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Top medics say UK is at ‘real risk’ of second coronavirus wave and must prepare

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Dr Hilary Jones has warned of a second coronavirus spike in winter, with lockdown easing branded as ‘extremely risky’ by experts.

The UK’s top medics have called for an urgent review of lockdown easing, amid fears of a renewed outbreak later this year, in an open letter to the government.

Boris Johnson announced the biggest easing of lockdown in England yesterday afternoon (June 23rd).   

Health experts have written an open letter saying that Britain should be prepared for a real risk of a second wave of COVID-19, the BBC reports. 

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The public is now advised to abide by a one metre plus rule as the original two metre rule has been eased to help the hospitality industry, such as pubs and restaurants, open and get back on their feet. 

The one metre plus rule advises that people should wear a mask, wash hands regularly and avoid sitting face to face where the two metre distance can’t be maintained. 

Dr Hilary Jones spoke on Good Morning Britain today saying: “We’ve got the heads of most of the Royal colleges writing an open letter to the government saying, ‘Please put in place preparation for a second spike, which we really fear will happen if not by the winter, before then’.

“The two-metre rule is still there. Professor Chris Whitty says please do not take these derestricting measures too lightly, or too vigorously because we still want people to socially distance two metres, but it can go down to one metre at a minimum.”

Former Chief Scientific advisor, Sir David King, has advised that the Government’s easing of lockdown is ‘extraordinarily risky’.

He said: “I think it’s extraordinarily risky. If we take the long view, we know that the winter is a likely period when the virus takes off again.

“We must therefore aim to completely get rid of the virus from this country before the winter. If we move too quickly – and which is what I think is being proposed here – the risk of running into a second wave is very significant.

“We have done such a good job in this country in staying at home – if we could only be a little more patient.

“We still see a 1,000 at least new cases a day in this country and I don’t think there’s anyone who can believe from the scientific point of view that this is a wise move.”

Sir David later told BBC News: “It sounds alright if you’re out of doors and you do keep that one-metre distance apart.

“But if you’re indoors you’re at a much greater risk because you’re sitting in proximity to other people, you’re not wearing masks if you’re in restaurants and pubs and the level of viral infection in the air could well be quite high.”

The British Medical Journal published a letter from the Royal College of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs and Nursing, as well as the chairman of the British Medical Association, appealing to the leaders of all the UK political parties.

“While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk,” they said.

“Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.

“The job now is not only to deal urgently with the wide-ranging impacts of the first phase of the pandemic, but to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase.”

“We believe this will be essential if the UK is to get ahead of the curve,” they said.

“It should focus on those areas of weakness where action is needed urgently to prevent further loss of life and restore the economy as fully and as quickly as possible.

“We think there’s a strong case for an immediate assessment of national preparedness, with the first results available no later than August, and that all its work should be completed by the end of October.”

Speaking at the Number 10 briefing, Professor Whitty said it was ‘absolutely critical’ that people continue to abide by social distancing and take other measures to mitigate the spread of the disease when it is not possible to stay 2-metres apart. 

The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “Don’t be fooled that this means it has gone away. The disease is growing across the world. It is coming down in the UK but it hasn’t gone away.” 

See all the latest updates given by Boris Johnson here

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Holidaymakers in Ibiza and Majorca will have to wear a face mask at all times in public

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Holidaymakers who are jetting to Majorca and Ibiza will have to wear face masks, it has been confirmed today. 

The Balearic Islands have confirmed that they are tightening the rules of mask-wearing. The news comes just hours after Catalonia revealed it will be making face masks obligatory at all times in public. 

It has yet to be confirmed if wearing a face mask will be mandatory on the beach.

Only yesterday did Catalonia extend the exceptions of their rules on making people wear face masks on the beaches.

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If you fail to follow the rules, meaning wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, you will be hit with a hefty €100 fine.

Until now in Spain, face masks have only been obligatory in public places such as shops, and public spaces where social distancing of 5 feet cannot be maintained.

The change means tourists will be expected to wear masks also at any point outside, although practising sport or children under six are exempt. 

For those living under the same roof, wearing a face mask while travelling in the same car is not compulsory. 

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Police are expected to provide advice to foreign holidaymakers who may be unfamiliar with the new rules before they start issuing fines. 

News regarding the rules in Costa del Sol are yet to be announced. 

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Free TV licences for pensioners will officially be axed from August

It’s expected it will effect 3.7 million pensioners.

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It has been confirmed that millions of pensioners will be stripped of free TV licenses from August 1st. 

The BBC has announced there will be no extension to the two-month stay-of-execution that was triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is estimated that 3.7 million over-75s will now have to pay £157.50 a year to watch their favourite TV shows. 

In the 2017 Conservative election, they pledged to protect free licenses for the rest of Parliament, which was set to run until 2022. 

However, the BBC had been responsible for the lifeline from June 2020 following a deal agreed in 2015. 

The BBC says keeping licenses free for all over 75s would cost £745 million. Instead, the corporation is introducing restrictions that mean only over-75s who receive Pension Credit will be eligible. 

BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said: “The decision to commence the new scheme in August has not been easy, but implementation of the new scheme will be Covid-19 safe.

“The BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services.

“Around 1.5 million households could get free TV licences if someone is over 75 and receives Pension Credit, and 450,000 of them have already applied.

“And critically it is not the BBC making that judgment about poverty. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure.

“Like most organisations the BBC is under severe financial pressure due to the pandemic, yet we have continued to put the public first in all our decisions.

“I believe continuing to fund some free TV licences is the fairest decision for the public, as we will be supporting the poorest oldest pensioners without impacting the programmes and services that all audiences love.”

Shadow Culture Minister, Chris Matheson, issued a last plea for the government to take responsibility in the Commons today. 

He said: “The BBC is cutting jobs and content to pay for the cost of the licence dumped on them by the Government – and pensioners are forced to choose between eating and watching TV.”

Culture Minister Matt Warman said: “The fact is that the BBC has had a generous licence fee settlement and it is deeply disappointing that they have chosen to go down the path that they apparently are going down.

“I would, of course, hope that there is yet time to reconsider that because he is right to say that television has been vital comfort for many people in the last few months.

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Boots to cut more than 4,000 jobs due to ‘significant impact’ of coronavirus

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Lewis Clarke / Geograph

Boots has said that more than 4,000 jobs are to be cut, about 7% of its workforce.

According to Boots, the company is consulting on plans to restructure its head office and store teams, as well as closing 48 Boots Opticians stores.

A Boots spokesman has said the move was part of action to mitigate the ‘significant impact’ of coronavirus, and will particularly affect staff who work in the Nottingham support office.

Some deputy and assistant manager, beauty adviser and customer adviser roles will also be affected across its stores.

As well as the job cuts, 48 Boots Opticians stores will also close, the Mirror reports.

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.

“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months.

“They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.

“In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.

“We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”

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