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Key workers in Scotland given exemption from self-isolation rules

1 día 18 horas ago

Nicola Sturgeon announces move aimed at preventing staff shortages due to NHS Covid app notifications

Workers in critical roles in Scotland will be able to avoid self-isolation when notified by the NHS Covid app if they are fully vaccinated and are tested daily, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Scotland’s first minister said it was “essential that lifeline services and critical national infrastructure are maintained” and that the changes would ensure staff shortages do not put key services at risk.

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Nicola Slawson

‘It’s incredibly poor’: Scottish islanders angry at failing ferry service

1 día 18 horas ago

Ageing fleet hit by breakdowns and cancellations, with capacity low on services that do run due to Covid

The perfume and toiletries shop overlooking Brodick Bay on Arran is normally packed in the summer, as day-trippers and holidaymakers stream off the mainland ferries at the busy terminal just across the bay.

But this summer has been grim, said Andrew Russell, the sales director for Arran Sense of Scotland, formerly known as Arran Aromatics. For thousands of people and businesses up and down the west coast of Scotland, this summer has been marred by repeated crises affecting ferry services run by the state-funded CalMac.

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Severin Carrell Scotland editor

Australia’s most populous state declares ‘national emergency’ over Covid outbreak

1 día 19 horas ago

New South Wales announces 136 new local Delta cases with Sydney under the strictest lockdown measures it has experienced

Australia’s most populous state has declared a “national emergency” as it struggles to contain a record-breaking surge of the Delta variant of Covid-19 amid a lockdown affecting half the country.

The state of New South Wales announced 136 new locally-acquired cases of Covid-19 on Friday, with continued community transmission among essential workers, including in supermarkets and pharmacies.

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Naaman Zhou

Youth violence likely to explode over summer, UK experts fear

1 día 20 horas ago

Long-term issues overlain with stress and isolation of Covid have set scene for ‘eruption’, charities say

Experts and charities have raised the alarm about rising youth violence in the UK and say it could erupt over the summer, aggravated by Covid lockdowns, mental health problems and months out of education.

Overstretched youth services lack the funding and resources needed to tackle the problem and are bracing themselves for a surge in violence similar to that seen when lockdown was lifted last year, according to Kayleigh Wainwright, the director of collective action at the national charity UK Youth.

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Jessica Murray Midlands correspondent

Karaoke fans find their voices again after Covid rules lifted in England

1 día 20 horas ago

Operators say venues are jampacked as customers return in droves to ‘let off steam’

It has gone from harmless pastime to one of the most dangerous activities during Covid, but with restrictions in England now lifted, sitting in a small enclosed space with friends belting out favourite songs – otherwise known as karaoke – is taking off and people are returning in droves.

Lucky Voice, which has karaoke rooms in London and Brighton, said it was “jampacked” over the summer. “We’re really hoping to go from strength to strength over the summer, the pent-up demand that we were hoping for is definitely there,” said the managing director, Charlie Elek.

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Jessica Murray Midlands correspondent

South Africa is close to breaking point and cannot truly embrace this Lions series | Craig Ray

1 día 20 horas ago

Rugby has been pushed to the margins of national consciousness as the pandemic has increased poverty and civil unrest in an already deeply troubled nation

As the Springboks and the British & Irish Lions close in on the first Test of what was supposed to be an epic 2021 series, most of South Africa has been distracted during the build-up. Rugby – and participating in or enjoying any form of sport, arts and culture – has felt frivolous and irrelevant over the past month.

People have died in their hundreds amid a tsunami-like third Covid wave that hit Gauteng – the province where Johannesburg and Tshwane are located. More lives altered for ever, more pain, more suffering, more children without parents in a country where single mothers, or unemployed grandmothers, are struggling to feed them.

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Craig Ray

France fiasco to pingdemic U-turn: Boris Johnson’s week of chaos

1 día 21 horas ago

In the last seven days the UK government has flailed from one controversy or misstep to the next

Often, the political week heading into the Commons summer recess can feel almost soporific, with the thoughts of ministers and MPs geared more towards holiday sunbeds than rows. But the last seven days has been different, and not only because of the ongoing political flux of coronavirus, with the government seeming to flail from one controversy, U-turn or misstep to the next, day after day.

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Peter Walker Political correspondent

UK recovery slows amid weakening consumer demand and staff shortages

1 día 21 horas ago

Snapshot of the economy in 10-day period to 21 July prompts concerns that recovery is stalling

Britain’s recovery from its winter lockdown has slowed sharply as businesses struggle with weakening consumer demand and Covid-related shortages of materials and workers, the latest snapshot of the economy has found.

The closely watched update from IHS Markit and the Cips reported growth at its slowest since March amid wide-ranging staff shortages against a backdrop of rising Covid cases and as thousands of workers isolate owing to the so-called “pingdemic”. The survey also highlighted a new mood of caution among the public triggered by the rapidly rising infection rates.

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Larry Elliott Economics editor

BOA resigned to 14-day quarantine for Team GB athletes despite negative tests

1 día 21 horas ago
  • Six athletes and four staff isolating after Covid case on flight
  • ‘We’ve tried … at least they can train,’ says BOA chair Robertson

The British Olympic Association is resigned to the fact that six Team GB athletes will spend 14 days in enforced quarantine after failing in its attempts to spring them out.

Hugh Robertson, the BOA chair, said they had been working “on an hourly basis” to help the athletes in Yokohama, as well as four staff members who were also pinged as close contacts of a passenger with Covid on their flight to Japan. However Robertson conceded they were now “right up against it”. All the athletes and staff members involved have tested negative for the virus.

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Sean Ingle in Tokyo

Saved by the bell, Boris Johnson’s government flip-flops off for the summer | Polly Toynbee

1 día 22 horas ago

As the Commons enters recess, the PM has simply kicked huge issues – the ‘pingdemic’, ‘levelling up’ – down the road

On the last day of term in parliament, there’s a bad tradition of governments sneaking out a host of unwelcome reports and decisions they hope to hide amid the great Westminster summer escape. Not this time. Instead, in a week of fiasco for the government, all we can hear is the ear-splitting clatter of huge cans being kicked down the road. Recess comes with everything Boris Johnson should have done left undone. The prime minister’s fatal indecision is final.

Newspaper front pages shout about shelves left unfilled by pinged workers, while a million pinged children in England miss their last week of school, and many sectors fear being overwhelmed by pings. This week’s promised list of crucial workers to be exempt from Covid test-and-trace isolation finally emerged last night, covering a number of industries including emergency services, local government, food and medical supplies. As every sector howled for help, yet another hapless minister – Kwasi Kwarteng on Thursday’s BBC Breakfast – was sent over the top to say nothing at all: yes there would be a list, only “quite narrow”, but no, it wasn’t ready right now. Why on earth did it take so long?

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Polly Toynbee

The feeling around the national cabinet table these days is Gladys Berejiklian succumbed to hubris | Katharine Murphy

1 día 22 horas ago

The New South Wales premier tried and failed on Friday to secure more doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Scott Morrison could not be seen to be ‘the prime minister for NSW’

By all accounts, Gladys Berejiklian already knew her public pleading for more vaccine supply had fallen on barren ground before she gathered with Scott Morrison and the other premiers virtually for the latest national cabinet meeting.

The New South Wales premier came to Friday afternoon’s conversation with her peers armed with a number of requests. But when her time came to speak, Berejiklian acknowledged upfront the additional doses she’d asked for to combat the “national emergency” weren’t going to be forthcoming.

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Katharine Murphy

Angry Brazilians dress as reptiles for their Covid jabs to mock Bolsonaro

1 día 22 horas ago

People are wearing costumes as a protest to the government’s handling of an outbreak that has killed more than 545,000

When Klinger Duarte Rodrigues set off for his coronavirus shot last weekend he did so dressed as a South American snake.

“A sucuri,” he said, using the indigenous name for the Amazonian water boa whose skin he borrowed for his first dose of AstraZeneca.

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Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

NSW Covid update: Scott Morrison rejects request from Gladys Berejiklian for extra Pfizer vaccine

1 día 22 horas ago

NSW premier warns vaccine rollout is crucial to stop the virus seeping into other states as NSW records 136 local coronavirus cases

Scott Morrison has rejected a bid by the New South Wales government to secure extra Pfizer doses to help battle the Covid outbreak in south-west Sydney hotspots.

Before national cabinet on Friday, the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, sought a reallocation of Pfizer doses from other states to combat what she termed a “national emergency” as the spread of the Delta variant continued via essential workers in supermarkets, food processing and logistics.

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Paul Karp and Anne Davies

Mr Kipling maker says low-sugar products helped to drive sales

1 día 23 horas ago

Premier Foods maintains growth momentum as lockdowns lead to increase in at-home eating

The maker of Mr Kipling cakes has reported stronger than expected sales in the three months to early July as customers tucked into low-sugar versions of their sweet treats.

Premier Foods, which makes store cupboard staples such as Bisto gravy and Sharwood’s cooking sauces, said its total sales for the last quarter were lower than last year because of a boom in home cooking during the first coronavirus lockdown but sales had climbed by 6.3% compared with two years ago.

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Jillian Ambrose