Nine Things You Need To Know About Coronavirus Today

Pubs, clubs and cafes are shutting down, and a man has been arrested on the Isle of Man for refusing to self-isolate. Here's the latest.

Social distancing could be on the cards for some time yet and New York, the city that never sleeps, has gone into lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, 3,983 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK and 177 people have died. Here’s the latest on coronavirus today.

Cafes, clubs and pubs told to close tonight

Pubs have been told to close their doors from Friday night
Pubs have been told to close their doors from Friday night
coldsnowstorm via Getty Images

The move follows reports that people – especially in London – were flouting government advice to avoid these venues.

During his fifth daily press conference, the prime minister warned Brits not to go out on Friday night before venues closed, saying there was no guarantee that if they contracted Covid-19 they would develop mild symptoms.

On Thursday, Sir Patrick Vallance – the government’s scientific adviser – warned that “the mixing in pubs and restaurants and so on that is part of allowing the disease to spread needs to stop”.

“It needs to stop among young people as well as older people,” he added.

The government will pay people’s wages

Rishi Sunak revealed the government would pay people's wages through a coronavirus job retention scheme
Rishi Sunak revealed the government would pay people's wages through a coronavirus job retention scheme

It was not just Johnson making big announcements around coronavirus.

“Any employer in the country, small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible for the scheme,” Sunak said.

“Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll rather than being laid off.

“Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – that’s just above the median income.”

The chancellor also said he would defer the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, in a £30bn injection into the economy.

New York lockdown

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced he will sign an executive order mandating that the state’s workforce must stay at home, excluding essential services. The order excludes pharmacies, grocery stores, and others.

Man arrested for refusing to self-isolate

A man has been arrested on the Isle of Man after he failed to follow its coronavirus self-isolation rules.

The detention of the man, reportedly 26, came after the Crown dependency’s government announced earlier this week that everyone arriving on the island must self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Chief minister Howard Quayle said anyone breaching the quarantine regulations could face a fine of up to £10,000 or three months in jail.

On Friday the first case of coronavirus on the Isle of Man was confirmed.

In a statement, the Isle of Man government said: “A patient on the island has tested positive for coronavirus.

“The patient had recently returned to the Isle of Man from a trip to Spain.

“The public health team has been in touch with the patient to provide advice and support, and will start contact tracing.”

65,000 retired medics asked to return to work

Up to 15,500 former doctors are set to be contacted.
Up to 15,500 former doctors are set to be contacted.
rajurahman85 via Getty Images

It is hoped that as many as 65,000 retired doctors and nurses will return to work as the “Your NHS Needs You” campaign gets underway in a bid to combat coronavirus.

Other retired emergency service workers could also be called on to return to their former jobs, with London mayor Sadiq Khan announcing that recently retired police officers were being called upon to carry out back-office roles.

Recently retired firefighters under 70 could also be asked to help.

The NHS has also said that on top of retirees, it was also offering temporary work to final-year medical students and student nurses.

To “boost the ranks” of doctors and nurses, the health service sent a rallying call to former employees who have left the NHS in the last three years.

Some have already declared they will be returning, including Tory MP Maria Caulfield, a former nurse:

More than 50,000 formerly registered nurses and 15,500 ex-doctors are expected to be contacted.

Frontline social workers could be without protective equipment until Wednesday

Frontline social workers who continue to make house visits to vulnerable clients amid the coronavirus pandemic may not receive protective masks until next Wednesday, HuffPost UK revealed on Friday.

The push to equip all social care providers with fluid repellent masks, gloves and hand sanitiser began midweek but is expected to take up to another week to be complete.

In the meantime, social workers who have been advised by the government to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when visiting clients have had to make difficult decisions as to whether to continue in-person visits, which could potentially put both parties at risk, postpone, or conduct the visit online.

The delay in getting PPE equipment to social workers comes even though they have been deemed “essential” to the Covid-19 response.

UK may have to spend half of the year socially distancing

Britons may have to spend at least half the next year socially distancing themselves by staying away from pubs, restaurants, gyms and other public places to tackle coronavirus, government scientific advice suggests.

The current combination of measures to tackle the outbreak, including social distancing, school closures, household isolation and stringent advice for vulnerable groups, is “likely to control the epidemic when kept in place for a long period”.

It could help the NHS deal with the number of critical cases within its capacity without being overwhelmed, the advice to the government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies (SAGE) was told.

But because lifting restrictions could risk a surge in the epidemic, “these [measures] would need to be in place for at least most of a year,” potentially being turned on and off as required, and with “strict” distancing in place for at least six of the next 12 months.

List of ‘key workers’ who can still send their children to school revealed

All schools in the UK are to be closed from Friday afternoon, with all pupils – with exception of the children of key workers – to remain at home.
All schools in the UK are to be closed from Friday afternoon, with all pupils – with exception of the children of key workers – to remain at home.
ADRIAN DENNIS via Getty Images

A list of ‘key workers’ who will still be able to send their children to school despite the closures has been revealed.

Many English schools will stop operating on Friday afternoon until further notice, as will nurseries, colleges and childminders. In Scotland and Wales, all schools will have closed by Friday, and schools in Northern Ireland are due to shut from Monday. Special schools are to remain open.

The Department of Education said children with at least one parent involved in the following jobs would be eligible to remain in school:

  • Health and social care
    • Including, but not limited to; doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain.
  • Education and childcare
    • Includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers, and specialist education professionals.
  • Key public services
    • Includes those involved in the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased for example in funeral care, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
  • Local and national government
    • Includes only administrative jobs essential to Covid-19 response, or delivering public services like benefit payments.
  • Food and other necessary goods
    • Includes those working in food production, processing, distribution, sale, and delivery, and those involved in distributing other key goods such as hygiene products.
  • Public safety and national security
    • Includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel, fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
  • Transport
    • Includes those who keep air, water, road, and rail passenger and freight transport systems running, including those working on maintaining the systems themselves.
  • Utilities, communication and financial services
    • Includes workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure, the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors, IT and data infrastructure sector, key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including 999 and 111 staff), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

Cancellation of GCSEs and A-levels

GCSE and A-level students will be given grades based on teacher assessments, after exams were cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The government said it is aiming for the calculated grades – which will also take into account their previous achievements – to be awarded to pupils in England by the end of July.

Making the announcement on Friday, education secretary Gavin Williamson said these are “extraordinary times” and that exam boards would be working closely with teachers to implement the new approach.

Students will also have the option to sit an exam early in the next academic year – which starts in September – if they want to, can appeal if they are not satisfied that their calculated grade reflects their performance, and can choose to sit exams in summer 2021.

Earlier updates

  • Supermarket chain Asda revealed plans to hire more than 5,000 temporary staff laid off because of coronavirus, while Lidl said it would hire 2,500 staff on four-week contracts
  • Kylie Jenner warned her 166m Instagram followers that millennials are not immune to the coronavirus, in case anyone thought otherwise.
  • A photographer captured Donald Trump’s handwritten “Chinese virus” amendment to the word “coronavirus” on a speech script
  • A drug used in Japan to treat new strains of flu has been described by Chinese authorities as “clearly effective” in treating coronavirus patients.
  • Eurovision has re-stated it will not hold the song contest this year – but has said it is exploring “alternative programming” in a bid to “help unite and entertain audiences around Europe during these challenging times”.
  • The government have scaled back VE Day celebrations to mark 75 years since the end of WW2 on May 8. There had been plans for a veterans’ procession down the Mall in London.

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