The PM led the Daily Press Conference and announced that people could now create a social bubble to allow single adult households to form a support bubble with one other household. The scientific advisers said they regretted they did not speed up testing earlier in the crisis.
Professor Ferguson formerly of SAGE suggested that the UK Government decision to delay entering lockdown may have cost 25,000 lives. The PM stated it was premature to say if the Government locked down too late. Government Adviser Professor Clifford Stott has said there is a risk of disorder on a scale last seen during the London riots in August 2011, if police forces do not deal with unrest in their neighbourhoods.
On the Government’s test, track and trace system business minister Nadhim Zahawi said the figures will not be published until the government believes the data is “robust”. Separately, the NHS Confederation have warned that the NHS waiting list could more than double by Christmas, to hit 10 million (from 4.2 million now). Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he did not recognise the 10 million figure. However, Mr Hancock acknowledged there was a “very serious problem.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said to Sky News that "I personally think every day our children are not at school is a tragedy." The Government was condemned by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former chief inspector, who slammed No10’s “absolutely astonishing” backtrack on reopening primary schools to all pupils for a month before the summer holidays. On BBC Radio 4 he said: “I would be appealing to staff to come in over the summer holidays and take catch-up classes for those youngsters who need it.”
The PM Boris Johnson is reported to be taking personal charge of the ‘air bridges’ plan, which would allow travel between the UK and countries with low infection rates without a 14-day quarantine. The newly founded Together Coalition which includes the CBI, trades unions, the Scouts and Guides plus a range of celebrities have called for one more clap for carers on the NHS’s 72nd birthday on 5th July 2020.
Daily press conference
The PM led the press conference, he was accompanied by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government and Professor Chris Whitty Chief Medical Officer for England.
The PM set out the five tests which ensure that easing the lockdown is done in a proportionate way and how the country is meeting them. He stressed that we must do everything in our power to stop a second peak.
First Test: The NHS has the capacity to provide critical care right across the UK
- 443 estimated admissions with Covid-19 on 7 June (England, Wales and Northern Ireland). Down from a peak of 3,431 on 1 April.
- 492 on mechanical ventilators with Covid-19 (UK wide).Down from a peak of 3,301 on 12 April.
So meeting the first test.
Second Test: Sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths.
- 41,128 have died from coronavirus in all settings.
- 245 additional deaths since yesterday, down from a high of 943 in April.
Second test is being met.
Third test is receiving reliable data from SAGE that the numbers catching Covid is decreasing to manageable levels.
- 290,143 cases confirmed in total.
- 1419 is the 7 day rolling average rate of infection down from 5,195 in April.
Third test being met.
Fourth test is about having confidence that the testing and PPE is sufficient to meet future demand.
- Procured 2.2 billion items of PPE to be manufactured domestically.
- 150 new deals with suppliers across the world.
- 6,042,622 tests in total.
- 386,984 of these tests were antibody tests.
Fourth test being met.
Fifth test: Any adjustment to current measures will not risk a second peak.
Have met the fifth test.
The PM then announced that the Government were proceeding with the following easing of the lockdown, these measures apply only in England.
On retail – this is a challenging period for shops, for 82 days they have been closed. All shops now reopening from Monday.
On social contact – last Monday relaxed rules on meeting outdoors, there are too many people who are lonely and struggling so:
- From this weekend they will allow single adult households can form a support bubble with one other household. They will be able to act as if they live in the same household.
- Support households must be exclusive.
- If any member of the support bubble gets symptoms then both households have to socially isolate.
- Will say more about the measures for those who are shielding next week.
From Monday – will allow outdoor attractions such as drive in cinemas and zoos to open.
Will allow places of worship to open for individual prayer this weekend.
Inevitable that there will be anomalies. The Government will continue to remain cautious and measure the impact of the changes. Won’t hesitate to apply the brakes if need to.
Going slower than they wanted on schools, aim to bring back all pupils in September, this is consistent with what is happening in Europe.
Urged people to follow the rules and to help to control the virus by getting tested and by socially isolating where necessary.
Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser
- R in UK is between 0.7 and 0.9, so below 1 and this is nationwide.
- Growth rates suggest that the epidemic is shrinking in every region.
- 0.1 per cent of public had Covid-19, 53,000 had Covid-19 in late May.
- 39,000 estimated new infections per week in the community.
- 6.78% of the population expected to have had the virus nationwide.
- On average there are between 10-15,000 deaths per week. There have been excess deaths due to Covid-19.
Answers to questions
- Face coverings have a potential benefit indoors where people can’t socially distance, it is crowded and people can come in to contact with many people.
- Potential for the disease to resurface in winter time as it thrives indoors. Will assess the evidence about what they could have done better in the fullness of time.
- Government have a big plan to get children back to school by September ‘if we possibly can’ and the numbers in school are climbing every day.
- We are in the middle of the epidemic but not at the end of it, after the crisis is the time to look back.
- Will make sure that children get the remedial help they need, the PM wants an educational catch up, not just about this summer.
- On the 2 metre rule, it is about a balance of risk, it is a risk assessment not a rule. The r is not as low as the PM would like. The Government will be able to do whack a mole with local outbreaks.
- It is difficult to open up all schools to every pupil given the restrictions, want people to prepare for their exams, will be a lot of catch up work. Gavin Williamson will be announcing a big catch up plan for schools next week.
- No option that is completely safe and all fine, what the Government are doing is a reasonable balance accepting the risks.
OECD dampen expectations of a V-shaped recovery
The OECD have predicted that by the end of 2021 the global economy will still be below the level it was at the start of 2020. People see a V-shaped recovery, but the OECD believe it will stop half-way. Quoted in the Financial Times, Laurence Boone, chief economist of the OECD said that “By the end of 2021, the loss of income exceeds that of any previous recession over the last 100 years outside wartime, with dire and long-lasting consequences for people, firms and governments.”
The OECD predicts that UK output will fall by 11.5 per cent this year, the worst of any major European economy. The UK’s jobless rate will peak at 11.7 per cent. These estimates are for a single wave scenario.
Prime Minister’s Questions
The Prime Minister said he "understands" the anger shown in recent Black Lives Matter protests. He said that the Government are implementing the report by David Lammy into racial inequality in Britain.
Death toll from coronavirus: Sir Keir Starmer noted the ONS figures which suggest the death toll from coronavirus was 10,000 higher than the official total and had reached 51,000. He said, "The Prime Minister said he was proud of his record but there’s no pride in those figs are there?" The PM replied that he "mourns every loss" and international comparisons over death tolls could not be made yet.
Racial disparities: Sir Keir Starmer asked the PM if he will take action on the disproportionate number of ethnic minorities that have died after contracting coronavirus, Mr Johnson said: "We are looking at the particular exposure of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to coronavirus". He added "there's been no doubt" that BAME communities have been "at the forefront" of the crisis.
Schools reopening: Sir Keir Starmer said the "current arrangements are in tatters" and that "inequality will now go up" with millions of children missing six months of teaching. He said there has been an absence of "strong leadership" and "robust" guidance on school policy. The PM called on Sir Keir to offer "support" for the Government's efforts and to "encourage" left-wing teaching unions to stop resisting the return to schools. Sir Keir said no telephone conversation with the PM on schools reopening had taken place and accused the PM of using rehearsed attack lines.
Free School Meals: Sir Keir Starmer asked the PM to extend them into the summer holidays. The PM refused but promised an additional £63 million of welfare assistance.
Asked about pub beer gardens the PM responded that the hospitality sector would open on 4 July at the earliest. The PM also confirmed the 2-metre rule was under review.
Education Select Committee oral evidence sessions on ‘The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services’
- Tom Bewick, Chief Executive, Federation of Awarding Bodies.
- Sally Collier, Chief Regulator, Ofqual.
- Dr Michelle Meadows, Executive Director for Strategy Risk and Research, Ofqual.
Key points raised include:
Exam timing: Possibility that under Ofqual’s contingency plans the exams could be delayed longer. Before the summer break ideally exam boards need to know what is going to happen in September. There is a consultation on this, cannot promise the consultation period will be long.
Vocational and technical qualifications: Nature of the sector is that the awarding organisations have different relations with the centres. Inconsistency and lack of coordination is an issue in terms of how to appeal. Need transparency and consistency across awarding organisations, so who has oversight in vocational education.
Bias and appealing grades: Students need to have evidence of bias to appeal their grades. There is concern that disadvantaged children will not know how to appeal and how they would provide evidence. The Chair wants a fixed system of appeal with more standardisation.
- Dr Zubaida Haque, Interim Director, Runnymede Trust.
- Kevin Courtney, joint General Secretary, National Education Union.
- Professor Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility, University of Exeter.
Key points raised include:
Equality issues: If grades awarded are based on prior or expected results it could discriminate against BAME students and children more broadly that leave it to the last minute, which will impact boys more. Younger children in each cohort could also be more affected. BAME students predicted grades tend to be less accurate. Not had any DfE responses to letters by Runnymede Trust on this.
Ranking: Consensus that ranking students was very difficult and the potential for bias in making those decisions. Much discussion about whether there would need to be a fairness review/equality impact assessment after the crisis to assess the decisions made on grades and ranking. Ofqual said to be more concerned with overpredicting students rather underpredicting according to the Runnymede Trust.
School re-opening: Potential for huge impact for the most disadvantaged. On social distancing rules if they could be reduced without increasing the R rate that would mean more pupils could be in class. Social distancing is not in schools and this is an anomaly.
Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure: Has released guidance for businesses and insolvency office holders on managing security risks during the pandemic.