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Covid lockdown news live: Ministers consider delay to June easing

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Robert Jenrick: The Prime Minister is reviewing the data as we speak

The link between infections, hospital admission and deaths has been “broken” by the rollout of the vaccine, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, has said.

He told Times Radio that hospitals were reporting treating patients who were younger and less sick than before and suggested that they may now be able to “cope with the level of infections”.

Despite the apparent good news on the vaccine, Rishi Sunak is understood to be willing to accept a short delay to the planned easing of Covid restrictions on 21 June amid a rise in cases.

The chancellor is among a group of ministers pushing for the economy to open up quickly but is said to have accepted step 4 in the government’s roadmap – pencilled in for later this month – may need to be pushed back amid a surge in Delta variant infections.

Read more:

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Full extent of pandemic’s impact on jobs still uncertain, says National Audit Office

The extension of the furlough scheme means that Covid-19’s impact on unemployment is still not fully known, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has said.

The government is set to spend £2.5bn on supporting people into work this year but there is a risk that current plans are not timed to match demand, the National Audit Office said.

The government extended the furlough scheme to the end of September to deal with a resurgence of coronavirus cases which prompted further lockdowns, writes The Independent’s Ben Chapman.

Joe Middleton9 June 2021 12:24

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US forms expert groups on lifting travel restrictions

The Biden administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Another US official said the administration will not move quickly to lift orders that bar people from much of the world from entering the United States because of the time it will take for the groups to do their work.

The groups will be led by the White House Covid Response Team and the National Security Council and include the Centers for Disease Control and other US agencies.

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 12:09

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Policing minister ‘regrets’ officers not being prioritised for Covid jab

The policing minister, Kit Malthouse, has told a Police Federation conference panel discussion that he “made the case strongly about police officers” being prioritised for vaccines.

When asked why the government did not place more pressure on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to let officers jump the age/underlying health condition-ordered queue in the immunisation programme, he said: “We did repeatedly make the case and make the request but obviously the JCVI made the decision that they did.

“From my point of view it’s a point of regret that we didn’t manage to make our point strongly enough.

“Having said that, as was said earlier, quite a number of officers managed to get vaccinated with spare vaccines, hopefully now everybody is done or will be done shortly.”

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 11:56

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Number of Covid patients in hospital rising

The number of people in hospital with Covid in England is now a fifth higher than it was at the end of the second wave of the virus, with more regions reporting a rise in patients, new figures reported by the PA news agency show.

A total of 879 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital in England as of 8am on June 8, according to NHS England.

This is up from 776 one week earlier – a rise of 13 per cent.

It is also up 20 per cent from a low of 730 patients on 22 May.

Patient numbers are not increasing steadily, with the total sometimes falling slightly one day before jumping again the next.

But even when using a seven-day average to smooth out these kinds of fluctuations, the trend is now upwards.

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 11:45

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Vaccine hesitancy highest in deprived areas, says ONS

Adults living in the most deprived areas of England are three times more likely to be hesitant about getting a coronavirus vaccine than those in the least deprived parts, figures suggest.

One in 10 people in the most deprived parts reported vaccine hesitancy between 28 April and 23 May, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This compares with 3 per cent of those in the least deprived areas.

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 11:31

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Sign up for your essential email briefings from The Independent

For all the latest health news, Covid analysis and pandemic insights, The Independent offers a host of email newsletters.

Shaun Lintern’s weekly Health Check newsletter aims to chart major developments in the post-Covid recovery as well as keeping you up to date with the latest research across the health and social care landscape.

For your essential morning political briefing, Adam Forrest’s Inside Politics newsletter is there to guide you through the turmoil – keeping you up to date on all the key developments and providing short, sharp analysis of what’s really going on at Westminster and beyond.

And John Rentoul’s View from Westminster newsletter brings you the latest from parliament at 6pm each day.

To view our full range of newsletters and to sign up click here.

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 11:18

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Michael Gove broke law over Covid contract for friends of Dominic Cummings, court rules

The High Court has ruled the government’s award of a coronaviruscontract to a market research company whose bosses were friends of government adviser Dominic Cummings was unlawful.

Anti-corruption campaign The Good Law Project won its case against Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office over the payment of more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money to Public First at the outset of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020.

After considering rival arguments in a virtual hearing in February, Ms Justice O’Farrell today issued her ruling: “The claimant is entitled to a declaration that the decision of 5 June 2020 to award the contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.”

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 11:06

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Consultants paid millions to help award Covid cash to charities for no obvious reason, MPs find

Ministers paid millions of pounds to consultants over payment of Covid funds to charities for no clear reason, an influential group of MPs has found, as they warned that a “worrying smoke” had been thrown up around awards.

In a damning report, the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also said it was unclear what influence special advisers had over some funding decisions.

Ministers have no information on where more than £100m of £500m in lifeline grants to charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises is actually being used.

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 11:04

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What is the public mood like on possible 21 June restriction changes?

A YouGov survey suggests that a majority of people now back an end to the “rule of six” for indoor gatherings.

This graph, put together by Statista using YouGov data, shows attitudes to various possible 21 June restriction changes.

(Statista)

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 10:55

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What are the rules for travelling to France this summer as it reopens to tourists?

Is a French getaway on the cards this summer? While France remains on the UK govenrment’s amber list, cross-channel travel is discouraged but not banned.

However, from 9 June, France announced that it would accept fully vaccinated Britons with just a negative antigen test, as well as citizens from various other countries – including the US.

Here’s everything you need to know about the current rules on travel to France:

Tom Batchelor9 June 2021 10:44

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