Few could have predicted the scale of the Covid-19 crisis we have witnessed and undoubtedly, the last six months have been the toughest we have faced in our 36-year history.
We have taken painful measures, but we have accomplished what many thought impossible.
The solvent recapitalisation of Virgin Atlantic will ensure that we can continue to provide vital connectivity and competition to consumers and businesses in Britain and beyond.
We greatly appreciate the support of our shareholders, creditors and new private investors and together, we will ensure that Virgin Atlantic can emerge a sustainably profitable airline, with a healthy balance sheet.
The package is worth £1.2 billion over the next 18 months and is in addition to measures already taken that include cost savings of around £280 million per year.
Bastille Day 2020: Paris flypast takes place as France coronavirus nurses get a pay rise
France has pledged to pay nurses and care workers an extra €183 (£165) per month as it honoured its national health heroes in a downsized Bastille Day ceremony, reports Henry Samuel.
July 14 is normally a time for the military to flex its muscles in a dazzling military parade down the Champs-Elysées followed by an evening of spectacular fireworks.
But for the first time since 1945, the ceremony made way for frontline health workers treated to a vibrant Marseillaise and whose fight against the coronavirus epidemic President Emmanuel Macron has likened to “a war”.
With France fretful of an upsurge in infections in a country whose death toll has now surpassed 30,000, the streets were empty as troops and armoured vehicles paraded to mark the 1789, storming of the Bastille fortress that launched the French Revolution.
Matt Hancock challenged over face masks announcement
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was challenged over the face mask announcement by his opposite number, the shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, who said mixed messaging had been “so damaging”.
“It didn’t have to be this way, we didn’t have to have this confusion,” Mr Ashworth said, referring to a weekend which saw Michael Gove rule out compulsory masks in shops prior to the policy announcement.
“Why has it taken two months for him to make this advice mandatory, and why will it take another 11 days [to come into effect]?”
Mr Hancock replied that Labour should not be “trying to turn this into a party political football”, and that the Government will “continue to bring in measures as they are appropriate”.
A different criticism altogether was levelled by the Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne, who said: “Nothing would make it less likely for me to go shopping than the thought of having to wear a mask”.
The member for New Forest West described a face mask a “monstrous imposition against myself” and stressed that his constituents are outraged by the latest restriction, but the Health Secretary said it was the best way to ensure “the ancient freedoms [of] a gentleman going shopping”.
UK coronavirus deaths: Hospital toll up by 28
The coronavirus hospital death toll in the UK has increased by 28, which is the lowest rise recorded on a Tuesday during lockdown, and down 30 per cent from a week ago.
Twenty-six of the deaths were reported in England, and a further two deaths were logged in Wales. Northern Ireland and Scotland did not report any fatalities, the latter having recorded no new deaths for a sixth day in a row.
The UK’s most up-to-date death toll across all settings will be announced later today.
Hancock’s half-hour: Health Secretary addresses the Commons on face masks in shops
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has addressed the House of Commons to discuss the imminent legislative changes surrounding the use of face masks.
Mr Hancock said:
In recent weeks we’ve reopened retail and footfall is rising. We want to give people the confidence to shop safely and enhanced protection for those who work in retail, who have unfortunately suffered disproportionately in this crisis. As we restore shopping, we must keep our shopkeepers safe.
Together with other social distancing measures, face coverings can make shoppers feel even more confident about returning to the High Street, and the chair of the Federation of Small Businesses has said that small businesses know that mandatory face coverings have a role to play in the nation’s recovery both physically and financially.
Last month we, made face coverings mandatory on public transport and in NHS settings. This has been successful in giving people more confidence, and providing people with additional protection when they’re not able to keep two metres from others – particularly people they do not normally keep in contact with.
Mr Hancock confirmed that police will have the power to issue fines of up to £100, in line with the sanction for not wearing a mask on public transport; and that children under 11, plus those with certain disabilities, will be exempt.
Unemployment rate in the UK in 2020 forecast to hit 3 million amid coronavirus crisis
The Office for Budget Responsibility has predicted that unemployment will hit 8.8 per cent this year.
This is equivalent to three million unemployed people as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The OBR notes that total hours worked already slumped more than forecast in March due to furloughing.
Israel coronavirus outbreak likely to continue until the end of 2021, says minister
The coronavirus outbreak is likely to continue up until the end of next year, Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said on Tuesday, adding that Israel could need to operate designated quarantine hotels until that time.
“The working assumption has to be that operations will continue until the end of 2021, that is, the entire year next year will also be all about the crisis,” Gantz said at an online meeting.
There are more than 41,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Israel, and energy minister Yuval Steinitz – who is a political ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – yesterday called for an immediate lockdown of up to two weeks after a renewed outbreak followed the easing of restrictions.
Asthma and face masks: Leading charity reacts to masks in shops announcement
While face masks are to become the norm in shops from later this month, it is important to remember that not everybody will be required – or able – to cover up.
Sarah MacFadyen, head of policy at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said that while it is important to wear a face gathering whilst the risks of Covid-19 remains, “greater awareness” is needed of exemptions:
Most people will be able to wear a face covering with no problem, but some people find that wearing a mask makes them feel like they can’t breathe.
As face coverings become mandatory in shops in England, we urge the public to think twice before they judge someone for not wearing a face mask.
Not all health conditions are visible and people with lung conditions have already told us that they’ve been publicly confronted by strangers about not wearing one, leaving them feeling anxious and humiliated.
Scotland coronavirus update: Nicola Sturgeon urges Scots to follow social distancing rules amid second wave risk
A second wave of coronavirus is a “risk we take very seriously”, Nicola Sturgeon has said in remarks at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing – but insisted keeping the first wave of the virus suppressed is the immediate priority.
Ms Sturgeon said:
It’s taken four painful months, but it is lockdown that has allowed us to stop the first wave in its tracks.
By putting ourselves in lockdown we also put the virus in lockdown.
As we release ourselves from lockdown, we also release the virus from it and so we have to work in other ways to keep it under control.
That means all of us – every single one of us – sticking rigidly to the rules.
A man walks into an electric fence…
A popular pub in Cornwall has gone one step beyond to enforce social distancing guidelines – and erected an electric fence at its bar.
Staff at The Star Inn in St Just had grown tired of people doing as they pleased and ignoring the one-metre-plus measures, so they have put up the wired electric fence.
Bringing a whole new sort of shock to the pandemic, landlord Johnny McFadden said “now people take heed to the guidance around social distancing”. Which isn’t too surprising, what with the fully-charged deterrent in place.
Nicola Sturgeon gives Scotland coronavirus lockdown update as no new deaths for sixth day
No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in Scotland for the sixth day in a row, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The First Minister said in the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing that 2,490 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for Covid-19, which marks no change on last Wednesday’s figure, with three new cases announced today.
The First Minister added that the reopening of the hospitality industry in Scotland tomorrow (July 15) presents the “biggest and highest risk” of the country’s measures to exit lockdown to date.
UK economy: Coronavirus means the UK may not recover to pre-virus levels until 2024
The UK economy might not make a full recovery from the coronavirus crisis until 2024, the fiscal watchdog has warned.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said the UK is on track to record its largest decline in annual GDP “for 300 years”, and warned that the economy could shrink by as much as 14.3 per cent across 2020.
Its latest set of financial forecasts said that a worst-case scenario would mean GDP will not recover to pre-crisis levels until the third quarter of 2024.
Virgin Atlantic rescue deal worth £1.2bn to be announced today
Virgin Atlantic is to announce a £1.2 billion rescue later today, which marks a significant coup for founder Sir Richard Branson.
Oliver Gill reports:
Drawing a line under months of uncertainty, Virgin Atlantic has secured investment from US hedge fund Davidson Kempner and support from credit card companies to release hundreds of millions of pounds.
Sir Richard will inject £200m with the Virgin Group and US airline Delta, a minority investor in Virgin Atlantic, deferring £400m of fees owed to them through a joint venture agreement.
The Sunday Telegraph reported over the weekend that a rescue of Virgin Atlantic could be announced as early as today.
Sky News reported this morning that the overhaul of Virgin Atlantic’s finances would use a new court-sanctioned process to fast-track restructurings following the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus update: Today’s top stories
If you’re just joining us, here are the biggest stories of today so far:
- The Environment Secretary George Eustice has said that new rules which mandate the wearing of face masks in shops are “proportionate” – and Mr Eustice did not rule out mask use being rolled out more widely.
- Retail chiefs including the executive of JD Sports have warned that face coverings could act as a “deterrent” for younger customers.
- Top scientists have warned that a second wave of Covid-19 could see twice as many deaths, urging NHS and social care reform to avoid as many hospital and care home infections.
- Office for National Statistics figures show that registered deaths are at their lowest point since lockdown, while the UK economy is to shrink at least 10 per cent this year.
- Restrictions have been reimposed in the Asia-Pacific region as global coronavirus infections reach 13 million.
- And the Indian states of Bangalore and Bihar are to re-enter lockdown following a surge in cases, with infections in India having passed 900,000.
Comment: ‘We need to wear face masks out of civic duty’
While Angela Epstein wants life to go back to normal, she argues that it is time that failure to comply with the new rules on face masks becomes taboo.
In the absence of a vaccine, and with emerging evidence of its droplet transmission, the move to enforce mandatory face coverings in shops is both welcome and long – long – overdue.
Yes, it feels Orwellian – the prospect of having a collar felt to the tune of £100 for failure to comply. Yes, it might deter some from shopping. Sure there will also be housekeeping difficulties (to stay on theme, masks maybe equal but some are more equal than others).
But whether it’s the matchy-matchy number that co-ordinates with a wardrobe favourite or a weapons-grade internet purchase, we have to look at the baseline science and embrace face coverings.
India coronavirus lockdown looms in Bangalore and Bihar
Indian IT hub Bangalore is to go into a new week-long lockdown from today following a surge in the number of coronavirus cases, following an initial lockdown in late March that was one of the strictest in the world.
Infections in India passed 900,000 yesterday, with almost 24,000 deaths, although experts say that the official figures underplay the severity of the outbreak.
Bangalore, which is home to more than 13 million people, has emerged as a new hotspot and a seven-day lockdown in the southern city is to begin this evening, with transport banned except for emergencies and only essential retail outlets allowed to open.
Guidelines are also being prepared for a total lockdown in the state of Bihar, which today announced a record number of cases with 1,432 new infections in the last 24 hours.
Seriously ill coronavirus patients could be saved – by llama blood
Llama blood could hold the key to saving the lives of patients who are seriously ill with coronavirus, reports Henry Bodkin.
Researchers led by Oxford University have used repurposed antibodies taken from the South American camelids to fight the virus in laboratory trials.
Doctors are already using antibodies derived from humans who have survived coronavirus, but the new findings herald the prospect of a more potent and easily available treatment.
Llamas, camels and alpacas naturally produce quantities of small antibodies with a simple structure, meaning they can be turned into nanobodies.
The team from the Rosalind Franklin Institute at Oxford University, Diamond Light Source, and Public Health England found the nanobodies bind tightly to the spike protein of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, blocking it from entering human cells and stopping infection.
In the study, published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, the team also identified that the nanobodies bind to the spike protein in a new and different way to other antibodies already discovered.
James Naismith, the director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute and a professor of structural biology at Oxford University, said: “These nanobodies have the potential to be used in a similar way to convalescent serum, effectively stopping progression of the virus in patients who are ill.”
Read the full report here.
Do face masks work? Here’s what the science says
At the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organisation advised against mask wearing, only changing its advice last month to encourage their use where physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport.
But even the WHO is concerned face coverings give a false sense of protection which may lead people to abandon vital strategies such as hand-washing and social distancing.
So, what do we know about the effectiveness of face coverings? Sarah Knapton has the full insight into the science of wearing a mask.
UK travel: 9 in 10 operators expect to have to cut jobs
Almost nine out of ten companies involved in the UK’s inbound tourism industry expect to make job cuts due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new survey.
The research, conducted by trade association UKinbound, has called for more government support in order to avoid “the collapse of previously successful businesses”.
Eighty-eight per cent of the companies that were polled anticipate making between 25 per cent and 100 per cent of their staff redundant due to the pandemic, while more than half expect their businesses to last no longer than six months.
Video: Face coverings to become mandatory in shops with fines for those failing to comply
“The evidence that’s been coming from organisations like the World Health Organisation and others has been evolving,” George Eustice said of the incoming face mask rule.
“Following that, we gave a strong steer first of all that there was strong guidance to wear face masks in public places.
“And now as we start to loosen other elements of the lockdown and open other parts of the economy, we think it’s proportionate to require face coverings in retail environments. to try to mitigate some of the risks that are obviously inherent as you open up more parts of the economy.”
Second wave of coronavirus could see twice as many deaths
A second wave of coronavirus could bring twice as many deaths as the first, reports Sarah Knapton, as fresh warnings emerge from a report commissioned by the Chief Medical Advisor.
A group of 37 scientists, from the Academy of Medical Sciences, warn that 119,000 people may die in hospital if a second wave hits while the NHS is dealing with a bad winter flu season.
Under such a doomsday scenario, the reproduction ‘R’ rate would rise to 1.7 by September, with infections peaking in January and February.
The authors of the report say that it is vital to reorganise the NHS and social care systems, in order to keep coronavirus patients away from others.
Many patients caught the virus in hospital in recent months, and masses of infections were seen in care homes after patients were discharged from hospitals without being tested.
Bounce back loan scheme: £31.7bn handed to small businesses
Bounce Back Loans worth £31.7 billion have now been approved for small businesses amid the coronavirus crisis, the Government has said.
More than one million payments have been given the go-ahead, Treasury figures this morning show.
The data also shows that 54,538 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILs) have been approved, providing £11.85 billion worth of funding since the scheme was launched on March 23.
The number of workers who have been furloughed, which stands at 9.4 million, is unchanged from last week.
UK GDP in June will be 20 per cent below February, OBR warns
The Office for Budget Responsibility has said that it is assuming that GDP for June will be “20 per cent below its level in February”.
The regulator said it expects that GDP will have fallen 21 per cent in the second quarter of the year, after a two per cent fall estimated by the Office for National Statistics for the first three months of 2020.
Richard Hughes, the new head of the OBR, has suggested that a massive write-off of coronavirus debt could be the only way to save the economy from stagnation.
Coronavirus update from around the world
Here’s the lowdown on what’s happening globally in the fight against coronavirus.
Ministers in France are considering making masks compulsory in shops after a rise in the R number and concerns of a second wave of the disease.
France’s health minister, Olivier Véran, said he was looking into shifting the state’s stance over mask use from “warm recommendation” to compulsory after experts warned that their dwindling use in recent days had led to rising infection levels in several parts of the country.
In particular, health officials were shocked by the lack of masks and other protective measures at a concert in Nice, southern France, over the weekend attended by 5,000 people.
Several regions of Spain have now declared face masks mandatory in all circumstances.
A 30-year-old American man who believed the coronavirus was a hoax died after he was infected with the virus at a Covid-19 themed party held in Texas.
And Turkmenistan has ordered passenger trains halted from July 16 amid reports of coronavirus infections in the Central Asian country, which has yet to declare any cases.
How to make a face mask
Face masks are becoming an increasingly frequent sight across the country, notes our fashion editor Tamara Abraham, with more and more people using them in an effort to protect themselves and others from the spread of Covid-19.
With news that the government will make face coverings mandatory in shops, they’ve never been more essential. They are already compulsory on public transport, and you can no longer hop in an Uber taxi without one either.
Coronavirus appeal launched by UK charities for world’s most fragile states
Fourteen of the UK’s leading aid charities will on Tuesday launch an appeal to protect millions in refugee and displacement camps from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) aims to raise millions for those in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and refugee camps in Bangladesh.
The British Government is to match donations pound-for-pound, up to a total of £5 million.
Ben Farmer has the full story here.
UK coronavirus deaths down, while fatalities below five-year average but rising in some regions
The number of deaths officially linked to Covid-19 in the UK has now passed 55,000 according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), writes Dominic Gilbert.
Between March 6 and July 3 there were 55,068 deaths among people who had Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. Another 108 deaths have since been reported in hospitals in England, bringing the total to 55,176.
The number of deaths overall was below the five year average for the third week in the week leading to July 3, but are increasing in a number of regions.
They include the North East, where weekly excess deaths rose from 3 to 34, Wales from -19 to 29, and the South East, from -137 to 46.
Out of the English regions, the North West had the largest number of deaths involving Covid-19 (100 deaths) in the week ending July 3, as well as the highest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19, 8.2 per cent of all deaths.
More than 64,000 excess deaths have now been registered across the UK since the start of the pandemic, though numbers are falling as deaths have fallen below average for the time of year.
Deaths have been below average in hospitals for seven weeks and care homes for three weeks in England and Wales. But deaths in people’s homes remain far higher than average for the time of year, with 755 excess deaths in the week ending July 3, up from 745 the week prior.
Reaction to announcement on wearing face masks in shops in England
Professor Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, said:
The wearing of face masks in shops or enclosed shopping centres is one of those activities that should help reduce the spread.
Lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness should not be considered a problem but the evidence is accumulating that they have apart to play in reducing transmission and also in protecting the wearer.
Meanwhile, Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia who authored a study in face mask use, has acknowledged that different types of study have given mixed results:
The value of face masks in the community is still an issue that the scientific community has not yet reached consensus on.
Randomised controlled trials – the gold standard of scientific evidence – of face mask use in the community have not proven that mandating their widespread use is protective.
And the Telegraph’s own Zoe Strimpel writes that masks are pointless unless Britons learn to wear them properly – adding that masks may be “horrible” to wear, but “are important: they signal the acceptance that each of us is not just a potential victim but a vector of Covid-19”.
Buy-to-let mortgage inquiries boom after Rishi Sunak announcement of stamp duty holiday
Buy-to-let landlords have swooped into the property market to take advantage of the stamp duty tax giveaway, Melissa Lawford and Adam Williams report.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week announced that buyers in England and Northern Ireland would pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of their purchases until March 31.
Landlords and others purchasing a second home still pay 3 per cent of the entire value of the property in additional tax, but the tax break means that their bills could fall by as much as half.
UK coronavirus deaths at lowest level since lockdown rules enforced
The number of weekly registered deaths involving coronavirus has fallen to the lowest level since lockdown was first introduced, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending July 3 involving Covid-19 was 532, data published this morning shows.
This is the lowest number of deaths linked to the virus in the last 15 weeks.
The ONS logged 539 deaths that involved coronavirus in the UK in the week of March 23, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the nationwide lockdown.
Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?
With face masks becoming compulsory in shops and supermarkets from July 24, some people will be exempt from having to wear one.
While the new rules will be enforced by the police, children under the age of 11 and those with “certain disabilities” will not have to wear a mask under the new legislation.
Online shopping is here to stay, says Ocado delivery boss
Ocado’s chief executive predicts that shoppers will not return to supermarkets after switching to online, writes Simon Foy, as the retailer reported another loss.
Tim Steiner said: “We believe that this channel shift is sustainable, as survey data shows that many consumers who were shopping online during the peak of the pandemic in their respective countries have either continued to do so, or intend to continue online shopping as lockdown measures ease.”
His comments came as the online grocer narrowed pre-tax losses to £40.6 million for the six months to the end of May, compared to a loss of £147.4 million for the same period last year.
Revenues surged by 23 per cent to £1.09 billion, with “unprecedented demand” for online deliveries during the coronavirus lockdown.
Leicester lockdown update expected as meeting takes place
A board meeting of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s Clinical Commissioning Group is underway to discuss the handling of the local lockdown that the city was plunged into at the end of last month.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jonathan Van Tam said yesterday that the situation in Leicester is improving, but it needs to go further as “Leicester is still quite an outlier” in its infection rates.
The local lockdown in Leicester came into place on June 29, with non-essential retail forced to close down and people urged not to travel in or out of the area.
UK economy news: GDP growth of 1.8% in May
UK GDP added 1.8 per cent in May, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics this morning, but output is still a quarter below pre-lockdown levels.
The 1.8 per cent growth figure is considerably lower than the 5.5 per cent increase that had first been predicted by economists.
It follows on from a record 20.4 per cent GDP fall in April and a 5.8 per cent decline in March. In all, the economy has contracted by 19.1 per cent over the course of the three months.
Comment: Larger health catastrophe looms for women and children
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of health services across poorer countries – which has left women and children particularly vulnerable, writes Monique Vledder.
Governments urgently need to double down on the provision of basic care if years of progress are not to be lost. The worst health crisis in a century has already caused more than 500,000 deaths, but a much larger health catastrophe is looming.
Tens of millions of women and children may die or endure lifelong health impacts because of disruptions to essential health services and the reluctance by patients to seek care for fear of Covid-19 infection.
New data from Somalia, Mali, and Liberia shows up to a 40 per cent reduction in essential health services such as childhood immunisation, antenatal care and safe childbirth.
Face masks in shops could be extended to offices
Environment Secretary George Eustice did not rule out the mandatory use of face coverings being extended to offices and other workplaces, as they become compulsory in shops from July 24.
“At the moment we take one step at a time, and we’ve taken the view in this next step that we should make it mandatory in retail environments,” Mr Eustice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“When it comes to workplace environments, because people are in the same company throughout the day, there are not lots of people coming through the venue as you have in a retail environment; the risk of transmission is therefore lower.”
Mandatory face masks will be “impossible” to enforce
Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said the Government’s move to require the wearing of face masks in English shops will be “impossible for enforcement”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Shopkeepers need to step up to the plate and take some responsibility. They can quite easily put signs up on their doors ‘No mask on, no entry, this is private property’.
“That’s the first point we need to get across because this cannot all be laid on the shoulders of the police yet again.
“The second point is it will be nigh-on impossible for enforcement because you won’t have a police officer on every shop door because there isn’t enough of us.
“If a shopkeeper calls the police because someone hasn’t got a mask on, they haven’t got the power to detain them so that person can just walk away.
“We’ll be driving around and around London looking for people who aren’t wearing masks, it’s absolutely absurd.”
Face coverings could be “deterrent” for younger customers, JD Sports executive warns
The executive chairman of JD Sports, Peter Cowgill, has warned face coverings could be a “deterrent” for younger shoppers.
Mr Cowgill said he was “surprised” at the timing of the announcement for mandatory face coverings in all shops, which he said had come at the “back end” of the pandemic instead of the start.
He also said the decision to allow 10 days before the new rules come into force was “indecisive”, suggesting it could harm consumer confidence for retailers with younger demographics.
Asked whether he thought face masks could be bad for business, he told BBC Radio 4: “It maybe a positive for older customers but a deterrent for younger ones.”
Face masks may not be compulsory for shop staff
Environment Secretary George Eustice suggested face covering use would not be compulsory for shop staff.
Asked if the rules will apply to supermarket staff, he said: “They’re not being covered by this but I think if you go into most shops you will see that staff for a longer time now have either been wearing face shields or face masks.
“It won’t be a compulsory requirement because it won’t always be right for every setting in a retail environment, particularly those working behind the tills and so on.”
Mr Eustace also said the rules for shoppers would not be enforced until July 24, to give people time to prepare.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We want to give people time to plan and prepare and for retailers to maybe put in place measures to encourage people to do this or potentially even to have some masks themselves if people haven’t got one.
“Once you make something mandatory as we’re doing now for retail environments it sends a much stronger signal that people will follow in greater numbers.”
Retail group welcomes “clarity” on face coverings
The British Retail Consortium has said mandatory face coverings in shops in England will give people “confidence” after days of “mixed messages”.
“The clarity we’re going to get today for implementation in about 10 days’ time is going to give a level of reassurance,” chief executive Helen Dickinson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“What we saw over the weekend with mixed messages, I think made it really difficult for people to understand what it was they’re expected to do.
“Clarity is really important to give people that confidence. It is absolutely true that sales and footfall are returning only very slowly to our high streets and town centres and shopping centres up and down the country.”
London mayor rubbishes claims passengers are refusing to wear face masks
Sadiq Khan said a suggestion that people refusing to wear a face covering on the Tube were not being fined or stopped was “not true”.
He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that British Transport Police (BTP) and enforcement officers were using “encouragement where possible” as well as stopping travellers, asking them to leave or issuing fines if the failed to comply with the rule requiring the wearing of face coverings on public transport.
Mr Khan added: “Our enforcement officers and the BTP have stopped in the region of 18,500 people stopping travelling because they refuse to wear face coverings and actually the fines that have had to be issued so far is only 59.
“And during rush hour we have more than 90% compliance.”
Restrictions reimposed in Asia-Pacific as global infections reach 13 million
From Melbourne to Manila, Hong Kong and India’s tech capital Bengaluru, lockdowns and strict social distancing restrictions are being reimposed across the Asia-Pacific after a surge in cases fanned fears of a second wave of infections.
Many parts of Asia, the region first hit by the coronavirus that emerged in central China late last year, are finding cause to pause the reopening of their economies, some after winning praise for their initial responses to the coronavirus outbreak.
The number of coronavirus infections around the world hit 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, climbing by a million in just five days. Reuters’ global tally, which is based on government reports, shows the disease accelerating fastest in Latin America, the number of deaths there exceeding the figure for North America for the first time on Monday.
Singapore and Malaysia to reopen business travel
Singapore and Malaysia are to resume essential business and official travel between their countries, they said on Tuesday, letting people cross their border for the first time since most movements were suspended because of the coronavirus in March.
The neighbours are also putting in place travel arrangements for their residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work in the other country, their foreign ministries said in a joint statement.
They hope to launch the exchanges on Aug. 10, they said, adding that they had also agreed to develop other schemes for cross-border movements, including for daily commutes by workers.
Police crack down on face mask violators in India
Indian police are having a field day handing out fines to people who do not wear a mask during the pandemic.
Many people just cannot get used to the accessory, which has come to symbolise the new normal, having been made compulsory in most big cities.
New Delhi shared-ride driver Munish Tiwari said he had received two tickets for 500-rupee (£5.29) fines since taxis got back on the road a month ago, which had wiped out a day’s earnings.
“It is just not comfortable and I cannot breathe when I have to wear it,” he said.
“I have to wear it when there are passengers, but as soon as the door closes and they are gone, normally I take it off. I am easy prey for the police.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently chided the country’s 1.3 billion people for being “careless” about social distancing.
India has almost 880,000 virus cases and more than 23,000 dead, and experts say the peak is still weeks away. But both rich and poor say they feel awkward or uncomfortable covering up their face.
Read more: Shoppers without face masks risk £100 fine
France reduces Chinese flights to Paris in tit-for-tat row
France on Monday started restricting Chinese airlines to one passenger flight per week, saying it was acting in response to curbs imposed by Beijing on French carriers.
“From July 13, Chinese companies will only be authorised to make one weekly trip,” the French embassy in Beijing said on its website. “Discussions are underway between the two governments with a view to reaching a satisfactory solution.”
China’s state aviation regulator, CAAC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The French embassy said three Chinese carriers were each authorised to make weekly flights from Chinese cities to Paris.
It said that, under a June 12 reciprocal arrangement, Air France had been authorised by Beijing to carry out three flights a week to China but that, in practice, Chinese authorities had only allowed one Air France flight per week.
It said France was applying intense diplomatic pressure to get the go-ahead from Beijing for the extra flights. In the meantime, it advised travellers to be prepared for disruption to air links between the countries.
Boy-band concert linked to latest outbreak in Tokyo
Tokyo health officials appealed on Tuesday for more than 800 theatregoers to get tested after a production starring Japanese boy-band members was found to be the source of at least 20 cases.
As the number of virus infections continues to rise in Japan’s capital city, the Tokyo government said it was focussing on a 190-seat theatre in the Shinjuku entertainment district, where infections have also been traced to cabaret clubs.
The latest cluster has been traced to Theatre Moliere, near Tokyo’s red-light district, which staged a play for six days starring mainly up-and-coming boy-band members earlier this month.
The Tokyo government said it learned of the first infection among a cast member on July 6, after which testing found 20 related cases by late on Monday.
Australia tightens restrictions
Australian states on Tuesday tightened restrictions on movement as authorities struggle to contain a fresh outbreak in the country’s southeast that is starting to spill into other areas.
With growing fears of a second coronavirus wave nationally, two states extended border restrictions and Australia’s most populous state imposed limits on the number of people allowed in large pubs.
The changes come as scores of new cases were uncovered in Victoria, the country’s hotspot, despite a return to lockdown last week for nearly 5 million people in state capital Melbourne.
Active cases in the state rose to nearly 2,000 after another 270 infections were detected in the past 24 hours, authorities said, taking Australia’s total number of cases to about 10,000, with 107 deaths.
South Australia cancelled plans to reopen its border to New South Wales on July 20, while Queensland introduced a mandatory two-week quarantine for people who have visited two areas in Sydney’s western suburbs.
How 57 sailors became infected after 35 days at sea a mystery
Argentina is trying to solve a medical mystery after 57 sailors were infected with the coronavirus after 35 days at sea, despite the entire crew testing negative before leaving port.
The Echizen Maru fishing trawler returned to port after some of its crew began exhibiting symptoms typical of Covid-19, the health ministry for the southern Tierra del Fuego province said on Monday.
According to the ministry, 57 sailors, out of 61 crew members, were diagnosed with the virus after undergoing a new test. However, all of the crew members had undergone 14 days of mandatory quarantine at a hotel in the city of Ushuaia. Prior to that, they had negative results, the ministry said in a statement.
“It’s hard to establish how this crew was infected, considering that for 35 days, they had no contact with dry land and that supplies were only brought in from the port of Ushuaia,” said Alejandra Alfaro, the director of primary health care in Tierra del Fuego.
A team was examining “the chronology of symptoms in the crew to establish the chronology of contagion,” she said.
Hong Kong to impose strict new social distancing rules
Hong Kong will impose strict new social distancing measures from midnight on Tuesday, the most stringent in the Asian financial hub since the coronavirus broke out, as authorities warn the risk of a large-scale outbreak is extremely high.
The measures dictate that face masks will be mandatory for people using public transport and restaurants will no longer provide dine in services and only offer takeaway after 6 pm.
Both are new rules that were not implemented during the city’s first and second waves earlier this year. If a person does not wear a mask on public transport, they face a fine of HK$5,000 (£514).
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday the government would limit group gatherings to four people from 50 – a measure last seen during a second wave in March.
Twelve types of establishments including gyms and places of amusement must shut for a week.
China reports an easing in cases
China reported on Tuesday five new cases in the mainland for July 13, compared with eight cases a day earlier, the health authority said.
All of the new infections were imported cases, the National Health Commission said in a statement. There were no new deaths. Beijing, which saw a surge in cases a few weeks ago, reported no new cases for the eighth consecutive day.
China also reported five new asymptomatic patients, down from six a day earlier.
As of July 13, mainland China had a total of 83,605 confirmed cases, it said.
Ted Cruz pictured without mask on plane
American Airlines said it had contacted Republican Senator Ted Cruz about its coronavirus prevention policies after a photo of the Texas lawmaker without a mask on a flight went viral on social media.
“While our policy does not apply while eating or drinking, we have reached out to Senator Cruz to affirm the importance of this policy as part of our commitment to protecting the health and safety of the traveling public,” AA said in a statement.
Aides to Cruz told US media that he was drinking a coffee at the time the photo was snapped. The senator is holding a coffee cup and a telephone in the photo, but there is no mask in sight.
“For the well-being of our customers and team members, we require face coverings to be worn onboard,” AA said. “We expect our customers to comply with our policies when they choose to travel with us.”
Retailers welcome mask announcement
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said she welcomed the announcement that police, rather than businesses, would be responsible for the enforcement of face masks.
She said: “We look forward to further clarity over whether the wearing of face coverings will apply to shop staff.
“If so, there must be flexibility for colleagues who are in stores all day and can already benefit from other safety measures such as protective screens and 2 metre distancing.
“While retailers will play their part in communicating the new rules on face masks, they must not be the ones enforcing these rules.
“With hundreds of incidents of violence and abuse directed at retail staff every day, we welcome the announcement that enforcement will be left to the authorities, rather than potentially putting hardworking retail colleagues in harm’s way.”
Today’s top stories
- Face coverings will become mandatory in shops and supermarkets with fines of up to £100 for anyone who fails to adhere to the new rules
- Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, said that the pandemic is going to “get worse and worse and worse” unless the basics of infection control are followed after a record rise in the number of new coronavirus infections across the globe
- The lockdown in Leicester is expected to be extended after concerns that the city’s coronavirus infection rate is still too high
- Police were on Monday hunting three workers who have fled a Herefordshire farm at the centre of a new coronavirus outbreak, amid claims the site breached quarantine guidelines for seasonal workers
- Donald Trump and his aides have taken aim at the president’s top health adviser as coronavirus cases continue to surge across 39 US states
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