Coronavirus UK news LIVE: Thousands in ‘high risk’ jobs to be tested as deaths hit 44,517 and gyms set to reopen

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PEOPLE in ‘high risk’ occupations will be tested for coronavirus even if they showing no symptoms.

The list of jobs falling under this category includes taxi drivers, cleaners and shop workers – the Department of Health has announced.

Meanwhile, Gyms look set to reopen over the next week in boost for Brits missing their regular fitness regime during lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce today that they will return in the latest relaxing of restrictions.

These could also include swimming pools, beauty salons, nail bars, bowling alleys and casinos.

And Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a host of new measures to get Britain’s economy moving again, with measures announced in yesterday’s mini-Budget including a six-month stamp duty holiday for homes up to £500,000.

In a move that will boost the tourism industry, the Chancellor announced there will be an Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme throughout August – meaning restaurant and pub bills will be slashed in half.

It comes as the coronavirus death toll in the UK rose to 44,517 after 126 more deaths in were recorded on July 8, 2020.

Follow the latest news and updates surrounding coronavirus below…

BBC TO CONTINUE WITH LICENCE FEE CHARGES FOR OVER 75s

The BBC has announced it will continue with its plans to charge the licence fee for those over the age of 75.

The proposals had been put on ice for two months due to the coronavirus outbreak.

More than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee from 1 August.

Only households where someone receives the Pension Credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

The highly controversial change was originally due to be made on 1 June, with the BBC saying the delay had cost £35million a month.

GYMS GET GREEN LIGHT TO REOPEN IN MID-JULY

The Government hopes to allow gyms to reopen in mid-July and beauty salons could follow shortly afterwards.

Speaking in Parliament, Rees-Mogg told MPs: “Our hope is to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July.

“Other close-contact services, tattoo and nail parlours, will follow as soon as possible.

“The government has been clear that it wants to reopen the economy carefully and gradually and this is why some businesses which involve less sustained contact between people have opened before others.”

INDEPENDENT REVIEW INTO WHO’S PANDEMIC RESPONSE

The World Health Organisation has announced it has appointed two leaders to head an independent review into how it responded to the coronavirus outbreak.

The new Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response will report to two co-chairs – former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, 70, who administered the United Nations development programme between 2009 and 2017, and the former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 81.

The announcement was made at a WHO briefing in Geneva today.

SCOTLAND ISSUES NEW CORONAVIRUS RULES

Up to 15 people from five different households will be allowed to meet outdoors in Scotland from Friday, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

But social distancing guideline must still be adhered to.

A maximum of eight people from three different households will also be able to meet indoors, but Mrs Sturgeon said that the change is “one of the highest risk changes we have made so far”.

She said: “We know that the risk of transmitting the virus indoors is significantly higher than it is outdoors.

“So it is essential that we all take great care and strictly follow all of the public health advice.”

JOHN LEWIS TO CLOSE EIGHT STORES WITH 1,300 JOBS AT RISK

Retailer John Lewis has announced that it will not reopen eight stores after the UK coronavirus lockdown.

John Lewis will also close its department stores in Watford and four At Home branches in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth.

The store in Birmingham’s Bull Ring shopping centre will also close.

The travel hub shops at Heathrow Airport and St Pancras train station will also remain closed.

John Lewis said the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online.

Previously 40 per cent of John Lewis sales were online, which is now closer to 60 to 70 per cent of total sales this year and next, the retailer said.

BOOTS TO SLASH 4,000 JOBS

High street chemist Boots has announced it will cut 4,000 jobs.

The retailer said it was focusing on plans to restructure its head office and store teams and close 48 Boots Opticians stores.

It said it was as part of action to mitigate the “significant impact” of Covid-19.

Sebastian James, boss at Boots UK, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.

“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months.

“They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.”

“We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”

FIREWORK DISPLAYS IN JEOPARDY THREATENING MASS REDUNDANCIES

Mass redundancies are feared at fireworks factories and suppliers because major public whizz-bang spectaculars and even small town shows are being called off.

Bonfire Night in November will fizzle out, and there’s likely to be no ‘light the blue touch paper and stand back’ mind-boggling spectaculars on New Year’s Eve and Hogmanay.

Major money-spinners at the London Eye and Edinburgh – watched around the world – are expected to be plunged into darkness.

Even small gatherings in town centres are under threat because of social distancing.

So if the sale of fireworks dries up, manufacturing and ‘back office’ jobs will be under threat.

THOUSANDS RETURN FROM FURLOUGH

UK businesses have said that thousands of employees have returned from furlough in the past two weeks, while there has also been a jump in companies restarting their operations, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that trading companies saw 7% of their workforce return from furlough, representing thousands of workers, in its latest survey on the impact of coronavirus.

Many workers came back from furlough during the two-week survey period to June 28 after retailers were given the go-ahead to reopen their doors.

It also said firms reported that 3% of their workforce returned from remote working over the period.

‘HIGH RISK’ OCCUPATIONS TO BE TESTED FOR COVID – EVEN IF THEY DON’T HAVE SYMPTOMS

People in “high-risk” professions are to be tested for Covid-19 as part of a new government scheme.

TalkRadio tweeted: “BREAKING: Thousands of people who work in high-risk occupations, such as taxi drivers, cleaners and shop workers, will be tested for coronavirus as part of a new pilot even though they have no symptoms, the Department of Health has announced.”

CHANCELLOR REFUSES TO RULE OUT TAX RISES

Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out tax rises.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today, he hinted: “We must return our public finances to a sustainable position over the long run.”

76 PER CENT OF POSITIVE COVID PATIENTS REACHED THROUGH TEST & TRACE

A total of 31,421 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system during the first five weeks of its operation, according to figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Of this total, 76 per cent were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts, while 21 per cent were not reached.

A further 3 per cent could not be reached because their communication details had not been provided.

The figures cover the period May 28 to July 1.

A&E ADMISSIONS DOWN

Emergency admissions to A&E departments at hospitals in England showed a fall last month, down 17 per cent from 528,801 in June 2019 to 437,535 in June 2020.

NHS England said this was likely to be a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

STAMP DUTY CUTS COULD DRIVE UP HOUSE PRICES

The temporary stamp duty holiday announced by Rishi Sunak could push up house prices, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said.

IFS deputy director Helen Miller said: “Although it’s buyers who are formally required to hand over stamp duty, the effect of stamp duty can be passed through to sellers.

“So when there is a tax break that can lead to the price of houses going up.”

The move was likely to boost activity in the housing market, although pent-up demand generated during the lockdown may mean that a stimulus was not necessarily needed at this point and could have been more effective at a later date.

BUNGLED TEST AND TRACE APP WILL COST £10B

The bungled Test & Trace system will cost ministers £10billion despite STILL failing to track a quarter of infected people, the Treasury has revealed.

Since March, the Treasury has unlocked a massive £48.5 billion to spend on public services – including ploughing huge sums of money into the track & trace system which is still failing to catch coronavirus cases.

The Treasury explains the huge spending on Test & Trace by saying it is crucial to “support the unlocking of the economy”.

SUNAK SAYS MORE THAN A MILLION BUSINESSES BENEFITED FROM GOVERNMENT SUPPORT DURING COVID CRISIS

Rishi Sunak said more than a million businesses had benefited from Government financial support during the crisis, but apologised to those who had not been reached.

He told Times Radio: “Over a million businesses have benefited, for example from the furlough scheme a million businesses have accessed some of our loans, almost a million businesses have got access to cash grants or business rates holidays.

“So clearly the scale of what we’re doing is reaching a lot of people. Is it going to reach absolutely every single person and every single company in exactly the way they would like? I’m sure not and I can only apologise for that.”

He also apologised to freelancers who feel left behind by the support schemes.

“Does everyone feel that they’ve been helped in the way that they would like to have been? Of course not and I can only apologise for that.”

RECRUITMENT FIRMS INCOME PLUNGES

Recruiters PageGroup and Robert Walters have revealed plunging fee income in the UK and worldwide as lockdowns globally saw hiring grind to a halt.

Britain was among the worst affected, with PageGroup revealing gross profits slumped 61.5 per cent between April and June, while Robert Walters saw a 34 per cent decline in the UK.

PageGroup said it has axed 713 jobs since the start of the year amid efforts to slash its cost base by up to a quarter in response to the crisis, with 531 fee-earning roles going between April and June alone – mainly across the UK and Americas.

It said most staff impacted by the cuts were recent joiners and inexperienced in recruitment, or those on performance review.

But it added it ended its temporary pay cut for staff on July 1.

The firm saw overall group profit nearly halve, down 47.6 per cent in the second quarter as firms put recruitment on freeze across all major economies.

BURGER KING TO DO ‘HALF PRICE WHOPPERS’ AS PART OF NEW EAT OUT TO HELP OUT SCHEME

Burger King plans to do half price Whoppers this summer as part of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The government will pick up 50 per cent of the bill – up to £10 per head – when you eat out at a restaurant, cafe or pub in August.

The scheme is open to any business that offers customers the option to dine-in to eat their food – and Burger King boss Alasdair Murdoch says the fastfood chain plans to sign up.

Speaking on the BBC’s Coronavirus Newscast podcast, he said: “We’ll certainly be embracing it, as long as we can understand the terms and conditions and work them out.

“But I would think it’s extremely likely that we would do it.”

BIZARRE ILLEGAL CAMPERS FLOUTING SOCIAL DISTANCING IN DEVON

One of Britain’s most famous beauty spots has become a battle zone after a mysterious international group arrived ignoring social distancing and local laws and refused to leave until they saw a lunar spectacle.

About 150 people from across the UK and overseas from an organisation called the Rainbow Family of Living Light are flouting social distancing rules and local bylaws camping in ancient woodland by the River Dart in Devon.

A large area of Dartmoor has effectively been cut off to locals and tourists as a result because the authorities have closed a long section of road to try and prevent more people joining the gathering.

The Dartmoor National Park Authority has a possession order which would allow them to evict the group but the authority has not yet decided whether it will do this.

Members of the group say they just want to return to nature.

‘EVERY PERSON WHO LOSES THEIR JOB IS A TRAGEDY’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told BBC Breakfast he could not place a figure on an “acceptable” number of job losses.

He said: “Very clearly, every person who loses their job is a tragedy. That’s why I acted yesterday with a comprehensive plan to protect and support as many jobs as possible.

“If you’re asking me ‘can I protect every single job’ of course the answer is no. ‘Is unemployment going to rise, are people going to lose their jobs?’ Yes, and the scale of this is significant.

“We are entering one of the most severe recessions this country has ever seen. That is of course going to have a significant impact on unemployment and on job losses.

“I am acting to try and mitigate as much of that as possible and provide as many opportunities as possible but it would be absolutely foolhardy for me to sit here and give you precise numbers, forecasts, or what is or isn’t a measure of acceptability when we are living at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty.”

He added: “What I do know is we are throwing everything we can at trying to minimise the job losses and provide people with new opportunities and hope.”

FREE PARKING FOR NHS STAFF THROUGHOUT PANDEMIC

The Chancellor has confirmed NHS staff will continue to park at work for free.

According to Sky News: “Rishi Sunak says the Government’s position on free car parking for NHS staff ‘has not changed’ and they will continue to allow frontline staff to park for free during the pandemic.

CHANCELLOR PLEDGES £50BN IN VIRUS FIGHT

Rishi Sunak has pledged nearly £50 billion in the fight against Covid – more than the UK’s annual defence budget.

The Chancellor set aside £10 billion to support the NHS Test and Trace programme, which aims to unlock the economy.

Treasury figures also reveal £15 billion has been allocated to purchase personal protective kit to keep frontline workers safe from the virus.

In total, Mr Sunak has promised £48.5 billion of additional spending to tackle the pandemic.

TOURISTS NOW HAVE TO WEAR FACE MASKS IN IBIZA AND MAJORCA

Holidaymakers travelling to Ibiza and Majorca now have to wear face masks.

The masks must be worn whenever they leave their hotel rooms, it emerged today.

The Balearic islands announced they were tightening the rules on the use of masks just hours after Catalonia revealed it was making them obligatory at virtually all times in public.

HOLIDAY ISLAND PARTIALLY REOPENS

The resort island of Bali has partially reopened after a three-month virus lockdown.

Local people and stranded foreign tourists to can now resume public activities before overseas arrivals resume in September.

Normally bustling beaches and streets on the idyllic Indonesian island emptied in early April except for special patrols to ensure health protocols were observed.

The authorities restricted public activities, closed the airport and shuttered all shops, bars, sit-down restaurants, public swimming pools and many other places on the island that’s home to more than 4 million people.

The local government began lifting the limits Thursday, but tourists will face stringent rules in hotels, restaurants and on beaches, Bali Governor Wayan Koster said.

Koster told a news conference that the island will gradually reopen shuttered places to locals and stranded foreigners.

Bali will open to Indonesians from other parts of the country on July 31 and new foreign arrivals on September 11.

US SETS DAILY RECORD FOR NEW VIRUS CASES

The United States has hit a record high for the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in a single day, at more than 60,000.

Data from Johns Hopkins University showed the record high of new diagnoses in just a 24-hour period on Wednesday.

The previous record was seen in the beginning of the month, when more than 54,500 cases were confirmed on July 2.

As of Wednesday night, America had surpassed 3.05million cases of coronavirus, with more than 132,000 deaths.

The US has nearly double the amount of cases as Brazil, which is the second country for most COVID-19 diagnoses worldwide.

Although the country’s previous epicenter of New York managed to suppress the curve of increasing virus cases, many states have seen a surge in recent weeks.

US – TSA MAKES CHANGES AFTER WHISTLEBLOWER’S COMPLAINT SAYS LAWYER

The Transportation Security Administration has improved coronavirus protection for airport screeners after a TSA official accused the agency of endangering travellers, the whistleblower’s lawyer said Wednesday.

The changes include requiring screeners to change or sanitise gloves after every time they pat down a passenger, and to wear face shields around travellers if there aren’t plastic barriers between them and the public.

Jay Brainard, the top TSA official in Kansas, complained last month to a federal whistleblower-protection office that TSA didn’t train staff for the virus pandemic and barred supervisors from giving screeners stockpiled N95 respirators in March when facial coverings such as surgical masks were hard to buy.

Brainard said the TSA eventually made changes in response to COVID-19, including requiring screeners to wear masks, but the measures did not go far enough.

A TSA spokesman confirmed that Brainard met last week with TSA Administrator John Pekoske, but he did not directly address whether the agency changed procedures as a result.

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