Top story: Pushback against return to the office
Welcome to Friday morning with me, Warren Murray.
People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Leicester are this morning banned from meeting each other indoors as additional lockdown restrictions are imposed over large swathes of northern England. People “not abiding to social distancing” has led to a surge of coronavirus cases, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has said. The measure applies in Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and the city of Leicester. The government announced the full local lockdown in Leicester would be partially lifted, allowing restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and hairdressers to reopen from Monday and for religious ceremonies to take place. Leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed in the city.
A slew of England’s biggest businesses are set to defy the government’s push to get workers back into offices in August, a Guardian analysis shows, with many sticking to home working arrangements or delaying a partial return until September at the earliest. Here we take a sector-by-sector look at some major employers and their working plans. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said it would be “heartless and reckless” for bosses to demand the immediate return of shielding workers on 1 August, when the government will no longer pay them statutory sick pay. The TUC is asking employers to instead continue using the government’s job retention scheme for shielding workers, which runs until October.
Labour is to launch a “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” campaign today over mass job losses caused by coronavirus, saying the gradual removal of the employment furlough scheme from the start of August is a “historic mistake”. Keir Starmer will argue the furlough scheme should continue to support the worst-hit industries. Universal credit needs a massive £8bn overhaul to make it reliable for the millions of families who will depend on it as the Covid-19 economic crisis grows, a cross-party House of Lords committee has concluded. Meanwhile Downing Street has put Luxembourg back on the list of countries requiring travellers to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in the UK, with expectations that other countries will be added.
For further developments stay tuned to our global coronavirus live blog.
Rattled Trump suggests poll delay – There has been a furious response from both sides of US politics after Donald Trump suggested the November elections should be delayed because he doesn’t trust postal voting. The president was seen as trying to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the outcome, as he trails significantly behind Joe Biden in the polls.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Trump loyalist on most issues, said: “I wish he hadn’t said that, but it’s not going to change. We are going to have an election in November.” That was one of the more muted critiques. Election experts in the US say that all forms of voter fraud are rare – in 2017 the Brennan Center for Justice ranked the risk of ballot fraud at 0.00004% to 0.0009%.
Air pollution, drink link to dementia – Excessive drinking, exposure to air pollution and head injuries have been added to a list of things that increase dementia risk, experts say in a report revealing that up to 40% of cases worldwide could be delayed or prevented by addressing 12 such factors. The report from the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care builds on previous work revealing that about a third of dementia cases could be prevented by addressing lifestyle factors. While some actions can be taken on a personal level to tackle such issues, many require government-led change, and the report includes a list of nine recommendations, including improving air quality.
Hotter UK feels climate crisis – More extreme heat, less frost and snow, and trees coming into leaf earlier are among the signs seen in 2019 that the climate crisis is exerting an increasing impact on the UK, an annual Met Office report shows. The year was 1.1C above the 1961-1990 average and the all-time high temperature record was broken in July when Cambridge hit 38.7C while the record-high for winter was also broken, with 21.2C in February at Kew Gardens in London. Last year was the 12th warmest year on records dating back to 1884 and one of the least snowy on record. “Our report shows climate change is exerting an increasing impact on the UK’s climate,” said Mike Kendon, lead author of the Met Office report. The Central England Temperature Series is the longest instrumental record in the world, stretching back to 1659.
Michael Brown case reclosed – The former police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014 will not be charged over the killing, the St Louis county top prosecutor, Wesley Bell, has announced. A grand jury nearly six years ago declined to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer involved. Bell said his office conducted a five-month review of witness statements, forensic reports and other evidence before reaching the decision that while not exonerated, Wilson’s guilt could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Today in Focus podcast: A generation rises
The death of George Floyd in the US provoked massive anti-racism protests in the UK. The Guardian reporter Aamna Mohdin discusses what she learned when she interviewed 50 young Britons at the heart of those rallies.
Lunchtime read: ‘Only thing they leave you is yourself’
The Tottenham rapper Headie One, AKA 25-year-old Irving Adjei, is UK drill’s biggest star – and counts Drake as a fan. Adjei’s music reflects his environment, vividly relaying the bleak experiences of coastal and county drug lines, and brutal street skirmishes.
Prison was the inevitable fallout from such extreme encounters. He talks about how his music gave him a way out of crime, and the difficulty of leaving his old life behind.
The controversial £300m takeover of Newcastle United has collapsed after a Saudi Arabia-led consortium withdrew its bid amid growing fears it would fail the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test. David Willey was delighted after finishing with career-best figures of 5-30 against Ireland in England’s quickfire first ODI victory. The German magazine Der Spiegel has published new “leaked” emails relating to Manchester City’s past sponsorships by Abu Dhabi state companies, which it claims cast doubt on the court of arbitration for sport judgment that overturned City’s ban by Uefa. Fulham advanced to the Championship play-off final with a 3-2 win aggregate, despite a 2-1 second leg defeat to Cardiff. Heather Watson defeated 17-year-old prospect Emma Raducanu 6-2, 6-4 at the Battle of the Brits to continue her recovery from a mid-career slump. Lewis Hamilton is optimistic Formula One will present a united front against racism, as Sergio Pérez became the first F1 driver to test positive for Covid-19 before this weekend’s British Grand Prix. And players and coaches knelt during the national anthem as the NBA resumed after a 140-day hiatus.
Asian shares have tumbled after reports showed layoffs of American workers are persisting at high levels with the US economy contracting at a nearly 33% annual pace in its worst quarter on record. But Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet/Google all reported bigger profits for the latest quarter, a windfall from the shift toward online commerce during the pandemic. The pound is worth £1.312 and €1.103 while the FTSE tracks a third of a percent higher at time of writing.
Thoughts are with the north of England where what the Mirror calls “Lockdown 2” is implemented in some areas from today. “Home visits are banned for millions in the north”, says the Times, while the i says “Virus rules tightened” for those climes. “Lockdown measures reimposed”, says the Telegraph.
The Guardian splashes in its late edition with “Ban on indoor meetings in parts of northern England as virus surges”. Earlier editions had “Employers must not force shielding staff to return to work, says TUC”. The FT has “Plunge in US and German output signals gruelling road to recovery”.
The Mail and Express march in time: “You really CAN beat dementia” the former, “Experts prove you can halt dementia” the latter. “Naught Tory is dumped by wife” – that’s the Metro reporting the conviction of Charlie Elphicke on sexual assault charges.
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