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Boris Johnson news – live: No 'perfect way' to end lockdown, Whitty warns as Scottish and Welsh leaders attack 'shambolic government'

Boris Johnson has indicated he would not take the knee in support for Black Lives Matter – saying he does not believe in such “gestures”. The prime minister also vowed to “stick up” for Hong Kong citizens protesting the China-enforced security law.

It comes as transport secretary Grant Shapps announced that the 14-day quarantine policy for people returning to or visiting England from around 60 destinations, including Spain, France, Italy and Germany, is being lifted from 10 July.

Meanwhile, products from Japan or South Korea could be stamped “Made in Britain” under Mr Johnson’s plan to save the domestic car industry after Brexit – an attempt to prevent punishing tariffs driving away the likes of Nissan and Toyota.

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No ‘perfect way’ to end lockdown, chief medical officer says

There is no “perfect” way to reopen Britain’s economy after the coronavirus lockdown, the chief medical officer has said – as Boris Johnson urges the public to “enjoy summer safely”.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday ahead of the reopening of pubs Professor Chris Whitty said the government was walking a “narrow path”.

“Either side of the path that we are on there are risks. And we are going to have health problems, and economic problems, for sure,” he said.

The chief medical officer added: “There is no perfect time, there is no perfect, exact way of doing it.

“What this is is an attempt to balance, as best we can, in a way that makes it possible for society to be as close as possible to normal, whilst living alongside this virus – which we will have to continue to do.

“This virus is a long way from gone. But, it is not going to be gone for a very, very long time.”

He added: “None of us believe, and I am sure nobody watching this believes, this is a risk-free next step.

“It is absolutely not, and that’s why we have to be really serious about it.”


House of Parliament bars to open from Monday

Alcohol will be available again in a number of bars and restaurants in Parliament from Monday.

A “comprehensive set of measures” to deal with the coronavirus outbreak will be in place as restrictions are eased. House of Commons officials said.

The move comes after restrictions across England are being eased on 4 July.

A House of Commons spokesperson said: “As a Covid-secure workplace, we are ensuring that we have a comprehensive set of measures in place to enable Parliament to continue to fulfil its constitutional duties during an unprecedented time.

“Following the latest government announcement regarding the hospitality sector, we have reviewed our current measures relating to our catering outlets.

“From 6 July, the sale of alcohol in certain outlets will resume, with table service and additional seating areas, as per the government guidelines.

“A limited food offer is available in various outlets across the estate and social distancing and good hygiene measures are in place.

“Proportionate and pragmatic control measures have been introduced for staff and customers so that all refreshments can be served in a Covid-secure manner.”


Keir Starmer calls for NHS pay boost

NHS staff need a pay boost in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The Labour leader made the call during a virtual rally marking the 72 years of the NHS in which he praised health service staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

Sir Keir said: “The pride and the thanks that we have for the NHS which is always there, is reinforced this year by everything that all the staff in the NHS have done in relation to the Covid crisis.

“Of course, we’re not through that, and it will be our NHS heroes and the bravery of what they do which will get us through whatever comes next.

“That’s why it’s very important that we don’t just say thanks, but recognise in a meaningful way what the NHS has done. And that’s why Labour supports those calling on the government today to make an immediate commitment to talks on a pay rise for NHS workers.

“We support that. We know that valuing our NHS workforce, through fair pay and conditions, is crucial to tackling the many vacancies across the NHS.

“And we urge the government to agree this deal as soon as possible, in recognition of the bravery and sacrifice shown by our healthcare heroes during this crisis.”


Lessening of quarantine measures ‘a mess’, Labour says

Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said: “Labour – like families and businesses up and down the country – are keen for the government’s quarantine measures to be lessened, but this a mess.

“First we had the quarantine that they were slow to implement, then they said they’d do air bridges.

“Now we see a plan to let residents of 60 or more countries into England without any reciprocal arrangements.

“The fact they have been unable to negotiate air bridges is an indictment of their failure to tackle the crisis at home.

“They were too slow to take lockdown, too slow to order PPE and too slow to protect our country.”


Pubs and cricket pavilions areas in which ‘superspreading’ more likely

Sir Patrick Vallance said places such as pubs and cricket pavilions, as mentioned by Professor Chris Whitty, were environments in which “superspreading” of the virus was more likely.

“That is why superspreading occurs, those environments are indoor environments where people are crowded, they can’t socially distance and they’re together for a long time, and you’re connecting lots of different households.

“So the answer is don’t let pubs become like that, make sure you get the appropriate Covid-secure environment and people can be distanced appropriately to try and reduce the risk.

“But whatever we do, the fact is that indoor environments which become crowded and people are there for a long time present a risk for spreading.”


‘Onerous’ social distancing guidelines will not cause ‘significant change’ to pubs, chief medical officer says

Prof Whitty said the “onerous” social distancing guidelines are going to cause “a significant change to pubs and cause difficulties for many publicans”.

He continued: “There is no doubt these are environments whose principle job it is to bring people together, that is a great thing to do socially but it’s also a great thing from the virus’ point of view.

“And therefore we do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs, and this would be true in any other environment.”


‘Stick to sensible guidelines on drinking,’ Chris Whitty warns ahead of ‘super Saturday’

Professor Chris Whitty told the public to “stick to sensible guidelines on drinking” if they are planning on heading to the pub this weekend.

When asked if Britons should consider drinking a yard glass of ale to help maintain social distancing as suggested by Jacob Rees-Mogg, he said: “I seem to remember Mr Rees-Mogg said he would buy the yard but didn’t say he would drink it.

“People clearly need to stick to the usual sensible guidelines on drinking and enjoy it.”

The PM added: “I can certainly tell you I will buy and drink a pint but not a yard and I will repeat the message to everybody that this is a big turning point for us, we’ve got to get it right.

“Let’s work together and enjoy summer safely.”


Boris Johnson says he does not want to close all pubs if there is another outbreak
Boris Johnson said he did not want to close all the pubs again if there is a further outbreak.

When asked if closing all the pubs again was the kind of measure he had referred to in previous comments about not hesitating to put on the brakes on easing lockdown restrictions, he said: “I don’t want to close all the pubs at all if we have a further outbreak.

“I don’t want to get back to another national lockdown of that kind.

“We want to deal with local outbreaks with local lockdown measures.”


Risk of second wave ‘goes up very, very sharply’ if social distancing measures ignored, chief medical officer warns

Asked about the risk of a second wave, Chris Whitty says: “A second wave is something which everybody realises is a possibility … and this possibility will live with us for a very long time.

“So we have to prepare for that, and there’s a lot of preparations going on. Clearly the best thing to do is to try and make that as unlikely as possible, and that’s why the points the prime minister was making about as the economy is opened up, all of us taking that extremely responsibly, sticking to the social distancing rules, sticking to the two-metres if we can [or] one metre-plus with mitigations if we cannot. 

“All the other things that have been recommended, ranging from the simple things like washing our hands to using face masks on public transport – all of these things are absolutely essential, and if individuals, families [and] firms do not take them seriously, the probability of a second wave goes up very, very sharply.”

Winter may also work the virus’s advantage, he adds, “even if all of us are working incredibly hard, and we have to be ready for that possibility”.


PM announces moment of remembrance for coronavirus victims and another clap for NHS workers as he eases lockdown

“Let me end by looking forward to this weekend,” Boris Johnson says.

“Tomorrow, there will be a moment of remembrance for those whose lives have tragically been lost before their time. And at 5pm on Sunday, the NHS’s 72nd birthday, we can all come together to clap those who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to help the nation get through this pandemic.

“I know everyone will be looking forward to the relaxation of national restrictions. As lockdown eases we should focus on supporting the livelihoods of business owners and their employees up and down the country, all of whom are opening their doors for the first time in more than three months.

“The are our local restaurants, hairdressers, libraries, museums, cinemas and, yes, pubs. They are also our hotels, BnBs – indeed, much of our tourism industry. All these businesses and their workers have put in a heroic effort to prepare their venues for this reopening, to work out a way to trade that keeps their customers safe.

“But the success of these businesses … and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly. We must not let them down.

“Lockdown only succeeded in controlling the virus because everyone worked together, and we will only succeed in reopening if everyone works together again, because we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Referencing the local lockdown in Leicester, Mr Johnson warns that if the virus runs out of control again, “this government will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and reimposing restrictions. Anyone who flouts social distancing and Covid-secure rules is not only putting us all at risk, but letting down those businesses and workers who have done so much to prepare for this new normal”.

He tells the public to remember not to gather in groups of more than six or with those outside of two households “in any setting”, to maintain social distancing rules and to keep washing your hands regularly. 


The prime minister has laid out the government’s plan for dealing with new outbreaks.

Local data will be shared with local officials and will be made available to the public on the government’s website.

England’s “substantial” testing capacity can be targeted at areas where there are high levels of coronavirus.

A range of targeted restrictions could be attempted, from individual premises being closed down, to the re-implementation of full lockdowns, with people asked to stay at home.


‘We need to move away from blanket national [lockdown] measures,’ PM says

“Our goal remains to enable as many people as possible to live their lives as close to normally as possible, in a way which is as fair and as safe as possible,” Boris Johnson says, after concluding that locking down the UK saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

“And to achieve this we need to move away from blanket national measures to targeted local measures. So instead of locking down the whole country, we will lock down specific premises or local areas where the virus is spreading.

“Instead of closing down non-essential retail and hospitality nationwide, we will only shut establishments locally as required. Instead of shutting all schools for most pupils, from September we will only shut those schools where it is absolutely necessary to control an outbreak.

“And instead of quarantining arrivals from the whole world, we will only quarantine arrivals from those countries where the virus is sadly not yet under control.”


Local outbreaks ‘will be a feature of our lives for some time to come’, PM says

The prime minister opens by stating his case for the further easing of lockdown.

The ONS estimates that between the 14 June and 27 June, 25,000 people in the community in England had coronavirus, Boris Johnson says – the equivalent of one person in every 2,200.

Sage assesses that the R rate remains between 0.7 and 0.9 across the UK, he says, and that the number of new infections is shrinking by between two and five per cent every day.

The number of people dying with coronavirus “remains too high”, but the numbers continue to fall, Mr Johnson adds.

“Now of course this picture is not universal, there are areas such as Leicester where the virus is still more prevalent than we would like,” the prime minister says. “We always said there would be local outbreaks requiring local action. This was to be expected and will, I’m afraid, be a feature of our lives for some time to come.

“But that should not take away from the great progress we’ve made together as a country against this vicious disease. This progress is the reason why we’ve been able – slowly, carefully, cautiously – to ease the national lockdown.”


Nicola Sturgeon slams UK government’s ‘shambolic’ coronavirus handling

Scotland’s first minister has criticised the “shifting sands” of UK policy and said there had been a lack of consultation on key issues, our policy correspondent Jon Stone reports.

Spelling out her administration’s policy on travel abroad, she told a press conference: “When so much is at stake as it is right now, we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another Government’s shambolic decision process.

Explaining her position on the latest issue of so-called “air bridges” to other countries, she added: “We want to welcome visitors again from around the world and we also want to allow our own citizens to travel. We also want, if possible for obvious practical reasons, to have alignment on these matters with the rest of the UK.”

But she said: “Just to illustrate the point (on) the shifting sands of the UK Government’s position – the list of countries that they were yesterday demanding that the Scottish Government sign up to, and suggesting we were a barrier to getting an agreement on, is not the same as the list they have shared with us today.”

Ms Sturgeon added that the Scottish Government had assessed the prevalence of coronavirus in Scotland as being five times lower than in England.


Majority of Tory voters want government to consider four-day working week

Nearly two-thirds of the public and more than half of Conservative voters believe the government should explore the introduction of a four-day working week in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll shows, political correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports.

The findings come after The Independent reported that MPs and campaigners had written to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, urging him to consider the radical policy amid growing levels of unemployment as the economy gradually emerges from lockdown.

The concept has previously been floated by the Green Party and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose manifesto at the 2019 general election pledged to reduce average full-time working to 32 hours per week, with no loss of pay, by the end of the decade.

Campaigners for a four-day working week now believe the health crisis and looming economic downturn from Covid-19 will provide opportunities “for a growing list of unemployed people which already stands at 2.8 million”, and are urging the Tories to seriously examine the policy.

According to the new research by pollsters Survation, 29 per cent of respondents said they “strongly support” the government exploring a four-day week, while 33 per cent said “somewhat support”.


Pubs must wait until 6am to open, Downing Street says

Pubs will not be able to throw open their doors to drinkers in England first thing on Saturday because the regulations will enforce their closure until 6am, Downing Street has said.

With the new coronavirus regulations not being published until Friday afternoon, some landlords had planned to open as soon as the clock ticked past midnight.

But No 10 has scotched the swift openings by ensuring the current ban remains in place until after sunrise.

Boris Johnson has urged the public not to “blow it now” by not behaving safely and abiding by social distancing rules when the restrictions are eased for pubs, bars and restaurants.


Government announces list of 59 countries you can now travel to

The government has finally revealed its list of 59 countries where restrictions no longer apply for those travelling from England, including France, Spain and Italy.

Previously, a “double lock” prevented nearly all international travel: the Foreign Office (FCO) advised against all non-essential travel abroad, invalidating Britons’ travel insurance, and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period was imposed on all inbound arrivals to the UK.

However, from 10 July these restrictions will be lifted for those travelling between England and the destinations given the green light.


Flu vaccine eligibility to be widened

Eligibility for the flu vaccine will be extended amid fears that an outbreak could coincide with a second surge of coronavirus cases.

Downing Street said on Friday that ministers were trying to secure a “significant additional supply” of vaccines, with the seasonal illness having the potential to wreak havoc because of the similarity of its symptoms with Covid-19.

Currently the flu vaccine is available for free to those deemed most at risk, including those who are pregnant, over 65, carers and primary school children.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for this to be extended to everyone over 50, warning an outbreak this winter could create a “perfect storm”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “This year it’s particularly important as we want to make sure we protect as many people as possible in those risk groups.

“As part of that planning, the government has been working to secure a significant additional supply of vaccines.

“We will use these vaccines to increase uptake in existing at risk groups as a priority. We also intend to expand the groups of people that are eligible and we will be setting out more details shortly.”


Nicola Sturgeon slams UK government’s ‘shambolic’ coronavirus handling

Scotland’s first minister has slammed the UK government “shambolic” handling of decision-making during the coronavirus crisis, policy correspondent Jon Stone reports.

Nicola Sturgeon criticised the “shifting sands” of UK policy and a lack of consultation on key issues while spelling out her administration’s policy on travel abroad.

“When so much is at stake as it is right now, we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another Government’s shambolic decision process,” she told a press conference.

Explaining her position on the latest issue of so-called “air bridges” to other countries, she added: “We want to welcome visitors again from around the world and we also want to allow our own citizens to travel.

“We also want, if possible for obvious practical reasons, to have alignment on these matters with the rest of the UK.”

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