EU

Barnier’s unhappy that the UK is not giving in to his demands, says the Express.

THE UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has hit back after his EU counterpart Michel Barnier said progress in trade talks had been “disappointing” and accused Britain of refusing to commit “seriously” on a number of key points.
David Frost took to Twitter to say he was looking forward to the third round of negotiations which start on Monday. He added: “I would also like to make clear that the EU have from us a full set of draft agreements… These cover the full ground of the negotiations.”
Mr Frost’s tweet comes after Mr Barnier said progress had been disappointing when the second round of negotiations ended in April.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said tangible progress had only been “very partially met”, adding: “The UK did not wish to commit seriously on a number of fundamental points.”

The Express goes on to report that some countries are getting worried about a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

GERMANY is worried about the possibility of a hard Brexit as trade negotiations between the UK and the EU have so far resulted in very little progress.
In a newspaper interview on Saturday German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described how talks on a post-transition period trade agreement are necessary as the EU seeks an extension to the transition period in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Labour Party

The new Labour leader is biding his time and planning an ambush, says the Express.

SIR KEIR STARMER may wait for a potential “crunch point” later this year before the new Labour Party leader tries to push Boris Johnson into extending the transition period with the European Union beyond December 31.
Former Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer only took over as leader of the opposition from Jeremy Corbyn last month but already finds himself battling to reunite a party torn about by infighting, including its much-criticised position on Brexit.
The Labour Party‘s stance on the UK’s departure from the Brussels bloc for months went backwards and forwards between a second referendum and an alternative plan to leave the EU altogether, leaving voters utterly bemused.

Lockdown

Back to the pandemic, and this evening Boris will set out a route map for our escape, says Sky News.

The prime minister will unveil a five-stage coronavirus warning system as part of a gradual easing of the lockdown.
Boris Johnson will also leave behind the old “stay at home” slogan and instead tell people to “stay alert, control the virus and save lives“.
A five-stage system administered by a new “joint biosecurity centre” will detect increases in COVID-19 infection rates and judge how strict lockdown measures and social distancing rules should be locally in England.

BBC News reports on a proposed alert system.

A Covid-19 alert system is set to be launched by the government in England to track the virus, the prime minister is expected to announce on Sunday.
The system will rank the threat level from coronavirus on a scale of one to five and be adjusted according to data.
Boris Johnson is due to give a televised address updating the nation on the progress of lockdown measures.
The PM is expected to unveil a new slogan, telling the public to “stay alert, control the virus, save lives”.

The Sun says he’s due to fire us all up.

BORIS Johnson will unveil a revamped slogan to fire up the nation for the next phase of the battle against coronavirus.
The message “Stay home” will be replaced by “Stay alert” in a subtle change of the PM’s message.
It will be seen for the first time when he addresses the nation on live TV at 7pm.
The new catchphrase in full will say: “Stay alert. Control the virus. Save Lives.”
It will replace the now familiar message: “Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.”

But not everyone is happy about the proposals, reports the Mail.

Boris Johnson has come under fire for his new ‘stay alert’ slogan amid warnings Britain could suffer 100,000 deaths by the end of this year if the lockdown is relaxed too quickly.
The PM is expected to drop the ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ order in the next phase of the crisis during a televised address tonight at 7pm in an effort to reopen parts of the economy.
Plans are also being drawn up to use the ‘influence of friends’ to ensure compliance with the new rules as people who test positive for coronavirus will tell people they may have infected to self-isolate.

And the Times claims death rates could soar.

Britain could suffer more than 100,000 deaths by the end of the year if ministers relax the lockdown too far and too fast, a scientific adviser to the government warned last night.
In an address to the nation at 7pm today, Boris Johnson will make clear that he only wants to move slowly to lift the lockdown and will urge the public to “stay alert” to the continuing dangers of coronavirus.

Education

Are teachers enjoying their enforced lay-offs too much?  The Telegraph reports:

Teachers have been accused of “blocking” children’s lockdown learning by citing union guidelines which say they should not conduct any online lessons which made them feel “uncomfortable”.
The UK’s biggest teaching union, the National Education Union (NEU), has told its members that online lessons should be kept to “a minimum” and that they “cannot be expected to carry out routine marking or grading” of pupils’ work while schools are closed.
The advice document published by the NEU adds that teachers should not live-stream lessons from home or do any video calls with pupils unless in “exceptional circumstances”.

The Mail suggests a conspiracy.

Ministers believe ‘The Blob’ – an army made up of political opponents and union barons – is colluding to politicise the coronavirus outbreak, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
The accusation comes amid outrage over a threat by unions to block schools reopening unless their demands for extra money are met by Whitehall.
Last night the news sparked a furious backlash from academic experts and MPs.
And inside Downing Street there is mounting concern that a rejuvenated Labour under Sir Keir Starmer, working with the party’s union allies and the devolved administrations, are co-ordinating their response to lifting the lockdown.

PPE

Some goggles are not good enough, says the Telegraph.

Almost 16 million protective goggles are being recalled from hospitals and the frontline after failing safety tests against Covid-19.
The eye protectors, purchased during the national pandemic stockpile in 2009, were said to have been designed for lower-risk scenarios. A national standards body has now warned they should not be used to protect medics against coronavirus.
An urgent alert was sent out to hospitals as the Government scrambled to limit the damage. A total stockpile of nearly 26 million “Tiger Eye” protectors failed to meet standards at their time of purchase under the Gordon Brown administration.

The Times reports on the start of legal action.

Thousands of doctors have begun legal action demanding the government launch a public inquiry to investigate the failure to provide NHS and care staff with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
The legal challenge is being brought by the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), which represents more than 29,000 medics working on the front line, and the Good Law Project. Nearly 200 NHS and care workers have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus.

Testing

Samples have been sent to the US to be analysed, says the Telegraph.

Britain has been secretly flying tens of thousands of coronavirus tests to America as it struggles to lift the daily testing rate over 100,000 a day in the UK, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.
The Department of Health admitted last night that 50,000 test samples were sent to the US last week as problems were reported in laboratories in the UK. The samples were airlifted across the Atlantic in chartered flights from Stansted airport.

The Mail also has the story.

Up to 50,000 coronavirus test samples had to be sent from the UK to the US after ‘operational issues’ in the lab network led to delays in the system.
The news came as the number of daily coronavirus tests fell below Health Secretary Matt Hancock‘s 100,000 target for a seventh day in a row.
The Department of Health said sending swabs abroad is one of the contingencies to deal with so-called teething problems in a rapidly-expanded testing system.
It is understood the test results will be validated back in the UK and communicated to patients ‘as quickly as possible’.

The economy

An exclusive report by Sky News says a former chancellor is urging government action on the economy.

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.

Elderly

The Telegraph says the activities of we oldies could be restricted for longer than youngsters.

Coronavirus could curtail the holiday plans of the over-60s for a year, experts warned, after travel insurers changed the wording of policies to exclude it.
Many firms stopped selling travel insurance in March as the pandemic took hold. The policies are now being reintroduced but with changed wording that specifically excludes claims relating to Covid-19 as it is now a “known event”.
This means that, despite travel agents reporting demand for holidays in 2021, any trips booked now are unlikely to be covered by insurance if the holidaymaker changes their mind.

BAME

Why are there so many more BAME deaths?  The Mail investigates.

Campaigners have demanded Prime Minister Boris Johnson launch a public inquiry into deaths in BAME communities after figures found black people are four times more likely than white people to die from coronavirus.
In a letter to Mr Johnson on Sunday, campaigners said only an independent inquiry could get the ‘critical’ answers needed to explain the ‘outsized effect’ Covid-19 was having on BAME communities.
A new analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that black men and women are more than four times more likely to suffer a coronavirus-related death than white people.

Contact tracing

A new contact tracing app is being developed, but the Telegraph claims an app was developed years ago.

Britain invented a contact-tracing app nine years ago, it has emerged as the Cambridge professor who built it has said the Government “missed an opportunity” to develop the life-saving technology.
Jon Crowcroft, from Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory, said the UK could have been “10 years ahead of the curve rather than three months behind it” if it had capitalised on the FluPhone app, which was an early prototype of the contact-tracing technology the NHS is now scrambling build to curb coronavirus infections after lockdown.
However, his team’s successful efforts building the app fell by the wayside in 2011 as funding ran dry.

The app in preparation could invade users’ privacy, says the Times.

Boris Johnson is facing a backbench protest over the NHS’s contact tracing app in the latest setback to hit the project before it has even been launched nationwide.
Senior Conservatives, including the 1922 committee chairman, Sir Graham Brady, and former ministers David Davis and Andrew Mitchell, have raised concerns that the app, which tells users if they have been in close contact with someone who later reports having coronavirus, could infringe privacy and be repurposed for surveillance.

Could we buy a system from abroad?  The Telegraph says it’s possible.

Taiwan is ready to offer up the technical know-how of its Covid-19 Bluetooth and GPS tracing apps if the UK requests them, its government cyber chief has pledged.
“If your government needs it, we can provide the source code,” said Howard Jyan, who leads the Taiwan’s cyber security department in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.

The Queen

Following Her Majesty’s magnificent VE day speech, she is likely to stay isolated for some time, says the Times.

The Queen is to withdraw from public life for months in what is expected to be the longest absence from official duties in her 68-year reign.
The monarch, 94, will remain at Windsor Castle indefinitely. Her diary of engagements into the autumn is also on hold, with plans for a state visit from South Africa in October up in the air. Buckingham Palace will be closed to the public this summer, for what is thought to be the first time in 27 years. Events such as Trooping the Colour, garden parties and the Order of the Garter service have already been cancelled.

Holidays

Thinking of a vacation? Better stick to the UK, says the Times.

If you think Spanish beaches can be crowded in the summer, brace yourself for Cornwall this August.
The UK is set for a staycation boom once travel restrictions are eased, as Britons abandon hope of overseas travel this year, with industry bosses pinning their hopes on “rescuing the summer” with a surge in demand for domestic breaks.
Campsite owners are particularly hopeful of being able to open this summer, insisting their sites are already set up for social distancing.

Air travel

The airline industry is being investigated for failing to refund fares, says the Times.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is investigating airlines’ failure to refund more than £7bn for flights cancelled because of the coronavirus as concern grows that they are breaking the law.
The regulator has sought information on the handling of refunds and said it would not accept carriers “systematically” denying consumers their rights.
Under European law, passengers whose flights are cancelled are entitled to a refund within seven days. Many airlines, including Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair, are issuing vouchers by default and British Airways has removed the option to get a refund from its website.

And the Mail says the industry is furious.

Airlines and tour operators have reacted with fury to Government plans to force all travellers to the UK to be placed in quarantine for a fortnight – including British citizens returning from holiday.
The move – first revealed last month by The Mail on Sunday – is intended to prevent a second peak of the Covid-19 virus sweeping the country later this year.
But companies have described it as an effective ‘ban’ on foreign holidays because most people would not be prepared to pay the price of having to self-isolate for 14 days after every overseas trip.

And those trying to get into the UK could be quarantined says the Independent.

New quarantine rules are set to crush the UK travel industry for many more weeks, wrecking overseas holiday plans for millions.
The Independent understands the prime minister will announce on Sunday that travellers arriving in the UK by air, sea or rail will be obliged to self-isolate in stringent conditions for 14 days.
The aim is to reduce the rate of coronavirus infection. Covid-19 has been spread worldwide by international air travel.

Public transport

And when we eventually get back to work, travelling will look very different, says the Mail.

Social distancing rules mean even if every pre-coronavirus train, Tube and bus service were to be restored after lockdown there would only be space for one in ten passengers, the Transport Secretary admitted today.
Grant Shapps warned there will not be a ‘single leap to freedom’ when restrictions are lifted and it will be a long time before the UK’s transport network returns to normal.
As a result he said there will have to be a significant shift in the way people get around as he unveiled a £2 billion package of measures to boost cycling and walking to work.

The system won’t be able to cope, reports the Independent.

Grant Shapps has revealed that large swathes of the country’s public transport network will be reduced to just 10 per cent capacity due to coronavirus social distancing measures – even when full services resume.
The transport secretary said getting Britain moving again while avoiding overcrowding represented an “enormous logistical challenge”, and even with every train, bus and tram fully operational it “will not be enough”.
He also warned that moving beyond coronavirus will be a “gradual” process, rather than a “single leap to freedom”, as Boris Johnson prepares to address the nation on Sunday evening, setting out the country’s next phase in the pandemic that has claimed more than 31,000 lives in the UK.

How about walking or cycling to work?  Reuters reports:

More commuters should consider cycling or walking when Britain’s coronavirus lockdown is eased to take the pressure off public transport capacity that is likely to drop by 90% under social distancing requirements, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Saturday.
He urged people to continue to work from home where possible, but said those who did have to commute to work should consider cycling or walking rather than using their cars.
The requirement for buses, trains and underground rail services to maintain social distancing rules means they will only be able to carry vastly reduced passenger numbers.

A multi-million pound package could help, says ITV News.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced a £2bn package to help increase cycling and walking capacity across the UK, as commuters face new challenges of getting to work during the coronavirus crisis.
The programme will be published in early June with the aim of doubling cycling and increasing walking to work by 2025.
Mr Shapps said it was likely that people’s commute into work using public transport would be changed dramatically due to the impact of Covid-19.

HS2

Those opposed to the high-speed rail plan are using the pandemic to push their case, says the Express.

PRESSURE is mounting on the government to ditch the £100 billion HS2 project and invest the money in high speed broadband in the wake of social changes brought about by the coronavirus.
Tory MPs are demanding a rethink for the controversial rail project amid demands for investment in other sectors with fears of a collapse in the farming industry.
Boris Johnson defied fierce opposition in his party to back HS2 in February despite fears that costs have already gone out of control.

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