Brexit

More calls for an extension to the transition period appear in the Guardian.

A new Brexit border in the Irish Sea will not be ready by Boris Johnson’s end-of-year deadline, according to a new analysis that warns more than 60 administrations, government departments and public bodies will be involved in overseeing the new system.
Ministers finally admitted last week that there would be some checks on certain goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK from next January, when the Brexit transition period comes to an end.
Johnson and others have also refused to consider extending the transition period, despite having no agreement between the EU and Britain over the practical treatment of Northern Ireland and little prospect of a trade deal being in place by the start of 2021.
However, in its most forthright intervention to date, the influential thinktank Institute for Government (IfG) said the transition period must be extended or a longer implementation period agreed for the new border arrangements in the Irish Sea. It warns that many businesses are simply focused on “staying afloat” during the coronavirus crisis and cannot be expected to concentrate on new trade arrangements – and suggests the government is underestimating the complexity of the new Northern Ireland arrangements.

The Sun quotes the Labour boss:

NEW Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says the Brexit issue is “over” – and confirmed there will be no further campaign to rejoin the EU.
And he admitted his party’s previous attitudes towards the split with the EU – which he partly oversaw as shadow Brexit secretary – had been damaging.
In an interview with the TelegraphSir Keir said Labour will now focus on “what sort of a deal we have with the EU and what sort of deals we have with the rest of the world”.
He also said he wants the party to be “proudly patriotic”, and will not snub state occasions, like predecessor Jeremy Corbyn did.
During the interview Sir Keir said: “We’ve left the EU, and therefore the Leave/Remain argument is over and the only argument now is what sort of a deal we have with the EU and what sort of deals we have with the rest of the world.

EU

And the bloc is also resigned to a possible no deal, says the Express.

EU chiefs are preparing for a no deal Brexit after the latest round of trade talks collapsed with the UK, a political expert has said.
Professor Anand Menon, Director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, said the European Union has already conceded there will not be an extension to the transition period beyond December 31 and will begin preparations for a no deal outcome. Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier failed to make a breakthrough following the third round of heated negotiations last week.
Outstanding issues over trade, laws and fishing remained on the table and there is now just one round of talks to go, before both sides must decide whether to extend the negotiations for up to two years.

Meanwhile, German/French proposals to save the euro have been rejected, says the Times.

A proposal by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron for a €500bn (£448bn) fund to save European economies laid low by the coronavirus was rejected yesterday by a quartet of financially conservative EU members, who insisted the money be in the form of loans rather than grants.
The move by Austria, Holland, Denmark and Sweden — the “frugal four” — sets the stage for a battle this week as the European Commission struggles to find a solution that will be acceptable to all 27 EU member states.
“We want a time limit so that it is really emergency aid and does not become a debt union through the back door,” Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, who has emerged as the leading hawk, told German radio.

Breitbart reports an EU call for us all to eat insects.

Europeans must move to a “more plant-based diet”, according to new EU food policy, which also revealed the bloc will promote “insect-based proteins and meat substitutes”.
The European Commission’s Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy for creating a “fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly” food system insists that such a transition “will not happen without a shift in people’s diets”.
“Moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables will reduce not only risks of life-threatening diseases, but also the environmental impact of the food system,” asserts the strategy, which was unveiled Wednesday.

The end

Some scientists say the virus could be gone in a few months, says the Mail.

Coronavirus could be completely wiped out in the UK on September 30, according to modelling from scientists.
A team at the Singapore University of Technology plotted data from the pandemic to pinpoint the date cases will die out in countries hardest hit by the disease.
They predict a total eradication of the bug in Britain with no new cases – or a second wave – at all from the end of September.
The US, where most Covid-19 deaths have been recorded, will extinguish the infection by November 11.
The model predicts the trajectory of the spread of the virus over time while tracking the actual number of new confirmed cases per day in a given country, as of May 12.

And the Express reports the PM’s plans to unravel the lockdown.

BORIS JOHNSON has unveiled a series of crucial measures to allow Britain start to safely start to come out of lockdown at the beginning of June.
Ahead of Monday’s crunch Cabinet meeting to make the final decisions on lifting lockdown, the Government has revealed a package worth hundreds of millions of pounds to allow normality to begin to return and the economy to get going again. New measures include investment in high streets and the transport network to make them safe to use again.

‘R’

This is because the reproduction rate is steady, says the Mirror.

The transmission rate of coronavirus has remained steady for a second week in a row.
The R number – which is the average number of people an infected person will pass the disease on to – remained between 0.7 and 1 across the UK, government scientific advisors revealed.
There is a time lag in the calculations, with the latest R value relating to what was happening two to three weeks ago.
The latest rate is the same as the one released last week and remains higher than the previous one, which was between 0.5 and 0.9.
The lack of downward movement is thought to be driven by the continued spread of the virus in care homes and hospitals during the period covered rather than the wider community.

Testing

And researchers are having difficulty finding people with the disease, says the Times.

So few people in the UK are being infected with the coronavirus that Oxford University researchers may have to “chase” the disease around the country to test their vaccine.
To be confident that a vaccine works, enough people who take part in the trial need to be exposed to the virus — but the rate of infection in parts of the UK is becoming too low.

Thousands of people have been recruited, reports ITV News.

An army of 25,000 contact tracers have been recruited ahead of the launch of a new test-and-trace system aiming to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Government has said.
The system, which involves tracing and advising people who may have come into close contact with someone testing positive for the virus, is set to launch at the end of this week.
The Government has been aiming for human contact tracers to be in place for June 1 – the earliest date for opening schools and non-essential shops in England.

Cummings

Today’s big story is about the government’s chief advisor.  The Telegraph reports:

When the Prime Minister announced Britain was going into lockdown two months ago he gave the apparently unequivocal instruction that we must all “stay at home”.
Within 24 hours, Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, outlined possible exceptions to that rule, including how ill parents with a small child created “exceptional circumstances”.
Now, after it has emerged Dominic Cummings and his wife travelled 260 miles with their son to stay at a home near his extended family in Durham despite having coronavirus symptoms, allies of Boris Johnson’s special advisor are highlighting that advice to justify his trip.
At the Downing Street press conference on March 24 Dr Harries said parents who are ill and may not be able to look after a child created “exceptional circumstances” where family members could be called upon to help.

His job is safe, says the Times.

Boris Johnson has declared he will not throw Dominic Cummings “to the dogs” as the prime minister’s most senior aide was accused of breaking the lockdown not once but three times.
The prime minister is facing three separate calls for a formal inquiry into whether Cummings violated the code of conduct for government advisers after it was revealed that he drove his wife and child to his parents’ home in Durham at the end of March.
The government said Cummings had gone into isolation with Covid-19 symptoms on that trip but last night there were allegations he was seen 30 miles from his family’s home about two weeks later.

Cummings denies some of the accusations, says the Telegraph.

Dominic Cummings tonight told 10 Downing Street that claims he had made a second trip to his family in Durham during the lockdown were “totally false”.
Mr Cummings insists he left Durham for London on Easter Monday April 13 and returned to work the next day, never going back to Durham.
The denial came after the Government spent the day shoring up Mr Cummings following Friday’s revelation that he had gone to stay with his extended family at the height of the lockdown in late March, after he and his wife had fallen ill with coronavirus and were seeking help looking after their four-year-old son.

The Sun says he could have broken the rules several times.

DOMINIC Cummings has been accused of breaking the lockdown THREE TIMES to see his family 260 miles from his London home.
Boris Johnson’s chief adviser is today facing calls to be investigated after driving his wife and child to his parents’ home in Durham at the end of March before allegedly being spotted at a beauty spot twice over April.
Another witness claimed he saw at a beauty spot 30 miles away when he says he was self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms, according to reports.

Fresh claims appear in the Mail.

Boris Johnson last night mounted a determined defence of his controversial aide Dominic Cummings, telling allies: ‘It’s not like he was visiting a lover’ when he allegedly broke lockdown rules.
But just as the Prime Minister resolved to stand by his right-hand-man, the Downing Street adviser was rocked by fresh claims of flouting from two more witnesses, which whipped up a further frenzy for him to be sacked.
The first witness claimed to have seen Mr Cummings on Easter Sunday at a town 30 miles away from his parents’ Durham farm where he was self-isolating with his wife and son – despite earlier insisting he had ‘stayed put’ the whole time.

It was not a good week for him, says the Times.

Even before he was accused of breaking the lockdown rules he had helped to institute, Dominic Cummings was having what one of his friends likes to refer to in moments of crisis as a “suboptimal” week.
On Thursday evening it emerged that Boris Johnson had shaken up his top team in Downing Street and brought in Simon Case, the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary, to lead the response to the Covid crisis.

Quarantine

Macron is retaliating, says the Telegraph.

France is to impose a quarantine on British travellers after the UK announced all new arrivals will have to spend two weeks in self-isolation.~
The French government made it clear it would retaliate in kind after Britain announced the 14-day quarantine period for new arrivals to the UK from June 8, including the French.
In response French ministers said they “regretted” Britain’s decision and would introduce their own reciprocal measures.
The British decision to impose quarantine measures had already angered the travel industry and the French response will only compound its despair at the prospect of international travel being disrupted further.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced on Friday travellers entering the UK would have to self-isolate for 14 days or they could face a £1,000 fine.

BBC News also has the story.

People arriving in France from the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 days from 8 June, the French government has announced.
It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed quarantine plans for visitors to the UK from the same date.
France said it would impose reciprocal measures for any European country enforcing a quarantine.
Travellers arriving in France from Spain by plane will also be asked to go into quarantine from Monday.

‘Reciprocate’ or ‘retaliate’ – the Sun reports:

THE French government has said it will reciprocate after the UK announced that all arrivals would soon have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
There had been speculation that the UK would establish a “travel bubble” with certain countries to enable people to move without self-isolating, but few exceptions to the new rules have so far been announced.
Speaking last night, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the measures would come into force on June 8, and would apply to everyone entering the country, including Brits returning from abroad.
European leaders have reacted by calling for a “coordinated approach”, while the travel industry have said the step would be “unenforceable” and “ineffective”.

Schools

There’s still confusion around the reintroduction of schooling, says the Telegraph.

Private school chiefs are pleading with ministers to allow more of their pupils to return next month, saying that their “hands are tied” without permission from the Government.
Fee-paying institutions have been lobbying the Department of Education (DfE) to give them some flexibility about which year groups they are allowed to welcome back from June 1. But they say that their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, leaving them unable to secure the insurance cover they need to reopen.
The Prime Minister said that schools should prepare to open for pupils in Reception, Year One and Year Six to return to school from June 1, with the “ambition” that all primary school children could be back in the classroom by the end of the month.

The Morning Star says there are risks.

PLANS to reopen schools by June 1 still present “some risks” and holding back could save lives, the government’s own scientific advisers warned yesterday.
The scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) report threw further doubt on the plans just hours after an independent group of scientists warned that it was “too soon” for pupils to return to classrooms safely.
Evidence on how likely it is that children can transmit Covid-19 remains “inconclusive,” Sage said, while warning that wider issues such as whether families from black, Asian and minority-ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are more at risk must be taken into account.

Older children may not be able to go back to school yet, says the Mirror.

Pupils in year 10 and 12 should not expect to return to schools in early June – and only a handful could return before September, headteachers have been told.
The Association of School and College Leaders wrote to members last night, urging members to “rule out” those years going back to school “immediately after half-term.”
And he said it was unlikely that all-but a “small handful” of secondary pupils will return before September.

But teachers could teach during the summer, says the Sun.

SIX in 10 teachers are willing to give up their summer hols to help struggling kids, it has emerged.
School staff want to get back into the classroom in July and August to help boost grades for disadvantaged kids affected by the coronavirus crisis.
Summer camps are already being worked on by officials in Whitehall as 61 per cent of teachers are willing to put in extra shifts, a survey has found.
The findings come as the National Education Union indicated they are willing to speed up talks with the Government — which hopes to have schools open from next Monday.

The Times has a warning.

Children in state primary schools will fall further behind their peers in private education because of a refusal to let more pupils return on June 1, the former chief inspector of schools warns today.
Sir Michael Wilshaw also said he was worried that England’s child obesity problem could get worse if children did not return to class soon. One in three 11-year-olds leave school overweight.
“Children will not be having PE lessons, they will have been in lockdown in many cases in homes without gardens where there may not be an emphasis on healthy eating. I am worried that childhood obesity is likely to be worse at the end of this crisis,” Wilshaw said.

Masks

Technology is leading the hunt for a reusable mask, says the Telegraph.

Israeli researchers have developed a prototype face mask which can clean itself using electricity provided by a phone charger.
The mask, developed by researchers at Technion’s Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, uses an internal carbon fibre layer to destroy pathogens such as coronavirus which may accumulate on it.
The carbon fibre layer is heated using an electrical current which can be provided by a common smartphone charging cable.

Diabetics

Those with diabetes could be told to stay at home, says the Telegraph.

Diabetics could be forced to shield at home against Covid-19 following a review by government scientists after it emerged sufferers are at significantly greater risk of dying if they catch the virus.
Professor Peter Horby, chair of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) advisory group, confirmed to the Telegraph that diabetes was being considered as part of an “active review” of the most vulnerable groups.
Almost one in three deaths from coronavirus in hospital had diabetes, it emerged this week, and the professor of emerging infectious Diseases and Global Health at Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine is now in advanced discussions with other government advisors.

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