Covid news — live: Schools prepare to reopen as PM ‘very hopeful’ return will go to plan

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Hope for summer holidays but Britons should prepare for hard winter, Dr Susan Hopkins says

Boris Johnson claimed that “we are ready” for the return of pupils to school on Monday as he argued that the risk to children was higher staying at home.

The prime minister said he was “very hopeful” that the first step in his roadmap - which also includes the loosening of some restrictions - would go to plan.

“I’m massively grateful to parents who have put up with so much throughout the pandemic and teachers who have done an amazing job of keeping going,” he added.

“I do think we are ready, I think people want to go back, they feel it, they feel the need for it.”

Mr Johnson also defended his controversial pay offer to “heroic” NHS staff, suggesting his government had given “as much as we can”.

Nursing leaders and unions expressed anger last week when it emerged ministers had recommended a 1 per cent pay rise.

Meanwhile a leading government adviser has predicted Britons will all have a summer holiday this year – but warned the NHS will have to prepare for a possible “hard winter” ahead.

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Behind the headline review on the week in health

Public Health England’s response director for Covid-19, Dr Susan Hopkins, told The Andrew Marr Show she thought “we will hopefully all have summer holidays” but we must also have “options available for the country in case things are not as satisfactory as we’d all like them to be”.


‘Risk is in not going back to school’, says PM

Boris Johnson has said he is “very hopeful” the return of pupils to school tomorrow will go to plan - despite concerns raised by parents and teaching unions.

Pupils in England will receive face-to-face teaching in classrooms for the first time in two months as part of the first stage of lockdown easing.

Some scientists have raised concerns the increased levels of interaction could push the reproduction number - the R value - above 1, causing coronavirus to spread faster.

However the prime minister echoed the warnings of education experts that more damage was being done to pupils by keeping them at home.

Speaking to broadcasters on Sunday, Mr Johnson said: “You ask about the risk (of schools returning) - I think the risk is actually in not going back to school tomorrow given all the suffering, all the loss of learning we have seen.”

Peter Stubley7 March 2021 19:52


Longer school day to help children ‘catch up’?

A longer school day could be introduced to help children ‘catch up’ after lockdown, education secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested.

The proposal is one of a number being examined as schools prepare to open their doors tomorrow for the first time since January.

Peter Stubley7 March 2021 19:38


Queen highlights importance of staying in touch with friends and family

The Queen has stressed how important it is to stay in touch with family and friends during the coronavirus pandemic, just hours before Harry and Meghan’s controversial Oprah interview airs.

She also paid tribute to the front-line workers helping in the fight against Covid-19 across the Commonwealth.

Peter Stubley7 March 2021 19:02


Covid fines at Rangers celebrations in Glasgow

Police have issued Covid fines and made a “small number” of arrests after fans gathered in Glasgow to celebrate Rangers winning the Scottish Premiership.

Police Scotland’s Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland said: “We are continuing to police the ongoing gatherings of football supporters in both George Square and outside Ibrox stadium today.

“Public safety remains our utmost priority and I would again remind fans that, in line with the current Scottish Government coronavirus guidelines, all gatherings are currently restricted.

“Officers have made a small number of arrests and issued fixed penalty notices for breaches of the coronavirus restrictions, minor incidents of disorder and the use of pyrotechnic devices.

“We will continue with an appropriate policing response, as officers engage with those present, explain and encourage them to comply with the restrictions. Where appropriate, we have moved to enforcement and will continue to do so.”

Peter Stubley7 March 2021 18:29


Rangers fans ‘risk lives’ over title celebrations, says Sturgeon

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has called on Rangers fans to cease public gatherings in the aftermath of the club’s Scottish Premiership title win.

Steven Gerrard’s side ended a 10-year wait for the top-flight trophy on Sunday as Celtic drew with Dundee United, ensuring ‘Gers’ lead at the top of the table will remain unassailable for what’s left of the season.

Peter Stubley7 March 2021 18:05


‘Back to life’: Bars and restaurants reopen as Israel lifts restrictions

Israel has removed many of its remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions less than three weeks before the country’s fourth general election in two years.

Bars and restaurants, event halls, sporting events, hotels and all primary and secondary schools that had been closed to the public for months were permitted to reopen today. Some restrictions remained on crowd sizes, and certain places were open to the vaccinated only.

Israel, a world leader in vaccinations per capita, has fully immunized nearly 40 per cent of its population in just over two months.

“We’re very happy that this day came. We’ve been preparing for this day for a very long time,” said Assaf Obsfeld, a Jerusalem coffee shop owner who was checking customers to ensure they had been vaccinated.

“It’s a stressful situation because we really don’t know how to handle everybody,” he said.

The government of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the easing of limitations Saturday night, including the reopening of the main international airport to a limited number of incoming passengers each day.

Mr Netanyahu tweeted a picture of himself enjoying a drink at a cafe, with the words: “Back to life!”

Peter Stubley7 March 2021 17:44


Norway faces tighter restrictions

Norway will likely need stronger restrictions to combat the latest resurgence in coronavirus infections, Minister Erna Solberg said in a televised speech on Sunday.

“Ahead of us is another hill to climb, probably with tighter national measures before we can ease and then lift the restrictions,” she said.

Peter Stubley7 March 2021 17:29


Covid dashboard incorrectly states ‘zero deaths’ in latest update

The government’s official Covid dashboard has hit another technical issue - showing that zero deaths were reported in the latest daily figures.

A notice on the website page reads: “Owing to processing issues for deaths in England, the numbers of deaths throughout the UK will be updated later. In the meantime, the number of newly reported deaths for 7 March 2021 may incorrectly show as zero. “

The dashboard also shows that a further 5,177 cases were reported in the UK, as the number of infections continued to decline across the country.

More than 22.2 million people have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, up by 416,834 on yesterday’s total.

Peter Stubley7 March 2021 17:16


Sturgeon warns celebrating Rangers fans to go home

Scotland's first minister has congratulated Rangers on winning the Scottish Premiership title but urged fans who have gathered to celebrate to go home.

Nicola Sturgeon warned the mass gatherings could delay the easing of coronavirus lockdown.

She tweeted: "I congratulate RangersFC on the title win & recognise what a moment this is for fans.

"But gathering in crowds just now risks lives, and could delay exit from lockdown for everyone else.

"If those gathering care at all about the safety of others & the country, they will go home."

Chiara Giordano7 March 2021 16:48


Spain’s birth rate plummets by a quarter nine months after lockdown

After a year of confinement in lockdown, birth rates in Spain have collapsed with 13,141 fewer newborns registered in December and January than the same period the previous year.

The fall of 22.6 per cent indicates the longer-term impact of the March and April lockdown last year, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. Similar falls in births have also been seen in neighbouring European countries.

Chiara Giordano7 March 2021 16:37

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