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Leicester infection rate drops to 55 per 100,000, public health boss says

Director of public health for Leicester Ivan Browne said the infection rate in the city had gone down to around 55 per 100,000.

He said: “At the start of our lockdown situation we were in the region of around 135, we are now at the 50s level, around 55 per 100,000, which is a substantial drop from where we were.”

Asked if he had been provided with a target number for Leicester to reach before it could be on the same level as the majority of UK cities, Mr Browne said: “We haven’t been given a specific number, but internally we have some trajectories that we want to hit.

“Obviously the first one is to get below that 50 figure, because that’s kind of an international figure, and then where I’d want to be by September is at 20 or below, and I think from there that would get us in the best position possible for winter that better reflects the national picture – below 10%.

“That’s what we’re setting as our local target and we’re pushing hard for that.”


‘It’s like being told you cannot visit family for Christmas’

The Muslim Council of Britain’s secretary general, Harun Khan, criticised the way the Government announced new Covid-19 restrictions, which came the day before Eid celebrations began.

In a statement, he said: “With the first day of Eid being today, for Muslims in the affected areas, it is like being told they cannot visit family and friends for Christmas on Christmas Eve itself.

“Whilst the safety of communities is of paramount importance, as has remained the case from the very outset of this crisis, so is effective communication delivered in a timely fashion.

“Failure to communicate makes it difficult for communities across the country to continue working together to minimise the spread of the virus, whilst eroding trust in the ability of authorities to steer our course as we tackle the Covid-19 crisis.

“The UK Government has failed to provide clarity on the shockingly short notice and the reasoning behind the new rules that British Muslims deserve – any such clarification would be most welcome.”


Leicester mayor reacts to Government lockdown announcement in northern England

Leicester city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby called for “clarity”. 

“We’re beginning to get clarity but even now there’s a number of questions about travel and other aspects of this that haven’t been spelt out – and the people of Leicester are turning to me and the council and asking what can we do, and when can we do it.

“The answer to that is: we’ll let you know as soon as the Government tells us.”

Asked what information he specifically needed from the Government, Sir Peter said: “What we need is to understand what can open and when it can open, understand what we can do about meeting up with family and friends and where they can do that; and what is particularly unclear is what the travel restrictions are going to be.

“A lot of people are hoping that they can grab a bit of time to go for a summer holiday, and we’re not sure here in Leicester whether that’s going to be permitted or not.”


The way new lockdown measures were announced was ‘deeply chaotic’, Labour MP says

Tracy Brabin, Labour MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire said the way the new lockdown measures had been announced was “deeply chaotic”.

She said: “The Government had said big announcements would be handled with the seriousness that they merit.

“To announce this sort of measure late at night on Twitter caused an awful lot of anxiety in my community. It’s a new low.

“It affects millions (of people) and businesses.

“I have been getting messages from families asking ‘can I take my children to the childminder?’, ‘can I go to work?’

“It’s just not good enough.

“Lockdown measures that keep people safe, we back 100%, but this is not the way to do it, and it has caused a lot of anxiety.”


‘I can’t describe to you the level of chaos there was last night’

Labour shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy, who is MP for Wigan, told Sky News: “Nobody is arguing that the Government shouldn’t move quickly where evidence exits that there has been a spike in Covid cases, and we have certainly seen that in Greater Manchester.

“So, it’s absolutely right that they do this. But I cannot describe to you the level of chaos that there was last night with this announcement.

“Because the Government was essentially asking people to comply with new rules in just a few hours time without any detail about what those rules were going to be.”


Huddersfield MP fears ‘second wave’ has started


Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, feared a second wave of the coronavirus had started and said lockdown measures needed to be tough across the board.

He said: “I called for compulsory face masks yesterday. What people cannot understand is you can meet someone in a pub but you cannot see them by popping next door.

“If this is a second wave, and it looks like it is, we should go the whole hog – compulsory face masks and shut the pubs as well.

“The truth is this Government has presided over the worst result for coronavirus deaths in the whole of Europe.

“It’s deplorable and everyone knows people stopped knowing the rules at a critical psychological time – when Dominic Cummings got off.

“Since then there has not been any clarity.”

Mr Sheerman, a Christian, sympathised with Muslims who would normally be celebrating the Eid festival together.

“We haven’t had a church service for weeks and weeks, and we had nothing at Easter, so I am sorry but across the faiths we have to share the pain,” he said.


Tui extends suspension of holidays to mainland Spain until August 17

Tour operator Tui has extended the suspension of holidays for UK customers to mainland Spain until August 17, and the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands until August 10.

The firm said it will instead add more flights to Greece and Turkey “following the overwhelming demand from customers to still get away this summer”.


Matt Hancock says Government will ‘not shy away’ from taking further action to tackle coronavirus outbreaks


Worshippers observe social distancing as they arrive at the Bradford Grand Mosque in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on the first day of Eid, one of the areas where new measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

(Danny Lawson/PA)


KLM to cut up to 5,000 jobs due to pandemic

Dutch airline KLM said it will cut between 4,500 and 5,000 jobs because of the coronavirus crisis.

The company said in a statement that in addition to 1,500 job losses, some 1,500 temporary contracts will not be renewed and 2,000 jobs will be suppressed via a voluntary departure scheme.

The group also expects “natural attrition through retirement” to help cut an extra 500 jobs.

KLM said it does not expect demand to fully recover before 2023 or 2024 and said further staff reductions are possible “given the high level of uncertainty”.


Champagne industry loses its sparkle as pandemic hits demand

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt the champagne industry a blow with lockdown curbs on weddings, eating out and parties all affecting the market.

Producers in France’s eastern Champagne region, headquarters of the global industry, say they have lost an estimated 1.7 billion euros in sales for this year, as turnover fell by a third.

They expect about 100 million bottles to be languishing unsold in their cellars by the end of the year.

“We are experiencing a crisis that we evaluate to be even worse than the Great Depression of 1929,” said Thibaut Le Mailloux of the Champagne Committee, which represents some 16,000 winemakers.


Police could use roadblocks and cordons to prevent repeat of packed beach scenes in Bournemouth


Hancock denies lockdown action was being aimed at curtailing Eid celebrations

Matt Hancock denied that the action taken was being aimed at curtailing Eid celebrations.

Asked on BBC’s Today programme whether the measures were announced late on Thursday night to stop Eid celebrations from taking place, he said: “No, my heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important the Eid celebrations are.

“I’m very grateful to the local Muslim leaders, the imams in fact, across the country who’ve been working so hard to find a way to have Covid-secure celebrations.

“For instance celebrating Eid in parks where there’s more space available and of course outdoors is safer than indoors.”


Rail union urges people not to crowd onto trains this weekend

Rail union officials have urged passengers to avoid crowding onto trains this weekend amid fears that unofficial Pride events and the hot weather may compromise social distancing.

The official Brighton Pride has been cancelled due to the virus pandemic, but the RMT union said a combination of unofficial events and other attractions on a hot weekend have sparked concerns among its members.

Assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: “RMT has a strong history of supporting Brighton Pride and the organisers took the correct decision to postpone it this year in light of the pandemic to ensure everyone’s safety.

“However, we have been made aware that unofficial events have been organised this weekend which, combined with other attractions could lead to a surge of passengers that ‎compromises social distancing and safety measures and it’s important that is not allowed to happen.”


Second wave ‘not yet’ happening in UK, Hancock says

Matt Hancock said a second wave of coronavirus was “not yet” happening in the UK, adding: “These measures are very much being taken to prevent a second wave – we can see that second wave in Europe.

“We’re absolutely determined to keep people safe.”

Asked about the Islamic celebration of Eid which begins today, Mr Hancock told the BBC: “Unfortunately this change does mean that people won’t be able to get together in their houses, in their gardens.

“But we are allowing mosques and other religious places to stay open because they’ve done so much work to allow for Covid-secure celebration and worship.”


Manchester MP ‘inundated’ with questions about new lockdown rules

Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said she has been “inundated” with questions which she did not know the answers to from her constituents about the new lockdown restrictions.

Sharing examples with Times Radio, she said they included people questioning whether they are able to visit elderly relatives they are looking after who live outside of the restricted area, and whether they can go on holiday with another household elsewhere.

“I’ve been inundated with questions that I don’t know the answers to them,” she said.


Most virus transmission is happening between households in northern England, Hancock says

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said test and trace data has shown “most of the transmission is happening between households” and between people visiting family and friends.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Whenever anybody tests positive, the vast majority of them we manage to speak to, and we ask which contacts they’ve had, and that’s shown that the vast majority of contact of people who have the virus, other than people in their own household… is from households visiting and then visiting friends and relatives.

“One of the terrible things about this virus is it thrives on the sort of social contact that makes life worth living and that is a serious problem with the virus.”


Hancock: Measures had to be applied across Manchester as virus was spreading more widely

Matt Hancock said the Government had to apply measures across all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs as the virus was spreading more widely than in the local areas where specific action had already been taken.

He told Sky News: “We absolutely looked at what was the right geography for this decision.

“Unfortunately we have seen an increase in the number of cases in Trafford and we also work with the local authority, and local authorities within Greater Manchester including the mayor, and took the decision to apply this across the whole of Greater Manchester.

“The reason for that is we’ve seen these increases across the board in Greater Manchester as well as the other areas that are affected.

“And also the problem was that we had taken more targeted, more specific local action, for instance in Oldham and Blackburn.

“But we could see that it was spreading more widely than that so we had to take the action that we did.”


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Calls for clarity amid criticism of new northern England lockdown… but Government insists rules are ‘crystal clear’


‘We have some of the lowest figures in the country’ – Lancashire council leader

Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Borough Council in Lancashire, told BBC Breakfast that the “semi-rural area” had no cases of coronavirus last Thursday, which rose to one case last Friday, and the “figures were then seen to have doubled” putting them in a “red category”.

She said: “The reality is we have some of the lowest figures in the country.

“We’re having to absorb these new instructions this morning, it doesn’t make any sense to me.”

She said Rossendale had been “mopped up” in the lockdown for geographic reasons, adding the Government should introduce a “more nuanced approach”.

She added: “I think people in our area have been very compliant…but I think they will struggle to see sense in some of this when they know the figures locally are low.”