On that note, the Tories are plugging away at trying to allay the fears of parents ahead of schools reopening on the airwaves this morning.
Minister for school standards Nick Gibb has insisted the measures schools are taking to minimise the risk of the transmission of Covid-19 are “very effective”.
“We live in a country where education is compulsory and I think parents can be reassured that the measures that schools are taking to make sure that we minimise the risk of the transmission of the virus are very effective,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
If they’ve got extra concerns, that is a matter between the headteacher and the family to make sure that their concerns are taken into account, but it is important – it’s a moral imperative – that young people are back in school, because what the chief medical officers are saying now is that the risk of not being in school outweighs the very small risk of children being in school, particularly given all the control measures, the hygiene, the cleaning that’s taking place in our schools.”
Asked about fines for parents who don’t send their children back to school, he said: “Fines for non-attendance have always been a last resort for headteachers and schools. What matters is that young people are attending school.”
Teenager’s anxiety levels dropped during the coronavirus lockdown, a study by the University of Bristol has suggested.
The report published today by the National Institute for Health Research School (NIHR) is likely to raise questions about the impact of the school environment on young people’s mental health, amid calls from the prime minister for them to return to school next month.
A survey of 1,000 secondary school children in south west England found that 13 to 14-year-olds were less anxious during the lockdown than they had been last October.
Researchers compared findings from the original survey to answers given by the same teenagers in May this year, which showed that both girls and boys recorded lower levels of anxiety.
In October, 54% of 13 to 14-year-old girls and 26% of boys of the same age said they felt anxious, while in May – several weeks after schools had closed to most pupils – the proportion had dropped to 45% of girls and 18% of boys.
On Sunday, the UK’s chief medical adviser Chris Whitty told the BBC that children were more likely to be harmed by not returning to school next month than if they catch coronavirus.
US president Donald Trump is considering fast-tracking an experimental Covid-19 vaccine being created in the UK for use in America ahead of the presidential election, the Financial Times has reported.
Human trials of the coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed at the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca suggest it is safe and includes an immune response to Covid-19.
Early results indicate the jab would provide double protection, generating an immune response which stimulates the body to produce both an antibody and T-cell response.
The FT report said Trump was considering bypassing normal US regulatory standards to fast-track the vaccine, with an option being explored involving the US Food and Drug Administration awarding “emergency use authorisation” in October.
The UK’s travel sector has reached a “critical point” with industry body Abta warning that vital government support needs to be provided to prevent further job losses and company closures.
The steep decline in travel due to anti-Covid measures has already led to the loss of around 39,000 jobs, Abta said, adding that the industry needed “tailored support” to prevent more redundancies.
Abta’s chief executive Mark Tanzer told the BBC:
With the government’s stop start measures, the restart of travel has not gone as hoped for the industry, and sadly businesses continue to be adversely affected and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate.”
Among the firms to already take a huge hit as a result of the crisis are student travel firm STA travel, which ceased trading on Friday, placing 500 jobs at risk, and Hays Travel, which announced 900 job cuts in August.
In July, the UK’s largest tour operator, Tui, said it would be shutting 166 high street shops in the UK and Ireland, affecting up to 900 jobs.
Bingo halls, funfairs, arcades and casinos are allowed to reopen in Scotland from today as the country eases its lockdown further.
People of all ages will also be able to take part in organised outdoor contact sports under the new measures, while concerts and comedy events will be allowed to take place outdoors with enhanced hygiene and restricted audience numbers.
Gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts will not reopen in Scotland until next Monday, although this date is two weeks earlier than the government had originally planned.
In case you missed it yesterday, those organising illegal raves in England could face fines of up to £10,000 under police powers coming into force ahead of the bank holiday on Monday 31 August.
West Midlands deputy police and crime commissioner, Waheed Saleem, has welcomed the news following a steady increase in the unlawful gatherings.
He told BBC Breakfast:
I think people think the virus isn’t out there or it’s not going to affect them and they can carry on enjoying themselves in these gatherings, which isn’t the case actually because these gatherings are not just breeding grounds for the virus, but also breeding grounds for criminality.”
“Although we could have done with these fines far earlier, I think these fines will act as a deterrent of people who are gathering, who are organising these illegal gatherings.
Shadow education secretary Kate Green has accused the government of being “missing in action” over schools policy during the crisis.
“It’s essential children go back to school for… their wellbeing, their learning and their long-term life opportunities,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning.
“But really in terms of making preparations for their return, while headteachers, principals and school staff have been working really hard over the last few weeks of the summer holidays to make the schools safe, I think the Government has been missing in action to be quite honest.”
She added that the government’s “one-size-fits-all” guidance did not take into account that school’s with smaller sites would have to make different arrangements to larger schools with more space due to social distancing.
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has said it will save “a number of jobs” after buying parts of DW Sports for £37m.
The company, which owns Sports Direct and House of Fraser, said the buyout includes some of the company’s stock, but not the brand name DW or the firm’s intellectual property.
Around 1,700 jobs were put at risk when fitness and gymwear firm DW Sports fell into administration at the start of August.
Although Ashley’s firm said it would save some of these, it did not specify how many jobs would be rescued.
More on Boris Johnson’s plea to parents to send their children back to school next month.
The general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, Paul Whiteman, has said fining parents for not sending children back to school would risk the relationships teachers have with families.
He told BBC Breakfast:
I think if the Government puts schools in a position where they have to enforce (fines) I think that damages the relationship between school and home at a point when you need it to be at its absolute strongest, so I don’t see that as the strongest way of encouraging children back into school.”
“I think with a proper engagement from government, real encouragement, and the messages about how safe it is and what to do around those areas of risk – if we acknowledge the risk, quantify it and mitigate it, I think there’d be enough confidence for parents to return their children.”
He added that accommodations needed to be made to ensure teachers felt safe returning to classrooms. “If we force people back into the situation where they’re unsure or they feel they’re in danger then their performance isn’t going to be what it needs to be in any event and so it’s about talking to those individuals,” he said.
England’s north-south divide could be worsened by the pandemic’s impact on the economy, with the most vulnerable sectors such as retail and manufacturing dominating the jobs market in certain regions.
More than 10% of the entire workforce in north-west England – about 351,000 people – are employed in retail, an analysis by Labour shows. In recent weeks the sector has been badly hit by cuts at major retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Boots and John Lewis.
In the east Midlands, 265,000 people (13%) are employed in manufacturing and the sector also accounts for between 10% and 12% of all jobs in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, Wales, the north-east and north-west.
By contrast just 2.2% in London work in manufacturing, about 112,000 people, according to the figures from the Office for National Statistics’ business register and employment survey.
You can read more on this here:
Clubbers could could be made to wear face masks while dancefloor numbers could be restricted under suggested safety measures to allow clubs to reopen, according to the Night Time Industries Association.
The association said the night-time economy was one of the few remaining sectors without any clear path to reopening and has urged the Government to “save the sector from collapse” and thousands of jobs.
Last week, it said three out of five businesses could go bust by September, while a new report supported by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, looks at how clubs and other venues could reopen safely.
The report said there is a “strong argument” to permit clubs to reopen under strict controls “bearing in mind the behaviour we are witnessing in unregulated environments such as beaches, parks and raves”.
There are also “sector specific measures” which venues can put in place which would put them “at least on a par” with other businesses which are allowed to open.
These include adding temperature checks for guests when they enter, and restricting capacity to ensure distancing is possible throughout the venue.
“Use of face-coverings on the dancefloor can be implemented and enforced through existing security staff and protocols,” it added.
Johnson urges parents to send children back to school
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has attempted to reassert his grip over education after days of chaos by making a personal plea to parents to send their children back to the classroom in September.
Johnson insisted the risk of contracting the virus in schools was “very small” and that pupils faced greater harm by continuing to stay at home.
Many pupils in England have not been to class since March, when schools were closed except to look after vulnerable children and those of key workers.
His decision to personally front the return-to-school drive rather than Gavin Williamson, the beleaguered education secretary who has faced calls to quit over the fiasco, is part of a deliberate attempt to switch the “messenger” and win back the public, a senior Tory suggested.
You can read the full report from our political correspondent Kate Proctor here:
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s coronavirus live feed, bringing you the key developments on the outbreak in the UK. Please feel free to share your thoughts and news tips with me via Twitter (@amyrwalker). Thank you in advance.