BREXIT tensions remain prevalent as a former EU official said the bloc is “taking comfort in how much the UK has lost”.
The UK and EU’s Brexit trade deal has done little to quell ill-feeling between London and Brussels. Northern Ireland has been one key issue, with some Conservative MPs already lambasting the protocol which put a border down the Irish Sea. The country has seen import struggles and also violence on the streets recently, and Brussels is threatening legal action over the UK’s decision to delay the full implementation of the protocol. French fishermen also threatened to block ports last month while British fishermen have seen their businesses struggle.
The pandemic has also seen the EU threaten to block vaccine exports to the UK in a move that was widely condemned.
Since January, many in the UK have fumed at the economic challenges created by the new terms as exports struggle to get into Europe.
Miriam González Durántez, an international lawyer and former EU official, has claimed recently that the EU is “taking comfort from how much the UK has lost in the Brexit negotiations.”
Daily testing of the contacts of people who test positive for Covid is to be trialled, the government has announced, in an effort to reduce the need for people to self-isolate unnecessarily.
People who test positive for Covid and their close contacts currently have to isolate for 10 days, but recent research has suggested compliance may be low. One study found that only about 50% of people who had Covid symptoms said they fully adhered to self-isolation.
The trial, which launches on Sunday and is led by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS test and trace, will explore whether the use of daily testing of close contacts could reduce the need for people to isolate.
“We know that isolating when you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 is challenging, but it remains vitally important to stop the spread of infection,” said Prof Isabel Oliver, PHE’s national infection service director and the study lead. “This study will help to determine whether we can deploy daily testing for contacts to potentially reduce the need for self-isolation, while still ensuring that chains of transmission are stopped.
Families and friends will be able to mourn their loved ones in unlimited numbers at funerals in England from 17 May, under new plans.
As part of the next step in easing restrictions, the government is preparing to remove the 30-person legal limit a month earlier than planned.
This means any number of mourners will be able to gather so long as they can safely socially distance in the venue.
Weddings will be limited to 30 from 17 May, and an unlimited number from June.
The limit for weddings in England is currently 15 people.
During the pandemic, many have been forced to watch funerals from home over live-streams, making grieving harder. And those able to attend have had to do without handshakes and hugs.
The 30-person limit on the number of mourners who can attend funerals in England is to be lifted later this month, the government has announced, as Dominic Raab indicated that masks may still need to be used after 21 June.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said on Monday that the legally enforced limit would be removed as part of the next stage of lockdown easing, expected on 17 May.
The capacity will then be determined by how many people venues such as places of worship or funeral homes can safely accommodate while maintaining social distancing.
This includes indoor and outdoor venues, and all organisers must continue to be Covid-secure and follow social distancing rules. While venue capacities will vary, the department said many would be able to allow “significantly” more than 30 people to attend.
The department said attendances for other life or commemorative events, such as weddings and wakes, were expected to still be limited to 30 people in stage 3 of the roadmap, while barmitzvahs and christenings will be allowed again for the first time since the new year.
The “one metre-plus” social distancing rule will be scrapped from June 21 under plans to ensure that all restaurants, pubs, theatres and cinemas can reopen fully, The Times understands.
Masks will have to be worn in some cases to mitigate the risks but it will mean venues can reopen at full capacity for the first time in 15 months.
Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, confirmed yesterday that some coronavirus restrictions would remain beyond June 21, causing concern in hospitality. He said “conditions, counteracts and safeguards” would have to stay, adding: “They’ll be something around masks.
The Times understands this means theatre and cinema audiences must wear face coverings during performances and there will be strict guidance on ventilation and staggered entry.
The social distancing rule will be scrapped but masks will remain under government plans for the final easing of restrictions on June 21, it has been claimed.
People will no longer have to stick to ‘one metre-plus‘ while indoors as part of plans to allow all restaurants, pubs, theatres and cinemas to finally reopen at full capacity.
It is hoped successful test runs of live events will also see the return of crowds to sport stadiums and concerts at the same time.
But discussing Britain’s ‘last lap’ of the pandemic yesterday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned that that some measures such as masks will be in place into the summer.
While he insisted the UK is ‘turning the corner’ as Covid recedes, he stressed ‘some safeguards’ may remain to ward off a potential further wave of the virus.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘We want to get to the position at the end of June when we can get life back as close to normal as possible, but there will still need to be some safeguards in place.’
Asked about measures after June 21, he added: ‘I think it will be around distancing – maybe there will be something around masks.’ Mr Raab told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘We’re very close now to really turning the corner.
‘I think we still need to be careful… We don’t want to see the gains lost and the sacrifices that have been made undone.
‘By the time we get to June 21 almost all social restrictions will be lifted, so there’s only a little bit more time to go but it’s right we do that in a careful way.
‘I do think we just need to make sure that in the last lap, if you like, that we are careful and we don’t lose the gains we’ve made.’
According to The Times this could mean theatre and cinema audiences being forced to wear marks during performances and having staggered entry times.
The Government is expected to announce which countries will be on the green travel list by the end of this week, according to reports.
The final list of countries will be decided on Wednesday and are expected to include Iceland, Malta, Portugal and Gibraltar.
A formal announcement is expected on Friday about which countries will be on the safe list when international travel starts again on May 17.
Speculation last week that the list could include holiday islands like Ibiza, Mallorca and the Canaries was wrong, officials said.
Under the traffic light system countries will be graded red, amber or green based on case numbers and vaccine rates.
Those returning from red countries will be required to complete hotel quarantine on their return.
Travellers returning from green countries will have to take a PCR test when they return to the UK but will not have to self-isolate.
Scotland has recorded no new coronavirus deaths and 146 new cases in the most recent 24-hour period, according to data.
The death toll under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 7,660.
Register offices are now generally closed at weekends.
Scottish Government figures published on Sunday show the daily test positivity rate remained at 1.1%.
There were 67 people in hospital on Saturday with recently confirmed Covid-19, which was no change over 24 hours. Of these patients, nine were in intensive care, which was no change.
So far 2,817,752 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 1,297,664 have received their second dose.
SOCIAL distancing restrictions will be lifted on June 21, the earliest proposed date for the full reopening of the economy, according to a report.
Hospitality and entertainment businesses will be allowed to reopen fully for the first time since the pandemic started in Government plans seen by The Times. However, some preventive measures such as mask wearing in certain settings will remain in place.
The one metre-plus rule is set to be scrapped, enabling businesses to welcome more customers into their facilities.
Larger events will potentially keep the audience limits beyond June 21, with reports of the Government advising the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) the audience cap will be set at 45,000.
Pilot events have been carried out in various settings in a bid to test the possibility of scrapping social distancing rules.
The tests included a nightclub party in Liverpool, a business conference with 400 people and football matches at Wembley.
Face masks may have to be worn beyond the promised end of the lockdown roadmap next month, a Cabinet minister has said.
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, declared on Sunday that the nation is “very close now to really turning the corner” in the battle against Covid-19, but added that “some safeguards” would likely remain after June 21.
A sharp backlash erupted from the hospitality industry after he served notice that a series of measures could be kept after the fourth and final step in the Prime Minister’s roadmap.
Pressure is mounting on the Government to accelerate the removal of restrictions, amid falling infection numbers and the rapid rollout of the vaccination programme. The NHS confirmed on Sunday that 15 million people have now had their second jab in the UK.
Ministers will on Monday announce that they are bringing forward the removal of a cap on numbers attending funerals from step four of the roadmap to step three, which is scheduled for May 17.
Mr Raab’s intervention comes in the midst of a Cabinet Office-led review into the future of social distancing measures, which is examining the removal of the last tranche of restrictions this summer.
It is understood that the retention of face masks and glass screens are being examined as mitigating measures to offset the abolition of the “one metre plus” rule that obliges members of the public to remain physically separate.
TENS of thousands of took to Britain’s streets at the weekend as protests erupted against draconian new laws which will give police powers to “shut down dissent.”
Campaigners in London, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol and scores of smaller towns mobilised in opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on May Day.
The legislation has faced a backlash as critics say it will allow police in England and Wales to shut down non-violent protests which are deemed “overly noisy or disruptive” or “cause inconvenience or nuisance to members of the public.”
Anyone taking part in actions which police declare “illegal” under the legislation could face fines and imprisonment.
It will also increase police powers to arrest and detain those in travelling communities.
The May Day demonstration saw the biggest protests so far — recent weeks have seen marches in most major towns and cities, and in many smaller communities.
Dozens of arrests were made, including in London, Newcastle and Bristol.
Antifa, communist, Black Lives Matter, feminist, labour union, and environmentalist activists rallied in London on Saturday to mark International Workers’ Day, or May Day.
The May Day march, which was organised by the radical feminist organisation Sisters Uncut in conjunction with the BLM-style splinter groups All Black Lives UK and the 4 Front Project, as well as the “racial justice education” group No More Exclusions, saw thousands of far-left activists take to the streets of London.
Aside from celebrating the communist holiday, the ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration was also against the proposed Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, which seeks to grant police greater powers to break up “disruptive” protests in Britain.
The protest began at noon in Trafalgar Square in central London, where leftists carried Socialist Worker signs and activists handed out far-left pamphlets, including from the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist).