ENGLAND'S tiered lockdown system could return amid growing fears the Indian variant could stop "Freedom Day" next month.
A proposed deadline to announce if social distancing will end on June 21 has reportedly been shelved as cases of the Indian coronavirus strain continue to rise.
According to the Times, a lockdown system based on last year's Tier 4 restrictions are being drawn up as a contingency plan.
Under the measures, Brits would be advised to stay at home – while non-essential shops and hospitality would shut down once again if the mutant strain continues to spread.
The newspaper said businesses in areas subject to the restrictions would receive grants of up to £18,000 and the scheme would be administered by local authorities, with payments adjusted according to the length of restrictions.
It comes after Matt Hancock on Monday confirmed 2,323 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant have been found in 86 local authorities across the UK.
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- John Hall
An MP in Covid-ravaged India has been blasted for her "disturbing" claim that drinking cow urine every day prevents her from catching the virus.
Controversial politician Pragya Thakur hailed it a "life-saver" – despite doctors repeatedly telling people not to use cow excrement as a way to treat coronavirus as the country continues to be battered by a deadly second wave.
The MP, who is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party and represents Bhopal, claimed drinking cow pee protects her from Covid.
She has been slammed for her remarks which outraged politicians say "invite more devastation" by "discouraging people from getting the jab".
More on the story here.
- John Hall
The chances of full lockdown being lifted on June 21 are “close to nil”, a government adviser has reportedly said.
The final decision on whether to ease restrictions could be delayed until the full extent of the spread of the Indian Covid variant – and the effectiveness of vaccines against it – becomes known.
A spike in cases of the variant has seen it spread rapidly to reach all parts of the UK within a matter of weeks.
Downing Street has refused to say if Boris Johnson's promise to announce an update on post-June 21 plans by the end of the month will still go ahead as planned.
Some ministers and scientist have insisted the full easing of lockdown restrictions that will allow indoor mixing, weddings and clubs to reopen, is still likely to go ahead.
- John Hall
Coronavirus jabs will be open to 37-year-olds from today in a bid to keep the Indian variant at bay, the Health Secretary has announced.
Matt Hancock today stated that 37 year-olds will be next in line to have a dose before 36-year-olds are invited on Wednesday.
Speaking yesterday Mr Hancock said jabs had been quadrupled in hotspot areas this weekend such as Blackburn and Bolton, where cases of the Indian variant are dominant.
He thanked the people of Bolton and Blackburn for their "community spirit" when it comes to the jab rollout and urged people to come forward for their jab when they are offered it.
Mr Hancock said the vaccine has saved lives and has prevented hospitalisations.
- John Hall
TURKEY'S ERDOGAN ANNOUNCES ONE-TIME PAYMENTS FOR BUSINESS HIT BY PANDEMIC
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday announced one-off payments totalling some 4.6 billion lira to several sectors that were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including cafes, restaurants and musicians.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said cafes, wedding venues and theme parks, among other businesses hit by the pandemic, would be given a one-off payment of 5,000 lira.
He said restaurants, cab drivers, barbers, musicians, car washes and others would receive 3,000 lira.
Erdogan also announced additional support for the agriculture sector.
Turkey emerged on Monday from a full lockdown that lasted nearly three weeks, during which many businesses were closed. A daily curfew and weekend lockdowns will remain in place until June
- John Hall
MASKING FOR TROUBLE
Brits heading to Portugal for a long-awaited holiday must wear face masks on the beach or will be slapped with a £100 fine.
As foreign travel finally reopened for countries on the green list, it still remains a far cry from normality – as tourists were handed face masks, hand sanitiser and were asked for full details of their trip after stepping off the plane.
Holidaymakers were also warned to abide by the strict rules regarding wearing face masks in public places, including beaches, or will face £100 fines.
Although the country is officially “open for business”, visitors must provide proof of a negative Covid PCR test and show a completed locator form with details of their accommodation.
Portugal pledged to try “at all costs to avoid quarantines and additional Covid-19 tests” for travellers, tourism minister Rita Marques said recently.
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