British holidaymakers in France and Germany may face a quarantine similar to that imposed on people returning from Spain, a minister has confirmed.
The Government reimposed restrictions on travel from Spain – including its islands – with just a few hours’ notice on Saturday night, following a surge in coronavirus infection rates.
This morning Helen Whately, the care minister, insisted Downing Street had acted decisively, despite throwing 1.5m British tourists into chaos.
And she warned that a two-week quarantine for people returning from France and Germany could follow suit, telling Sky News: “If we see rates going up in a country where at the moment there is no need to quarantine, we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk… We have to keep the situation under review. We have to keep an eye on rates in other countries.”
She told BBC Breakfast ministers were “taking decisions that are needed to keep UK safe”, adding: “We will continue to look at rates and if we see rates rise, we would have to take action.”
The Telegraph analysis shows France’s rate has jumped 50 per cent in a week from six to nine cases per 100,000 of the population, with 1,130 new cases on Saturday, double the previous week’s rate.
Read the latest updates below.
Roger Bootle: EU infighting shows Scotland should be careful what it wishes for
Last week, the European Union finally agreed on a new coronavirus relief fund. But more important than the measure was the mood music.
Now that the UK is out of the union, the remaining members are supposed to be free to move merrily on to closer union in accordance with everyone’s wishes, unconstrained by the foot-dragging and obstructionism of Perfidious Albion.
In fact, the summit was one of the most fractious in the EU’s history, with president Macron of France threatening to pull out. As it was, he accused the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte of taking up the role previously occupied by David Cameron.
This was not just a protest, writes Roger Bottle. It was also a warning.
Matt Hancock: We are taking action to get the nation’s health back on track
Obesity is one of the greatest long term health challenges that we face as a country.
It not only puts a strain on our NHS and care system, but it also piles pressure on our bodies, making us more vulnerable to many diseases, including of course coronavirus
Read Matt Hancock’s column on the Government’s new fat-fighting strategy in full here.
More than a quarter of BAME NHS staff still waiting for Covid risk assessment
More than a quarter of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) NHS staff are still waiting for a risk assessment for Covid-19, data suggests.
Figures seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) suggest 73 per cent of BAME staff had had a risk assessment in England by July 17, but in some hospital trusts the figure was just 20 per cent.
NHS England recommended risk assessments for BAME staff as long ago as April and has now extended the deadline for them to be completed to the end of July.
People from BAME backgrounds are thought to be at higher risk of poor outcomes from coronavirus, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying they are “disproportionately” dying from Covid-19.
An NHS spokesman said: “Early indications show significant progress was made in the first two weeks, meaning thousands more staff will now be benefiting from additional measures to protect their health, and trusts tell us that this work continued towards the end of the stated window.”
Three-quarters of Britons reject PM’s hopes of Christmas normality
Almost three-quarters of Britons believe things will not be back to normal by Christmas despite the Prime Minister’s roadmap setting that as an ambition.
Just one in 10 Britons think things will have returned to normal by then, with 72 per cent disagreeing, according to the fourth Kekst CNC international tracking survey.
The number of people expecting a second wave have also increased since June with three-quarters (76 per cent up from 72 per cent) expecting this in the next year or so. This proportion is well above the 64 per cent average seen in the other countries surveyed.
People are also expecting the impact of the virus to last for longer than their international counterparts. More than nine in ten British adults (91 per cent) believe that Covid-19 will affect the economy for at least another year (up from 87 per cent in June) while 62 per cent believe disruption will last into 2022.
This may in part be caused by people overestimating the overall impact of the virus. On average the UK public believes that one in five of their fellow citizens has had the virus, more than four times the figures published by the ONS, and that seven per cent of the population have died of the virus, more than 100 times the figures published by Public Health England.
Government’s dining discount scheme works ‘hand in hand’ with obesity drive, minister says
The Government’s “Eat out to Help out” scheme can go hand-in-hand with healthy eating, a minister has insisted, ahead of a new policy launch designed to get people to lose weight.
Helen Whately, the care minister, admitted that “people tend to eat more and consume more calories if they are eating out” but stressed the Government wanted to “enable people to make informed choices” by telling them how many calories are in a given meal.
Asked on BBC Breakfast if she was concerned about mixed messaging as the Government embarked on its goal for the nation to lose weight, she said: “On the one hand we know it’s important for the economy and the hospitality sector for people to be out and eating in restaurants and pubs. But that can be hand-in-hand with making healthy choices.
“On a menu there will be a range of options, the important thing is that you have the information to enable you to decide and to know the amount of calories you’ve consumed.”
Banning junk food ads might not help obesity problem, IFS warns
Banning junk food adverts before the watershed is “unlikely” to have a large reduction in the amount of ads seen by people because it could lead to a rise in the number shown after 9pm, a leading think tank has said.
In response to the Government’s new strategy the Institute for Fiscal Studies said: “Research has shown that this happened before. Following the introduction of the 2007 ban on advertising food and drink products that are high in fat, sugar or salt during children’s television, restricted adverts were shifted from children’s television to unrestricted non-children’s television.”
The IFS also argues that the policy’s effectiveness depends on what behaviour advertising actually encourages, noting that “an advert for Coca Cola could lead someone to buy Coke when they would otherwise have drunk water, but it could also just lead them to buy Coke instead of Pepsi”.
“In the latter case, an advertising ban is likely to be less effective at getting people to eat more healthily.”
Sainsbury’s trials virtual queuing system
Sainsbury’s is to trial a virtual queuing system which will allow customers to wait their turn to enter stores from the comfort of their car, a nearby cafe or their home.
Customers will be able to join the line to shop in stores by using a smartphone app, eliminating the need to stand in a socially distanced line outside the store.
The retailer said it is starting the trial across five UK stores from Monday.
The system, which runs via the app ufirst, will be piloted at its stores in Uxbridge, Pimlico, Dome Roundabout in Watford, Leicester North and Newham Royal Wharf.
Matt Ridley: Five reasons why the coronavirus nightmare may soon be over
Like the ancient mariner, the virus refuses to leave us alone. Resurging in Blackburn, Spain, and America, it is still going to be around here when the winter comes. As we head indoors, it will be back for a dreaded second wave, disguised among a host of colds and flus.
Yet Matt Ridley is now optimistic that the nightmare will end this year or at least by the spring.
Here are five reasons.
Lib Dem candidate quits London mayoral race
Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita has abandoned her campaign to become mayor of London.
The election, originally due to be held in May, was postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Benita said the delay meant she was not able to commit to another full year of campaigning.
She said: “The demands on a candidate are significant and an election of this scale, particularly in an unpaid role, means it’s really difficult to get other work.
“And unfortunately with the delay due to the pandemic I’m simply not able to commit to another full year of campaigning and to leading the type of campaign that I really want to lead in London.”
Watch: Boris Johnson opens up over his own battle with weight loss
Boris Johnson has been famously enthusiastic about cycling, and frequently photographed running. But the Prime Minister has, until now, taken a free market approach to food, not so long ago saying we should “fight, fight, fight” against the “insulting, ugly and otiose labels” on packaging.
He’s the first to admit his brush with coronavirus has helped him see the light – but he still fights off the “nanny” tag.
Watch him explain in the video below.
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Tourism boss urges Government to deploy ‘more nuance’ to Spanish quarantine
An executive of the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world has urged the Government to rethink its blanket quarantine on people returning from Spain.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, called for a “more nuanced policy” to include rules based on regions as well as countries.
He noted that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not advising against non-essential travel to Spain’s Balearic Islands, but the quarantine requirement covers arrivals from both mainland Spain and its islands.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Flintham said: “If the Balearics are still OK to go to – and clearly the travel advice says you can travel – should we have a different quarantine or no quarantine for those and not lump it all together, as in one big total Spain quarantine?
“We’re really after a little bit of a nuance because, being honest, going forward, with something like the United States, it could be there’s a problem in Florida but not in California, and you wouldn’t want to close the whole of the United States to tourists.”
Tui has cancelled all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including August 9.
Twitter and Facebook accused of ‘complicity’ over Wiley’s anti-Semitic tweets
Britain’s Chief Rabbi has accused Twitter and Facebook of “complicity” in their response to anti-Semitic posts by grime artist Wiley.
Ephraim Mirvis said he would join politicians, celebrities and other high-profile figures in a 48-hour boycott of the social media sites from Monday.
The two platforms have been heavily criticised for their slow response to Wiley’s posts, with Twitter accused of “ignoring anti-Semitism” as his tweets were still visible 12 hours after they were first posted.
In letters sent to Twitter boss Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the Jewish leader said: “This cannot be allowed to stand. Your inaction amounts to complicity.”
Police are now investigating a series of comments made on the musician’s Instagram and Twitter accounts on Friday that led to him being banned from both for seven days.
MPs boycott Twitter for 24 hours as Home Secretary demands answers on Wiley’s anti-Semitic posts
The Twitter launch of the Prime Minister’s new obesity campaign is interesting timing, as lots of MPs are among those boycotting the social media platform.
The #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate campaign will run for 48 hours from 9am this morning in protest at Twitter’s perceived failure to act on anti-Semitism, following a series of racist tweets by grime artist Wylie at the weekend.
Twitter removed some of Wiley’s tweets with a note saying they violated its rules – but other tweets were still visible 12 hours after being posted. It later said Wiley’s account had been locked for seven days.
Labour shadow Cabinet ministers Kate Green, Louise Haigh and Jonathan Reynolds, former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron and former Tory Minister Harriett Baldwin are among those pledging to join the boycott.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has demanded a “full explanation” for why his “abhorrent” posts were left up so long.
The antisemitic posts from Wiley are abhorrent.
They should not have been able to remain on Twitter and Instagram for so long and I have asked them for a full explanation.
Social media companies must act much faster to remove such appalling hatred from their platforms.
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) July 26, 2020
Boris Johnson: I was too fat
Boris Johnson has launched the Government’s new “Better Health Strategy” campaign to tackle obesity, telling the nation if they protect their health “you’ll be protecting the NHS”.
In a video posted online the Prime Minister said he has lost more than a stone since he went into intensive care with coronavirus, admitting: “I was too fat.”
He urged people to join him in a morning run, promising “the rest of the day will be a breeze” compared to the exertions, adding: “You feel much better.”
The Prime Minister added that the campaign is “not excessively bossy or nannying” – he hopes.
Watch the full video below.
Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier.
If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.
Our Better Health Strategy https://t.co/WdazXhuhRN pic.twitter.com/KZhW8p17FJ
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) July 27, 2020
Have your say on: quarantine and holidays
An estimated 1.5m British holidaymakers have been caught up in the chaos caused by the Government’s last-minute move to reinstate a two-week quarantine on Spain.
Helen Whately, the care minister, this morning defended the decision to do bring a blanket quarantine in with just a few hours’ notice, saying the rate of infections were rising steeply.
She also warned that they would do the same with France, Germany and indeed any country where the rates posed a risk to the UK’s public health.
So will you be risking it – or are you planning to weather the storm(s) back in Blighty? Have your say in the poll below.
No plans to extend sugar tax to food, minister confirms
The Government will not be extending the sugar tax to include food, a minister has confirmed.
Boris Johnson is to launch the Government’s new obesity-fighting plan – including a ban on junk-food adverts, scrapping buy one get one free deals on chocolate and crisps and calorie counts placed on menus – this morning.
The policies “draw on the evidence of what works”, Helen Whately told the Today programme this morning, arguing that junk food ads had “an impact on children” and banning them pre-watershed would help “control influences”.
The second component of the Government’s strategy was to “support people in changing their lifestyle and making better choices”, the care minister said.
But challenged on why the Government was not extending the sugar tax, which she conceded had been successful, Ms Whately confirmed this measure was “not in the policies we are setting out today”.
Labour urges ‘smarter measures’ than blanket quarantine
Labour’s shadow home secretary has urged the Government to introduce “smarter measures” at the border rather than a blanket quarantine for those returning from Spain.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “We certainly would be following the advice and introducing protective measures at the border if there are spikes in cases in other countries, absolutely.
“But there are two serious questions around this. The first is why we are still employing the… blunt tool of the 14-day quarantining rather than smarter measures and secondly the chaotic nature of the decision-making which certainly hasn’t bred confidence in the Government’s approach.”
He added: “I think you need a smarter set of quarantine measures at the airport. I’ve suggested this test, trace and isolate regime but you can also have temperature checking and other things – you look at a range of measures.”
Pandemic is ‘moment of reset’ on obesity, minister says
The pandemic has created a “moment of reset where people can think again” about their lifestyle and lose weight, a minister has said.
Helen Whately told the BBC’s Today programme the country has “a huge heath challenge with obesity”, adding “now is the moment” for people to act.
Asked why the Government is not imposing a sugar tax on food, after success with the levy on drinks, she said businesses would “be responsible”.
She added: “We may well see ingredients changing to make them healthier.”
Last-minute Spanish quarantine imposed because of steep trajectory, minister says
The Government had to impose a new 14-day quarantine with just a few hours’ notice because infection rates were “going up very, very quickly in Spain”, a minister has said.
Helen Whately told the Today programme that rates had trebled from eight per 100,000 a fortnight ago to 27 per 100,000 now “and the trajectory is rising steeply”.
She added: “We needed to take a clear, decisive, robust decision… We said we would need to monitor rates in other countries, that is exactly what we did in Spain.
“We were enacting the policy we said we would,” she added. “If we hadn’t taken action, I imagine you would be asking me why.”
ICYMI: Boris and Dilyn on today’s front page
The Prime Minister is expected to set out his plans to get the country losing weight later today, alongside Downing Street dog Dilyn.
We have a sneak preview of the pair on our front page today – and plenty of other news too.
Two ministers among the British holidaymakers caught up in Spanish quarantine
Joining the 1.5m British holidaymakers facing a two-week quarantine after the Government’s 11th hour decision to impose new restrictions on Spain will be at least two ministers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was caught out by the decision, which came on Saturday evening – outside of the usual review period.
Following the unexpectedly rapid rise in Spain’s #coronavirus cases, I held a video call with UK airlines + our Ambassador @HughElliottUK today in order to ensure close coordination to help UK nationals return from Spain. We will all need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) July 26, 2020
Paul Scully, the small business minister, is currently in Lanzarote, which is also included in the restrictions.
Government ‘not telling people what to do’ on junk foods, minister insists
The Government is not “telling people what to do”, Helen Whately has said, ahead of a new scheme designed to tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic.
Ms Whately, the care minister, told Sky News the Government “is not here to tell people what to do but here to give them support”,
She rejected the suggestion Downing Street was nannying the country, saying they were helping support people “make choices they want to make”.
Boris Johnson will be releasing a new social media video this morning starring himself and Dilyn the dog. The Prime Minister has blamed his own weight for his struggle to fight off coronavirus, and last week confirmed he had lost “a stone and a bit” through healthier eating and exercise.
But the Prime Minister’s health campaign to tackle the country’s obesity problem is already being attacked by advertising and hospitality representatives, who claim it is coming at a tough time for the industries, while some health experts have warned it will not have enough impact.
Lose 5lb and save the NHS £100m, says Matt Hancock, after coronavirus ‘wake-up call’ on obesity
Everyone who is overweight should lose at least 5lbs in order to save countless lives and spare the NHS a £100 million cost, the Health Secretary has said.
Matt Hancock said coronavirus was the “deadly wake-up call” Britain needed to tackle obesity, as the Government unveils a strategy to slim the nation’s waistlines.
The advertising of unhealthy food will be banned online and before the 9pm watershed on television, with buy one get one free deals on chocolate and crisps axed and calorie counts placed on menus.
Am army of “weight loss coaches” at GP surgeries will be trained to persuade millions of people to change their diets and reform couch potato lifestyles.
Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Hancock said: “This deadly virus has given us a wake-up call about the need to tackle the stark inequalities in our nation’s health, and obesity is an urgent example of this.
“If everyone who is overweight lost 5 lbs, it could save the NHS over £100million over the next five years. And more importantly, given the link between obesity and coronavirus, losing weight could be life-saving.”