Summary of the Press Conference
At today’s press conference the Foreign Secretary appeared alone, this contrasted with previous press conferences where a Minister was accompanied by a scientific adviser.
Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary
- The number of people who have died in the last 24 hours were 38 across the UK, 41,736 deaths in total.
- 1,056 new cases today, 430 people have been admitted to hospital in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (since 12th June). Down from 515 on 5th June.
- Between the 5th June – 12th June there have been 109 fewer daily cases, 161 fewer critical care patients and 155 fewer deaths.
- 93,163 tests carried out or posted out yesterday.
- This is the evidence that allows us to continue with the roadmap that the Prime Minister has outlined.
- We have seen the level of the virus brought down substantially, we are monitoring the impact of the easing very closely.
- Today we are taking further steps to open the high street, we will also allow outdoor attractions to open where people can stay in their cars. These are modest steps but we can monitor the impact that this has on transmission. We can’t pretend that Coronavirus has gone away, we know that a second spike is a risk if we are not very careful. We need to keep up the social distancing and keeping up test and trace.
- BEIS and Treasury are working closely with business to ensure that they are “Covid Compliant”.
- Starting today we have made it mandatory to use face coverings on public transport and we advise people to wear masks when people are not sure they can keep to the social distance guidelines.
- Some senior school pupils have also started to go back to school today.
- We will monitor these steps very carefully, we will only take the necessary next steps when it is safe to do so.
The BBC referred to an inquiry about racial inequalities that the Prime Minister announced today and asked why the Government weren’t publishing guidance now on why BAME people are more likely to die from Covid-19. The Foreign Secretary said that they are reviewing the evidence and will publish guidance shortly.
ITN asked about British Airways and asked whether they were a “national disgrace”. Dominic Raab said that it was up to individual companies to navigate this difficult time but the Government is urging companies to retain their workforce.
Two metre rule review
For the first time in nearly three months, non-essential shops were open to the public today, with reports of long queues outside major retailers. However, the government have continued to face calls by the hospitality sector to relax the two-metre rule. At today’s lobby briefing, the number 10 spokesperson confirmed that the government’s review of the two-metre rule would be completed “in the coming weeks” – but he would not commit to it being ready before 4 July, when the government has said pubs and restaurants might be allowed to start opening up in England. The spokesman said that Simon Case, the new permanent secretary at No 10, would oversee the review of the two-metre rule, which would report to the Covid-19 strategy committee chaired by the PM.
Explaining its remit, the spokesperson said:
“It will look at evidence around the transmission of the virus in different environments, incident rates, international comparisons, and it will draw on advice from scientific and medical experts, as well as economists and papers from Sage. It will take advice from a range of experts, including the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser.”
An urgent question in the House of Commons took place this afternoon, with Edward Argar (Health Minister) responding for the Government. Several Conservative MPs called for the end of the two -metre rule, in favour of one metre. However, the Minister responded by saying that they would have to wait for the review.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson met the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; and the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, today to take stock of progress with the aim of agreeing actions to move forward in negotiations on the future relationship.
The parties noted the UK’s decision not to request any extension to the transition period. The transition period will therefore end on 31 December 2020, in line with the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The next five rounds of talks, which will be face to face, will take place in July and August:
29 June (Brussels)
6 July (London)
13 July (Brussels)
20 July (London)
17 August (Brussels)
Discussing the next stage of talks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“It’s very clear what the UK needs ... We can’t have the involvement of the European court of justice in this country; we can’t have a system whereby we continue to have to obey EU law even when we’re out of the EU and we’ve got to get a great deal for our fish ...It’s very clear what we need to achieve, I don’t think we’re actually that far apart, but what we need now is to see a bit of oomph in the negotiations”.
Marcus Rashford and Free School Meals
Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has written to all MPs calling for free school meals to be provided to all children who are entitled over the summer holiday. In his letter he refers to 200,000 children who have skipped meals during the lockdown because their parents cannot afford food. The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said he would be responding to the letter and praised Marcus for using his platform in a positive way.
However, a DFE spokesperson said:
“Free school meals are ordinarily term time only, and the national voucher scheme will not run during the summer holidays. However, as announced this week by the Prime Minister, the local authority welfare assistance scheme will provide help those to who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to the impact of COVID-19. £63 million pounds is being allocated to this important project.”
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business, Consumers & Labour Markets, wrote to those working in retail today.