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Listen to today’s episode of The Leader:

Podcast: What’s going on with the UK’s coronavirus restrictions?

Welcome to the Evening Standard’s daily podcast, The Leader, bringing you exclusive analysis and insight of the events setting the news agenda tonight.

The Leader is inspired by each evening’s Evening Standard’s editorial column, as it focusses on and dissects the day’s major news events across the capital, the country and the world.


Pandemic will not be over by Christmas, Mark Drakeford warns

The coronavirus pandemic will not be over by Christmas, the First Minister of Wales has said.

Mark Drakeford warned there would be a resurgence of Covid-19 transmissions across the UK during autumn and winter.

The comments appeared to reference Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suggestion that there could be a “significant return to normality” in time for Christmas.

On Friday, he told the Welsh Government’s press briefing: “We are facing the likelihood of a resurgence of the virus over the autumn and winter. This will not be over by Christmas.

“We all have an ongoing responsibility to keep Wales safe. This means maintaining social distancing, washing our hands often and thinking carefully about where we go, what we’re doing and why.”


Ronnie Scott’s: ‘It’s been a very tough four months’

Ronnie Scott’s managing director Simon Cooke told the PA news agency: “It’s been a very tough four months. This is just another punch you have to roll with.

“It’s another setback. It’s very disappointing and it’s disappointing it had to be done at short notice.

“What we all want is a bit of certainty in the future.”

The jazz club had put together three weeks of shows, starting on Saturday.


Sturgeon: Decision to advise against all but essential travel to parts of England ‘not taken lightly’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government’s decision to advise against all but essential travel to coronavirus-hit parts of England was not taken “lightly”.

She said at a Covid-19 briefing: “The connections between Scotland and the north of England are very strong, they are very important and they are highly valued by people on both sides of the border.”


Need for caution more ‘obvious’ than ever, Nicola Sturgeon says

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the need for caution is more “obvious” now than it has been since the outbreak of coronavirus as the country sees a surge in new cases.

She said: “Today is the first time we have had 30 new cases in a single day in more than eight weeks.
“We must pay attention to that and I want to assure we are paying close attention to that.”


Indoor gigs at grassroots venues won’t realistically return until October ‘at the earliest’, Music Venue Trust warns


Music Venue Trust ‘saddened but not surprised’ by postponement of reopening

The Music Venue Trust has said it is “saddened but not surprised” by the announcement that live socially-distanced indoor performances will not be able to resume as planned.

The organisation, which represents grassroots venues, said in a statement: “Music Venue Trust and the network of grassroots music venues across the UK are saddened but not surprised to hear that live music events planned from August 1 in response to Government advice must now be cancelled.

“Since May 2020, Music Venue Trust has repeatedly informed the Government that live music events in grassroots music venues would be extraordinarily difficult to stage, not economically viable, and at risk of being cancelled at short notice during the current pandemic.

“A number of venues across the country have attempted to stage such events based on advice from the Government, incurring substantial costs to make their venues safe.

“That expenditure now adds to the growing mountain of debts accrued by those venues working within the Government guidelines.”


Death toll rises by four in Wales

Public Health Wales said a further four people have died after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths in the country to 1,560.

The number of cases in Wales increased by 26, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 17,258.


Lancashire Police Federation: New measures have come as a huge blow to people

The chairwoman of Lancashire Police Federation, Rachel Hanley, said:  “The new measures have come as a huge blow to people who were just starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

“This is no different for our colleagues who live and work in the affected areas.

“The practicalities of policing this latest change in regulations will be challenging, but policing will do all it can to keep the public safe. We do though need the public to support us.

“As per the current guidance, officers will be doing all they can to encourage people to do the right thing, without resorting to enforcement.

“Parts of the new regulations will be difficult, if not almost impossible, to enforce and sadly I fear it will once again be the already stretched police service taking the brunt of peoples’ frustrations.”


Boris Johnson ‘hoping for a summer staycation’

Staycations are still on the agenda this summer – as the Prime Minister said he might even squeeze one in himself.

Boris Johnson was asked whether he had “cancelled summer” this year after announcing that a further easing of lockdown across England due on Saturday had been postponed.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on the Covid-19 situation that he “may allow” a brief UK staycation to “creep” into his schedule in the coming weeks.

Asked about his own summer plans, the Prime Minister said: “I will be working flat out as you can imagine, though I may allow a brief staycation to creep into the agenda, if that’s possible.”

Pressed on whether he had “cancelled summer”, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think so.

“And I would encourage people still to think of wonderful staycations here in the UK.

“There are all sorts of fantastic destinations, the best in the world, I would say.

“All my happiest holiday memories are of holiday vacations here in the UK, bucket-and-spade jobs or whatever, and I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend it, and I’m sure that people will have a great time over the summer.”


West Yorkshire Police Federation criticises “haphazard” tightening of Covid-19 restrictions

The chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, has criticised the Government’s “haphazard announcements” about the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions in the area.

Brian Booth said: “Yet again we are struggling to police – and get to grips with – what can only be described as haphazard announcements made by the Government in relation to tighter Covid-19 restrictions.

“It is an absolute nonsense that we as the police service have not been afforded the time to put things in place prior to an announcement.

“Many people in Kirklees, Calderdale and Bradford will have woken up this morning to the news that they are subject to tighter restrictions on their lives. And it will be up to my colleagues to police these restrictions.

“We must also remember that a lot of the areas subject to lockdown have communities who would have been intending to celebrate Eid and who will now be disappointed by this announcement. And it will be our West Yorkshire Police colleagues who will now be on the front line of having to manage the situation and stop separate households from meeting each other at their homes.

“We are still in the midst of a global pandemic, so we would ask the public to work with us on adhering to these new restrictions and remember we all need to pull together to keep people safe.”


Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth slams Tory MP’s comments

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth also described comments by Tory MP Craig Whittaker, in which he suggested there were “sections of the community that are not taking the pandemic seriously”, as “disgraceful”.

Mr Ashworth told Times Radio: “To be frank, the Tory Party should do something about it because it is quite disgraceful, what he was saying.”


Summer lull ‘replaced by increase of infection rates’, Ashworth says

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Times Radio: “Two weeks ago, Boris Johnson was suggesting it could all be over by Christmas and I think many people thought there would be a kind of lull in this virus across the summer.

“Actually what we’re seeing is an increase in infection rates. We’re obviously seeing worrying outbreaks across Europe and it is a reminder that this virus hasn’t gone away.

“In fact it is beginning to uptake and we understand therefore why he has had to make these decisions, why he’s had to roll back some of the easings that would have been in place for tomorrow.

“Of course it comes off the back of the devastating news yesterday that we’ve now had the highest death rate in Europe confirmed and I think a lot of people accept the Government were too slow early in responding to this virus back in February and March. So I think it’s understandable why they’ve had to make these decisions so quickly and dramatically in the last 24 hours.”


Boris Johnson: People should consider returning to Covid-secure workplaces

Boris Johnson was asked what he would say to people who are apprehensive about returning to the office after home working, and he said: “I want to see people discussing with their employers whether they can work from home. Lots of people can work from home.

“A lot of people discover that it does work. But if employers think, and employees think, that actually to get in, to be productive, you need to be at your place of work then that’s a very, very important consideration.

“And it is safe to get into a Covid-secure workplace and people should understand that and that is our guidance.”

Prof Whitty added: “But I think we should just be really grateful that huge numbers of employers have put an awful lot of effort into trying to make workplaces Covid-secure.

“It’s absolutely essential that everybody does that, but the great majority are, and then when that happens people stick to the guidance and the rules they’re given.”



‘Every society is having to test how fast we can open up’

Professor Chris Whitty said the decision to halt a further easing of lockdown is part of ministers’ plans to open things in a “very staged way”.

The chief medical officer told a Downing Street press conference: “In terms of whether it was too fast, every society is having to test how fast we can open up and there are clearly big disadvantages to opening things up in the winter months where everything is against us, and they benefit the virus and they disadvantage the health service and the NHS specifically.

“I think what has clearly happened is ministers have decided to go in a very staged way and that has allowed stopping things if the system does not allow.

“That is what is happening today, that is what the Prime Minister has just announced is actually by going in stages you can stop at certain points and say ‘actually this is a perfectly sensible thing to think about but looking at the data now this does not look like a sensible step to take at this point in time’.”


ONS: Not enough evidence to say whether infection rates differ by region in England

The Office for National Statistics says “there is not enough evidence to say with confidence whether Covid-19 infection rates differ by region in England”.

It adds there is also not enough evidence to say with confidence whether infection rates have increased in different regions over the past six weeks.


Boris Johnson: We’re now seeing a warning light on the dashboard

The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: “I’ve said throughout the pandemic that there would be fresh outbreaks.

“I think from May I said – when we set out our plan – I said ‘we would not hesitate to put on the brakes at the slightest sign the numbers we’re going in the wrong direction’.

“We’re now seeing a warning light on the dashboard, it is right to respond in the way that we are.”