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Coronavirus UK LIVE: Fears for Turkey, Croatia and Greece holidays as self-employed second grant applications open TODAY

CROATIA, Turkey and Greece could join France on the UK’s quarantine list as Covid-19 cases in the countries continue to rise.

The popular holiday destinations have seen a rise in cases and could be the latest to be placed on the quarantine list.

It comes just days after many holidaymakers scrambled to return to the UK from France, Malta and the Netherlands.

Should Croatia, Turkey and Greece join other countries like Spain and Belgium on the list, those returning will need to quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, self-employed workers can apply for a second emergency coronavirus grant worth up to £6,570 from today.

The cash is to help those who work for themselves if their income has been negatively impacted by the effect of the pandemic.

The coronavirus death toll rose by five in the UK on Sunday, with total fatalities numbering 41,366.

Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates…

UK ‘NOT RULING OUT’ QUARANTINE MEASURES FOR GREECE AND CROATIA

The Government has refused to deny that Croatia and Greece could be added to the quarantine list.

A No 10 spokesman said: “We continue to keep these rules under constant review and we publish a list of the countries and territories that we are concerned about. You’ll have seen the last update as of last week.”

Asked whether Greece and its islands would count as one country for quarantine rule purposes, he added: “As I say, we will continue to keep data for all countries and territories under constant review. We update the list on a weekly basis.”

Pushed on the limited time between new quarantine measures being announced and their implementation, the No 10 spokesman said: “We’ve always said that protecting public health remains our top priority, which is why it is important that when we make changes to the exemptions list we do so in a swift way.

“While these changes we understand can be disruptive, it is right that we take quick action to prevent cases being important into the UK.”

‘TRUST OUR TEACHERS’

A Level students here in Codsall begin their march to Gavin Williamson’s constituency office. They’re shouting ‘trust our teachers’ @ITVCentral pic.twitter.com/VecVxIjBPT

— Daniel Skipp (@DanielSkipp) August 17, 2020

RYANAIR TO CUT FLIGHT CAPACITY BY A FIFTH AFTER RESTRICTIONS HIT BOOKINGS

Ryanair is to cut a fifth of its flights for the next two months after bookings dived on the back of new coronavirus travel restrictions.

The budget airline said it will reduce its flight capacity by 20% in September and October after forward bookings “notably weakened” in recent days.

It reported a drop-off in flight bookings over the past 10 days driven by “uncertainty over recent Covid case rates in some EU countries”.

The cuts will reduce the frequency of flights from countries such as Spain, France and Sweden, it said.

A Ryanair spokesman said: “These capacity cuts and frequency reductions for the months of September and October are unavoidable given the recent weakness in forward bookings due to Covid restrictions in a number of EU countries.

“Any affected passengers in September received email notification today advising them of their options.

“Similar communications will be issued to the small number of affected passengers in October later today.

“Over the past two weeks, as a number of EU countries have raised travel restrictions, forward bookings, especially for business travel into September and October, have been negatively affected, and it makes sense to reduce frequencies so that we tailor our capacity to demand over the next two months.”

EASYJET JOB LOSSES

EasyJet has confirmed bases at London Stansted, Southend and Newcastle Airports in UK will close in September.

This puts 670 jobs at risk as the airline continues to deal with the impact of coronavirus.

PUPILS TO BE MARKED ON TEACHER ASSESSED GRADES

All A level and GCSE pupils in England are to get teacher assessed grades, sources have told the Times.

They say an announcement is going to be made at 4pm today.

GOVT TO ‘CONTINUE TO WORK CLOSELY’ WITH PHE

The Government will “continue to work closely” with Public Health England amid reports the body is to be scrapped, a spokesman has said.

“We believe PHE have played an important role in our response to this pandemic and have worked on important issues such as detection, surveillance, contact tracing and testing, and we’ll continue to work closely with them,” a No 10 spokesman said.

Asked whether the Government has asked any outside consultancies for advice on whether to shut down Public Health England, he added: “If you look at the road map and the wording, what we say around structures, we’ve been clear we must learn the right lessons from the crisis and act now to ensure structures are fit to cope with future epidemics.”

FRENCH THEME PARK SPARKS OUTRAGE OVER EVENT

A French theme park has caused outrage after it staged a show attended by 9,000 people.

Currently there is a legal limit on gatherings of 5,000 people in France to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Puy du Fou, which organises re-enactments of French historical events, was permitted to fill 9,000 of its 13,000 seats on Saturday by arranging its open-air stands into three separate blocks divided by Plexiglas screens.

The ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people was extended to October 30 las week.

President Emmanuel Mancron’s government though said prefects – regional state administrators appointed by the president – could make exceptions.

The Puy du Fou event sparked a storm of protest on social media and from opposition politicians.

“There are social distancing rules and there are dispensations for the friends of the president. Macron had brought forward the (re-)opening of Puy du Fou (after coronavirus lockdown). Now they are allowed to create coronavirus clusters,” Greens party national secretary Julien Bayou wrote on Twitter.

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot denied that Puy du Fou owner Philippe De Villiers, a conservative former cabinet minister who has made two presidential bids, had received special treatment. “No favours were given at Puy du Fou,” Bachelot said on BFM television on Monday.

She said open-air events for more than 5,000 people could get the go-ahead provided they apply individual seating, strict social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing.

PRESSURE MOUNTS FOR GOVT U-TURN ON EXAM RESULTS

A U-turn over the controversial system for awarding A-level results in England appears imminent after Tory MPs heaped pressure on Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to change course.

Downing Street refused to rule out a shift to a Scottish-style system based on teachers’ predicted grades rather than an algorithm aimed at standardising results.

Mr Johnson has gone on holiday to Scotland this week despite the chaos over the A-level results but held talks with Mr Williamson and senior officials on Monday morning.

In an indication that the grades awarded last week may not be the final results, a Number 10 spokesman said “the Government continues to work hard to come up with the fairest system possible”.

Signs that Mr Williamson would announce changes later on Monday came as senior ministers went public with their criticism of the system, which was put in place by regulator Ofqual after A-level exams were cancelled due to coronavirus.

HOLIDAY FIRM REFUSES TO REFUND FLIGHT COSTS TO SPAIN

Online holiday company On The Beach has refused to back down on its decision not to refund the cost of flights to Spain after the Foreign Office changed its advice.
The firm though said that it will refund travellers’ accommodation and transfer costs but not their air fare if the flight goes ahead as scheduled.
Most tour operators, such as Tui and Jet2 Holidays, have been automatically cancelling package holidays to destinations where the FCO advises against all international travel, and refunding customers in full.

GOVT TO MAKE ANNOUNCEMENT ON EXAMS

The Government has said it will make an announcement on the exams situation this afternoon, it is understood. 

Conservative MPs have been told by the whips to expect a statement from Gavin Williamson, as the Tory government fights a growing rebellion from backbenchers.

The Education Secretary ducked the broadcast round this morning, amid widespread criticism of his handling of the exams assessment. 

One Tory backbencher said he was expecting a statement at 4pm today, and that it “feels like” a U-turn was imminent. 

ITALY SHUTS NIGHTCLUBS AS COVID-19 CASES RISE IN YOUNG

Italy has ordered all nightclubs and discos to close as fears rise that young people are catching and spreading the coronavirus.

So far, more than 35,000 Italians have died from the deadly virus.

It is the first re-imposition of restrictions since the European country began easing lockdown in May.

The decision comes as the number of new cases increases, rising from an average of around 300 a day last month to as high as 600 a day this month.

BORIS ON HOLIDAY IN SCOTLAND DESPITE EXAMS FIASCO

The PM is on holiday in Scotland despite the crisis over the A-level results, Downing Street has said.

A No10 spokesman said the prime minister spoke to Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, on Monday morning.

“The Prime Minister spoke to the Education Secretary and senior officials this morning,” the spokesman said. “We continue to work hard to come up with the fairest system possible.”

STURGEON ON COVID CLUSTERS

Nicola Sturgeon said that, since the beginning of the outbreak in Aberdeen, 207 cases have been confirmed, with 1,050 contacts identified in the city thus far.

A further cluster in Coupar Angus, Ms Sturgeon said, had also been discovered at a food processing plant.

The Two Sisters plant has been closed after four cases were confirmed and investigations are currently under way.

Ms Sturgeon also said that clusters in Coatbridge and the north-east of Glasgow are still under investigation and information will be released as it is gathered.

She said: “These clusters obviously show that this virus is still out there and it continues to pose a very real and serious risk.”

FRANCE SENDING RIOT POLICE TO ENFORCE MASK WEARING

The French government is sending riot police to the Marseille region to help enforce mask requirements, as more and more towns and neighborhoods are imposing mask rules starting today to slow rising infections.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced that 130 police officers are being sent to the Marseille region, which expanded its outdoor mask requirements to all farmers markets and more neighborhoods Friday.

France has seen scattered incidents of violence by people refusing to wear masks.

Paris expanded its mask requirements Saturday, and other towns around France started requiring masks outdoors on Monday.

Infections have been speeding up around France in recent days, with 3,015 new cases Sunday, one of the highest daily spikes since the country lifted a strict two-month lockdown in May.

More than 30,400 people have died with the virus in France, one of the highest death tolls in the world.

MORDAUNT PUTS PRESSURE ON GOVERNMENT

Paymaster General and Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt said she was “seeking a further meeting today” with the Department for Education after speaking with students and parents about exam results.

“I will be supporting colleges in their appeals, working to ensure those who have the grades on appeal can go to uni this year if that is what they want,” she tweeted.

“This group of young people have lost out on so much already, we must ensure that bright, capable students can progress on their next step. Delaying a year won’t be an option, and it shouldn’t be an option. For many it will mean falling out of education.”

Ms Mordaunt added: “I have also made my views on GCSE results known to DfE. Will be posting updates later today.”

OFFICERS IN LONDON BREAK UP 200 PARTIES IN SINGLE WEEKEND

A senior Met officer today pledged to clampdown on illegal raves after revealing that police were called to break up 200 parties in a single weekend.

Commander Ade Adelekan said more than 1,000 unlicensed lockdown events have been held in London since June.

Mr Adelekan told the London Evening Standard: “I make no apology for the Met’s exhaustive efforts to shut down the dangerous and exploitative unlicensed music events which we have seen across London. Since the end of June, the Met has responded to more than 1,000 events.

“To an outsider these events may appear harmless, but they are not.

“We know that gangs have used the crowds to disguise drug dealing or worse, to settle scores with rivals.”

TORY MP – ‘CLEAR INJUSTICE’ ON EXAM RESULTS

There is one high performing school in my constituency which appears to have been particularly hard hit through no fault of this year’s students. This can happen when this cohort are above average compared to last years.

— Sir Edward Leigh MP (@EdwardLeighMP) August 17, 2020

HANCOCK – 100,000 HAVE SIGNED UP FOR FUTURE COVID TRIALS

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 100,000 people have signed up for future coronavirus vaccine trials through the NHS.

THANK YOU to all 100,000 people who have volunteered to take part in Britain’s #coronavirus vaccine trials.

This is an important milestone in our national effort to defeat this unprecedented virus & shows the selflessness of the British public

DETAILS: https://t.co/wpbMbVWQUd

— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) August 17, 2020

BLAIR – PEOPLE SHOULD PRESENT “BIO-IDS”

Tony Blair said he does not see how international travel can resume again without “regular testing” and that individuals should have bio-IDs to present the coronavirus tests they have had.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you’re not able to test significantly when you’re trying to get large numbers of people back into a normal routine, then I think you’re going to be enormously inhibited at how you handle the disease. And it’s not so difficult to do.”

Mr Blair added: “We suggest how you might boost and accelerate the development of these on-the-spot antigen tests and then we say at a certain stage you want to move to a … every person has, as it were, a record of what tests they’ve had, if you like a kind of bio-ID which allows them then to present, for example, when you’re travelling – I just don’t see how you get international travel going again unless you’ve got regular testing.”

BLAIR: MASS TESTING NEEDED

Former prime minister Tony Blair has called for the Government to roll out mass testing for Covid-19 before the end of 2020.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Blair said: “If 70% of the cases are asymptomatic, you are not testing those people, they are all false negatives at the moment.

“The people out there who have got the disease but have got no symptoms yet can still spread the disease are in effect a false negative.

“So, yes, it is true that you will miss some people…this is where I think the Government has got to change the way it calculates risk. In every single aspect of this, once you realise you’re not going to eradicate the disease, you’re going to have to contain it and live with it at least until a vaccine comes, then you’ve just got to have a sensible risk calculus in every area.

“So, for example, now we’re telling people to go back into pubs, we’re incentivising, quite rightly for the purposes of getting the economy moving, to go and eat out. All of those things are risks.

“I think the way we’re doing the quarantine rules is wrong actually. I think you could cut that 14-day quarantine substantially if you recognise that whatever you do there is going to be a risk, you just have to minimise it.”

‘GAVIN WILLIAMSON HAS LOST THE DRESSING ROOM’

So says former head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Sir Michael told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the situation regarding A-level results has been “a terrible farce”.

He added: “There has to be political responsibility, like all things at the end of the day, and somebody has to carry the can, the politicians, the political leaders have to carry the can.

“And the great danger for Gavin Williamson at the moment is that he is losing confidence, he is losing the confidence of headteachers around the country who have seen this happen.

“He hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory over the pandemic period with all sorts of changes of direction – saying that primary schools would be open when they obviously couldn’t be under the social distancing rules, saying every poor child would receive a laptop and obviously that didn’t happen, the school meals voucher system wasn’t working.

“And so he’s losing the dressing room, if you like. Headteachers have got to feel confident that they are being well-led by the Department for Education who are holding this agency, Ofqual, to account.”

GRAMMAR SCHOOL HEAD – 85 PER CENT OF PUPILS’ RESULTS DOWNGRADED

Grammar school headteacher Kay Mountfield said schools like hers have seen “85% of their student cohort downgraded”.

The head of Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Only 38 students out of 220 have kept their grades. Eighteen were downgraded by three grades, 74 by two grades and they’re scrabbling about for university places that just aren’t there.

“Seventy of my students have not had their first choice of university – normally that would be about five, or 10 maybe, students. But I have 70 grammar school students, from a range of backgrounds, who have worked very hard for their grades, struggling to get into universities.”

VIRUS SPIKE AT CHURCH IN SOUTH KOREA

A South Korean pastor who has been a critic of the country’s president has tested positive for the coronavirus, two days after he participated in an anti-government rally in Seoul that drew thousands.

More than 300 virus cases have been linked to the Rev. Jun Kwang-hun’s huge church in northern Seoul, which has emerged as a major cluster of infections.

Health workers have so far linked 319 infections to Jun’s church after carrying out tests on about 2,000 of its 4,000 members.

Police are tracking down around 700 church members who remain out of contact.

NORTHERN IRELAND GCSE RESULTS ‘WILL BE BASED ON TEACHER PREDICTIONS’

Northern Ireland’s Education Minister Peter Weir has said GCSE results will be based on grades provided by teachers.

It follows controversy last week after more than a third of A Level and AS Level grades provided by schools were lowered by the exams board CCEA.

FABRICANT – ‘COMPUTER SHOULD CRUNCH THE NUMBERS AGAIN’

If, as a contributor to @BBCr4today suggested, there is a fault in the À Level predictor algorithm AND it is known how to correct it, the algorithm should be corrected and the computer made to crunch the results again as quickly as possible.

— Michael Fabricant 🇬🇧 (@Mike_Fabricant) August 17, 2020

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