The British public may be confined to their homes today, on the 75th anniversary of VE Day; but the national crisis is not deterring them from marking the occasion. Across the country, from London to Wales, the Scottish Highlands and Northern Ireland all the UK will celebrate 75 years since the end of the Second World War and Britain’s six-year battle with Nazism and Fascism in Europe. Union Jack flags are plastered to front room windows while bunting lines the tops of houses and streets from the country’s biggest cities to the UK’s smallest of villages. Britons are invoking the spirit of the ‘greatest generation’ in a stunning display of national solidarity against an invisible enemy – Covid-19, the disease which has claimed thousands of lives.
Britain will unite today to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe with the Queen broadcasting a message to the nation. Despite the coronavirus lockdown, socially distant tea parties and other events are taking place across the country. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will lead a two-minute silence from the Balmoral estate at 11am, which will be carried on television and radio. In the hour before, the Red Arrows and RAF Typhoons will perform flypasts in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
The UK is showing “no real sign” of approaching Brexit trade talks with a plan to succeed during the coronavirus pandemic, the EU’s trade commissioner has said. Phil Hogan has suggested the UK government is planning to blame Covid-19 for “the fallout from Brexit” because it does not want negotiations to continue into 2021. He also warned that the government’s current approach needed to change to avoid an “almighty blow to the UK economy later this year”, which could “spill over” to other countries, such as Ireland.
BRUSSELS is calling for people to fly EU flags out of their windows to mark Europe Day on Saturday. Europe Day on May 9 celebrates peace and unity in Europe. It marks the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration in 1950 which proposed the first European institution which led to today’s EU. In a Facebook event, Brussels urged people to fly EU flags out of their window and share pictures to celebrate the day. They added that it is “more important than ever” that Europe stands together amid the coronavirus crisis.
Europe can end overfishing in its seas and restore its fisheries “forever” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, an ocean scientist has urged. Despite European politicians failing to limit catches in 2020 to sustainable levels, falls in demand from overseas markets and closures of restaurants at home in lockdown have hit the industry hard, leading to a large drop in fishing. As a result, 2020 could be the first year when overfishing does not take place in European waters, according to Dr Rainer Froese, from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany.
An overwhelming majority of Europeans support the introduction of universal basic income (UBI), a radical economic policy often described as utopian, a survey conducted by a German think tank has found. Bertelsmann Stiftung’s eupinions survey of 12,000 people in all European Union countries including Britain was conducted as governments adopted unprecedented social and economic measures in recent months. Researchers were startled to find that 71 per cent of Europeans supported the introduction of a universal basic income and that 53 per cent of those aged 16 to 29 believed that authoritarian states were better equipped than democracies to prevent climate change.
BEACHES across Spain are creating sunbathing ‘squares’ with cordoned off areas for tourists. Some regions are even introducing designated zones for different ages and family groups. New plans are being drawn up for Silgar beach in the northwest of Spain. A video posted on the local council’s Facebook page shows the beach being divided into five different sections. Within the sections, there will be 780 spaces marked out using rope, which have a 1.5m gap between each one. Tourists will have to remain in the 9sqm squares while at the beach, with two strips – one for walking and playing games, and another for getting to the toilets and facilities – in place as well.
The European Commission has warned that the entire European Union could be facing a historic recession due to the economic impact of the Wuhan coronavirus. The Commission’s spring forecast predicts that the economies of various European Union member states could collectively shrink by as much as 7.4 per cent in 2020 due to the economic turmoil and fallout caused by the pandemic outbreak. Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday in comments reported by Euractiv: “Both the depth of the recession and the strength of the recovery will be uneven, conditioned by the speed at which lockdowns can be lifted, the importance of services like tourism in each economy and by each country’s financial resources.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reveal his lockdown exit plan on Sunday after most people in Britain have spent more than six weeks at home to help fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The proposals are to be split into five stages over the coming months, and a leaked version of the plan has suggested the first changes on Monday will see garden centres allowed to open and unlimited exercise allowed. There will also be a return to sunbathing and picnics, more key workers’ children will go back to school, staff will start returning to businesses that stayed open during the lockdown and open-air markets may reopen.
Boris Johnson could lift parts of the lockdown every two weeks under plans being discussed by ministers, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. The Cabinet will meet on Sunday to agree a “roadmap” for lifting the lockdown which will be revealed by the Prime Minister in a televised address to the nation later that evening. He will also set out a rough timetable for when key measures will be lifted, such as schools and shops reopening, but will describe tough “milestones” that must be reached before he can give them the green light.
Boris Johnson is caught in a struggle between those who want him to move faster to end the lockdown and those who fear it would trigger a second wave of coronavirus. As the Prime Minister prepares to set out his exit plan on Sunday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon threatened to break the UK-wide approach, saying any watering down of the ‘Stay Home’ message would be a ‘potentially catastrophic mistake’. But, with the Bank of England warning that the restrictions have sparked the deepest recession for 300 years, some Tory MPs are urging Mr Johnson to act swiftly to prevent an economic depression they say could scar a generation.
Britain could remain under strict lockdown measures until June, minister admitted last night, with Boris Johnson set to announce only a ‘small and modest’ easing of restrictions on Sunday evening. The Prime Minister told the cabinet he will proceed with ‘maximum caution’ when it comes to lifting restrictions, after experts warned that outbreaks in care homes and hospitals make significant easing far too dangerous. Mr Johnson is set to address the nation at 7pm on Sunday and is expected to announce that people will be allowed unlimited exercise from Monday.
Boris Johnson will keep Britain in lockdown until next month at the earliest after he was warned that outbreaks in care homes and hospitals make significant easing any sooner too dangerous. He is being urged by cabinet ministers to give specific dates by which elements of the lockdown can be lifted to avert a collapse of consumer and business confidence. The prime minister told the cabinet that he would proceed with “maximum caution”, with only modest and incremental changes to the restrictions before the end of this month.
The NHS contact-tracing app has been hit by a series of glitches on the first day of its roll-out on the Isle of Wight, which saw residents saying it did not work on phones that are only four years old. Islanders used social media to vent frustrations over the app with others complaining it drained their phone battery or was bombarding them with multiple notifications. However, the island’s MP Bob Seely said the trial of the app had gotten off to a “strong start” with over 30,000 people downloading it.
The government has left open the prospect of ditching its own contact-tracing app in favour of the “decentralised” model favoured by Apple and Google after it was revealed that a feasibility study into such a change is under way. After repeated warnings that the UK will be an outlier if it insists on using its own centralised app rather than relying on Google and Apple’s technology, rights groups and MPs said on Thursday that the lack of privacy and data protections could mean that the app would be illegal. With growing questions over that approach, it emerged that the Swiss-based consultancy Zühlke Engineering has been hired to undertake a two-week “technical spike” to investigate implementing Apple and Google’s system “within the existing proximity mobile application and platform”.
DOZENS of Isle of Wight residents have complained the new contact tracing app fails to work on their phones as 33,000 downloaded it on the first day. Residents trying to take part in the new pilot study claim they’ve been unable to even download the app with some older phones or Samsung devices. Tory Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely told BBC Radio 4’s World At One the trial of a coronavirus tracking app on the island was going well. He said: “The evidence so far is really good. “The last time I talked to the techies from NHSX, which is the digital base of the NHS, 33,000 people – very likely, almost all of them are from the island – have downloaded the app. “That is a very, very strong start.”
Experts say even $10 is too much for the US-made antiviral drug approved to treat the novel coronavirus. Gilead Sciences’ medication, remdesivir, was shown to help reduce patients’ hospital stays over a placebo, in a clinical trial run by the National Institutes of Health. Last week, it became the first drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19 patients under emergency use authorization. The California-based pharmaceutical company has a past of exorbitant drug pricing, drawing intense scrutiny from the public – and raising questions about patients that might not be able to afford access.
Yet another study of hydroxychloroquine has found no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug widely promoted as a treatment for coronavirus infection. Early studies suggested that the malaria and lupus drug might have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects might help coronavirus patients, triggering a flurry of research, President Trump’s endorsement and emergency FDA authorization. But hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 patients treated at Columbia University in New York, researchers reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
An arthritis drug may better the conditions of severely ill coronavirus patients, a new small study suggests. Researchers found more that than 70 percent treated with anakinra, sold under the brand name Kineret, showed improvements in breathing and reduced signs of inflammation. The team, from San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, says its findings are the first to suggest that the drug works – but that randomized controlled trials are needed to fully understand the medication’s effectiveness.
Coronaphobia could end up thwarting Boris Johnson’s efforts to ease lockdown – as a poll today suggested the public fears the virus far more than immediate economic meltdown. Exclusive research for MailOnline shows 62 per cent are more worried about the effects of the draconian curbs ending too early, while 38 per cent say their main concern is the havoc they are wreaking on the economy now. Around seven in 10 believe bus and train drivers, teachers, and medical staff should have the right to refuse to go back to work, even if the government says it is safe. Some 60 per cent say the state should keep covering a proportion of people’s wages even if in theory they should be able to resume their jobs.
SHAMELESS crooks have stolen £166,000 worth of PPE from a warehouse in Greater Manchester. Officers were called to the unit in Salford last night following reports a large amount of personal protective equipment was taken. Further details about the raid, believed to have taken place at the Trafalgar Business Park, will be released by officers at 3.30pm today. It comes after health and safety inspectors deemed all of the 400,000 gowns flown in from Turkey for coronavirus medics as being “useless”. With pressure mounting on the government’s handling of the crisis, the vital personal protective equipment was impounded in a warehouse outside Heathrow Airport.
A cabinet minister has confirmed that 400,000 gowns from Turkey to protect medics from coronavirus have been impounded because they were poor quality, but he insisted “strong supplies” were now coming through to the frontline. The personal protective equipment (PPE) from Turkey was heralded by ministers several weeks ago as “a very significant” shipment that would ease a shortage of gowns in the NHS, but the delivery turned into a shambles after it was repeatedly delayed. In a final blow to the government, Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, acknowledged on Thursday that the gowns had in fact been useless for medical purposes.
Parents are too scared to send their children back to school, headteachers say as they urge ministers to clarify the position on fines. There is a “lack of confidence” among parents that it would be safe for pupils to return to the classroom, according to Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT). Families who choose to keep their children away from schools once they reopen should “not be blamed” for taking that decision and face financial penalties for doing so, he said.
Head teachers have warned of ghost schools when they reopen to all pupils, saying that parents may refuse to send their children in before a coronavirus vaccine is found. Heads have been rearranging classrooms, abandoning hot lunches, measuring corridors for one-way systems and booking deep-cleans. Ministers are expected to announce a timetable on Sunday for a phased return of pupils in England, probably starting in early June. Less than 2 per cent of children are attending school at present.
Four families who say their children have received “little or no” education since schools in England were closed to most pupils have started legal action against the government. Lawyers acting for the families say their intention is to sue the government over its failure to ensure access to the online learning that has largely replaced classroom teaching since March, because the four are unable to afford laptops or internet connections. Clare Jennings, a solicitor at the law firm Matthew Gold, said the Department for Education’s scheme to provide laptops and internet access for some was restricted to only a small number of pupils, leaving many others without reliable access to online lessons.
Britain is on course to suffer its worst recession for 300 years with the economy shrinking by 14 per cent and two million people expected to lose their jobs this year. According to the most disastrous projections the Bank of England has ever published, gross domestic product (GDP) is on course to be 30 per cent smaller next month than it was last December. Unemployment is expected to more than double, from 4 per cent to a 26-year high of 9 per cent. A further six million workers are expected to be furloughed. The decline will be global as the pandemic strikes indiscriminately.
THE Bank of England boss believes the UK can recover “relatively rapidly” from this historic recession. And other experts are labelling this trajectory a V-shaped bounce back. Bank governor Andrew Bailey predicts the economy will exit the unprecedented slump “much more rapidly than the pull back from the global financial crisis” of 2009. This is as long as social-distancing measures are largely over by September. The Bank’s new Covid-19 analysis, published yesterday, shows the economy shrinking by three per cent in the first quarter of this year. This will be followed by a massive 25 per cent decline in the three months to June.
The Bank of England has warned that the UK economy is heading towards its sharpest recession on record. The coronavirus impact would see the economy shrink 14% this year, based on the lockdown being relaxed in June. Scenarios drawn up by the Bank to illustrate the economic impact said Covid-19 was “dramatically reducing jobs and incomes in the UK”. Bank governor Andrew Bailey told the BBC there would be no quick return to normality. He described the downturn as “unprecedented”, and said consumers would remain cautious even when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Britain must turn its attention to the economy now it is through the peak of the coronavirus crisis, Sajid Javid has told Sky News. In his first exclusive television interview since stepping down as chancellor, he said the government “rightly put public health first”. But he urged Boris Johnson to now focus on economic recovery after questioning the Bank of England’s prediction that the economy will bounce back from what it predicts will be the deepest recession in 300 years.
Premier League rebel clubs will be told failure to complete this campaign will put next season under threat and will have catastrophic consequences for the football industry. The bottom six, who oppose playing at neutral venues, will be given the stark warning by other chairmen when they meet on Monday. They will be told the conditions of Project Restart will be the same as the start of the 2020/21 campaign later this year. There are fears television money bankrolling clubs will be in jeopardy if that is delayed. Steve Parish, the Crystal Palace chairman, suggested there will be a “distortion of the competition” next season when he spoke earlier this week, with the issue now discussed among his counterparts in the Premier League.