Life takes another small step back to normality today, as quarantine requirements are dropped for travellers arriving in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 59 countries and 14 British overseas territories. It means those who have been on holiday in Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and Germany will be exempt from the requirement to isolate for 14 days. A slightly different list of exemptions applies in Scotland, meaning people travelling from both Spain and Serbia will still have to go into quarantine, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said concerns about the prevalence of Covid-19 persisted. Scotland is also making the use of facemasks compulsory in shops.
However, despite World Health Organization warnings that the pandemic is still accelerating globally, across the UK lockdown restrictions are being eased in light of a declining number of infections. Ministers announced on Thursday that beauty salons in England could reopen from Monday, followed by indoor gyms and swimming pools on 25 July. Open-air concerts and theatre performances in England will also be permitted with “a limited and socially distanced audience” from this weekend.
Children’s playgrounds and community centres in Wales will be able to reopen from 20 July, while Northern Ireland has brought forward the reopening of indoor fitness studios and gyms, along with bingo halls, amusement arcades and cinemas. Scotland has begun to allow people to visit each other indoors and stay overnight, and has set dates for reopening bars and restaurants, hairdressers and barbers, and the tourist industry.
Some 20,000 deaths in care homes have already been directly linked to coronavirus. Now, Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society are warning of a “hidden catastrophe” among those in residential care, brought on by the “enforced separation” of lockdown. UK government advice – in place since April – to avoid visits in all but exceptional circumstances has caused a deterioration in residents’ mental and physical health, the charities say. They are calling on the health secretary to treat relatives of care home residents with dementia like key workers, by offering them the same access to care homes and coronavirus testing as staff. The Department of Health and Social Care says it will set out further details “shortly” on how it can “carefully and safely” allow visits.
Police stop-and-search tactics are often criticised as being used disproportionately against people from ethnic minorities. Now, the Independent Office for Police Conduct is to review whether officers racially discriminate . The head of the watchdog says it will “establish the trends and patterns which might help drive real change” in England and Wales, where stop-and-search powers are nine times more likely to be used against black people than white counterparts. Earlier this week, the Metropolitan Police apologised to athlete Bianca Williams over a stop-and-search incident. Cases are already being investigated in London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester in which it is alleged police used excessive force, and in some cases Tasers, against black men.
“We’ve always pictured having the big, fat Indian wedding,” say Vishal Panesar and his fiancee Ravika Sabh, almost in unison. Like thousands of couples, Londoners Vishal, 25, and Ravika, 24, had to postpone their wedding after the coronavirus pandemic struck.
It was meant to be a lavish affair with three separate events and 400 guests. But current measures imposed on weddings and gatherings mean the prospects of a big blowout are slim. Vishal and Ravika have cut down their guest list but are still keen to see whether a wedding with more than 30 guests is possible.Read full analysis >
BBC Asian Network
“You’d better shape up,” says a Grease-inspired Metro, in its report heralding the reopening of England’s gyms and other leisure facilities. The Times echoes the government’s preferred slogan – “work out to help out” – while also reporting the prime minister intends to ban promotions on unhealthy food. Salons, which can reopen from Monday, are the focus of the Daily Telegraph, which says “normality edges closer”. Other papers focus on what the Daily Mirror calls a “jobs hell”, in light of Boots, Burger King and John Lewis saying they would cut staff. The paper says it brings job losses since the coronavirus crisis began to more than 150,000. The Financial Times says the announcements left Chancellor Rishi Sunak under fire, reporting that an influential think tank criticised his £30bn package to avert job losses as “poorly targeted”. Read the review.
Instagram Network to block LGBT ‘conversion therapy’ services
Police Probationary officer charged with neo-Nazi terror offence
Notre Dame Spire will be rebuilt exactly as it was
Oklahoma Court rules half of land to be Native American
12:00 Funeral cortege of Dame Vera Lynn pauses in her home village of Ditchling, coinciding with a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast.
12:30 Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford to confirm whether conditions have been met to allow reopening of parts of tourism industry from Saturday, and outdoor hospitality and hairdressers from Monday.
1940 The Battle of Britain begins, as German planes attack shipping convoys off the south-east coast of England – explore BBC Archive material from World War Two.
Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me