Coronavirus: UK government defends decision to add Spain to quarantine list | UK News


The UK government has defended its decision to impose quarantine measures on travellers returning from Spain after the country’s prime minister called the move an “error” that was “not justified”.

UK local government minister Simon Clarke spoke to Sky News after the UK revised its travel advice for Spain to warn against all non-essential travel to the Balearic and Canary islands.

Mr Clarke said the decision to add Spain to the UK’s quarantine list on Saturday was “taken in good faith”.

He said: “We saw a 75% increase in cases on Thursday and Friday relative to Tuesday and Wednesday last week – that’s what has prompted this intervention.”

“We are living in a world where things can move suddenly and very seriously, and that’s what appears to be happening in parts of Spain,” he said.

“We have to therefore make a decision as a government over what is best to make the UK safe.”

Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport
Image: Passengers arriving at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 after the announcement that Spain had been added to the UK’s quarantine list

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez said on Monday that his country is in talks with UK authorities to make them reconsider the decision to impose quarantine measures.

Mr Sanchez pointed out that the upsurge in Spain’s coronavirus cases is focused in two regions, Catalonia and Aragon.

He added: “In most of Spain, the incidence is very much inferior to even the numbers registered in the United Kingdom.”

quarantine change
Angry tourists vent over quarantine
Es Carregador Beach in Calvia, on the Spanish island of Mallorca, earlier this month
Image: Beachgoers are seen on the Spanish island of Mallorca earlier this month

The Spanish government wants the UK to exempt travellers to the Balearic and Canary islands from the newly-announced two-week quarantine.

Daniel Trigg, chairman of the Lanzarote Business and Residents’ Association, said he was caught off-guard by the UK government’s decision to apply a blanket rule across all of Spain and its islands.

He added that Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, currently has just one case of coronavirus.

Mr Trigg said: “It came out of nowhere. We do not understand how the Canary Islands can be included.

“We’ve complied with everything and just do not understand why we’re all put in the same category as mainland Spain.”

Mr Trigg urged the British government to reconsider the decision due to Lanzarote’s reliance on tourism for income and its precarious outlook for jobs.

He added: “Thousands of people will be put out of work and will never recover. Some businesses will just not last this.

“You’re (the UK government) going to wipe out a lot of business and a lot of hard working families, including a lot of self-employed people in the tourism sector.”

Spain’s tourism minister Reyes Maroto insisted it was safe for holidaymakers to visit the popular destinations.

She said: “We’ve been talking all weekend. What we’d like is for quarantines to be lifted on the islands as early as possible and we hope it will be today rather than tomorrow.”

Spain’s tourism association – known as CEHAT – has offered to pay for tourists to take coronavirus tests and called the quarantine decision “illogical” and “unfair”.

raab on ridge 26 july
Spain quarantine: UK acted ‘swiftly’

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News that the government received data on Friday which showed a “big jump” in COVID-19 cases across Spain.

The quarantine affects Britons coming back from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera).

The Scottish government lifted its quarantine rules on Spain this week but will now reimpose them, with Northern Ireland and Wales also following suit.

Have you been affected by Spain being added to the UK’s quarantine list?

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Coronavirus: Total retail sales bounce back to pre-pandemic levels | Business News


Overall retails sales have returned to a similar level as before the coronavirus pandemic after two months of increases, official figures show.

However, latest data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals a mixed picture for different store types.

In June, the volume of retail sales increased by 13.9% when compared with the previous month as non-food and fuel stores continued to rally from the sharp falls experienced since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

This was the second consecutive month of strong growth following record declines in March and April.

The rises seen in May and June have brought total sales back in line with pre-coronavirus levels, according to the ONS.

When compared with February, the amount of sales was down by just 0.6%.

However, while non-food stores and fuel sales in June showed strong growth with sales at 45.5% and 21.5% respectively, levels have still not recovered from the sharp falls seen in March and April.

But food stores and online retailing both reached new high levels since the start of the pandemic, with grocery sales up 5.3% and non-store sales 53.6% higher, than February.

The amount of online spending fell to 31.8% in June when compared with the record 33.3% reported in May, but still remains well up on the 20% seen in February.

While many petrol stations remained open throughout the pandemic they experienced sharp falls in March and April because of travel restrictions.

From May sales started to recover with the easing of government rules, increasing by a record 47.4%, and this growth continued in June with a hike of 21.5% when compared with the previous month.

However, despite the increases, sales still remain 30.3% lower than February.

A similar picture is seen with non-food stores, such as clothing retailers, which was one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic as many were deemed non-essential.

Despite strong growth, sales have not currently returned to the levels seen before lockdown, and remain down 15% compared to February.

Clothing and shoe shops show the sharpest decline in the sector, remaining down 34.9% from February, with a 50.8% drop in store sales not matched by a 26.8% rise online.

Man, 30, charged with attempted murder of worker at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton | UK News


A man has been charged with attempted murder after a male member of staff at a hospital in Brighton was stabbed “several times”.

Connolly Mellon, 30, from Brighton, will appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court today in connection with the incident at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Sussex Police said.

He was arrested shortly after the 56-year-old hospital worker was attacked on Sunday morning.

Royal Sussex County Hospital
Image: The attack took place at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton

The hospital was put in lockdown following the incident on Sunday and searches by armed police of the premises concluded in the early afternoon.

The victim was treated for several stab wounds and was later discharged from hospital.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “My thoughts go out to the staff member at the Royal Sussex County Hospital who was injured this morning.

“I will not accept violence against NHS staff – we will bring the full force of the law to bear on anyone who attacks public servants in their line of duty.”

Unison union central Sussex hospitals branch secretary Mark Sargent said: “Our thoughts are with our injured colleague and his family.

“NHS workers who’ve been keeping people safe during the pandemic shouldn’t have to face violence when they’re doing their jobs. Security staff and police deserve huge credit for their timely and decisive action.”

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Police said on Sunday that the hospital was “quickly secured” following the attack.

They added that the “apparently isolated and unexplained incident” is not being treated as a terror attack.

Coronavirus: Leicester lockdown ‘unnecessary’ if data had been known earlier, says city’s mayor | Politics News


Leicester’s mayor has criticised the government for only recently providing data that he claims could have prevented the city’s lockdown “ever being necessary”.

Sir Peter Soulsby told Sky News’ Kay Burley @ Breakfast show that he felt “angry and frustrated”.

The government is set to review added restrictions imposed on Leicester – which has witnessed the UK’s first full local coronavirus lockdown – later on Thursday.

Leicester has gone into a localised lockdown due to an spike in coronavirus cases
Image: Leicester entered a localised lockdown due to a spike in coronavirus cases

Shops and schools in Leicester have been forced to close again, while the reopening of pubs and restaurants did not take place in the city in line with the rest of England earlier this month.

Sir Peter said he did not expect to be informed of the results of the government’s review until it is publicly announced.

“It will be a political decision that will take us out, the same way it was a political decision that brought us into lockdown,” he said.

“I’m just very angry and frustrated because we’ve now, well into the lockdown, begun to get some data from the government that actually shows where the virus is and where it isn’t in the city.

“We’ve been asking for this for weeks.”

He said the data shows the infections are mostly “in perhaps some 10% of neighbourhoods of the city and the remaining 90% is very largely free of it”.

“If we had this before, we could have used it to intervene – as Blackburn and other places are using it to intervene now – with those neighbourhoods to prevent the lockdown ever being necessary.”

Sir Peter said the 10% of Leicester’s neighbourhoods where COVID-19 infections are high had been joined by a “very angry and very frustrated 90%”.

Coronavirus: Public transport restrictions will be eased to get people back to work – report | UK News


Restrictions on public transport use are to be eased, according to a report, as the government tries to encourage people to return to work.

People in England had been told to avoid trains, tubes, buses and trams where possible, working from home to limit the spread of coronavirus.

However, a report in The Sunday Telegraph said ministers were preparing to change this advice as part of the next step towards economic recovery.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted people to return to work “if they can”, adding: “I think it’s very important that people should try to lead their lives more normally”.

There are also financial concerns for the transport companies, many of which have suffered huge losses due to the fall in passenger numbers.

A Whitehall source told The Sunday Telegraph: “It is costing a great deal of money to run all these train services with so few people on them.

“Different departments are looking at ways to ease in the message of avoiding public transport. The best way to do this, and when, is currently under discussion.

“There is some debate about how best to get the message across that the government wants to allow more people to travel.”

Shoppers out in Birmingham city centre
Face coverings could become mandatory in shops

It comes as it was revealed that 44,798 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as at 5pm on Friday.

However, it is thought that the number of all deaths involving COVID-19 is more than 55,000.

Meanwhile, lockdown rules continue to ease, with beauticians, tattooists and tanning salons allowed to reopen from Monday.

Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen on 25 July.

JK Rowling and Salman Rushdie among 152 public figures to criticise ‘cancel culture’ | UK News


JK Rowling and Salman Rushdie are among 152 writers and academics who have signed an open letter denouncing the so-called “cancel culture”.

Those who signed the letter have said they “applaud” recent protests for racial justice and greater equality, but added a “reckoning” has weakened tolerance of different opinions in favour of “ideological conformity”.

The writers and academics, including philosopher Noam Chomsky and The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood, go on to call Donald Trump a “real threat to democracy” before saying “resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion”.

“Cancel culture” refers to the online practice of showing opposition to an individual, usually a celebrity or public figure, who has expressed an opinion that is perceived to be offensive.

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, the Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell and the British novelist Martin Amis also signed the letter, which continues: “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.

“While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

“We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.”

Salman Rusdhie is among those to have signed the open letter
Image: Salman Rushdie is among those to have signed the open letter

The letter, which was published on the website of Harper’s Magazine on Tuesday, also references editors who are being fired for “running controversial pieces” and professors being “investigated for quoting works of literature in class”.

It continues: “This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time.

“The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.

“The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.”

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has faced opposition over her tweets about transgender people.

She has criticised the use of the phrase “people who menstruate” and suggested that trans women could pose a threat to cisgender women.

She is also facing criticism after describing hormones and surgery for transgender people as “a new kind of conversion therapy”.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood faced a social media backlash in 2018 when she expressed concerns about the #MeToo movement and called for due process in the case of a former university professor accused of sexual misconduct.

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 29: Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the opening of the Bits & Pretzels meetup on September 29, 2019 in Munich, Germany. The annual event brings together founders and startups from across the globe for three days of networking, talks and inspiration. during the "Bits & Pretzels Founders Festival" at ICM Munich on September 29, 2019 in Munich, Germany. Bits & Pretzels is an application-only, three-day festival that connects 5,000 founders, investors, startu
Image: Barack Obama criticised ‘woke’ culture last year

The former US president Barack Obama challenged “woke” culture last year when he said calling people out on social media doesn’t bring about change.

He said: “I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people.

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because ‘man did you see how woke I was? I called you out!'”

He added: “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you are probably not going to get that far.”

The full list of people who signed the letter:

  • Elliot Ackerman, US author
  • Saladin Ambar, associate professor of political science at Rutgers University
  • Martin Amis, British novelist
  • Anne Applebaum, US journalist and historian
  • Marie Arana, Peruvian author
  • Margaret Atwood, Canadian author
  • John Banville, Irish novelist
  • Mia Bay, US historian
  • Louis Begley, US novelist
  • Roger Berkowitz, professor of political studies at Bard College
  • Paul Berman, US writer
  • Sheri Berman, professor of political science at Barnard College
  • Reginald Dwayne Betts, US poet
  • Neil Blair, literary agent
  • David W. Blight, history professor at Yale University
  • Jennifer Finney Boylan, US author
  • David Bromwich, professor of English at Yale University
  • David Brooks, American-Canadian political commentator
  • Ian Buruma, professor of human rights and journalism at Bard College
  • Lea Carpenter, US writer
  • Noam Chomsky, US philosopher and political activist
  • Nicholas A. Christakis, American-Greek sociologist
  • Roger Cohen, British journalist and author
  • Ambassador Frances D. Cook
  • Drucilla Cornell, American philosopher
  • Kamel Daoud, Algerian writer
  • Meghan Daum, American author
  • Gerald Early, American essayist
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, US novelist
  • Dexter Filkins, US journalist
  • Federico Finchelstein, Argentinian historian
  • Caitlin Flanagan, US writer and social critic
  • Richard T. Ford, professor of law at Stanford Law School
  • Kmele Foster, US commentator
  • David Frum, American-Canadian commentator
  • Francis Fukuyama, US political scientist
  • Atul Gawande, US surgeon and writer
  • Todd Gitlin, American sociologist
  • Kim Ghattas, Lebanese journalist
  • Malcolm Gladwell, Canadian journalist
  • Michelle Goldberg, American blogger and author
  • Rebecca Goldstein, American philosopher
  • Anthony Grafton, US historian
  • David Greenberg, professor of history and journalism at Rutgers University
  • Linda Greenhouse, US journalist
  • Rinne B. Groff, US playwright and performer
  • Sarah Haider, American-Pakistani writer activist
  • Jonathan Haidt, American social psychologist
  • Roya Hakakian, Iran-born writer
  • Shadi Hamid, American author
  • Jeet Heer, Canadian author
  • Katie Herzog, podcast host
  • Susannah Heschel, professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College
  • Adam Hochschild, US author and journalist
  • Arlie Russell Hochschild, US author
  • Eva Hoffman, Polish writer and academic
  • Coleman Hughes, US writer
  • Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute
  • Michael Ignatieff, Canadian author and academic
  • Zaid Jilani, journalist
  • Bill T. Jones, US choreographer
  • Wendy Kaminer, American lawyer and writer
  • Matthew Karp, historian at Princeton University
  • Garry Kasparov, leader of the Renew Democracy Initiative
  • Daniel Kehlmann, German novelist
  • Randall Kennedy, American law professor
  • Khaled Khalifa, Syrian novelist
  • Parag Khanna, Indian-American specialist in international relations
  • Laura Kipnis, American cultural critic
  • Frances Kissling, US activist
  • Enrique Krauze, Mexican historian
  • Anthony Kronman, professor at Yale University
  • Joy Ladin, American poet
  • Nicholas Lemann, professor at Columbia University
  • Mark Lilla, American political scientist
  • Susie Linfield, social and cultural theorist
  • Damon Linker, US writer
  • Dahlia Lithwick, Canadian-American writer
  • Steven Lukes, British political and social theorist
  • John R. MacArthur, American journalist
  • Susan Madrak, Philadelphia-based writer
  • Phoebe Maltz Bovy, US writer
  • Greil Marcus, US author
  • Wynton Marsalis, American trumpeter
  • Kati Marton, Hungarian-American author
  • Debra Maschek, New York-based scholar
  • Deirdre McCloskey, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • John McWhorter, US professor at Columbia University
  • Uday Mehta, American political scientist
  • Andrew Moravcsik, professor at Princeton University
  • Yascha Mounk, American-German political scientist
  • Samuel Moyn, professor of law and history at Yale University
  • Meera Nanda, Indian writer and historian of science
  • Cary Nelson, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Olivia Nuzzi, political reporter at New York Magazine
  • Mark Oppenheimer, staff writer at the Christian Century
  • Dael Orlandersmith, American actress and poet
  • George Packer, US journalist
  • Nell Irvin Painter, American historian
  • Greg Pardlo, American poet
  • Orlando Patterson, Jamaican-born American historical and cultural sociologist
  • Steven Pinker, Canadian psychologist
  • Letty Cottin Pogrebin, US author
  • Katha Pollitt, American poet and critic
  • Claire Bond Potter, political historian
  • Taufiq Rahim, senior fellow at the New America Foundation
  • Zia Haider Rahman, British novelist
  • Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Jonathan Rauch, American author and journalist
  • Neil Roberts, political theorist
  • Melvin Rogers, professor of political science at Brown University
  • Kat Rosenfield, pop culture and political writer
  • Loretta J. Ross, African-American academic
  • JK Rowling, British author
  • Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist
  • Karim Sadjadpour, Iranian-American policy analyst
  • Daryl Michael Scott, professor of US history at Howard University
  • Diana Senechal, teacher and writer
  • Jennifer Senior, author
  • Judith Shulevitz, American journalist
  • Jesse Singal, Brooklyn-based journalist
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, American politician scientist
  • Andrew Solomon, American writer
  • Deborah Solomon, American art critic and biographer
  • Allison Stanger, political scientist
  • Paul Starr, professor of sociology and public affairs
  • Wendell Steavenson, American journalist and author
  • Gloria Steinem, US writer and activist
  • Nadine Strossen, US civil liberties activist
  • Ronald S. Sullivan Jr, law professor at Harvard Law School
  • Kian Tajbakhsh, Iranian-American scholar
  • Zephyr Teachout, US attorney and author
  • Cynthia Tucker, American journalist
  • Adaner Usmani, assistant professor of sociology and social studies
  • Chloe Valdary, American writer
  • Lucía Martínez Valdivia, professor of English and humanities at Reed College
  • Helen Vendler, American literary critic
  • Judy B. Walzer, American academic administrator
  • Michael Walzer, US political theorist
  • Eric K. Washington, historian and author
  • Caroline Weber, American author and historian
  • Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers
  • Bari Weiss, American writer
  • Sean Wilentz, professor at Princeton University
  • Garry Wills, American author and journalist
  • Thomas Chatterton Williams, American cultural critic
  • Robert F. Worth, US journalist
  • Molly Worthen, journalist and historian of American religion
  • Matthew Yglesias, American blogger
  • Emily Yoffe, US journalist
  • Cathy Young, Russian-born American journalist
  • Fareed Zakaria, American journalist

‘We weren’t doing anything wrong’: Riot police break up illegal party in west London | UK News


They weren’t happy that their illegal party ended abruptly.

I’m told the minute ravers saw flashing blue lights, everyone on the Havelock Close estate in White City, west London, started to disperse, spilling out into the streets.

Officers in riot gear seen running towards the estate were met with hostility.

Alongside me were a large group of teenagers, all flinging stones and bottles.

I asked one man, who chucked several bricks at officers, why he was so angry.

“I just don’t like the way they turned up and were being so aggressive with us,” he told me.

“We weren’t doing anything wrong.”

Police break up illegal 'block party' in west London
Image: Seven police officers were hurt during the disorder

As officers pushed back against the crowd with their shields, they broke up into small groups, running around the estate and throwing missiles at police vans.

At one point the scale of the violence overwhelmed the officers, forcing them to call in reinforcements from other parts of the estate.

People living on nearby streets told me they were shocked to see what was happening.

One man who had his car window smashed as he attempted to leave the area said he knew the party would get out of control.

“I just can’t understand why the police don’t just get them off the streets. It’s all mad,” he shouted from his front door.

The impromptu nature of this event left police unable to keep up with the partygoers as a cordon was erected around what appeared to be the site of the unlicensed rave.

It left seven officers injured and was one of dozens of illegal parties in the capital city on Friday night.