Coronavirus live: Russia sets new daily record for Covid deaths, Thailand ready to welcome back tourists

By Martin Belam (now) and Samantha Lock (earlier)

05:23

The tiny town of Merrigum in regional Victoria in Australia may lose its only post office because its operator has refused to be vaccinated for Covid-19, citing her “freedom of choice”.

Angela Spedding has operated the Merrigum post office and newsagent for more than six years.

On Tuesday, in a post on social media, Spedding said she had been told by Australia Post that the post office would have to close if she had not booked in to receive a vaccine by the end of the working week, and she would also have to cease delivering mail.

Australia Post denied Spedding had been told to close the office, but said she had advised them it would close from Thursday after discussions about her compliance with state health orders.

Read more of Caitlin Cassidy’s report here: Tiny Victorian town could lose its only post office as operator refuses Covid vaccine

05:20

Russia sets new record for daily Covid deaths

04:36

Here’s my colleague Alexandra Topping summing up those media appearances from Stephen Barclay this morning: Cabinet minister refuses to apologise after report on UK Covid response

A cabinet minister has refused to apologise to the families who lost loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic after a damning report from MPs on the government’s response found that tens of thousands of lives were lost because of a delay to the first lockdown.

Stephen Barclay, the minister for the Cabinet Office, insisted the government “did take decisions to move quickly” despite the inquiry finding that Britain’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the worst public health failures in UK history, with ministers and scientists taking a “fatalistic” approach that exacerbated the death toll.

On Sky News on Tuesday, Barclay was repeatedly asked to apologise to the families who lost loved ones, but pointedly refused to do so. Asked about the inquiry, he said he had “not had a chance to read it”.

Barclay said: “Of course there are going to be lessons to learn, that’s why we’ve committed to an inquiry, but the government took decisions at the time based on the scientific advice it received, but those scientists themselves were operating in a very new environment.”

He added: “We protected the NHS, we got the vaccine deployed at pace, but we accept where there are lessons to be learned, we’re keen to do so.”

According to the 151-page Coronavirus: lessons learned to date report, led by two former Conservative ministers, the crisis exposed “major deficiencies in the machinery of government”.

Read more of Alexandra Topping’s report here: Cabinet minister refuses to apologise after report on UK Covid response

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04:05

The logistical challenges of having to check vaccine certificates for customers was dawning on businesses in Sydney as they experienced their second day out of lockdown.

In the western Sydney suburb of Parramatta, one of the 12 areas of concern during the peak of the latest outbreak, retailers were using a combination of carefully placed barriers, security and rotating staff to check on customers before they enter.

“It’s an annoying add-on,” admitted Sheida, a manager at a fashion retailer in Parramatta, who did not want her full name used. “I feel worse for the customers than the businesses, it’s such a hassle having to pull out your certificate in each store, as well as checking in.”

Sheida is one of the thousands of workers who have seen their job description change since greater Sydney emerged from lockdown on Monday for the vaccinated.

Shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, gyms, hairdressers and stadiums now require people to show their vaccine certificates before entry, to confirm they are fully vaccinated.

Residents over 16 who are unvaccinated or cannot produce proof of their status are legally banned from those venues.

Read more of Mostafa Rachwani’s report here: ‘A bit annoying’ – Sydney businesses praise customers but admit vaccine checks can be trying

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