03.12.2020

Boris Johnson blames care home owners for high death toll

Scotland and Wales also took further steps to ease lockdown restrictions on Monday, while the UK arts sector was granted a desperately needed lifeline of £1.57bn in government funding, allowing museums, galleries, live music venues, independent cinemas and others to access emergency grants and loans.

Boris Johnson appeared to blame care home owners for the high death toll from coronavirus as new figures revealed one in five coronavirus infections during the peak of the pandemic in England were among hospital and care home staff.

The prime minister also urged the public not to “stuff this up” after expressing his shock at the behaviour of some drinkers as lockdown was eased over the weekend.

Meanwhile, England’s chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said most of the 92,000 children currently shielding will be advised to stop doing so by the end of July, with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health declaring the measure unnecessary for the “vast majority” of young people.

Britain faces up to 35,000 excess cancer deaths in next 12 months due to delays in diagnoses and treatment

According to a study conducted by DATA-CAN, the Health Care Research Hub for Cancer, up to two million routine breast, bowel and cervical cancer screenings may have been missed throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Researchers examined data from eight hospital trusts in modelling outcomes depending upon how long the delays continue.

Sharing the results with BBC Panorama, researchers warned that a worst-case scenario could see 35,000 more people dying of cancer by this time next year.

“Anecdotally, people have been telling us there were problems, but I think the critical thing was being able to actually have routine data from hospital trusts,” DATA-CAN’s scientific lead Professor Mark Lawler told the programme.

NHS England’s national clinical director for cancer Peter Johnson said the organisation was striving to restore cancer services back to normal levels as quickly as possible.

He told the BBC: “We’re working as fast as we can to put the services back together again, to restore the capacity and indeed to build more, so that we can deal with the people that have not been diagnosed during the time when the services have been running below 100 per cent. I’m hoping that we will get back to where we need to be by the end of the year.”

Arts industry to receive £1.5bn lifeline, government announces

Theatres, independent cinemas and other arts organisations are to get a £1.5bn lifeline to help them stay in business while coronavirus forces them to remain closed, our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin reports.

The rescue package is expected to help world-famous cultural institutions like the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Mary Rose Trust.  Unveiling the plan, Boris Johnson said the money would help safeguard the arts for “future generations”.

Organisations that will be prioritised are understood to include the so-called “crown jewels” of the British arts, culture and heritage industries and those with special local or regional significance, as ministers proceed with their “levelling up” agenda.

The government has been under increasing pressure to help the arts after warnings the industry would be brought to its knees without government intervention, prompting what ministers hailed as the largest ever one-off investment into UK culture.

Organisations including historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music venues, independent cinemas and others will all be able to access emergency grants and loans.

More than 220,000 renters at risk of eviction after falling into rent arrears during pandemic, charity warns

Research by Shelter shows that an estimated 227,000 private renters in England have fallen behind on their rent since March – often as a result of job losses and financial struggles during lockdown – meaning they could lose their homes when the government’s eviction ban ends on 23 August, our social affairs correspondent May Bulman reports.

Ministers introduced a moratorium on eviction cases ahead of the coronavirus lockdown in March to stop people becoming homeless during the crisis. Last week, housing minister Lord Greenhalgh said that from 24 August this would end and landlords would be able to seek possession of properties in the courts.

Shelter’s findings, based on a YouGov survey of 1,058 private renters, weighted to be representative of England’s private renters using official statistics, also indicate that 174,000 private tenants have already been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent since March.

Under the current court system, anyone who accrues rent arrears of eight weeks or more can be automatically evicted, in addition to the risk of being subjected to a Section 21 “no fault” eviction, which allows landlords to evict tenants at short notice and without a specified reason.

India overtakes Russia after daily surge of nearly 25,000 new cases

India has overtaken Russia to become the third worst-affected nation by the coronavirus after reporting 24,248 new cases on Monday.

India has now confirmed 697,413 cases, including 19,693 deaths. Russia has 680,283 cases. The US has discovered the most cases, with nearly 2.9 million. Brazil is second, with over 1.6 million.

Indian authorities withdrew a planned reopening of the famed Taj Mahal monument late on Sunday after new cases were detected in the area. The country’s culture ministry had decided to reopen all monuments across the country on Monday after more than three months with a cap on the number of visitors and mandatory wearing of face masks.

After a strict nationwide lockdown, India has eased restrictions in most of the country except for the highest-risk areas.

Medics arrested in Egypt as security agencies try to stifle criticism of government’s coronavirus handling

At least 10 doctors and six journalists have been arrested since the virus hit Egypt in February, according to rights groups, in an attempt by Egyptian security agencies to stifle criticism over the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s handling of the rising crisis.

Other health workers say they have been warned by administrators to keep quiet or face punishment. One foreign correspondent has fled the country, fearing arrest, and another two have been reprimanded over “professional violations”.

The coronavirus is surging in the country of 100 million, threatening to overwhelm hospitals, with the health ministry having recorded 76,253 infections and 3,343 deaths – the highest death toll in the Arab world.

One doctor in greater Cairo said: “Every day I go to work, I sacrifice myself and my whole family. Then they arrest my colleagues to send us a message. I see no light on the horizon.”

UK needs ‘bottom-up’ approach to rebuild local economies, Andy Burnham says

“It’s all about jobs right now, saving jobs, creating jobs, retraining people for new jobs, so what I would call for would be substantial devolved funding so that we can lead a range of interventions into the labour market,” the Greater Manchester Mayor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The truth is, the impact is going to be different in different places, so the recovery has to be locally led.”

He added: “In the response to the virus we’ve seen a very top-down approach, I would say to the government you’ve got to come at this the other way, bottom-up leading recovery.”

Big Issue vendors to return to streets for first time since lockdown

Following more than three months of being unable to sell the magazine in public, almost 2,000 salespeople are to return to their roles across England, Scotland and Wales, Sabrina Barr reports.

They will all be provided with PPE, in addition to being given contactless card payment equipment so that people who buy the magazine do not need to hand them cash.

Street selling of The Big Issue ceased on 20 March, three days before lockdown was officially implemented. However, sales of the publication – which enlists people who are homeless and vulnerable to sell the magazine to help them earn a legitimate income – have continued in stores or through subscriptions.

Rishi Sunak urged to go further with traineeships funding

The Association of Colleges has welcomed the £111m in traineeships funding unveiled by Rishi Sunak, but urged the Chancellor to go further with £3,000 of funding per apprenticeship to reduce damage to young people.

“We know that young people get treated really badly in recessions,” chief executive David Hughes told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We’re really worried about the end of furlough and the hit to the labour market on that so we need really bold action now on both labour market and on skills.”

He called for “an incentive to employers” of about £3,000 per apprentice they take on, and for students to get an extra year in college to prevent young people facing decades of insecurity and poorer outlooks in the job market.

“That scarring, as many people call it, is really, really worrying us,” he added. “This is a really different type of recession where young people are going to come out of this really badly.”

Outdoor performances to return ‘shortly’ but indoor theatres to remain closed, culture secretary says

Oliver Dowden said that he hopes outdoor performances can return “shortly” but there remains a “real risk” of coronavirus transmission inside theatres.

“I understand people’s frustration. They’re desperate for theatres to return, I’m desperate for theatres to return, but we have to do so in a safe way,” he told BBC Breakfast.

He also criticised people who did not maintain social distancing when pubs reopened on Saturday but said the “vast majority” obeyed the rules.

“In respect to what happen in a few places, and I should say a few places, on Saturday night clearly that is not acceptable and people should be socially distancing,” he said. “And actually I think by and large the vast majority of people up and down Britain showed British common sense, listened to the rules and socially distanced.”

Metropolitan Police, Durham Constabulary and CPS urged to investigate Dominic Cummings alleged lockdown breaches

Nazir Afzal, former chief prosecutor for northwest England, said he is “concerned that police and prosecutors have not received all relevant information and that their decision making will be incomplete as a result”.

Mr Afzal, who has become the figurehead of a citizens’s bid to ensure the actions of the prime minister’s top aide are properly scrutinised, added that his legal team already has been given “information from reliable sources that reflect[s] poorly on everybody who has considered the allegations thus far”.

Lawyers for Mr Afzal, whose brother died with Covid-19 in early April, have now written to Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, Durham Police’s chief constable Jo Farrell, and the CPS’s director of public prosecutions, Max Hill calling for immediate inquiries into Mr Cummings’s movements.

The letters from legal firm Hodge Jones & Allen ask that the public, Mr Afzal and the CPS be given enough information to understand whether the Downing Street adviser should be charged and prosecuted.

Zoe Tidman has more on the closure of the state border between Victoria and New South Wales for the first time in a century, following a record surge in new cases in Melbourne.

Scotland and Wales ease lockdown restrictions

Residents of Scotland are today able to return to beer gardens and outdoor cafes for the first time in three months, with pubs and restaurants set to reopen on 15 July.

In Wales, outdoor attractions have also reopened as first minister Mark Drakeford also lifted a five-mile travel limit, with pubs and restaurants expected to reopen outdoor areas on 13 July.

Those wishing to visit from across the border in England with the lifting of the travel limit have been urged to behave respectfully.

Tegryn Jones, chief executive of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said: “We urge those who choose to explore our landscapes in the coming weeks and months, perhaps for the first time, to do so with respect – for the people and wildlife, which call it home, and for each other.”

Greater Manchester mayor calls for discussion over universal basic income

Andy Burnham has called for a real living wage and a universal basic income to address the economic instability “exposed” by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s towns in the Midlands and the North that are being singled out today as potentially hardest hit, they’ve also been hardest hit by the virus,” he told the Today Programme.

“There’s just too many people in those places in low-paid, insecure work, people who couldn’t take time off work if they had symptoms because they knew they wouldn’t be paid.

“And I would urge the chancellor and the prime minister to address this issue of health resilience and economic resilience in some of our poorest places. I think they should be talking about a real living wage across the country and also potentially even a universal basic income.

“Because what we’ve seen in this virus has been very clearly exposed, it is hugely unequal our country and there are some people who simply were not able to protect their own health because of their poor working conditions.”

Sir Sam Mendes spearheads fund for theatre workers at ‘breaking point’

“Thousands of theatre professionals in the UK are struggling. Many of them haven’t been able to get help from the existing government schemes, and the situation continues to worsen. They need help now,” Sir Sam said.

The fund, established with a £500,000 donation from Netflix, is “specifically designed for theatre workers who find themselves at breaking point, for those unable to put food on the table or to pay bills, or for those considering leaving the profession altogether”, Sherna Noah reports.

It offers grants up to £1,000 per applicant and is designed to support freelance artists who have been ineligible for government aid.

Scottish Government medical adviser ‘worried’ by crowds of English drinkers

One of the Scottish Government’s chief medical advisers said he is worried by images showing crowds of drinkers “spilling out into the street” in England over the weekend, after bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland on the day that beer gardens and other outdoor hospitality businesses are being allowed to reopen, Professor Jason Leitch, the national clinical director, said he was comfortable with people being in a “regulated environment”, where they will have to give some personal details to the business owner before being allowed to enter.

“I am uncomfortable with hospitality just spilling out into the street with people drinking and socialising,” he said, adding of the scenes south of the border: “They worried me, and you would expect that to be true, just as pictures of Bournemouth beach worried me as that bit of the puzzle got opened up again.”

In case you missed it, here was the verdict from the Police Federation on pubs reopening at the weekend.

After finishing a shift on the beat, the organisation’s chair John Apter, concluded that it was “crystal clear that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance”.

He revealed that he and his colleagues dealt with “happy drunks, angry drunks, fights” and antisocial behaviour while on duty in Southampton.

Iran declares masks mandatory as it hits record daily coronavirus death toll

The country reported a record 163 deaths attributed to the respiratory pandemic over the last 24 hours, the highest daily fatality count in the country since the disease struck Iran, our international correspondent Borzou Daragahi reports.

In a daily briefing, Iranian health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari also reported 2,560 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total of those confirmed to have contracted the virus to at least 240,000.

On Saturday, five members of the Iranian parliament were reported to have tested positive for Covid-19, the latest example of the illness striking the country’s political and religious elite.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has ordered the mandatory use of masks in public spaces starting on Sunday, dispatching police and ideologically motivated paramilitary Basiji forces to enforce the measures, The masks were already obligatory on public transport.

Our friends at Statista have created this infographic showing how much the UK market for new cars has shrunk in the year of the pandemic, in line with new Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders figures.

Pret a Manger to close 30 stores, putting 1,000 jobs at risk

The coffee chain, which has taken a huge financial hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, said it was also planning to “reduce headcount” across many of its remaining 380 outlets, Tom Embury-Dennis reports.

The “difficult decision” reflected “lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures”, the company said.

Pano Christou, Pret’s chief executive, said: “When the coronavirus crisis hit, we said that our priority was to protect our people, our customers, and of course Pret. We confirmed it was our intention to do everything we could to save jobs.

“Although we were able to do that through the lockdown, thanks in particular to the government’s vital support, we cannot defy gravity and continue with the business model we had before the pandemic. That is why we have adapted our business and found new ways to reach our customers.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/

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