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Leicester lockdown should have been brought in sooner, mayor says

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has suggested the new lockdown in the city should have been brought in much sooner, as shops there closed on Tuesday and schools must shut from Thursday.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “The Secretary of State (Matt Hancock) announced that he believed there was an outbreak in Leicester the best part of two weeks ago.

“Since then, we’ve been struggling to get information from them (the Government) about what data they had, what led them to believe there was a particular problem here, and struggling to get them to keep the level of testing in Leicester.”

He added he has been trying “for weeks” to access data on the level of testing in the city and was only given access last Thursday.

When asked whether a local lockdown should have been brought in earlier, he said: “If as seems to be the case, the figures suggest there are issues in the city, I would wish that they had shared that with us right from the start, and I wish they had taken a more speedy decision rather than leaving it 11 days from the Secretary of State’s first announcement…

“That’s a long gap, and a long time for the virus to spread.”


Package holiday firm On the Beach reveals half-year losses

Package holiday firm On the Beach has revealed half-year losses widened to £36.4 million after taking a £34.7 million hit from the coronavirus crisis.

The losses for the six months to March 31 compare with losses of £3.8 million a year earlier.

It said bookings since the first half were also knocked hard as the Covid-19 lockdown forced holidaymakers to cancel trips, with bookings in April at around only 10% of normal levels.

But the group said it had seen a “significant” surge in demand since mid-June for holidays this summer as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.


Met police chief urges public to be ‘calm and sensible’ when pubs reopen on Saturday

Britain’s most senior police officer has urged the public to be calm and sensible when pubs reopen in much of England on Saturday.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said her force has been planning for July 4 “for some time”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You will see a lot of police officers out on the street. There will be a lot more ready should people be out of order, should people get violent. But I’m not predicting that at this stage.”

London has seen tensions flare during recent protests and a number of unlicensed music events.

Dame Cressida added:

My message is, if you’re coming out on Saturday, be calm, be sensible. Look after yourself, look after your family. We are still in a global pandemic which is affecting this country very obviously. People need to be sensible.”


A Covid-19 vaccine would not be a “silver bullet” to end the pandemic, a health chief has warned…


‘Unusually high incidence’ of coronavirus in children in Leicester

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “We have sent in a lot of extra testing into Leicester over the last 10 days or so and one of the things we have found is that there are under 18s who have tested positive and therefore, because children can transmit the disease – even though they are highly unlikely to get ill from the disease – we think the safest thing to do is close the schools.

“The reason I said what I did last night about Leicester is that it is an unusually high incidence in children in Leicester.”

But Mr Hancock said it was still safe for children to go to school.

He added: “Our recommendation to people right across the country is that if your child is in Reception or Year 1 or Year 6 then you really should send them to school.

“Right across the country – including in Leicester – it is safe for your child to go to school and in the rest of the country, where the number of cases is so much lower, then it is safe for the community.

“That is why we have taken the decisions that we have on schools – it’s to protect against the transmission in Leicester.”


Hancock insists Government was not slow to act in Leicester

Matt Hancock insisted the Government had not been too slow to act in Leicester, but that targeted action had not worked and so a wider lockdown was required.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “People knew 11 days ago because I set it out that there was an outbreak in Leicester, and we were working on it before then.

“And I’d been talking to the council and working with public health experts and Public Health England, and we’ve been monitoring and we’ve been putting in place the targeted action that has worked in other cases.

“In this case it hasn’t worked over that period and so we needed to take further action which we took last night.”


Department of Health partners with Royal Mail to set up priority post boxes for returning home test kits:


Work underway to understand why Leicester has been badly affected by coronavirus

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that work was still being done to understand why Leicester had been so badly affected by the outbreak.

When asked about possible causes such as poverty, higher ethnic diversity, language difficulties and higher-density housing Mr Hancock said they were “familiar” to him.

He told BBC Breakfast: “We are still doing the work to understand exactly why the outbreak has been so bad in Leicester.

“But lots of the reasons that you mentioned just then are familiar to me and people will find them intuitive.”

Mr Hancock said that “of course” the Government was looking at similar places but said the outbreak in Leicester was “very significantly worse” than the next worst hit place.


How will lockdown boundary decisions be decided in Leicester? 


Virus cases in California rise by more than 7,400 in one day

California and Texas saw record spikes in new Covid-19 infections on Monday, and Los Angeles reported an “alarming” one-day surge. 

The number of cases in California rose by at least 7,418 to nearly 223,000, the biggest one-day increase since tracking began.

Infections in Texas rose by 6,545 to nearly 160,000, also setting a record for a one-day increase.


Here is the situation in the United States…


The figures from the ONS show how much the UK economy was damaged by coronavirus…


More on the law changes in Leicester

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the law will be changed in the next “day or two” to close all non-essential shops in Leicester.

Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday that the Government was not making non-essential travel illegal, but said it would if it had to.

He added: “On shops, the non-essential retail, we will be closing them by law and changing the law in the next day or two to put that into effect.

“We are also not releasing the legal measures that lift the lockdown for the rest of the country.

“On travel, we are recommending against travel unless it is essential but we are not putting that in place in law at this stage.

“Of course we will if we have to.”

Mr Hancock said that the lockdown in Leicester was being introduced after “targeted action” had not worked.

He added: “We have been monitoring it incredibly closely, we have put in extra testing units, some of the schools in Leicester were closed already.

“We also went into some of the factories and workplaces where there was an outbreak and we put in place measures.

“These sort of much more targeted measures have worked in other outbreaks.

“So we’ve been taking this highly localised approach but unfortunately that targeted action wasn’t working in Leicester and that’s why we have taken this much broader measure.”


Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government will change the law to enforce the local lockdown in Leicester…


Adoption agencies inundated with a ‘surprisingly high’ volume of inquiries during lockdown

Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, chief executive of Adoption UK, which provides support for families going through the process, said lockdown has generated an unexpected boost in the number of people keen to take on a child, because it has given them time to “think about what they really want in life”.

She said serious interest from adults wanting to adopt has been “buoyant”, defying expectations that uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 would see inquiries tail off.


Leicester lockdown: ‘There are times when we have to go into reverse gear’

The lockdown in Leicester is a “necessary puncturing of the elation that had been building up throughout the country” in the run-up to the easing of restrictions on July 4, Tory former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Mr Hunt, chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the easing of restrictions would be a “stop, go” process until there is a vaccine.

“It’s not going to be smooth and there are going to be times when we have to go into reverse gear,” he said.


Good news for EastEnders fans…


‘Mass unemployment could have scarring impact on UK for decades’

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has warned that mass unemployment could have a “scarring impact on our country for decades” if the Government cannot adapt the furlough scheme for different industries instead of pursuing a “one size fits all approach”.

“If we look at what other countries are doing, and what the evidence tells us, that first step of stopping people becoming unemployed in the first place is absolutely critical,” she told Good Morning Britain. 

“Once people have become unemployed, that has a scarring impact on them and on our country for decades into the future.

“So what I’m saying to the Government, and I’ve offered this in the spirit of constructive opposition many times, I’ve said to them, please, shift course, do not continue to have this one size fits all approach, because that will inevitably lead to much greater unemployment in the future.”


Hancock defends ‘whack-a-mole’ strategy for tackling outbreaks

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News: “The strategy is to allow for the opening up of the rest of the country, giving people their freedoms back where it is safe to do so.

“But we also need alongside that to take local action where there is a specific flare-up.”

Mr Hancock also said there had been “a number of positive cases in the under-18s” detected through coronavirus testing in Leicester.

“That’s why we took the decision, with a heavy heart it has to be said, to close schools in Leicester and in Leicestershire, within the Leicester conurbation.”

Asked whether there would be financial assistance targeted to Leicester because of the lockdown, Mr Hancock said: “The furlough scheme remains and is there, but we’ve also put in money to the local councils so that on a discretionary basis they can use that to support people who need further support.”

The Health Secretary also confirmed that a football match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace would go ahead this weekend.


Impact of coronavirus pandemic on Shell

Oil giant Shell said it expects to be hit by up to 22 billion US dollars (£17.9 billion) in impairment charges for the current quarter after lowering its expectations for oil and gas prices.

The British-Dutch firm also said that it expects oil production to be higher than previously predicted, saying it hopes to produce between 2.3 million and 2.4 million barrels of oil per day.

In a statement, the company said: “Given the impact of Covid-19 and the ongoing challenging commodity price environment, Shell continues to adapt to ensure the business remains resilient.

“In light of this, Shell is announcing today a revised long-term commodity prices and margin outlook, which is expected to result in non-cash impairments in the second-quarter results.”