At the launch of the “Time Out to Help Out” campaign to ensure workers still get paid when they are asked to self-isolate, Greater Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham has said schools – particularly those in poorer areas – would be “exposed to the risk of real harm” if government doesn’t step in.
If this issue is not fixed, we will not be reopening schools in the safest way that we possibly can. We would be leaving a situation in place where people aren’t being supported to do their duty and self-isolate and consequently we will be allowing more of the virus to circulate in communities than should be.
The reality is that it will be schools in some of the poorer communities that will be most at risk because of the higher number of people living in those communities in low-paid, precarious work.
Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said schools are partly staffed by many low-paid workers in insecure often-outsourced contracts who, unless the government offers them support, will face “making that choice between doing the right thing by your community and your family taking a big hit financially”.
That isn’t good for our public health. I hope the government will see sense and see this as a critical part of that schools reopening plan.
And Liverpool’s mayor Steve Rotheram said a fortnight without pay “really could push many people into destitution, into arrears with rent, especially if they don’t qualify for the meagre pittance that is SSP or if they’re paid weekly”.
Six new Covid-related deaths in England
A survey by Scotland’s largest teachers’ union, the EIS, has found a large majority of teachers are worried about the safety of reopening schools this week, with most saying they wanted smaller class sizes, much greater cleaning and priority testing for pupils and staff.
The survey, which had nearly 28,500 responses, found 60% supported the return of schools from 11 August but “remain concerned about the spread of Covid-19”, while nearly 25% objected to schools resuming “as I think stronger mitigations are needed”.
A majority of teachers were also unhappy about Nicola Sturgeon’s assertion, supported by ministers in England, that the scientific advice supported the return to schools without physical distancing.
Nearly 35% said they felt uncomfortable with no distancing, while 24% said they felt very uncomfortable. Fifty-three per cent said they believed face coverings should be mandatory for teachers in the classroom, with 28% disagreeing. Scottish government advice is that face coverings are not recommended except where teachers cannot remain 2 metres apart from other adults in school.
The union said 73% wanted to see smaller class sizes, rather than allowing many to stay at 30; 72% wanted priority testing for asymptomatic staff and 57% for asymptomatic pupils; 65% wanted far more cleaning in school. Just over 44% wanted PPE to be available to staff, including aprons, gloves and goggles.
Larry Flanagan, the EIS general secretary, said: “Our survey findings confirm that, even as they return to schools across the country today, Scotland’s teachers are extremely concerned about the risks associated with potential Covid-19 infection in schools.
“There is significant concern amongst all teachers on issues such as the large number of pupils in each class, inability to maintain social distancing, and the need for the wearing of face coverings to ensure safety in some circumstances.
“These concerns grow more acute based on the age of pupils being taught, with secondary teachers expressing a particularly high level of concern over the potential risks of teaching young adults for long periods of time in an enclosed classroom environment.”
Johnson says he 'will not hesitate' to impose new quarantines if needed
Boris Johnson has reaffirmed Downing Street’s warning that it will “not hesitate” to impose quarantine restrictions on countries, as fears grow that France is next to be removed from the government’s travel corridor list amid a rise in Covid-19 cases.
Ministers are said to be closely monitoring the situation in France – which recorded its highest increase in cases since May on Friday – with holidaymakers facing a nervous wait to see if the country will be dropped from the government’s list of countries from where arrivals are exempt from 14-day quarantine measures.
Speaking on Monday, Johnson said: “I don’t want to advise people about their individual holidays, individual decisions. They should look at the travel advice from the Foreign Office clearly.
“But what I will say, and I hope people would expect us to do this, in the context of a global pandemic, we’ve got to keep looking at the data in all the countries to which British people want to travel.
“Where it is necessary to impose restrictions or to impose a quarantine system, we will not hesitate to do so.”
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, issued a similar warning last week. Meanwhile, asked whether France would be added to the quarantine list later this week, the prime minister’s official spokesman said on Monday: “We keep the data for all countries and territories under constant review.
“Any decisions to update the exemption list will be informed by the latest health data and we can and will act rapidly if we judge that the public health risk not requiring travellers to self-isolate increase beyond an accessible level ... We have been updating the exemptions list on a weekly basis in order to make sure that it reflects the changes in the international health picture.”
Mayors launch campaign to get pay for self-isolating people
Wearing masks in shops is compulsory from today onwards in Northern Ireland but rank and file police officers have warned that they alone cannot impose Stormont’s new anti-coronavirus measure.
Shoppers risk a £60 fine if they enter retail outlets across the region without a mask.
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) however emphasised today that their members cannot enforce mandatory face coverings on their own.
Mark Lindsay, the PFNI chairman, said it would be “an impossibility” to have a police officer checking masks in every shop in every city and town in Northern Ireland.
Lindsay said: “It is not solely an issue for police officers. Yes, officers will be the final bulwark in enforcement, but retailers will also have a major part to play in making this mandatory instruction workable and effective.
”The vast majority of people will comply because they know the stakes couldn’t be higher.... Common sense and gentle persuasion will be infinitely more preferable than anything else.
“We should all remember this order is being introduced and for all our sakes, I would appeal to the general public to help statutory agencies and retailers combat the virus.”
The Covid-19 outbreak in Aberdeen is going to grow after Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that a further 23 cases had been linked to the cluster overnight, bringing the total number of cases to 157.
The first minister said during her regular coronavirus update that in addition 18 other cases had emerged in the wider Grampian area overnight, bringing the number of cases to 231. She said 852 people had now been spoken to as part of NHS Grampian’s contact tracing measures.
The national data, however, confirmed the pandemic’s decline had continued across Scotland as a whole.
She said there had again been no deaths reported involving hospital patients who tested positive with Covid-19, with only three people currently in intensive care. No confirmed Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in hospitals in Scotland since 16 July.