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UK Covid live: record 618,903 people ‘pinged’ in England and Wales; Covid pass could be mandatory for big events UK Covid live: record 618,903 people ‘pinged’ in England and Wales; Covid pass could be mandatory for big events
(32 minutes later)
Latest updates: record numbers ‘pinged’ by NHS Covid app last week; vaccines minister says venues can use pass as condition of entryLatest updates: record numbers ‘pinged’ by NHS Covid app last week; vaccines minister says venues can use pass as condition of entry
Boris Johnson has spoken to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, this afternoon, No 10 has said. The two leaders spoke about the recent floods in Germany, and the importance of tackling climate change, but, judging by the No 10 readout, the call was largely about the Northern Ireland protocol. According to Downing Street, Johnson told Merkel what he told Ursula von der Leyen earlier (see 12.32pm) about how he believed solutions to the problems that have arisen “could not be found through the existing mechanisms of the protocol”.
No 10 went on:
Public Health England has just published its latest weekly Covid surveillance report (pdf).
The report covers the week ending Sunday 18 July. It says in that week “case rates increased in all age groups, regions and ethnic groups”.
Hospitalisations were also going up in the week ending 18 July, the report says.
Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, has used new powers to direct the Stormont executive to commission abortion services in Northern Ireland, PA Media reports. PA says:Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, has used new powers to direct the Stormont executive to commission abortion services in Northern Ireland, PA Media reports. PA says:
In his statement Lewis said:In his statement Lewis said:
Here are the main points from the No 10 lobby briefing.Here are the main points from the No 10 lobby briefing.
Downing Street has said that no extra money will be available to the NHS to fund the 3% pay rise for most staff announced yesterday. A No 10 spokesman said the pay rise would be “funded from within the NHS budget”, but he said this would not affect funding already earmarked for the NHS front line.Downing Street has said that no extra money will be available to the NHS to fund the 3% pay rise for most staff announced yesterday. A No 10 spokesman said the pay rise would be “funded from within the NHS budget”, but he said this would not affect funding already earmarked for the NHS front line.
No 10 has renewed its claim that the EU has been taking a “purist” approach to the Northern Ireland protocol. Asked why the UK was effectively trying to renegotiate a deal it agreed last year, the spokesman said:No 10 has renewed its claim that the EU has been taking a “purist” approach to the Northern Ireland protocol. Asked why the UK was effectively trying to renegotiate a deal it agreed last year, the spokesman said:
But, when challenged to say if the UK was accusing the EU of breaching the terms of the agreement, the spokesman would not go as far as making the claim.But, when challenged to say if the UK was accusing the EU of breaching the terms of the agreement, the spokesman would not go as far as making the claim.
Doubtless in the EU they would argue that what No 10 describes as a “purist” approach to implementing the agreement just means: implementing the agreement.Doubtless in the EU they would argue that what No 10 describes as a “purist” approach to implementing the agreement just means: implementing the agreement.
The spokesman said that the government was launching a consultation today on slashing “Brexit red tape”. But, when asked if this meant that the government was accepting that Brexit caused red tape, the spokesman did not accept this, and the news release about the initiative suggests this is more a case of careless phrasing than an admission that Brexit has increased the regulatory burden (even though for exporters it has). That is because of how No 10 describes the consultation, which follows on from the publication of the report by the independent Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR). No 10 said in its news release:The spokesman said that the government was launching a consultation today on slashing “Brexit red tape”. But, when asked if this meant that the government was accepting that Brexit caused red tape, the spokesman did not accept this, and the news release about the initiative suggests this is more a case of careless phrasing than an admission that Brexit has increased the regulatory burden (even though for exporters it has). That is because of how No 10 describes the consultation, which follows on from the publication of the report by the independent Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR). No 10 said in its news release:
And this is what Downing Street said about Boris Johnson’s call with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, about the Northern Ireland protocol this morning. (See 12.21pm.) A No 10 spokesman said:And this is what Downing Street said about Boris Johnson’s call with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, about the Northern Ireland protocol this morning. (See 12.21pm.) A No 10 spokesman said:
UK nationals who had their vaccinations overseas and find themselves unable to register for domestic Covid passes, or obtain other double-jabbed benefits like avoiding quarantine when returning from amber-list countries, should see this change soon, Nadhim Zahawi has said.UK nationals who had their vaccinations overseas and find themselves unable to register for domestic Covid passes, or obtain other double-jabbed benefits like avoiding quarantine when returning from amber-list countries, should see this change soon, Nadhim Zahawi has said.
Asked about the issue in the Commons by Labour’s Rupa Huq, Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister for England, said:Asked about the issue in the Commons by Labour’s Rupa Huq, Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister for England, said:
The contact with a GP was necessary to ensure their vaccine was one of those approved for use in the UK, Zahawi added.The contact with a GP was necessary to ensure their vaccine was one of those approved for use in the UK, Zahawi added.
He also said moves were afoot for reciprocal recognition of 33 other countries’ vaccination proof schemes, so non-UK nationals jabbed overseas could also have the benefits. This “will happen very soon”, he added.He also said moves were afoot for reciprocal recognition of 33 other countries’ vaccination proof schemes, so non-UK nationals jabbed overseas could also have the benefits. This “will happen very soon”, he added.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has reaffirmed the EU’s intention not to renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol. She posted this on Twitter after a call with Boris Johnson on the topic.Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has reaffirmed the EU’s intention not to renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol. She posted this on Twitter after a call with Boris Johnson on the topic.
Her language is almost identical to what her colleague Maroš Šefčovič said yesterday when he issued the EU’s first formal response to the government’s publication of its command paper on the protocol.Her language is almost identical to what her colleague Maroš Šefčovič said yesterday when he issued the EU’s first formal response to the government’s publication of its command paper on the protocol.
The government “risks losing social consent” for its test and trace programme if it does not immediately allow fully vaccinated people to avoid isolation, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said. My colleague Aubrey Allegretti has the story here.The government “risks losing social consent” for its test and trace programme if it does not immediately allow fully vaccinated people to avoid isolation, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said. My colleague Aubrey Allegretti has the story here.
In a written ministerial statement, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has announced the government is going to review its long-term plans for major road and rail schemes (its “national policy statement for national networks”) in the light of the pandemic, and how that might change transport use. He said:In a written ministerial statement, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has announced the government is going to review its long-term plans for major road and rail schemes (its “national policy statement for national networks”) in the light of the pandemic, and how that might change transport use. He said:
As my colleague Jennifer Rankin reports in her analysis of the UK government’s command paper on the Northern Ireland protocol published yesterday, the EU is exasperated by Boris Johnson’s objection to complying with a deal that he agreed only last year.As my colleague Jennifer Rankin reports in her analysis of the UK government’s command paper on the Northern Ireland protocol published yesterday, the EU is exasperated by Boris Johnson’s objection to complying with a deal that he agreed only last year.
EU leaders may be even more unhappy when they hear how Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, described the protocol in an interview this morning. Speaking on Sky News, Kwarteng, a strong supporter of Brexit in 2016, claimed the protocol was always intended to be flexible. He said:EU leaders may be even more unhappy when they hear how Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, described the protocol in an interview this morning. Speaking on Sky News, Kwarteng, a strong supporter of Brexit in 2016, claimed the protocol was always intended to be flexible. He said:
According to the latest weekly test and trace figures (pdf), 259,265 people in England tested positive for coronavirus between 8 July and 14 July - a 33% increase compared to the previous week. That is the highest weekly figure since the week ending 20 January.According to the latest weekly test and trace figures (pdf), 259,265 people in England tested positive for coronavirus between 8 July and 14 July - a 33% increase compared to the previous week. That is the highest weekly figure since the week ending 20 January.
The figures also show that 475,465 people were identified as close contacts of people testing positive between 8 July and 14 July - a 25% increase on the previous week.The figures also show that 475,465 people were identified as close contacts of people testing positive between 8 July and 14 July - a 25% increase on the previous week.
Back in the Commons Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, asked Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, if the government was confident it had enough PCR testing capacity, with new cases expected to reach 100,000 per day this summer.Back in the Commons Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, asked Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, if the government was confident it had enough PCR testing capacity, with new cases expected to reach 100,000 per day this summer.
Referring to PCR capacity, Zahawi replied: “It’s 640,000 per day as of the latest data I looked at.”Referring to PCR capacity, Zahawi replied: “It’s 640,000 per day as of the latest data I looked at.”
Up to a quarter of staff at some food and drink firms are isolating because they have been pinged, according to Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation. He told Sky News:Up to a quarter of staff at some food and drink firms are isolating because they have been pinged, according to Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation. He told Sky News: