NEW rules making it mandatory for Brits to wear face masks in shops have been announced.
From today, Friday July 24, wearing masks will become compulsory in shops and takeaways in a bid to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
Those who are caught not wearing face masks will be hit by a £100 fine, cut to £50 if paid within a fortnight.
It comes as as England's coronavirus regional divide has revealed that eight out of the ten worst hit areas are in northern towns and cities.
While cases have remained flat across the UK a North/South divide has started to form with eight of the most at risk areas being in the North of England and one being in North Wales.
Experts at King’s College London said the number of cases in the South has stayed the same, but in the North they have increased.
Follow all the latest coronavirus news and updates below…
BACK TO REALITY?
Top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has predicted life could return to normal by next year if a vaccine is produced.
But Dr Fauci, who is part of the White House's task force working to control the virus, warned it would be a “gradual process.”
He told CNN's podcast The Axe Files: “The timetable you suggested of getting into 2021, well into the year, then I can think with a successful vaccine — if we could vaccinate the overwhelming majority of the population — we could start talking about real normality again.
“But it is going to be a gradual process.”
CORONAVIRUS 6AM UPDATE
– BILL GATES DENIES CREATING CORONAVIRUS Gates, who has long been a target of conspiracy theorists, spoke out on Thursday
– BRITAIN'S UNPRECEDENTED FLU SHOT PROGRAMME Approximately 30million people will be offered free flu jabs this winter, in a bid to minimize strain on hospitals as England braces for a possible second wave
– TRUMP CANCELS FLORIDA REPUBLICAN CONVENTION SPEECH The speech was originally planned for North Carolina, but Trump moved it claiming that NC's governor wouldn't let him have a big crowd. Florida is now a hot spot for coronavirus
– INDIA PASSES 30,000 CORONAVIRUS DEATHS The country's death toll is now sixth-highest in the world. Meanwhile, a record 48,000 new cases were reported
– DRIVER TESTS RESUME The tests had been suspended for the past four months, which involved the cancellation of more than 200,000 tests
– STURGEON CALLS OUT JOHNSON FOR 'CELEBRATING A PANDEMIC' 'I don’t think any of us should be…celebrating a pandemic that has taken thousands of lives as some example of the pre-existing political case we want to make'
BILL GATES DENIES CREATING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
Bill Gates spoke out on Thursday denouncing the conspiracy theories that have surrounded his supposed role in creating coronavirus.
“It's a bad combination of pandemic and social media and people looking for a very simple explanation,” Gates said during a CNN Town Hall interview.
Gates has been dogged by conspiracy theorists for years, in particular by anti-vaxxers, who have reupped their agenda against him in light of the global pandemic.
“Our foundation has given more money to buy vaccines to save lives than any group,” Gates said.
He has pledged more than £96,000,000 to fight the pandemic.
His net worth is £88,828,740,000.
INDIA PASSES 30,000 CORONAVIRUS DEATHS
India's coronavirus death toll passed 30,000 on Thursday, according to Times of India.
The country's death toll rose to sixth-highest in the world.
Meanwhile, 48,000 new cases were reported that day – another record.
India has reported more than 1.2million cases of coronavirus.
Nearly 800,000 people who contracted Covid-19 have recovered.
MORE THAN HALF OF ENGLAND WILL GET FREE FLU SHOTS THIS WINTER
Approximately 30million people will be offered free flu jabs this winter, in a bid to minimize strain on hospitals as England braces for a possible second wave.
That's twice as many people as last year, and makes this the biggest flu vaccination campaign the country's ever seen.
Everyone over the age of 50, as well as schoolchildren Year 7 and below, will qualify for the free flu jabs.
So will health workers and those with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19.
TRUMP CANCELS FLORIDA REPUBLICAN CONVENTION SPEECH
President Trump cancelled the Republican convention speech he was set to deliver in Florida, saying he didn't want to “take any chances”.
Florida is currently a growing hot spot for coronavirus
Announcing the plan on Thursday night, he said he'll still give a speech to accept the Republican nomination for president, but that the details weren't finalized yet.
“I’ll still do a convention speech in a different form but we won’t do a big, crowded convention per se. It’s just not the right time for that,” Trump said.
The speech was originally going to be delivered in North Carolina, but Trump moved it to Florida claiming that North Carolina's governor wouldn't let him have a big crowd.
DRIVER TESTS CAN NOW RESUME
Learner drivers across England will be able to resume their tests as of July 22.
The tests have been suspended for the past four months, which involved the cancellation of more than 200,000 tests.
All available staff members from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency are now attempting to work through the backlog.
Face coverings during tests will be mandatory.
STURGEON CALLS OUT JOHNSON FOR 'CELEBRATING A PANDEMIC'
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has fired back at Prime Minister Boris Johnson for exploiting the coronavirus crisis to push a political message of UK unity.
“I don’t think any of us should be championing or celebrating a pandemic that has taken thousands of lives as some example of the pre-existing political case we want to make,” she said according to The Guardian.
Amid polls showing growing support for Scotland's independence from the UK, Johnson had claimed that an independent Scotland wouldn't have been able to prevent a coronavirus “disaster” without the help of the UK.
BRAZIL REGISTERS NEARLY 60 THOUSAND NEW CASES
Brazil registered 59,961 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the second-highest daily jump after its record setting Wednesday, bringing total confirmed cases to nearly 2.3 million.
Brazil’s Health Ministry also reported 1,311 more deaths from COVID-19, pushing the official death toll past 84,000.
It is the world's worst affected country bar the United States.
14 OLDER PEOPLE 'BEING RUINED DUE TO SKY HIGH CARE FEES' EVERY DAY
Around 14 older people a day are wiped out financially by paying for their care, figures suggest.
Some 5,190 people aged 65 and over and receiving care in England in 2018-19 were classed as “self-funders with depleted funds”, meaning they have used up almost all their savings and assets, according to NHS Digital.
This is up more than a third (37 per cent) from the numbers classed as such during the previous year, the charity Age UK said.
In England, 167,000 older people and their families are estimated to fund their own care because they do not qualify for free or subsidised support.
Based on the average self-pay fees of £851 a week, Age UK calculates that older people have spent more than £7.3 billion in the 12 months since Boris Johnson took office.
BAD FOOD BAN
Boris Johnson will announce restrictions on how unhealthy foods are sold in Britain as soon as next week, in a bid to tackle high levels of obesity, according to the Financial Times.
Obesity is known to be one of the major risk factors likely to lead to coronavirus complications.
The plans could include a ban on online and pre-watershed TV advertising of unhealthy foods according to executives briefed on the plans.
Details of the proposals are still being discussed by ministers.
NHS STARTED OFF IN 'WORSE POSITION' THAN OTHER COUNTRIES
Longstanding problems in the NHS such as too few beds and staff will slow it down compared with other countries as it recovers from Covid-19, a new report warns.
The study, from the Nuffield Trust think-tank, found that the NHS was in a poor starting position going into the pandemic compared with other countries such as Germany, which had far more beds and nurses.
Stark socio-economic differences and racial inequality may have also made the virus deadlier in the UK than in other countries, experts suggested.
The UK had a wider geographical spread of Covid-19 than other countries, the report said.
Experts found that, while London had more Covid-19 cases than any other part of the UK, it accounted for less than 17% of total cases in the country.
Senior research fellow Sarah Reed, who authored the report, did however praise the efforts made by the NHS.
She said: “The NHS and its staff pulled out all the stops to react to the pandemic with impressive speed and resilience, avoiding the harrowing scenes in hospitals seen in other countries.”
'LOCKDOWNS DON'T WORK'
A new study is claiming that lockdowns don't actually work to change a country's death rate.
Researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of Texas studied the 50 worst hit nations up until May 1.
They found that it was population demographics and underlying health, particularly obesity rates, which has determined which countries have been worst-hit by the virus.
They did however conclude that lockdown measures succeeded in stopping health systems becoming overwhelmed by a surge in patients.
UK ROAD TRAFFIC NEARLY NORMAL
Traffic on UK roads is nearly up pre-covid levels.
The number of vehicles has been rising since the end of lockdown and is now at 88 per cent of what it was before March.
DfT data shows that trains and busses are still suffering a customer drain at only 22 per cent and 33 per cent pre-covid levels come mid-July.
Cycling has exploded however, with 146 per cent of the pre-pandemic number of cyclists hitting the roads.
SWEDEN'S DEATH RATE IS NOW HIGHER THAN THE USA'S
The coronavirus death rate in Sweeden, who are one of the few countries in the world not to go into lockdown, is soaring past America’s to rate among the world’s worst.
25 top Swedish experts are now warning the world “don't dodge lockdown like we did”.
Criticising Sweden's infamous soft approach to the pandemic, lack of national lockdown, and bid for herd immunity, they said:
“The strategy has led to death, grief and suffering.
“And on top of that there are no indications that the Swedish economy has fared better than in many other countries.”
Sweden is the fifth worse country for coronavirus death rates in the world, behind Italy (4th) Spain, the UK and Belgium – top with 858 Covid-19 deaths per million people.
It has a “death toll more than four and a half times greater than that of the other four Nordic countries combined – more than seven times greater per million inhabitants.
On Tuesday chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency insisted that Sweden had reached relatively widespread immunity.
Sweden’s coronavirus death rate passes US as one of worst in the world as docs warn ‘don’t dodge lockdown like we did’
US MEDICAL EXPERTS URGE TRUMP TO SHUT DOWN COUNTRY AND START AGAIN
More than 150 top US medical experts, teachers, nurses and scientists have signed a petition to get their political leaders to shut the country down completely.
They argue “Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st.
“Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities.”
They also put forward a list of basic measures that need to be implemented to save the country, including expanded testing and supplying more PPE.
The US today announced that over 4 million americans have, or have had the deadly disease.
MEDICS AND COPS TURN ON GOVERNMENT OVER NEW MASK RULES
The British Medical Association has questioned why it took so long for face covering rules to be introduced, and slammed the Government for only issuing proper guidance just hours before the rules come into effect.
BMA council chairman, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said the measures were “long overdue” and that weeks of uncertainty had “done nothing to inspire public confidence”.
Police officers for Devon, Cornwall and Thames Valley will not attend incidents where shoppers refuse to wear masks, unless they turn violent, according to their police and crime commissioners.
Chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, Andy Marsh, said the force had “very limited capacity” to enforce the rules, and would only have a role in “a tiny minority” of cases.
Most retailers have also said that they will not enforce the rules on customers coming into their shops, relying on people's common sense instead.
ASDA, CO-OP, COSTA AND SAINSBURY'S WON'T ENFORCE MASK RULES
Sainsburys, Asda, Co-op and Costa Coffee are among major retailers rebelling agianst the new coronavirus mask rules that come into effect tomorrow.
Retailers say they have no intention of challenging customers coming into their shops if they are not wearing a mask.
It is also not compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear face coverings. The guidance just “strongly recommends” their use.
The companies are not alone as the Police Federation of England and Wales has argued that it is “unrealistic and unfair” to expect officers to patrol the aisles of supermarkets looking for people breaking the coronavirus regulation.
Legally the only people who can force anyone to wear a mask is the police, who can issue a £100 fine for people breaking the new law.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she hoped shoppers who refuse to wear masks would instead be “shamed” into doing the right thing.
WHO CHIEF SLAMS 'UNACCEPTABLE' TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ATTACKS
The head of the World Health Organization has slammed reported comments by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump, questioning his independence and accusing him of being pro-China.
Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus responded to the allegations saying: “The comments are untrue and unacceptable and without any foundation,”
“Our sole focus – and the focus of the entire organisation – is on saving lives.
“…And WHO will not be distracted by these comments. We don’t want the international community also to be distracted.”
The Trump administration has recently been accused of scapegoating the WHO for its own failure to contain the virus and has threatened to cut US funding to the organisation in the midst of the pandemic.
WHAT ARE THE EXEMPTIONS FOR WEARING A MASK FROM TOMORROW?
Official Government guidance exempts the following groups from wearing a mask in public from July 24:
- A child under the age of 11
- An employee of the transport operator, when they are working
- A person with breathing difficulties
- Anyone travelling with someone who relies on lip reading
- People with disabilities
- Any other person providing services to the transport operator, under arrangements made with the transport operator
- A constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
- An emergency responder such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
- An official, for example a border force officer, acting in the course of their duties
- If you are allocated a cabin, berth or other similar accommodation, at any time when you are in that accommodation, either alone, or only with members of your own household or a linked household
- If you are on board public transport but remain in your private vehicle, for example on a car ferry
DEVOTED SON CLIMBS BUILDING TO VISIT HIS DYING MUM EVERY DAY
A 30 year old man has been climbing the side of his mother's hospital to sit at her window every day as she lay dying of coronavirus and leukemia.
Palestinian Jihad Al-Suwaiti used a drainpipe and another ledge to climb the multistory building before perching on the windowsill next to her.
A hospital official reportedly said: “He spent most of his day there, observing his mother's condition from outside the window.
“He would then come down when he was convinced that his mother was fast asleep.”
His mum, Rasma Salema, died in Hebron last Thursday.
Devoted son whose mother died of coronavirus climbed hospital building to sit on ledge of her room every day
FLORIDA MAN PULLS A GUN ON SOMEONE FOR ASKING HIM TO WEAR A MASK
A customer at a walmart in Palm Beach, FL, is facing charges of aggravated assault for pointing a gun at another shopper who told him to wear a mask.
The shocking footage was caught on the store's CCTV of 28 year old Vincent Scavetta brandishing his pistol at a shopper infront of his young daughter.
There is currently no federal requirement to wear masks in the United States however states, local governments and counties, including Palm Beach County, have made requirements.
Some of the mask policies at local businesses have causes protests or explosive behavior from customers.
WALES RECORDS ZERO DAILY DEATHS
Public Health Wales has said there have been zero Covid-19 related deaths today, with the total number of deaths remaining at 1,548.
There were only 43 new cases reported too, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 17,030.
WALES IS REOPENING
The Welsh government has announced that the principality will begin reopening from Saturday, with social distancing rules in place.
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the latest relaxing of measures alongside the reopening of the country's visitor attractions, providing a further boost to its hard-hit tourism sector.
Hotels, B&B's and camping sites will be able to reopen in Wales from Saturday.
Cinemas, indoor museums, galleries, arcades, beauty salons and tattoo parlours will reopen on Monday, as will occupied home viewings for potential tenants.
However, the UK Cinema Association has said few cinemas will actually open in Wales due to restrictions preventing them providing food indoors, as well as the two-metre social distancing rule which would restrict audience numbers.
Monday will also see new rules come into effect which will make it compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport, including buses, trains and taxis.
The next Welsh Government review of measures to be carried out by July 30 will consider reopening indoor service for pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes in Wales for the first time since lockdown.
Many pubs in Wales, including those owned by Wetherspoons and Brains, have said they would not take advantage of last week's reopening for outside-only service, and only open their doors once customers were allowed indoors.
A coronavirus patient who spent a staggering 128 days in hospital has finally made it home.
64 year old teacher, dubbed “Miracle Larry” Kelly spent more than seven weeks on a ventalator, surviving seizures, infections, a coma and a brain bleed.
Larry finally woke up on Easter Sunday, gaining him his nickname.
Crowds of medical staff who cared for Kelly stood cheering as he embraced his wife for the first time since March 17.
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