Covid-19 Weekend Bulletin

A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.

Weekend Roundup  

Press Conference – Saturday 23rd  May

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary

  • Figures for the day: i ) 3,348 ,507 tests carried out in the UK so far ii)  160,585 tests carried out  yesterday . Of those, iii) 257,154 tested positive,  an  increase of 2,959 cases since  yesterday  iv)  9,331 people in hospital with coronavirus, down 11 per cent since last week ;   v ) 36,675 people have now sadly died , an i n crease of 282 fatalities since yesterday, across all settings
  • In the short term the government will need to bring back more public transport to keep families safe. That process has already begun: i) rail and tube services increased at the beginning of this week and they’ll ramp up more next month ii)  to ensure that more buses, trams and light rail networks return to service, Shapps  announce d  new investment of £283m to start moving back to a full timetable
  • Those who can should still work from home and avoid all public Even a fully restored service will only be capable of carrying, at best, one fifth of the normal capacity once social distancing is  taken into account .  Only if you need to travel, and you can’t walk, cycle or drive, should you take a bus, tram or train.  He added for rush hour to be avoided.
  • The government are managing the transport network to make it as safe as possible – this week saw the deployment of nearly 3,500 British Transport Police, Network Rail and Transport for London employees. These marshals  worked with the public to prevent services from becoming overcrowded.
  • From June 1, at the earliest, as we move to phase two of the unlockthe government  will start to deploy twice as many  marshals  with the assistance of groups like the charity Volunteering Matters. These journey makers will help provide reassurance, advice and friendly assistance to commuters, and was a great success at the 2012 Olympics. He added that if we show the same public-spirited  concern for one another, it would go a long way  in helping transport and  passengers  cope
  • It is essential we stagger our journeys, and the government  asked the tech sector to come up with innovative proposals to help passengers avoid congestion. A good example is Passenger Connect from Birmingham startup Zip About. A personalized information service which tells rail users how disruption and crowding may affect their journey while providing alternatives and helping people maintain social distancing. The service has been successfully piloted for the past 12 months and will be rolled out soon.
  • The government’s mission is to level up Britain and the covidoutbreak must be the catalyst to get it done:  levelling up and speeding up.  So, while roads and railways are less busy the government is accelerating vital projects.
  • The government is also getting on with plans to reverse some of the so-called Beeching rail cuts too, and the work has already started. Today, the next ten schemes to benefit are announced. It is development funding, but if they stack up then they government isgoing to build them fast.  Amongst the many schemes is the reinstatement of the Ivanhoe Line in the East Midlands, and branch lines on Isle of Wight and a new station at Wellington in Somerset.
  • TodayShapps is publishing the preferred route to complete the dual carriageway on the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith. The first new all dual carriageway across the Pennines in fifty years.
  • We have to reshape our towns and cities too. As conditions allow and not until July, the government will be looking to support creative ways for businesses to reopen whilst maintaining social distancing.  The government will work with restaurants and bars so we can enjoy an outdoor summer in a safe and responsible environment.
  • For those who live too far to cycle or walk, and must drive, the government will repurpose parking in places just outside town centres, so people can park on the outskirts and finish their journey on foot, bike or even e-scooter.
  • He provided the detail of the new £50 bicycle maintenance voucher which is available next month and will help up  to half a million people.  C lean air should be as big a priority to us as clean water was to the Victorians.

Press Conference – Sunday 24 May

Boris Johnson

  • Johnson opened by addressing concerns that the government is asking the public to do one thing, and senior governmentto do something else. He stated that he has had extensive face to face meetings with Dominic Cummings and he has concluded that in travelling to find the right childcare at the moment when he and his wife were about to be incapacitated with coronavirus,  and when he had no alternative, he has followed the instincts of every parent, “and I do not mark him down for that”.  There are many other allegations, but Johnson stated he believed that Cummings has acted responsibly, legally and with integrity.
  • The daily figures: i )  3 ,458,905 tests carried out in UK , including  110,401 tests carried out  ; ii)  259,5 59 people tested  positive , an  increase of  2,409 since yesterday;   iii)  8,951 in hospital with covid – 19, down  11 percent this time last week; iv)  36,793 across all settings have now died , which is an  increase of 118 since yesterday
  • Two weeks ago, Johnson set out government’ s road m ap for easing measures in place.  He said the government would do so in a safe and controlled way, based on the government’s assessment of progress against the five tests set for adjusting the lockdown. That assessment will be set out in detail in the coming days.  Johnson confirmed that he does believe that we will be in a position to move to step two of our plan.
  • As part of step two the government set out plans for a phased reopening of schools because education of children is crucial for their welfare, health, lo ng   term future and social justice. In line with the approach taken in many other countries, the government wants to start getting children back into school in a way that is as manageable and as safe as possible.  So the government said they would begin with early years settings, reception, year one and year six in primary schools. Today, Johnson announced that it is the government’s intention to go ahead with that as planned on 1 June.
  • The government then intends, from 15 June, for secondary schools to provide some contact for year 10 and year 12 students to help them prepare for exams next year, with up to a quarter of these students in at any point. By opening schools to more pupils in this limited way, the government are taking a deliberately cautious approach which comes after a constructive period of consultation with schools, teachers and unions.
  • The Department for Education will engage with teaching unions, local authorities and school leaders in the coming days giving them an opportunity to ask questions and probe the evidence behind the government’s plans. The final decision will be taken as part of the formal review into lockdown measures by Thursday.
  • It is important for the government to be clear about their intentions now so that schools can prepare for reopening. Johnson stated that he acknowledges that a June 1 opening may not be possible for all schools, but the government will continue to support and work with thesector to make sure that any schools experiencing difficulties are able to open up more widely as soon as possible.
  • Detailedguidance has been published by the Department for Education on how schools could open in a way that is safe for children, teachers and parents
  • While the government recognized that full social distancing may not be possible, particularly when teaching young children, the guidance sets out a range of protective measures to keep children and staff safe
  • Thisincludes:  reducing classroom sizes and keeping children in small groups without mixing with others; staggered break and lunchtimes as well as drop offs and pick-ups; increasing frequency of cleaning; reducing the use of shared items; and utilising outdoor space. All children and staff and their families will have access to testing if they display symptoms, which will enable children and staff to get back to school if they test negative, and if they test positive, the government will take the appropriate, reactive measures.
  • The government will set out what moving to step two means for other areas such as non-essential retail and moresocial contacts over the next week


Press Conference – Monday 25 May

Boris Johnson

  • The daily figures: i ) 3 ,532,634  tests carried out in UK,   including  73,726   tests carried out yesterday; ii)  261,184  people tested positive, an increase of  1,625  since yesterday; iii)  8,834  in hospital with  covid19, down 12 percent  per cent this time last week; iv)  36,914  across all settings have now died, which is an increase of  121 since yesterday
  • Because of the progress we are making, Johnson stated that he can put the British people on notice of the changes the government intend to introduce as we move to step two, so people havesufficient time to adjust
  • Yesterday, Johnson set from 1 June out his intention to reopen nurseries and particular yearsin primary schools followed by some contact for secondary schools from 15 June
  • Johnson gave notice to the retail sector of the government’s intentions to reopen shops so they too can get ready. He announced government intention for outdoor markets to reopen on June 1subject to all premises being made covid secure, as well as car showrooms who often have enough space, and where it is genuinely easier to apply social distancing
  • He added that the government knows that transmission of the virus is lower outdoors and that it is easier to followcovid secure guidelines in open spaces.  So, the government is allowing outdoor markets to reopen in a safe way
  • From 15 June, the government intends to allow all other non-essential retail, ranging from department stores to small independent shops to reopen, contingent upon progress against the five tests, and only permitted for those premises which are covid secure.
  • The government is publishing new guidance for the retail sector. Shops now have the time to implement this guidance before they reopen.
  • The government will have the powers they need to enforce compliance where that is required
  • These are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country and we can only take them thanks to what we have so far achieved together.

Key Announcements  

  • Prior to Johnson’s press conference on Monday, Dominic Cummings made a statement outside Downing Street, and defended his decision to travel to Durham.
  • Weston hospital  in Somerset  has closed  to new patients to halt the  spread of coronavirus
  • The BBC reports  that the scientist leading the UK’s largest Covid-19 tracking project has said that two major sporting events held in March “caused increased suffering and death”
  • WHO has halted malaria drug trial, hydroxycholorquine , for coronavirus amid safety fears, the Guardian  reports 
  • The Financial Times has reported  that the German Government has agreed to a €9bn bailout for airline Lufthansa

Regional/ Devolved  

  • It could be two weeks before the new system for tracking and tracing coronavirus cases across Wales, Andrew Morgan, leader of the Welsh Local Government Association has  
  • An extra £23m in funding will be made available  to the Welsh Government
  • Welsh Government economy minister, Ken Skates, has said  that Wales’ tourism sector could struggle until 2021
  • The National has reported  that a four-day working week is one of the ideas being encouraged by the First Minister as part of a ‘new normal’ in Scotland after coronavirus lockdown
  • The Scottish Sun has reported  that Nicola Sturgeon expects the new coronavirus lockdown easing rules to come into force on Friday
  • The BBC has reported  that Scotland’s health secretary,  Jean  Freeman, says there should be a review of social care in light of the devastation caused by coronavirus
  • Non-essential retail stores are likely to be given the go-ahead to re-open within the next week as Northern Ireland moves further out of lockdown, the Belfast Telegraph has reported
  • The Belfast Live reported  of Northern Ireland’s first drive-in church services during coronavirus
  • The Belfast Telegraph reports  of a new online platform which will help firms across Northern Ireland to return to work


  • The Guardian reported  that the Czech Republic has lifted the face mask rule as coronavirus restrictions ease
  • The BBC has reported  that the US has imposed travel restrictions on foreign nationals who have been to Brazil in the last 14 days.
  • The Independent has reported  that  a senior member of France’s ruling party,  En Marche, has criticized the UK’s approach to the pandemic, particularly Johnson’s new quarantine policy which requires all arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Mexico City records thousands more deaths than usual, amid doubt over official Covid-19 toll reports  the Guardian
  • The Mirror has reported  that Cyprus will allow direct flights from 19 countries in two stages starting on Jun 9, but the UK does not feature in the list
  • The Independent reports   the Red Cross has warned  that East Africa is facing a ‘triple threat’ from coronavirus, locusts and flooding
  • The Guardian reported  that the Middle East fears a coronavirus surge amid Eid celebrations.
  • India has restarted domestic air travel, the Guardian has  
  • The BBC reports  that there were no new Covid-19 linked deaths in the Republic of Ireland in the last 24 hours
  • The director of the Wuhan Institute of virology told Chinese state broadcaster CGTN  that the lab   was working on three live strains of bat coronavirus, but none of them match the one that has caused the Covid-19 pandemic , the Guardian   
  • Foreign visitors to Spain will no longer  have to undergo a two-week quarantine from 1st  July


  • Nine charities led by the National Deaf Children’s Society are calling on  Public Health England and NHS England to commission transparent face masks, stating that it will make a “monumental difference” to deaf people
  • A new survey completed by UNISON Scotland has found that  83 per cent of education staff are anxious about returning to work or, if they are at work, increasing the numbers of children returning to education.
  • The NEU is not convinced  that it is safe to open schools more widely on 1 June, expressing concern that  independent evidence does not justify wider opening .
  • Commenting on reports  that the chancellor  is  soon to unveil Project Birch, the government’s plan to support and invest in strategically vital industries,  Unite the Union, said  that there is no more time to lose to prevent mass job losses.

Unconfirmed reports   

  • The Independent has reported  that the government has authorized a plan allowing the bailout of firms considered strategically important to prevent them from collapsing as a result of coronavirus.