Covid news UK – Lockdown rules WILL end 'as soon as possible' as new Health Secretary Sajid Javid vows to unlock Britain

SAJID Javid has vowed to unlock Britain “as soon and quickly as possible” and return the country to normal.

The new Health Secretary ripped up the doomster handbook left by disgraced predecessor Matt Hancock, saying it was his “immediate priority” to end the restrictions.

The former Chancellor ripped up cushy consultancy jobs worth over £300,000 a year to become the people’s freedom fighter.

The business champion turned healthcare chief is well aware of the crippling effect of the pandemic restrictions on the nation’s economy.

But although his positivity is a welcome breath of fresh air, it will be too late to speed up the unlocking — with chances of July 5 becoming the new freedom date dead in the water.

Read our Coronavirus blog below for the latest news and updates...

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    UNIVERSITY STUDENTS PLEA FOR TUITION FEE REFUND AS THEY FACE THIRD YEAR TEACHING ONLINE

    University students are calling for a refund of tuition fees as they face another year of online learning. 

    Most universities are planning on offering a mix of in-person seminars and online lectures when term begins in September, research by the Observerfound.

    It will be the third year in a row students will have to participate in online learning after education centres were forced to close during the first Covid-lockdown in March 2020. 

    Courses can cost up to £9,250 a year – or £27,750 over three years – for face-to-face learning and access to physical university resources, such as libraries and science labs. 

    On top of this, many students take out a maintenance loan to support them living away while they study. 

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    BORIS JOHNSON VOWS ONE METRE RULE WILL BE SCRAPPED ON JULY 19

    Boris Johnson is reportedly determined to scrap the one-metre social distancing rule on July 19 even if other Covid measures have to remain in place.

    Cabinet sources suggest the prime minister is set to prioritise the removal of the restriction to give a much-needed boost to the hospitality industry and the arts, reports the Mail.

    However, a recent surge in Covid cases has raised fresh doubts that all restrictions will be eased on July 19.

    It also means that the suggestion Freedom Day could be brought forward two weeks is not likely to happen.

    Ministers will review the latest data this weekend before announcing a formal decision at the “mid-point review”.

    However, a source told the Mail that the early easing of restrictions is “not happening”.

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    GRANT SHAPPS SAYS QUARANTINE FREE TRAVEL FOR BRITS WITH TWO JABS WON’T BE READY FOR FREEDOM DAY

    Travel to amber countries won’t be relaxed for double-jabbed Brits in time for Freedom Day on July 19, Grant Shapps admitted today.

    With holiday hopes taking a blow, a blow the Transport Secretary said it will be “complicated” to exempt the fully vaccinated from quarantine.

    When asked about that prospect today, Mr Shapps replied: “It’s unfortunately more complicated than that.

    “One of the very big areas is what do you do if children are not going to be getting vaccinations?

    “So we’ll probably focus in phase one on UK people who’ve been double vaccinated, and what that means for their travel into other areas.

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    SERCO WINS CONTRACT TO RUN TEST AND TRACE CENTRES

    Outsourcing giant Serco has won a new contract worth up to £322 million to continue running Covid-19 testing sites for another year.

    Bosses said they signed a new deal with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to operate regional, local and mobile testing centres in England and Northern Ireland following a competitive tendering process.

    The value of the new 12-month contract, with the option of a six-month extension, could change significantly due to its flexibility to levels of demand in coming months, they added.

    It means Serco will continue operating around 20% of sites across England and Northern Ireland, including drive-through and walk-in test centres, alongside mobile sites.

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    BROTHER OF MATT HANCOCK’S AIDE GINA IS TOP EXECUTIVE OF HEALTHCARE COMPANY AWARDED WITH NHS CONTRACTS

    The brother of Matt Hancock’s mistress is an executive of a private healthcare company which has been awarded a series of NHS contracts.

    The Health Secretary was revealed to be having an affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo, after they were caught on camera snogging on May 6.

    Roberto Coladangelo, Gina’s brother, works at the Partnering Health Limited (PHL Group) which specialises in the provision of urgent and primary care services.

    According to Sky News pals of Mr Coladangelo confirmed the relationship between Gina and him, as well as social media profiles.

    No friends have been willing to publicly confirm or deny that the pair are siblings, and Mr Coladangelo has not responded to requests for comment.

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    UK DELTA VARIANT CASES RISE 46% IN A WEEK

    Cases of the Delta variant which was first identified in India have risen 46% in a week across the UK, new figures show.

    Public Health England said there had been 35,204 more cases since last week.

    This week, 514 people were admitted to hospital in England with Covid-19, where reports show 304 were unvaccinated.

    Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Through the success of our vaccination programme, data suggest we have begun to break the link between cases and hospitalisations. This is hugely encouraging news, but we cannot become complacent.

    “Two doses of vaccine are far more effective against Covid-19 than a single dose, so please make sure that you come forward to get your second dose as soon as you are invited.

    “Whilst vaccines provide excellent protection, they do not provide total protection, so it is still as important as ever that we continue to exercise caution.”

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    WATCH: GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL MAY BAN BRITS FROM COUNTRY

    Angela Merkel set to ban Brit holidaymakers from travelling to EU even if they’ve had a Covid vaccine

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    SAVE FACE

    Failing to lift all restrictions on July 19 would have a ruinous impact on the events industry, a leaked Government report reveals today.

    Analysis produced for ministers shows keeping face masks alone would whack almost a fifth of the sector's earnings, driving businesses to the wall.

    And more draconian measures like requiring vaccine passports and bans on alcohol and food sales would be even more disastrous still.

    Meanwhile the current restrictions are having a devastating effect on trade, with turnover currently at just 60 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity.

    The findings will heap pressure on Boris Johnson to go full steam ahead and drop all remaining Covid curbs next month.

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    UNLOCK HOPE

    Sajid Javid will update MPs today on when lockdown restrictions will be ended.

    The new Health Secretary has vowed to get Britain back to normal "as soon and quickly as possible" after taking over from disgraced predecessor Matt Hancock.

    Mr Javid is set to give his first Commons speech since rejoining the Cabinet at around 3.30pm, with ending Covid curbs his “immediate priority”.

    Next Monday – July 5 – is the earliest date when remaining restrictions could be lifted, with the government needing to give notice today of any changes.

    The former Chancellor isn't expected to lift lockdown earlier than the planned date of July 19 – but is reportedly "extremely reluctant" to extend measures.

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    MOST IMMEDIATE PRIORITY IS GETTING THROUGH PANDEMIC, SAYS JAVID

    Sajid Javid has said his “most immediate priority” will be getting the country through the coronavirus pandemic, as he took up the job of Health Secretary.

    Speaking to the media for the first time since he took over from Matt Hancock on Saturday, Mr Javid said he recognises the “huge responsibility” facing him.

    He pledged to “do everything I can to make sure that I deliver for this great country”.

    Mr Javid’s return to the Cabinet came just 90 minutes after Mr Hancock announced his resignation on Saturday evening, following the leaking of video footage showing him breaking social distancing rules by kissing an aide in his ministerial office.

    Mr Javid, a former chancellor and home secretary, said Mr Hancock had worked “incredibly hard” and “achieved a lot”, and he added: “We are still in a pandemic and I want to see that come to an end as soon as possible and that will be my most immediate priority, to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible.”

  • Harvey Lindsay

    ASHLEY CAIN’S GRIEVING PARTNER SAFIYYA SLAMS MATT HANCOCK AFFAIR AFTER HER FAMILY ‘FOLLOWED RULES’

    Ashley Cain’s grieving partner Safiyya Vorajee has taken to social media to slam Matt Hancock for ‘breaking rules.’

    It comes after the devastating loss of the couple’s eight-month old baby Azaylia, with strict lockdown measures in place during their time spent in hospital meant that she couldn’t visit friends and family for extra support.

    Safiyya, 34, said: “I was just in mid conversation and thought I’d share it with you guys about the whole Matt Hancock situation.

    “And I feel really disheartened that this has all come to light about what he’s done really, because being in a hospital for such a long time and following all these restrictions and not being able to do so much and having time with your family together…

    “And then seeing him doing what he did is so disappointing.”

    Read the full story here

  • Harvey Lindsay

    EXPERT REVEALS ALLOWING QUARANTINE-FREE TRAVEL FOR DOUBLE-JABBED BRITS IS 'SENSIBLE'

    Easing restrictions for fully-vaccinated travellers is a "sensible approach", leading expert professor Neil Ferguson says.

    Professor Ferguson, from Imperial College London, who was appointed during the first lockdown in March 2020, said people who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine are less likely to become seriously ill or transmit the virus.

    Prof Ferguson said: "The effectiveness of two doses of vaccine preventing infection is, depending on the vaccine, somewhere between, we think, 80-90%.

    "Even if you do get infected, first of all you're much less likely to be severely ill.

    "But you're also, and this is important for travel, much less likely to transmit – probably half as infectious as somebody who wasn't vaccinated.

    "So overall that leads to double vaccinated people really only posing somewhere between five and 10% of the risk of importing a case than somebody who wasn't vaccinated."

  • Harvey Lindsay

    BORIS JOHNSON VOWS ONE METRE RULE WILL BE SCRAPPED ON JULY 19

    Boris Johnson is reportedly determined to scrap the one-metre social distancing rule on July 19 even if other Covid measures have to remain in place.

    Cabinet sources suggest the prime minister is set to prioritise the removal of the restriction to give a much-needed boost to the hospitality industry and the arts, reports the Mail.

    However, a recent surge in Covid cases has raised fresh doubts that all restrictions will be eased on July 19.

    It also means that the suggestion Freedom Day could be brought forward two weeks is not likely to happen.

    Ministers will review the latest data this weekend before announcing a formal decision at the “mid-point review”.

    However, a source told the Mail that the early easing of restrictions is “not happening”.

  • Harvey Lindsay

    BRITAIN REACHES NEW VACCINE MILESTONE WITH HALF OF UNDER-30S VACCINATED

    Half of all adults aged under 30 in England will have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by today, the NHS has reported.

    Over 4.2 million people aged between 18 and 29 have received a jab in the three weeks after the vaccination programme was opened up to those in their twenties.

    Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "It's fantastic to see so many young people coming forward for their jabs, doing their bit to protect themselves and their loved ones."

    It comes as hundreds of "grab a jab" walk-in vaccination sites opened doors, including football stadiums and shopping centres.

    The sites were designed to boost uptake of the coronavirus vaccine amid rising case numbers fuelled by the Delta and Delta Plus variant.

  • Harvey Lindsay

    UK DELTA VARIANT CASES RISE 46% IN A WEEK

    Cases of the Delta variant which was first identified in India have risen 46% in a week across the UK, new figures show.

    Public Health England said there had been 35,204 more cases since last week.

    This week, 514 people were admitted to hospital in England with Covid-19, where reports show 304 were unvaccinated.

    Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: "Through the success of our vaccination programme, data suggest we have begun to break the link between cases and hospitalisations. This is hugely encouraging news, but we cannot become complacent.

    "Two doses of vaccine are far more effective against Covid-19 than a single dose, so please make sure that you come forward to get your second dose as soon as you are invited.

    "Whilst vaccines provide excellent protection, they do not provide total protection, so it is still as important as ever that we continue to exercise caution."

  • Harvey Lindsay

    GRANT SHAPPS SAYS QUARANTINE FREE TRAVEL FOR BRITS WITH TWO JABS WON’T BE READY FOR FREEDOM DAY

    Travel to amber countries won’t be relaxed for double-jabbed Brits in time for Freedom Day on July 19, Grant Shapps admitted today.

    With holiday hopes taking a blow, a blow the Transport Secretary said it will be “complicated” to exempt the fully vaccinated from quarantine.

    When asked about that prospect today, Mr Shapps replied: “It’s unfortunately more complicated than that.

    “One of the very big areas is what do you do if children are not going to be getting vaccinations?

    “So we’ll probably focus in phase one on UK people who’ve been double vaccinated, and what that means for their travel into other areas.”

  • Harvey Lindsay

    FURLOUGH RULES CHANGE THIS WEEK – HOW WILL IT AFFECT YOUR INCOME?

    Bosses must start chipping in towards furlough payments for staff from July, here is what it means for your wages.

    The furlough scheme pays workers 80% of wages for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month, supporting millions of workers during the pandemic, but the way it is funded is set to change.

    Almost 9 million workers were furloughed in May 2020 and this has dropped to 4.2 million.

    From Thursday, the level of government support will reduce to 70% up to a maximum of £2,187.50 for hours not worked.

    But the government is keeping the 80% rule so employers will have to top-up the remaining 10% up to £312.50 to receive the support.

    Read the full story here

  • Harvey Lindsay

    GREEK PM WANTS DOUBLE JABBED BRITS TO HOLIDAY AND SLAMS EU THREATS

    Greece's Prime Minister has slammed EU threats to slap a holiday ban on Brits — and he vowed to get double-jabbed tourists on to his beaches.

    Kyriakos Mitsotakis lashed out at France and Germany for plotting to try to bar UK families from all 27 countries across the bloc.

    He told Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel they should focus on getting jabs in arms and butt out of people’s holiday plans.

    Siding with Spain and Portugal in the holiday wars, Mr Mitsotakis came out swinging.

    He said: “We should not adopt a logic of new restrictions but, on the contrary, accelerate the vaccinations. Those who have been vaccinated are protected, those who have not are in danger.”

  • Harvey Lindsay

    WHAT IS THE GREEN WATCH LIST?

    Grant Shapps admitted that the majority of the countries that were added to the UK's list are now on the green "watch list" as their "marginal" figures could soon cause them to be downgraded.

    Mr Shapps said sun-starved Brits should be aware that "things might change quickly" and make sure they have full insurance before booking a trip abroad.

    And he suggested only those who have "flexibility" in their summer plans should go ahead and plan a foreign holiday this summer.

  • Harvey Lindsay

    WHAT COUNTRIES ARE ON THE GREEN 'WATCH LIST'?

    The countries on UK's "watch list" are:

    • Anguila
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Balearic Islands
    • Barbados
    • Bermuda
    • British Antartic Territory
    • British Indian Ocean Territory
    • British Virgin Islands
    • Cayman Islands
    • Dominica
    • Grenada
    • Madeira
    • Montserrat
    • Pitcairn Islands
    • Turks and Caicos Island

    UNIVERSITY STUDENTS PLEA FOR TUITION FEE REFUND AS THEY FACE THIRD YEAR TEACHING ONLINE

    University students are calling for a refund of tuition fees as they face another year of online learning. 

    Most universities are planning on offering a mix of in-person seminars and online lectures when term begins in September, research by the Observerfound.

    It will be the third year in a row students will have to participate in online learning after education centres were forced to close during the first Covid-lockdown in March 2020. 

    Courses can cost up to £9,250 a year – or £27,750 over three years – for face-to-face learning and access to physical university resources, such as libraries and science labs. 

    On top of this, many students take out a maintenance loan to support them living away while they study. 

    • Harvey Lindsay

      ANDREW MARR SAYS HE HAD 'NASTY' BOUT OF COVID DESPITE BEING DOUBLE JABBED

      BBC presenter Andrew Marr suffered with a "nasty" bout of Covid – despite being double-jabbed, he told viewers this morning.

      Before speaking to the expert, he thanked Nick Robinson for taking his place on the show last week, and said: "I had a bit of Covid last week, despite being double-jabbed, and very nasty it was too."

      The symptoms were akin to a "summer cold", he said.

      And Marr then told Sir Peter: "I hope it's not self-indulgent to ask you about me, because I got coronavirus last week.

      "I’d been double-jabbed earlier in the spring and felt, if not king of the world, at least almost entirely immune. And yet I got it. Was I just unlucky?"

    • Harvey Lindsay

      HUNDREDS QUEUE FOR JAB AS VACCINE CENTRES AND STADIUMS OPEN THEIR DOORS TO WALK-IN PATIENTS

      Adults across England will be able to "grab a jab" this weekend as hundreds of walk-in vaccine centres open up to the public.

      Anyone over 18 can now turn up to their local vaccination clinic without a booking and get a jab.

      The latest stage of the government's roll out sees football stadiums, theatres, supermarket car parks and shopping centres turned into makeshift centres.

      Edgebaston Stadium in Birmingham, Arsenal's Emirates Stadium and Vertu Motors Arena, home to Newcastle Eagles basketball team, are just a few major sporting arenas opening their doors.

      Buses offering Covid jabs will also operate in Bolton, Dudley, Colchester, and Ipswich.

    • Harvey Lindsay

      NHS SOUNDS ALARM OVER RISE IN UK COVID PATIENTS ON VENTILATORS

      The NHS is under ‘huge pressure’ as people in ventilator beds increase 41% during last week, NHS bosses say.

      The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said the number of Covid patients in hospital on ventilation beds had increased by 41% in the last week to to 227, which she said was a strong indication Covid was having an impact on health services. 

      Cordery told BBC Breakfast: “Trusts on the frontline are really coming under huge pressure … they have plans in place to tackle the backlog, but with more Covid cases and demand for emergency care going up, that’s really challenging.”

      Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Prof Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said this and other surveillance data were “encouraging”, despite rising case numbers. Lower hospitalisations and death rates relative to case numbers prove the high effectiveness of vaccines in protecting people from serious illness, he said.

    • Harvey Lindsay

      NHS SOUNDS ALARM OVER RISE IN UK COVID PATIENTS ON VENTILATORS

      The NHS is under ‘huge pressure’ as people in ventilator beds increase 41% during last week, NHS bosses say.

      The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said the number of Covid patients in hospital on ventilation beds had increased by 41% in the last week to to 227, which she said was a strong indication Covid was having an impact on health services. 

      Cordery told BBC Breakfast: “Trusts on the frontline are really coming under huge pressure … they have plans in place to tackle the backlog, but with more Covid cases and demand for emergency care going up, that’s really challenging.”

      Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Prof Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said this and other surveillance data were “encouraging”, despite rising case numbers. Lower hospitalisations and death rates relative to case numbers prove the high effectiveness of vaccines in protecting people from serious illness, he said.

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