More than half of Britain’s adult population is now being bankrolled by the state amid warnings from the Chancellor that the furlough scheme could soon cost as much as the NHS. Analysis of official figures shows that 27 million people are now being funded by the Government amid growing concern over the devastating toll to the economy wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. The figure includes people being paid through the furlough scheme and those now claiming benefits after being made unemployed because of the virus. The remainder are public sector workers and pensioners. On Monday night Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, said that the cost was “clearly not a sustainable situation” as he said that Britain must get back to work. Read on for the latest.
Meanwhile, the Government’s coronavirus tracing app will start rolling out on the Isle of Wight today but a row has erupted over whether it has passed key cyber security and privacy tests. The pilot of the test-and-trace strategy has been overshadowed as it emerged the product has reportedly failed all the standards which would allow it to be included in the NHS’s own app library. Michael Deacon advises Health Secretary Matt Hancock to forget the app and suggests an alternative way to defeat Covid-19. Matt finds humour in the social distancing conundrum facing commuters and public transport operators wanting to go back to work.
Lockdown rules for healthy over-70s set to be relaxed
Healthy over-70s look likely to be released from stringent coronavirus social distancing measures, The Telegraph has learned. Ministers are hoping to clarify the rules for pensioners amid criticism that the current guidance is confusing. The move follows reports that people judged to be vulnerable could be shielded from normal life for up to 18 months or until a vaccine is found. Former pensions minister Baroness Altmann warned that Britain faces “social unrest” if the over-70s are forced to endure a longer lockdown than younger generations. Boris Johnson is due to reveal his “road map” for “phase two” of the lockdown on Sunday. Read on for how the blanket categorising of over 70s is due to “morph”.
Golfers and anglers ready to cast off lockdown bans
They describe their passion as “naturally self-isolating” and even warn that “large crowds and successful fishing don’t mix”. It is little wonder, then, that, as football’s Project Restart stutters, it is angling’s When We Fish Again proposal that is actually leading the drive for sport’s return from the coronavirus lockdown. Calling itself an inherently “social distancing sport”, the Angling Trust has submitted a 15-page report to the Government which is fast gathering support, raising hope that recreational fishing could resume within days. Read on for details of the stipulations and how golf authorities have also submitted a proposal for courses to reopen when the lockdown is reviewed later this week.
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At a glance: More coronavirus headlines
- Absent pupils | Schools unsure whether to fine parents post-lockdown
- Lockdown lifting | Danish families allowed to hug and kiss again
- Already infected? | Ten times more people may be immune
- Michael Gove | Bookshelf draws fire during lockdown interviews
- Look to the sky | Drones get ‘air corridors’ to deliver medical supplies
Comment and analysis
- William Hague | Applaud military on VE Day for their unsung efforts
- David Green | Why campaigners are twisting BAME Covid data
- Simon Dolan | Why I’m challenging the lockdown in court
- Celia Walden | Why are so many people taking offence in lockdown?
- Reader letters | Let workers go back and let those at risk choose
- Big issue | Is BMI a more significant factor than age in the next stage of lockdown?
- Was it Covid-19 or a really bad cold? | What happened when I had an antibody test
- Julie Burchill | Stoicism is on the rise – and it’s why some will come out of this happier
Business and money briefing
O2-Virgin Media mega-merger | Britain is set to play host to the biggest corporate deal of the pandemic as the owners of O2 and Virgin Media prepare to lift the veil on a £24bn bid to transform the telecoms sector.
- WeWork co-founder sues | Company’s biggest backer taken to court
- Investment tip | Cybersecurity firm’s long-term prospects are good
- Alex cartoon | See our brilliant cartoonist’s latest work
Gallery: The big picture
A mouse sits on the platform on the Central Line in London as the lockdown continues. Click here for more pictures of the day.