World: UK Covid LIVE: Boris Johnson strikes cautious note in Freedom Day press conference amid pingdemic

NSW set to make a HUGE change to its contact tracing system

  NSW set to make a HUGE change to its contact tracing system NSW is preparing to dump most of it's contact tracing system in favour of an app that will automatically alert residents when they've been exposed to the coronavirus.The drastic change is part of Gladys Berejiklian's new plan to 'live with Delta' as cases climb to more than 1,000 a day and the state edges toward its vaccination target of 70 per cent coverage.

LIVE – Updated at 20:57

Boris Johnson et al. sitting at a desk © AP boris

Boris Johnson has delivered a coronavirus press conference as he self-isolates at Chequers on so-called Freedom Day.

The Prime Minister defended the decision to remove most remaining restrictions from July 19 - but announced new plans to require proof of full vaccination for admission to nightclubs and other venues with large crowds.

Video: Boris Johnson to restore freedoms as he tells public to ‘learn to live’ with Covid-19 (Evening Standard)

It follows the easing of social-distancing rules at one midnight past midnight in England.

Alerts telling app users to self-isolate drop 43% in a week, figures show

  Alerts telling app users to self-isolate drop 43% in a week, figures show Alerts telling app users to self-isolate drop 43% in a week, figures show - The Government has announced the app is being updated so fewer contacts will be instructed to isolate.A total of 395,971 alerts were sent in the week to July 28 telling people in England and Wales that they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.

Coronavirus cases continue to soar with many workers being pinged by the NHS Test and Trace app - and nearly 40,000 more cases were reported on Monday.

There are fears of transport problems because of the number of people being told to quarantine amid warnings of supermarket shortages and production cuts at factories.

The government is facing pressure from businesses and unions to immediately allow double-jabbed individuals not to self-isolate for 10 days rather than wait until August 16.

Key Points

  • Video: Nightclubbers revel as venues reopen
  • Masks off at midnight
  • Pingdemic threatens to cripple economy
  • Double-jabbed NHS staff could avoid quarantine

Freedom Day comes as UK has highest cases in the world

20:57 , Barney Davis

Sir Patrick Valance corrects double vaccinated error

20:40 , Barney Davis

Vulnerable children to get jabbed move welcomed

19:53 , Barney Davis

Richard Kramer, chief executive of disability charity Sense, said it was “positive news” that children who are at increased risk of Covid-19 or those living with people with weakened immune systems are to be offered vaccination.

Minister says now 'as good a time as any' to lift most COVID rules - but urges people to remain 'careful' and 'vigilant'

  Minister says now 'as good a time as any' to lift most COVID rules - but urges people to remain 'careful' and 'vigilant' A minister has told Sky News he is "confident" the government is doing the right thing by lifting almost all coronavirus restrictions in England, as a top World Health Organization (WHO) envoy warned: "This virus hasn't gone away."Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told Kay Burley now is "as good a time as any" to lift most COVID-19 rules, although he urged people to remain "careful" and "vigilant".

“Many of the disabled children we support have underlying health conditions and they and their families have been shielding for over a year now, forgotten during the pandemic and as part of the UK vaccination programme.

“This news will come as a huge relief and reassurance especially with most restrictions now lifted and cases rising.

“Time is of the premium and we want to see an immediate rollout that capitalises on the summer holidays so that children and families can feel confident about returning to school in September.”

He added: “Having the vaccine will open up the world to these families again, but we also need to ensure that after the struggles and pressures of the last year they receive the appropriate care and support, which is why we have been calling on Government to put in place a dedicated recovery plan for disabled children.”

‘Boris Johnson making it up as he goes along over nightclubs' - Labour

19:22 , Barney Davis

‘Small venues should be treated like bars and restaurants'

19:13 , Barney Davis

UK music industry body LIVE said small music venues should not be treated differently to similar-sized hospitality businesses over proof of vaccination requirements.

Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, said many festivals and larger venues were already implementing some form of certification.

In a statement, he said: “The Government has had several different positions on Covid certification in the last six months and we will need to see more detail before we can understand the full impact for the live music industry.

“Many festivals and large venues are already adopting some level of Covid certification, and as responsible event organisers, will continue to do so.

“What we are absolutely clear about, however, is that venues such as small music clubs should not be treated any differently to other similar-sized hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants when it comes to the need for Covid vaccine certification.”

Paul Waugh, from HuffPost asks what restrictions would you bring back first if hospitalisations get ‘scary’?

17:55 , Barney Davis

JVT answers ‘today is the day’ when society opens up but it will be 7 or 10 days until we see a flicker of the impact on that. And another week to see if cases rise and pressure increases on NHS.

Great Britain: Death of Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the mother of Boris Johnson

 Great Britain: Death of Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the mother of Boris Johnson GB-Johnson-Mere: Great Britain: Death of Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the mother of Boris Johnson © Reuters / Toby Melville Great Britain: Death of Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the mother of Boris Johnson (Reuters) - Charlotte Johnson Wahl, painter and mother of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, died on Monday at the age of 79, reports the Telegraph. Charlotte Johnson Wahl died "suddenly and peacefully" in a London hospital, declares the newspaper citing a family released.

It would be SAGE who decide on restrictions.

Indoor events are the worst for spreading and keeping R Rate up, he adds.

Sir Patrick adds opening up into a wave will get to 1,000 hospitalisations, maybe much higher and the deaths will increase.

Boris Johnson adds that next Spring is the right time for a full inquiry. He finishes off by saying lessons are being learned all the time.

Harry Cole from The Sun what asks JVT if scenes of crowded beaches, parks and nightclubs is wrong?

17:43 , Barney Davis

JVT says two settings are outdoors with lots of UV light so less risky. He wants everybody to go cautiously and a lot of people see the case rights are high.

Harry Cole asks Boris Johnson why he thought he was above the law and didn’t have to do isolation?

Boris Johnson says he didn’t think he was above the law and that’s why he’s on Zoom right now.

Boris Johnson said he did not want a situation where people are asked to “produce papers” to get into pubs but did not rule it out.

The Prime Minister said “I certainly don’t want to see passports for pubs” but in enclosed crowded places with close social contact “we reserve to do a right to do what is necessary to protect the public”.

Tom Newton Dunn, from Times Radio asks why not have night clubs accept vaccine passports now? Why wait until September?

17:38 , Barney Davis

Sir Patrick Vallance says “the timing of the peak is uncertain”, but there should be a peak and the start of some plateau over August.

He adds: “We would like to see some flattening of this, some decrease in the trajectory. Ideally you’d like to see this coming down by September as the return of schools would be another pressure on top of that.”

PM set to reshuffle cabinet - who could be in and out?

  PM set to reshuffle cabinet - who could be in and out? The prime minister is set to reshuffle his cabinet today, a Downing Street source has said. © Other Boris Johnson is expected to reshuffle his cabinet "The PM will today conduct a reshuffle to put in place a strong and united team to build back better from the pandemic," the source said. © Imagebridge Gavin Williamson oversaw a tumultuous time for pupils "Yesterday the PM set out his plan for managing COVID during the autumn and winter."But the government must also redouble our efforts to deliver on the people's priorities.

JVT says there is a huge uncertainty about how high the peak will be. So much of it will be driven by human behaviour over next month and a half.

“If we are gradual and cautious and don't tear the pants out of it just because we are excited to have our freedoms back. We will materially affect the shape of this curve. It's in the hands of the public.”Boris Johnson says we don’t want to close nightclubs, he repeats “if not now then when?”

Fergus Walsh from BBC says PM is offering vaccine ultimatum to young

17:31 , Barney Davis

Boris Johnson says “young people have been heroic in this pandemic” to protect the elder generations and NHS.

He adds they have faced huge restrictions on their liberties: “We have to make sure that generation bounces back as soon as possible.”

He says the best way to end lockdown is to get vaccinated.

He says 3 million of 18-30’s yet to take it up and urges young to get vaccinated to “get back the freedoms they love”.

JVT says he could create a superspreading event by inviting a bunch of people to his garden shed for a beer with the door closed.

David from Wiltshire asks how many people with COVID have had the vaccine?

17:26 , Barney Davis

Boris Johnson does not have the figure on the top of his head though says number of fully vaccinated people getting cases is rising.

Sir Patrick Vallance says it is inevitable that more double jabbed will go to hospital as more people are vaccinated because no vaccine has 100% efficacy.

He says that about 60% of cases in hospitals now have had a double jab.

Toby asks double vaccinated in Italy can’t access NHS Covid passport

17:22 , Barney Davis

Toby says he has been fully vaccinated in Italy but can’t get an NHS COVID pass.

England’s deputy medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam says there is a great deal of work being done.

He says: “It has to be done in a rational careful way and it has to be fair for all and we’re working as hard as we can to get there.”

PM says COP26 talks 'simply must succeed' as climate conference nears

  PM says COP26 talks 'simply must succeed' as climate conference nears Glasgow climate talks "simply must succeed", Boris Johnson has said, as he urged representatives to arrive at COP26 in November armed with the commitments needed to "take us to net zero sooner rather than later".Speaking ahead of the UN General Assembly in the US next week, and with only a few weeks to go until the major climate summit hosted by the UK, the prime minister called on world leaders to be ambitious in their promises to keep within reach the aim of limiting the warming of the planet to 1.5C.

Hospitalisations will increase to 1,000 a day

17:20 , Barney Davis

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance says cases are likely to continue rising as England has reached step four of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Deaths will increase as well over the next few weeks.

But the third slide shows how the number of people dying who tested positive for COVID remains low, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 42.

The Pfizer vaccine will be offered to all children and young people eligible for a Covid jab

17:16 , Barney Davis

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told the Commons: “Together with health ministers in all parts of the United Kingdom, the secretary of state has accepted this advice and asked the NHS to put it into action as soon as possible.

“As we do this we will be using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the only vaccine in the UK that has been clinically authorised for people between the ages of 12 and 17.

“I know that people will have questions about what it means for them and their children, but I can assure them that nobody needs to come forward at this stage. The NHS will get in touch with them at the right time and they will make sure that the jabs are delivered in a setting that meets their complex needs.”

Boris Johnson says he doesn’t want to close nightclubs again so they must use NHS passport as means of entry from September

17:15 , Barney Davis

By the end of September - when all over 18s have been offered the vaccine - the PM is planning to make the NHS vaccine passport essential for entry.

He says proof of a negative test “will no longer be enough”.

“We want people to take back their freedoms...we want this country to take the fruits of our enormous vaccination campaign to do that we must remain cautious and must get vaccinated.”

Boris Johnson tries to explain why he is going ahead with Freedom Day

17:11 , Barney Davis

Even though cases are increasing rapidly Boris Johnson wants to remind people who want to keep restrictions why he is going ahead with “Freedom Day”.

He says: “The logic remains the same if we don’t open up now we will face conditions in tougher winter months where virus has the advantage.

He adds: “If not now, when?”The PM says thanks to vaccines hospitalisations and deaths “still within margins” of scientists predictions for this stage of road map.

He adds he knows how frustrating it is to be pinged from his isolation unit at Chequers.

The PM says contacts that are pinged are 5x more likely to have the virus.

Fully vaccinated only at nightclubs from September

17:06 , Barney Davis

Full vaccination will be a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues with large crowds from the autumn, according to the vaccines minister.

Nadhim Zahawi encouraged businesses to “use the NHS Covid pass in the weeks ahead”, adding in the Commons: “We will be keeping a close watch on how it is used by venues and reserve the right to mandate if necessary.

“By the end of September everyone aged 18 and over will have the chance to receive full vaccination and the additional two weeks for that protection to really take hold.

“So at that point we plan to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.

“Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient.

“Any decisions will of course be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and we will ensure that appropriate exemptions for those who have genuine medical reasons of why they can’t get vaccinated, and I’m clear we will always look at the evidence available and do all we can to ensure people can continue to do the things they love.”

Boris Johnson to appear virtually from isolation for press briefing on so-called ‘Freedom Day’

17:01 , Barney Davis

Boris Johnson will virtually lead a Government press conference on Monday at 5pm to mark the lifting of most legal coronavirus restrictions in England, No 10 has confirmed.

The Prime Minister will appear via video link from his official country residence Chequers where he is in self-isolation.

UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England’s deputy medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam will also contribute from Downing Street.

Speaker urges MPs to wear face coverings amid worries over numbers isolating

16:17 , Tom Ambrose

The Commons Speaker has pleaded with MPs to continue wearing face coverings and “not push the limits for the sake of it” following the easing of restrictions in England.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the chamber he was “very worried” after a “large number” people were contacted to isolate, with Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton among those unable to attend.

Unions representing staff based in Parliament have previously written to the Speaker to push him to reconsider guidance for post-July 19, in which politicians will be encouraged to wear a mask but will not be mandated to have one on.

It is compulsory, however, for staff on the estate to continue to have to wear a covering.

In reply to the unions, Sir Lindsay last week said there was “no meaningful way” for him to force MPs to wear a face covering from Monday.

‘Freedom day has turned into closure day’ - Andrew Lloyd Webber

16:11 , Tom Ambrose

Andrew Lloyd Webber has said “freedom day has turned into closure day” following the cancellation of performances of his West End show Cinderella.

In a statement, the composer announced that Monday’s performance of the musical would not go ahead as a result of a positive coronavirus test result among the production’s staff.

Two performances of the musical at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre were previously axed on Saturday.

It had previously been announced that Monday’s preview show would go ahead.

Lord Lloyd-Webber criticised the “blunt instrument that is the Government’s isolation guidance” as he announced the cancellation.

“We have been forced into a devastating decision which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show,” he added.

“Cinderella was ready to go. My sadness for our cast and crew, our loyal audience and the industry I have been fighting for is impossible to put into words.”

Covid cases down on yesterday, as 19 more deaths confirmed

16:09 , Tom Ambrose

There were 39,950 new Covid cases in the UK today, compared with 48,161 yesterday, according to official data.

The government confirmed a further 19 died, compared to 25 yesterday.

For more, see our story here.

Travel rules ‘thrown into chaos’ - Labour

15:58 , Tom Ambrose

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon told the Commons: “Again the Government’s travel rules have been thrown into chaos and confusion. The British people, the travel industry and members of this House are running out of patience.”

On changes to travel arrangements for France, he added: “We’ve seen reports that say the high rates of the Beta variant are not in fact in mainland France but the Indian Ocean island of Reunion – 6,000 miles away. Can he confirm if this is the case?

“And why have a traffic light system if there are different rules for countries that happen to be in the same category?”

Mr McMahon asked for the Government to publish the full data on a country-by-country basis before asking: “Can he comment on reports over the weekend that travellers from Spain and Greece may well be subjected to the same restrictions as travellers from France?”

Transport minister Robert Courts attacked Labour’s position rather answer the questions.

He said: “I will take no lectures from (Mr McMahon) on confusion and uncertainty, and the irony of the Labour Party calling our position uncertain and confusing won’t, I’m sure, be lost on the House.”

PA Media

Police make 11 arrests at anti-lockdown protest in London

15:37 , Tom Ambrose

Scotland Yard said 11 people have been arrested following an anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protest in Westminster.

The force tweeted: “A number of officers continue to respond to a demonstration in Parliament Square, #Westminster.

“Eleven people have been arrested for a variety of offences. Our policing operation continues, sadly officers have been met with hostility while engaging with crowds.”

No plans to tweak Covid app as thousands isolate on Freedom Day

15:18 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minister is among thousands of people who have been instructed to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive coronavirus case.

Downing Street has confirmed the NHS Covid-19 app will not have its sensitivity tweaked despite industries warning of staff shortages as England lifts almost all coronavirus restrictions.

Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak are among the hundreds of thousands of people currently self-isolating due to being alerted by NHS Test and Trace that they have come into close contact with a positive case.

Hospitality, leisure, food production and retail sectors have complained of having to close premises or cut opening hours because of the number of people being told to stay home for 10 days after being in contact with a person who has tested positive.

But the Government said it does not plan to reduce the sensitivity of the app to avoid people being “pinged”.

Calls for PM to “sack ministers on the spot” for not using Covid-19 app

15:10 , Laura Sharman

The prime minister is under pressure to make his ministers use the NHS Test and Trace app following reports some had deleted it.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said Boris Johnson should ensure his ministers are using the app in the ongoing pingdemic, which has sent thousands of people into self-isolation.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, he said: “If a member of the government refuses to post proof online that they use the Covid-19 tracing app, you should sack them on the spot. No app, no job - simple as that.”

Edward Davey wearing a suit and tie: British Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey appears on BBC TV’s The Andrew Marr Show in London (via REUTERS) © Provided by Evening Standard British Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey appears on BBC TV’s The Andrew Marr Show in London (via REUTERS)

Boris Johnson has not ordered ministers to use Covid-19 Test and Trace

15:04 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson has not ordered his ministers to download the Covid-19 app while a pingdemic sweeps the country.

Asked whether ministers were expected to have the app active, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We think that the app is a really important tool and we would encourage everyone to use it.”

Although a significant number of politicians have downloaded the app, “there is no set requirement”, the spokesman added.

Meanwhile more people are testing positive for coronavirus and their contacts are traced by the app, with business chiefs warning of crippling staff shortages.

The prime minister and chancellor Rishi Sunak are among those isolating after being identified as contacts of health secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for Covid-19.

Covid vaccines recommended for some children

14:55 , Laura Sharman

Covid vaccines are expected to be rolled out to some children after experts recommended making it available to those who are clinically vulnerable or nearly 18.

Ministers are expected to announce the programme will only be extended to vulnerable children between the ages of 12 and 15 plus 17-year-olds who are within three months of their 18th birthday.

Pubs and shops forced to shut as pingdemic causes staff shortages

14:41 , Laura Sharman

Pub giant Greene King has been forced to shut 33 pubs in the past week while retail and leisure bosses have also faced closures after staff were told to isolate by the NHS Covid app.

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said he believes current self-isolation rules need reformed after he was forced to shut some pubs or reduce opening hours.

Latest figures showed more than half a million people in England and Wales were notified by the NHS app to self-isolate in the week up to July 1.

People who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus must self-isolate for 10 days.

Mr Mackenzie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is a problem and I think it could get worse. It is disruptive to the business.

“We had to close, in the last seven days, 33 pubs due to lack of staff because of self-isolation.“

Sadiq Khan tells London commuters to keep wearing face masks

14:06 , Laura Sharman

The Mayor of London is urging commuters to keep on wearing face masks on public transport in the capital with the arrival of England’s Freedom Day.

Some Londoners were seen without masks on the Tube network on Monday morning while others continued to wear them amid concerns over rising Covid case rates.

Face coverings are no longer required by law on public transport but are required as a “condition of carriage” on Transport for London (TfL) services.

This means enforcement officers are able to deny access or eject passengers found to be non-compliant while using the TfL network.

Sadiq Khan estimated that more than 90% of people were following the rules during his commute on Monday.

“The vast majority of people were wearing masks,” he said.

“I’m disappointed that it is no longer national legislation. The good news is that it appears that those visiting London are doing the right thing.”

He added: “I think we should recognise this virus is still here. On an average day there are 4,000 new cases.”

a man wearing a suit and tie: Sadiq Khan urged commuters to continue to wear face masks (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Sadiq Khan urged commuters to continue to wear face masks (PA)

Czech athlete becomes third in Olympic village to test positive for Covid

13:51 , Laura Sharman

A Czech beach volleyball player has become the third athlete to test positive for coronavirus at the Olympic Village.

The Czech Olympic Committee confirmed that Ondrej Perusic has returned a positive sample which could rule him out of the Games.

Meanwhile Japanese media reported that a teenage member of the US female gymnastics team tested positive at their training base in Chiba.

Anti-lockdown protestors block roads outside Parliament chanting for freedom

13:47 , Laura Sharman

Protestors took to Westminster with calls for freedom today, as coronavirus rules lifted across England.

Roads were blocked and traffic was forced to a standstill on Freedom Day on Monday when demonstrators gathered and chanted in Parliament Square.

The group then moved to spread onto the road and up to the gates of the Palace of Westminster, leading Metropolitan Police officers to urge protesters to move out of the road.

An officer was seen to put a lock on a gate at the entrance to Parliament while those outside held signs with anti-vaccination and anti-police messages, with some chanting “shame on police” and “arrest Boris Johnson”.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera:  (Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard (Getty Images)

Coco Gauff withdraws from Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for Covid

13:25 , Laura Sharman

Coco Gauff has become the latest tennis star to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics, after it was revealed that she tested positive for coronavirus.

The 17-year-old announced her withdrawal from the Games on Twitter.

“I’m disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for Covid and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” she said.

“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.”

a woman hitting a ball with a racket:  (AP) © Provided by Evening Standard (AP)

UK headed for biggest infection wave yet as England celebrates Freedom Day

13:20 , Laura Sharman

The UK is facing the largest wave of coronavirus it has ever seen, according to a SAGE expert.

Professor Andrew Hayward said remaining cautious is the key in the unlocking of social distancing rules on July 19.

“So-called Freedom Day today really is a time when we still do need to exercise a great deal of caution,” he told Sky News.

“We are heading into the biggest wave of Covid infection that we’ve ever seen.

“Even though the vaccine will substantially reduce the number of deaths and hospitalisations, it’s still likely that we will see somewhere in the low tens of thousands of deaths, even if we’re cautious.

“That could move into the middle, high tens of thousands of deaths if we just went back to normal activity.

“Remaining cautious is really the key thing in this unlocking of legal restrictions.”

The big shrink: Spending at pubs and restaurants way below pre-pandemic levels

13:04 , Laura Sharman

People are still spending around a third less money in the hospitality sector than they were before the pandemic, despite the easing of lockdown.

Companies have reported waning confidence, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The report explores the impact Covid has had on the sector which is still taking a heavy financial toll after the reopening of hotels, pubs and restaurants.

Looking at card transactions for the week to June 27, researchers found spending on pubs and restaurants has recovered significantly from its low during the first lockdown but is still 36% below its pre-pandemic level.

The figures also showed business turnover recovered to £6.9 billion in May 2021 after the partial easing of restrictions but this was still around a quarter below the same period in 2019.

Hugh Stickland, senior economist at the ONS, said: “Today’s figures show that while spending on food, drink and accommodation have recovered somewhat from the rock-bottom seen during the first lockdown, it still has quite a way to go.

“Confidence about the future remains low across hospitality, possibly further hit by the delay to full reopening, showing the pressure the sector is under.”

Ryanair boss says he would turn off “rubbish” NHS Covid app

12:37 , Laura Sharman

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has admitted he would turn the NHS Covid app off because it is “complete rubbish”.

The chief executive of the Dublin-based airline group said the app is creating too much caution.

More than half a million people were instructed to self-isolate by the app, which is available in England and Wales, during the first week of July.

A number of employers have warned of a staffing crisis due to the pingdemic.

Michael O'Leary wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary (PA)

Mr O’Leary told Sky News: “I would turn it off, I think it’s complete rubbish. You’re pinging people many of whom who are double jabbed.

“There’s apps pinging all over the place, we don’t need that type of caution, I think, when 60%-70% of the adult population have been vaccinated.

“I would switch off the app, I don’t think it has any effect any more.”

Vaccinated should not need to isolate, says Blair

12:07 , Leah Sinclair

Tony Blair has said those who are vaccinated should not need to isolate.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the former prime minister says while he appreciates how hard it is to make the right decisions during the pandemic, there is a “danger of creating confusion”.

Tony Blair wearing a suit and tie: Former prime minister Tony Blair (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire) © Provided by Evening Standard Former prime minister Tony Blair (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

“The result is that we risk isolating large numbers who have not got the disease and yet who need to work – especially in public services – doing immense damage to the economy in the process; while at the same time allowing people to move about without any restriction when this is certain to push up the infection rate.

“This makes no sense.”

He says it would be “sensible” to treat the vaccinated and unvaccinated differently and the balance of risk needs to be applied consistently.

Many people plan to avoid parties, clubs and theatres despite easing of restrictions

12:04 , Leah Sinclair

Less than a third of adults would be comfortable attending a party with a lot of people, despite all Covid restrictions easing in England today, a poll has found.

Some 31 per cent of people would be happy going to a party in the next few weeks, compared with 53 per cent who said they would not be, a YouGov poll for The Times showed.

The research also found that just over 34 per cent said they would be comfortable visiting the theatre, but 48 per cent would not.

Only 20 per cent of people aged between 18 and 24 said that they would be happy going to a nightclub, and 53per cent said would not.

Just 31 per cent thought that lifting restrictions was the “right thing to do”, while 55 per cent said it was wrong.

Anti-vaccine protesters rally outside Parliament

12:03 , Leah Sinclair

Police have been urging anti-vaccine protesters to move out of the road in front of the Houses of Parliament as traffic was brought to a standstill.

Demonstrators chanted “shame on police” and “arrest Boris Johnson” as the rally moved from Parliament Square to the Palace of Westminster.

According to Sky News, a police officer was seen to put a lock on a gate at the entrance to Parliament while those outside held signs with anti-vaccination and anti-police messages.

“Not a great look” for Boris Johnson to be isolating on Freedom Day, says minister

11:30 , Laura Sharman

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said that it is “not a great look” for Boris Johnson to be self-isolating on Freedom Day.

Reacting to the prime minister’s precarious situation, he told LBC: “It’s not a great look but he has to do what everyone else is doing.”

Mr Kwarteng also confirmed that he had the NHS Covid app and would “keep it on”.

“I might be pinged and then I’ll self-isolate, simple as that.”

Kwasi Kwarteng wearing a suit and tie: Kwasi Kwarteng (PA Archive) © Provided by Evening Standard Kwasi Kwarteng (PA Archive)

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderalla to resume in West End after Covid cancellations

10:50 , Laura Sharman

Performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new Cinderella musical will resume on Monday after two shows were axed due to Covid.

Producers of the highly anticipated show apologised for the “enormous disappointment and inconvenience” caused when both the matinee and evening performances were cancelled at the weekend.

Monday night’s preview show will now go ahead as planned, before the gala opening night on Tuesday.

A statement on Saturday said: “It is with huge frustration and disappointment that we have to announce the cancellation of both Cinderella shows today, Saturday 17 July, whilst we take Covid-related precautionary measures.

“We hope to be able to resume our scheduled performances on Monday, but appreciate the enormous disappointment and inconvenience this will cause.”

The new production, which is being staged at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, opened last month with an audience capacity of 50% after the impresario rejected prime minister Boris Johnson’s offer for the show to be included in the live events pilot scheme.

Lord Lloyd-Webber previously announced plans to stage a special Freedom Day show on July 19, with proceeds donated to St John Ambulance and the NHS.

“No movement” on Track and Trace app despite thousands being pinged to self isolate

10:24 , Laura Sharman

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has acknowledged the number of workers being pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app was the “single biggest issue” being raised with him by company bosses.

But there is no movement on the situation at present with no wider relaxation of self-isolation rules expected before August 16, he added.

He told LBC “I accept it’s a difficult situation” but “there isn’t any movement on it”.

“I said I would make representations in government, I said I would try and see what could be done,” he added.

“We have taken a collective decision. There are lots of different views but we took a collective decision, I think this is the right decision.”

Cancer patients say Freedom Day is meaningless and really frightening

09:47 , Laura Sharman

People living with cancer in England say Freedom Day, marking an end to the remaining coronavirus restrictions, is “meaningless” and “really frightening”.

Those with the illness say they, like others, are chomping at the bit to return to normal life but have urged more care and caution to be taken to protect the vulnerable.

From Monday, restrictions such as limits on gatherings and social distancing guidance will no longer be legal requirements, but recommendations on measures such as face coverings will remain.

Lara Montgomery, who was diagnosed with womb cancer in 2019, said the term Freedom Day did not “capture the feeling of the whole country”.

“I think the terminology of Freedom Day is awful, it just doesn’t capture the feeling of the whole country,” she added.

“For a lot of people... it’s not freedom day at all. People are just going to become too relaxed (and) the situation for people like ourselves... is going to become really frightening.”

Ms Montgomery said that with restrictions lifting, she felt growing fear that the virus will spread uncontrollably, as many people would choose not to continue with voluntary measures.

Maskless tube travellers in London on Freedom Day

09:44 , Laura Sharman

Many Londoners returned to the tube on Freedom Day, with some seen not wearing masks.

Commuters packed onto the Jubilee Line during the morning rush hour where passengers sat shoulder to shoulder, many not wearing a face covering.

Wearing a face mask is no longer a legal requirement when travelling on public transport or shopping in England.

However, London Mayor Sadiq Khan asked Transport for London that they remain mandatory on all its services, except for those who are exempt.

a group of people sitting in a chair talking on a cell phone:  (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard (PA) a group of people sitting at a bus stop: Jubilee Line passengers on the 8.12am train to Westminster (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Jubilee Line passengers on the 8.12am train to Westminster (PA)

Katie Hopkins to be deported from Australia for breaking quarantine rules

09:07 , Laura Sharman

The Australian government has ordered Katie Hopkins to be deported after her “shameful” boast about flouting quarantine rules while in the country to appear on Big Brother VIP.

The former Apprentice star turned far-right commentator arrived in Australia last week and was immediately made to self isolate for two weeks in a government-mandated hotel, as per pandemic regulations.

But over the weekend, the 46-year-old reportedly said in a since-deleted Instagram live video that she was deliberately disobeying quarantine rules by taunting guards and opening her hotel room door without a mask.

Australian regulations dictate people in quarantine are not permitted to open their door until 30 seconds after their meals have been delivered, and must wear masks when their doors are open.

Ms Hopkins’s comments sparked outrage as Australia battles a Covid surge which has led to its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, being placed into lockdown.

Katie Hopkins walking down a street: Katie Hopkins has been ordered out of Australia (Danny Lawson/PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Katie Hopkins has been ordered out of Australia (Danny Lawson/PA)

Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews said on Monday that Hopkins would be deported for her “appalling” behaviour, which also led Big Brother producers to condemn her actions and confirm she would not take part in the show.

“It’s appalling that this individual behaved the way that she did and she will be leaving,” she told Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We will be getting her out of the country as soon as we can arrange that. The fact that she was out there boasting about breaching quarantine was just appalling.”

Vaccine minister denies government taking the public for “fools” as PM forced to isolate

08:56 , Laura Sharman

Nadhim Zahawi denied the government has been taking the public for “fools” after insisting that the prime minister only considered entering a pilot scheme to avoid having to self-isolate before deciding to stick to the rules.

The vaccine minister’s comments came despite Number 10 putting out a statement on Sunday confirming that Boris Johnson would use the quarantine exemption before a sudden U-turn.

Put to him that it was public anger over the decision that forced Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to quarantine instead, Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No-one is taking anyone for fools.

“Every decision the Prime Minister has had to make throughout this pandemic has been a tough decision - there are no easy options here.”

Mr Zahawi said the Cabinet Office and Downing Street will “no longer be on the pilot scheme”.

The minister said he was “very much briefed” that Transport for London, Network Rail and Heathrow had been part of the scheme, despite TfL challenging that it had been approved.

Commuters arrive at London Waterloo station on Freedom Day

08:53 , Laura Sharman

Train passengers were seen arriving at major London stations on Freedom Day which marked the end of compulsory face masks and working from home guidance.

However, masks are to remain mandatory on Transport for London (TfL) services as a condition of carriage.

 (Lucy Young) © Provided by Evening Standard (Lucy Young)

Masks off at midnight

08:37 , Laura Sharman

Partygoers were quick off the mark to welcome in Freedom Day and drop their masks as nightclubs reopened.

Despite the continued rise of Covid rates in England, the legal requirement of wearing face masks was lifted as Sunday passed into Monday and clubbers returned to the dancefloor.

The nightlife industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with clubs having been forced to remain closed since March 2020.

It is hoped the relaunch will bring an economic boost to the country following celebratory scenes at midnight.

Richie Gray et al. posing for a photo: Nightclubbers queue outside Pryzm in Brighton (Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard Nightclubbers queue outside Pryzm in Brighton (Getty Images)

France’s black market in fake coronavirus jabs

08:22 , Laura Sharman

French nurses are pretending to vaccinate people against Coronavirus for as little as £250 in cash so they can obtain fake travel passes, a shocking new investigation reveals today.

The growing black market in the documents is revealed by the Parisien newspaper as infection rates rise, and Britain clamps down on travellers arriving from its near-neighbour.

Low-paid French health service staff are making the equivalent of more than £4,000-a-month by pretending to inject people, the paper reports.

‘Certain vaccination centres, flagships of the fights against Covid-19, are now plagued by corruption,’ the Parisien reports in its Monday edition.

Proof of a double vaccination and negative test result is becoming essential for anyone who wants to travel out of France, including to countries such as the UK.

The official passes are meant to prove that a person is fully vaccinated, and can take the form of a printed document, or an entry on France’s Anti-Covid App.

But the Parisien reports that it found numerous centres in the greater Paris area selling the fakes after pretending to jab people.

This is despite those found guilty of assisting in the trafficking of forged official documents risking three years in prison and a fine equivalent to £38,000.

Nightclubs: Hour-long queues as dancers arrive before midnight reopening

08:00 , Laura Sharman Clubbers queue to get in to Egg nightclub in London (Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard Clubbers queue to get in to Egg nightclub in London (Getty Images)

Watch nightclubbers return to the dance floor on Freedom Day

07:53 , Laura Sharman

Nightclub reopening: “Freedom Eve is what we’re calling it"

07:49 , Laura Sharman

Bar owner Terry George said: “It feels so special. People are treating it like a very special occasion, like a New Year’s Eve type affair. Freedom Eve is what we’re calling it.

“Finally, we’re going to be able to dance. That’s the biggest thing, which is kind of a little bit sad really, because we’re given back something that’s our given right, to be able to dance in a bar, in a club.”

Bar Fibre patron Lorna Feeney, 44, of Leeds, said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic. That’s my life, my soul.

“I love dancing. It bonds me, it’s amazing, it makes me feel so good.

“It’s about listening to the music and really feeling it, having a dance and not having to worry about anything that’s going on - not sitting on your chair and getting fat.”

a group of people sitting on a sidewalk: Nightclubbers in Leeds were excited to be out and about again (Ioannis Alexopoulos / PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Nightclubbers in Leeds were excited to be out and about again (Ioannis Alexopoulos / PA)

Nightclub revellers describe midnight reopening as “like New Year”

07:33 , Laura Sharman

Excited revellers described the midnight reopening of nightclubs as “like New Year” as they queued up for their first night out dancing since the start of the pandemic.

Some said they had “missed the buzz” of being out while others admitted they were already bored of queueing and needed the toilet.

It comes as the remaining coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England on Monday, allowing venues such as nightclubs to finally welcome back patrons.

Outside Egg nightclub in north London, clubbers queued for more than an hour and cheered as the clock struck midnight, following a countdown from 10.

Fundraiser Chloe Waite, 37, who was first in the queue, said the occasion was “something we’re going to remember for a long time.”

“It’s going to be a special night,” she said.

“For me this is a New Year’s-type event and something we’re going to remember for a long, long time and we might not get the opportunity for a while.”

a group of people posing for the camera: People queuing for Bar Fibre in Leeds (PA Wire) © Provided by Evening Standard People queuing for Bar Fibre in Leeds (PA Wire)

Pingdemic threatens to cripple economy

07:28 , Laura Sharman

Critics fear that rising coronavirus cases and a growing pingdemic could threaten the economy and a true return to normal.

Millions of people could be forced to isolate by NHS Track and Trace, they predict.

It comes as all remaining legal lockdown rules are lifted in England on Freedom Day today.

Prime minister Boris Johnson forged ahead with plans to move England to Step 4 which means nightclubs can finally open for the first time since March 2020.

But critics say the move will lead to more deaths and cases of debilitating long Covid, while increasing the risks to clinically vulnerable people.

Sunday saw 48,161 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, with a similar figure recorded on Saturday, according to government figures.

Boris Johnson spends Freedom Day in isolation

07:20 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson is spending Freedom Day in self-isolation after he was pinged by the NHS Test and Trace app.

The prime minister will complete quarantine at his official country residence at Chequers following a contact with health secretary Sajid javid who subsequently tested positive for the virus.

Mr Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak, who also met Mr Javid on Friday, initially tried to get round the requirement to quarantine by saying they would join a daily workplace testing programme being trialled by the Cabinet Office.

However they were forced into a hasty U-turn amid widespread public anger at their “special treatment” while tens of thousands of people were being forced to miss work or school and stay home.

Mr Johnson will self-isolate until July 26, which will include the final Prime Minister’s Questions before the Commons goes into recess, and the two-year anniversary of him entering Number 10, which is on Saturday.

PM urges caution over end of lockdown on Freedom Day

07:13 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson is urging people to take care while enjoying their new freedoms as most lockdown rules are lifted in England today.

“Please, please, please be cautious. Go forward into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people,” the prime minister said.

Social distancing rules came to an end at one minute past midnight despite soaring coronavirus cases.

The nation has bid farewell to limits on gathering, work from home guidance and compulsory face masks in shops and on public transport.

Nightclubs, theatres and restaurants can fully reopen, while pubs are no longer restricted to table service only.

However, with rising Covid-19 cases and renewed warnings about the pressure on the NHS, there was no mood of celebration in government.

NHS workers spared quarantine in exceptional circumstances

07:01 , Laura Sharman

Frontline NHS staff in England who are fully vaccinated could be allowed to carry on working if they are pinged by the Covid contact tracing app, the government has said.

The move, which also applies to frontline social care workers, comes amid fears that rising staff absences due to the need to self isolate is putting unsustainable pressure on health care services.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the exemption for NHS staff would only apply in exceptional circumstances where the absence of staff could lead to a significant risk of harm.

Staff who are contacted by the app and told to quarantine because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus will still need a negative PCR test before they can resume work.

Social distancing rules came to an end in England this morning on Freedom Day, but critics say the economy is under threat by a growing “pingdemic” whereby millions of people could be forced to quarantine by NHS Track and Trace.

Nightclubs open their doors at midnight


Excited revellers described the midnight reopening of nightclubs as "like New Year" as they queued up for their first night out dancing since the start of the pandemic.

Some said they had "missed the buzz" of being out while others admitted they were already bored of queueing and needed the toilet.

Outside Egg nightclub in north London clubbers queued for more than an hour and cheered as the clock struck midnight, following a countdown from 10.

Fundraiser Chloe Waite, 37, who was first in the queue, said the occasion was "something we're going to remember for a long time."

"It's going to be a special night," she told the PA news agency.

"For me this is a New Year's-type event and something we're going to remember for a long, long time and we might not get the opportunity for a while."

Gabriel Wildsmith, 26, a video producer from London, who joined Ms Waite at the front of the line said he had missed "meeting random people" and making friends.

"I'm so excited I've been waiting for this for so long ... basically since we locked down," he said.

"I love going to clubs and I love meeting random people. You make great friends and you couldn't do that until tonight."

He added: "I've been here for an hour, I'm really keen."

PM says COP26 talks 'simply must succeed' as climate conference nears .
Glasgow climate talks "simply must succeed", Boris Johnson has said, as he urged representatives to arrive at COP26 in November armed with the commitments needed to "take us to net zero sooner rather than later".Speaking ahead of the UN General Assembly in the US next week, and with only a few weeks to go until the major climate summit hosted by the UK, the prime minister called on world leaders to be ambitious in their promises to keep within reach the aim of limiting the warming of the planet to 1.5C.

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