The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has told Boris Johnson to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis or face a “long and bleak winter”.
Writing in the Guardian, Starmer says Labour has been a constructive opposition to government and accepted that no one could have handled the pandemic perfectly. However, he says the government has been repeatedly “too slow to act” – “too slow into lockdown, too slow on testing and too slow getting PPE to frontline workers.”
Despite the potential for additional local lockdowns and a winter second wave, there is precious little evidence that ministers are preparing for what is coming. Enough. Now is the time to fix problems and drive down cases.
The priority must be reopening schools for the new term. Young people cannot afford another damaging U-turn like the one made by the education secretary in June. The government must set out a clear plan this time, not just hope for the best. If that means making hard decisions elsewhere, so be it: to govern is to choose.
There should also be an acceptance that local lockdowns mean different parts of the country will at times have to live by different rules. That means getting a grip on communications is essential.
You can read the full piece here.
Infection rates were nearly 12 times higher in Oldham than in Wigan 30 miles away when both areas were hit by the new lockdown restrictions last week, according to data from Public Health England.
Figures compiled by the Manchester Evening News shows the difference in infection rates across Greater Manchester, where new laws enforcing lockdown restrictions come into force at midnight.
In Oldham, the coronavirus infection rate was 64.5 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending on July 30, while on the other side of Greater Manchester, the rate in Wigan was just 5.5.
UK records further 89 coronavirus deaths as seven-day average death toll continues to nudge up
The UK has recorded a further 89 coronavirus deaths, according to today’s update on the government’s coronavirus data dashboard. The official headline total for deaths is now 46,299.
This is a Public Health England figure for the UK as a whole. But, confusingly, the Department of Health and Social Care has given up publishing this figure as part of its only daily update, because it no longer views it as reliable.
The PHE figure is suspect because it includes people in England who tested positive for coronavirus and died – even if they died of something else.
But the main problem with the headline total is that it is an underestimate because it does not include people who died from coronavirus without testing positive. When these deaths are included, total UK coronavirus deaths are more than 55,000.
The latest data shows a further 670 people have tested positive for Covid-19 across the UK.
at 1.28pm EDT
There is evidence that younger people are not taking the coronavirus pandemic as seriously as other age groups, a Welsh minister has said.
Eluned Morgan, the international relations minister, told the Welsh government’s weekly press conference that social media would be used to ensure they “understand the message”.
Her comments followed a large number of people gathering in Cardiff Bay, with South Wales police issuing a 48-hour dispersal order in the area over the weekend.
On Tuesday, Public Health Wales said one further person had died with coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths in the country to 1,566.
“It is a really concerning situation, it is something where I think we do have to get messages out particularly to younger people that this does affect them, it will affect them,” said Lady Morgan, adding:
Clearly the evidence suggests that younger people are really perhaps in some parts of the country not taking this as seriously as some of the other age groups.
So that is a message that we need to get out. The police are very aware of the situation in Cardiff Bay and will be enforcing measures to make sure that people comply with the rules.
There are of course many means of communication now.
We can use social media and will be doing that in the future to make sure that those younger people understand the message and that it applies to them as well.
Morgan stressed that pubs and restaurants, which are now able to open indoors, must follow rules to control coronavirus.
She said that new powers would come into force this week, allowing councils to issue enforcement notices to businesses if they did not adhere to the regulations.
at 12.09pm EDT
BAME workers disproportionately hit by economic downturn
Black and ethnic minority workers are overrepresented in the sectors hit worst by the coronavirus-linked economic crisis, an analysis by the Guardian has found.
As the UK plunges into what is forecast to be the deepest recession for 300 years, the sectors with the highest rates of furloughed jobs and redundancies have disproportionate numbers of BAME workers.
The transport and storage sector has announced the most redundancies, with 34,000 reported as of 28 July, according to a Guardian database tracking job losses. Black and minority ethnic workers, who make up 12% of the UK workforce, account for 18% of jobs in this industry, according to analysis of the Labour Force Survey.
The accommodation and food services sector, where BAME people are also overrepresented, making up 15% of the staff, had the third-highest number of redundancies, with 16,000 announced as of 28 July.
This sector, which includes hotels and restaurants, also had the highest proportion of furloughed workers, with almost three-quarters of eligible jobs furloughed up to 30 June.
Wholesale and retail, which has a roughly proportionate number of BAME workers, had the second-highest number of redundancies, with almost 24,000 job losses.
Get the full story here:
at 11.31am EDT
Laws enforcing lockdown restrictions for parts of the north of England including Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire have been published.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions on Gatherings) (North of England) Regulations 2020 come into force from midnight on Wednesday.
Ministers had said the rules – which bans people from different households meeting following a surge in coronavirus cases – would be effective from midnight on 31 July.
Anyone found flouting the restrictions could be fined 100 and up to a maximum of 3,200 for repeat offences.
The legislation imposes restrictions on all local authority areas covered by:
- Bolton metropolitan borough council;
- Bury metropolitan borough council;
- Manchester city council;
- Oldham metropolitan borough councill;
- Rochdale borough council;
- Salford city council;
- Stockport metropolitan borough council;
- Tameside metropolitan borough council;
- Trafford metropolitan borough council;
- Wigan metropolitan borough council;
- Burnley borough council;
- Hyndburn borough council;
- Pendle borough council;
- Rossendale borough council;
- Calderdale metropolitan borough council;
- Kirklees metropolitan council
But the restriction zone could change at any time as directed by the the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, according to the legislation.
at 12.04pm EDT
University students who have missed out on face-to-face graduation ceremonies due to Covid-19 could be more vulnerable to degree fraud, PA Media reports.
Graduates are being warned of the dangers of posting selfies with their degree certificates on social media as it can give counterfeiters access to the latest logos, signatories and wording.
Students have been denied their usual graduation ceremony picture opportunities amid the pandemic so more graduates are likely to want to share photos of their certificates online.
Prospects, which runs the Hedd Degree Fraud Service on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS), has issued the warning as it expects the number of graduates posting selfies to rise.
It comes as graduation officers have returned to campuses across the UK to post out degree certificates to students who spent their final months of university at home during lockdown.
Chris Rea, who manages Prospects Hedd, said:
We’re expecting to see a rise in pictures of degree certificates posted on social media as they will be the only tangible mark of achievement for many graduates this year.
This period marks the end of years of hard work so we understand the urge to share certificates will be strong, but the risks of fraud are high.
Coronavirus has created ripe pickings for counterfeiters waiting to take advantage of graduates whose desire to connect with family and friends online is higher than normal.
When students post pictures of their degree certificates, everything is visible to make a forgery and they are easily found through graduation hashtags.
Covid-19 has led to a challenging graduate jobs market. Graduates should have the best chance they can and not have to compete with people faking their qualifications.
It comes after the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for higher education warned that anxious students may be more vulnerable to exploitation by essay mills amid the pandemic.
In June, the higher education watchdog said it had seen essay writing services “target” students amid the outbreak to take advantage of the “uncertainty and anxiety” facing young people.
Public Health Wales has said one further person has died after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths in the country to 1,566. The number of cases in Wales increased by 22, bringing the total number confirmed to 17,361.
at 10.30am EDT
Eight more positive cases of coronavirus were detected in Northern Ireland over the weekend, the Department of Health said. The total number of people who have been infected there is now 5,996.
No new deaths were recorded in Northern Ireland, leaving the total there at 556, according to official figures.
Nicola Sturgeon has “failed a generation of young Scots”, Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray has said.
Today’s exam results showed that the higher pass rate for pupils from the poorest areas of Scotland has been downgraded by 15.3 percentage points from teacher estimates, Murray said. He added that in contrast, analysis of the comparison between teacher estimates and the statistical moderation used to calculate results shows a reduction of just 6.9 percentage points in the most affluent areas.
He added that at her daily briefing, Sturgeon instead compared the results with previous years.
Nicola Sturgeon asked to be judged on her record in education, and she has failed a generation of young Scots.
How can we improve the life chances of young children from the poorest backgrounds when the system bakes in inequality like this?
The first minister had the opportunity at her briefing to apologise to parents and pupils and announce action against this injustice, but she failed to do so. She effectively said the moderation system should maintain the shameful attainment gap that already exists.
This demonstrates why it is so important that next year’s election is about improving Scotland’s public services and we must ensure we don’t return to the old politics of constitutional division.
at 9.30am EDT
For centuries, the tiny island of Lundy and its wonderful flora and fauna have – just about – survived the ravages of pirates, profiteers, rodents and rampaging rhododendron.
But the futures of rare birds and plants, plus the livelihoods of the hardy humans who live on this windswept hunk of granite off the Devon coast, are being put at risk by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Landmark Trust, which manages the island, has launched an urgent fundraising appeal, warning that Lundy’s way of life was at peril and vital conservation work was on hold because of a disastrous loss of income.
Lundy’s wellbeing depends to a large extent on the day trippers who travel over on the supply boat from spring to autumn. But lockdown forced Lundy to close at the end of March. Most of the staff were furloughed and the 3-mile (5km) long island remained shut for for 14 weeks.
The island is now open but social distancing rules mean that only 90 day trippers rather than 250 can visit daily.
Full story here:
Another bar in Aberdeen is closing.
This follows an announcement earlier this morning by the hospitality firm which owns Aberdeen bars Soul and College, which stated all of its premises will be shut “until we feel safe to reopen”.
A “cluster” of coronavirus cases has been linked to another venue, The Hawthorn Bar, in the city.
Sturgeon said three-quarters of all grades did not need to be changed.
She said 65.3% of young people from deprived backgrounds had passed Highers, but recommended grades from teachers put that figure at 85%. She said it would not have been credible for the passes in Scottish Highers among deprived communities to have jumped by 20% in a single year.
“What that suggests is that system of moderation was necessary,” she said.
at 8.39am EDT
When asked why the results of the results of the most deprived pupils were more likely to be lowered, than those from wealthier backgrounds, Sturgeon urged those students to appeal the results. “Today is not the end of the journey.”
at 7.48am EDT
When asked how confident she was people were handing over their details when going to bars and pubs and whether she would consider making it mandatory, Sturgeon said they would consider making it mandatory if they consider it to be necessary.
We will not shy away from doing the things we think is necessary to keep this virus under control.
My view on compliance is that the vast majority are doing it.