UK coronavirus live: disarray after Spain quarantine imposed; pet cat first animal in Britain to test positive

Growing concern more travel plans could be thrown into chaos in coming weeks with sudden changes to restrictions

1.58pm BST

The TUC has said that anyone unable to work from home because they are quarantining should be eligible for statutory sick pay – paid at a much higher level than present. In a statement Frances O’Grady, its general secretary, said:

It’s not holidaymakers’ fault that the guidance has changed. Wherever possible, employers should do the right thing and pay quarantined workers their full pay.

The government must also make it clear that people who can’t work from home during quarantine will be eligible for statutory sick pay.

1.50pm BST

Michael Portillo, the former Conservative cabinet minister whose father came to the UK as a political refugee from Franco’s Spain, told Radio 4’s World at One that the government’s decision to reimpose quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Spain was “an aggressive and unwarranted act” which was “creating maximum confusion and economic damage”

He said that while it might be “reasonable” to impose quarantine on arrivals from Catalonia, because of the high number of cases there, blanket quarantine measures were unjustified. The Canary Islands were as far from Barcelona as Barcelona was from London, he said.

1.37pm BST

Pet owners should not be alarmed by the news that a cat has tested positive for coronavirus, the government says. This is from Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England:

This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.

Tests conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency have confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England.

This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.

1.30pm BST

Here is more from the Defra news release about the pet cat testing positive for coronavirus.

The pet cat was initially diagnosed by a private vet with feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, but the sample was also tested for Sars-CoV-2 as part of a research programme. Follow-up samples tested at the APHA laboratory in Weybridge confirmed the cat was also co-infected with Sars-CoV2 which is the virus known to cause Covid-19 in humans.

Pet owners can access the latest government guidance on how to continue to care for their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.

1.16pm BST

A pet cat has tested positive for coronavirus, the government has said. It is the first case of an animal in the UK having the virus.

In a press release the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:

The infection was confirmed following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) laboratory in Weybridge on Wednesday 22 July.

Although this is the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the UK, there is no evidence to suggest that the animal was involved in transmission of the disease to its owners or that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to people …

This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.

The investigation into this case suggest that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.

12.59pm BST

Police were twice as likely to fine young black and Asian men under the lockdown rules than their white counterparts, according to new figures that underline concerns about racial bias in policing. The statistics were set out in this report by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. My colleague Matthew Weaver has the full story here.

Related: Police in England and Wales ‘twice as likely’ to fine young BAME men during lockdown

12.19pm BST

More than a quarter of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) NHS staff are still waiting for a risk assessment for Covid-19, data suggests. Figures seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) suggest 73% of BAME staff had had a risk assessment in England by 17 July, but in some hospital trusts the figure was just 20%. As PA Media reports, NHS England recommended risk assessments for BAME staff as long ago as April and has now extended the deadline for them to be completed to the end of July.

11.59am BST

The Spanish government is hoping that continuing negotiations with the British government will soon pave the way for Britons to visit the Canary and Balearic islands without having to self-quarantine on their return.

At the moment, the UK government is advising against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain, but the Canaries and Balearics are exempt from the de facto travel ban. However, anyone visiting any part of Spain – including the islands – is currently required to self-isolate for a fortnight when they return to the UK.

We want to use that information to bring confidence and transparency when it comes to taking decisions.

Our opposite numbers around Europe are doing the same thing and keeping us informed about the outbreaks, which are happening across all European countries and not just in Spain.

11.42am BST

Imposing an earlier lockdown in England would have saved lives, according to a report into the high death rate of London bus drivers in the pandemic by a leading expert on health and social inequalities. As my colleague Sarah Boseley reports, male London bus drivers aged 20 to 65 were 3.5 times more likely to die from Covid-19 between March and May than men in other occupations across England and Wales, says Sir Michael Marmot. Sarah’s full story is here.

Related: Earlier lockdown would have saved lives of London bus drivers, says report

11.40am BST

Cancer Research UK has welcomed the government proposal to ban unhealthy food being advertised on TV before 9pm as part of its obesity strategy.

The UK Government has committed to introduce a 9pm watershed for junk food advertising, encouraging brands who’ve been advertising unhealthy food and drink before 9pm to promote a healthier product from their range instead. (1/2)

This is a huge landmark for the nation’s health, as we know that being overweight or obese puts people at risk of many different diseases – including 13 different types of cancer – and disproportionately affects those from poorer backgrounds. (2/2)

11.30am BST

The British Chambers of Commerce has described the snap decision on Saturday to reimpose quarantine restrictions on travellers returning to the UK from Spain as a “hammer blow” to the travel and tourism industries. This is from the BCC’s director general, Adam Marshall. He said:

Abrupt changes to quarantine measures will be yet another hammer blow for the fragile travel and tourism industries, both here in the UK and overseas.

Firms will now have to manage the effects of this unexpected change as returning staff have to quarantine upon their return to the UK. Support measures should be extended to help firms and their employees manage the additional uncertainty generated by this and other government decisions.

11.20am BST

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has urged the government not to start scaling back the furlough scheme next month. From August employers using the scheme will have to start paying national insurance and pensions contributions. But Khan said some firms in London’s cultural and hospitality sector would not be able to cope, and that new figures from HMRC showed the number of workers in London being furloughed rising by 20% in June, taking the total to 1.3 million – 30% of the capital’s eligible workforce.

In a statement Khan said:

We want to do everything we possibly can to get our businesses and venues in London thriving once again, but many are on financial knife edge with social distancing rules meaning a return to normality is still a long way off. The current financial challenges for business in central London and the West End remain particularly acute.

For sectors such as creative industries and hospitality it is still too early for many businesses to pick up the cost of national insurance and pension contributions – I am deeply concerned this will simply accelerate a surge in unemployment in businesses already struggling to cover their costs.

10.43am BST

In a briefing on the obesity strategy announced by the government today (see 9.14am and 9.54am), the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the tax and spending thinktank, says the government’s plan for a ban on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm might only have a limited impact. The IFS says:

It is unlikely that extending advertising restrictions would lead to such a large reduction in the amount of advertising for unhealthy food and drinks that people actually see. This is because firms could increase their advertising of these products after the watershed or on other types of media.

Research has shown that this happened before. Following the introduction of the 2007 ban on advertising food and drink products that are high in fat, sugar or salt during children’s television, restricted adverts were shifted from children’s television to unrestricted non-children’s television.

10.32am BST

The Office for National Statistics has announced that its Covid-19 infection survey is going to be extended to cover Northern Ireland. The survey tracks the incidence of coronavirus not by counting the number of people who fall ill and test positive, but by sending out testing kits by a representative sample of people picked randomly, which means it picks up asymptomatic cases as well as symptomatic cases.

The Northern Ireland health minister, Robin Swann, said:

I very much welcome the fact that the Covid-19 infection survey is being rolled out to Northern Ireland. The research will complement studies already underway into antibody seroprevalence in different population groups.

The more we know and understand about Covid -19, the better equipped we will be to deal with it.

10.14am BST

Siobhan Benita has announced that she is withdrawing as the Lib Dem candidate for London mayor because she cannot commit to campaigning for another year. The election was due to be held in May, but was postponed until 2021 because of coronavirus. She said:

The demands on a candidate are significant and an election of this scale, particularly in an unpaid role, means it’s really difficult to get other work.

And unfortunately with the delay due to the pandemic I’m simply not able to commit to another full year of campaigning and to leading the type of campaign that I really want to lead in London.

10.00am BST

On the government’s tackling obesity strategy, these are from my colleague Peter Walker (who posted them on Twitter earlier before joining the 48-hour boycott organised as a protest against Twitter’s complacency in relation to antisemitism). Peter is something of a specialist on this topic, with a book out next year on the health benefits of exercise.

Before I vanish from Twitter for 48 hours, final note on obesity strategy:
• All the measures are perfectly good in themselves, but will have minimal real impact on obesity levels.
• If you do want better public health, it’s *much* more about increasing activity levels.


• Encouraging people to exercise isn’t enough – it must be about things like active travel.
• BUT most people will not walk or cycle more unless it feels safe and is pleasant.
• Better health across the nation thus comes down to more human-friendly streets. It *always* does.

9.54am BST

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Ben Quinn.

We have already posted Boris Johnson video about the importance of taking exercise (note the subtle “10” badge in the top left hand corner of the video, matching the logo on a face mask Johnson was wearing in Scotland last week – a sign perhaps that No 10 is not going to let Rishi Sunak win the Downing Street upmarket branding contest without a fight), and our story about the obesity strategy is here, but the full details are now on the government’s website.

9.14am BST

The prime minister – who has previously been a prominent critic of state-backed measures to get people’s weight down – has claimed that the new “Better Health Strategy” would help people “not in an excessively bossy or nannying way”.

A video showing Boris Johnson walking the dog, to the strains of gentle classical music, has been posted on his twitter account, where he adds:

Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier.

If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.

Our Better Health Strategy

.@BorisJohnson has #AdEnough & has committed to reducing how many junk food ads kids see on tv & online by introducing a 9pm watershed!

Big love to all of you who have supported our campaign. Let’s keep up the momentum so we can offer all kids a healthier and better future!

9.05am BST

Here’s a quick look at how some of the morning newspapers treated the government’s announcement on travel Spain:

TIMES: Holidays in turmoil as quarantine is imposed #TomorrowsPapersToday

GUARDIAN: Tourists may face more ‘handbrake restrictions’ #TomorrowsPapersToday

EXPRESS: Millions facing holiday chaos #TomorrowsPapersToday

MIRROR: Holiday hell for millions of Brits #TomorrowsPapersToday

8.58am BST

Ryanair will not reduce the number of flights to and from Spain, despite the British government’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on visitors returning from the country, which the airline’s chief financial officer called “regrettable,” reports Joanna Partridge.

The requirement for all travellers arriving in the UK from Spain to self-isolate for two weeks came into effect at midnight on Sunday, only hours after it was announced.

“I think it is regrettable, very disappointing,” Neil Sorahan told Reuters in an interview after the release of the Irish airline’s quarterly financial results.

8.56am BST

Travellers who are already there and those who were due to go on holiday in Spain this morning and the coming days have been airing their concerns on social media this morning, in some cases taking aim at the approach of individual companies.

@Ryanair so all our extended families flights have been cancelled with @easyJet & @TUIUK for a big family holiday we were going on to Spain on Sunday 2nd Aug. But not you, keeping our money when we can’t go due to work when we get back Pure greed.

#jet2holidays absolute joke, can’t amend your holiday within 48 hours of departure. Well 48 hours before I was due to go,(15:30 on the 27th) Spain was on the safe list but by the time I speak to someone I cant change anything, £2700 lost through no fault of our own

Although I have some sympathy due to the UK governments crap handling of the whole #COVID thing. People on news moaning about not being able to afford 2 weeks quarantine, having been able to afford a holiday to Spain in the first place. If you booked recently #MoreFoolYou

8.48am BST

Airline and travel stocks have tumbled across Europe this morning, amid fears of further travel restrictions. British Airways owner IAG was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 index in London, down 9.5%, while easyJet lost 13% and Ryanair fell 8%.

Europe’s biggest holiday firm, Tui, lost 15% on the German stock market after its UK arm said it would cancel all holidays to mainland Spain up to 9 August, but maintained flights to the Balearic and Canary Islands. German flagship carrier Lufthansa fell more than 7%.

Tui UK’s managing director, Andrew Flintham, told the BBC:
“What we’d really like – and I think we are going to need this going forward as the world evolves – is a nuanced policy.”

You can follow updates on our business live blog here

Related: Gold hits new record amid Covid-19 outbreaks, US-China tensions – business live

8.42am BST

Health and social care minister Helen Whately has been responding to the question of why the UK government imposed a blanket country travel restriction in the case of Spain when the Balearic Islands have lower case numbers than large parts of Britain.

The UK took advice from scientific advisers that the best thing to protect the UK was to go for a blanket quarantine for those coming back from both Spain and the islands, where rates were rising.

What we have said throughout the time we have put in place the policy of travel corridors, the air bridges is that we would need to keep those under review, that we would need to monitor the rates in other countries. That is exactly what we have done in Spain, so we are enacting the policy that we are committed to doing.

8.28am BST

Andrew Flintham, the managing director of Tui in the UK and Ireland, added that the travel industry has been asking the government for a more regionalised approach.

“We have called for a regionalised policy so that if there are areas of a country where the infection rates are lower and safe travel can go ahead then the quarantine would not apply,” he told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

We certainly would be following the advice and introducing protective measures at the border if there are spikes in cases in other countries, absolutely.

But there are two serious questions around this. The first is why we are still employing the … blunt tool of the 14-day quarantining rather than smarter measures and secondly the chaotic nature of the decision-making which certainly hasn’t bred confidence in the government’s approach.

8.23am BST

Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui’s UK and Ireland division, has been talking about how the holiday company responded to the news as it emerged on Saturday about the new two-week quarantine for those returning from Spain.

The travel industry had “breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday” when Spain was not on a watchlist which the government would be expected to update by then.

To find then on Saturday evening was clearly quite challenging for us and everybody in the industry as we had flights leaving on Sunday morning, which we cancelled because we have a guarantee to customers that we won’t put them into quarantine.

8.03am BST

Wearing face coverings does not appear to lead people to abandon hand hygiene, researchers say, suggesting people may not trade off the benefits of one public health measure against another.

Face coverings are now mandatory in many parts of the world, and in England must be worn not only on public transport but also in many shops.

7.48am BST

Reaction has been mixed to the government’s new public information drive aimed at improving the country’s health after the pandemic.

Prof Andrew Goddard, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the approach to restrictions on advertising had not been as all-encompassing as some medics had hoped for, saying it had not taken fully into account how obesity was “the result of biological, genetic and social factors” and not just personal choice.

There is a risk that we once again fall into the trap of mainly focusing on individual responsibility. We’ve been down this path before and it doesn’t work. We know the key to success in addressing obesity and other health inequalities lies in shared responsibility between individuals and the state.

7.38am BST

Junk food adverts could be banned entirely online, after the government’s decision to bar any unhealthy food advertising before 9pm online or on television, as part of its strategy to tackle the “time bomb” of obesity.

The measures have been cautiously welcomed though some health experts are concerned they place too much emphasis on individual responsibility for obesity, rather than addressing health inequalities.

7.35am BST

The UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis could take 18 months longer than expected with hopes of a V-shaped recovery fading fast, according to a leading economic forecaster.

Britain’s economic output is not expected to return to its 2019 level until the end of 2024, the EY Item Club said on Monday in its latest projections on the health of the UK economy. It had previously expected GDP to match fourth-quarter 2019 size in early 2023.

Related: UK’s full economic recovery could take until 2024, says EY report

7.29am BST

Holidaymakers have been warned the government could impose “handbrake restrictions” on more countries beyond Spain in order to stop the spread of coronavirus – with travellers unlikely to be given much warning if further quarantine measures need to be enforced.

The restrictions on travellers returning from Spain after the measures were announced overnight threw summer holiday plans into disarray for British tourists, and will raise fears among those travelling to other European countries that they could face a similar turnaround at a moment’s notice.

7.26am BST

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s live blog on UK coronavirus developments on a day when fears are growing that many more travellers could be caught up in sudden changes to quarantine restrictions implemented by the government.

With the holiday plans of large numbers of people already in Spain now in disarray after it was abruptly announced that they must quarantine for 14 days, the government in Madrid has pushed back by insisting that outbreaks of new Covid-19 cases are isolated and under control.

Continue reading…
Source: theguardian
UK coronavirus live: disarray after Spain quarantine imposed; pet cat first animal in Britain to test positive