The deputy mayor of Liverpool has stepped down while an inquiry takes place into footage of a gathering in her garden during lockdown.
The city’s Labour group is investigating after video emerged on social media of at least 12 people at the home of Lynnie Hinnigan, where a number of chairs were laid out.
Councillor Hinnigan said that no party took place because of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, and guests had just dropped off gifts in a surprise event for her 50th birthday, organised by her daughter.
She told the Liverpool Echo:
I really wasn’t aware that it was happening, it was genuinely a surprise.
Everyone is finding lockdown hard, not seeing family and friends, but everyone should still follow the rules, stay alert, stay safe and socially distance, which is exactly what I told my daughter and the reason I never left the house.
I am sorry if this has hurt anyone as it was never mine or my daughter’s intention.
Many other families in our city have struggled throughout this period. We still need to follow the guidance until we can meet face to face again.
The Labour group said Hinnigan had “voluntarily and temporarily” stepped down from her duties.
Some more upbeat news! Thousands of people have pledged to take up daily “random acts of wildness” throughout June, through a campaign by the Wildlife Trust.
With activities ranging from walking barefoot on the grass in a local park to making bird feeders, people are being encouraged to enjoy and appreciate a different aspect of nature on their doorsteps during the 30 days of June.
With so many simple joys to be had, here are some wonderful examples of what people will be doing to get closer to nature:
The Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, Munira Wilson, has said the decision by key members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) to go public with their concerns about easing lockdown measures shows “ministers are no longer following the science”.
Echoing the words of the mayor for Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, (see 9.44am), the Twickenham MP said lifting lockdown seemed “premature”.
The test, trace, isolate system that we need to keep people safe is not yet fully functional.
The NHSX app is delayed for an unknown period. For seven days straight, the government has been unable to provide even basic data about the number of people tested.
On top of these failings, public health messaging has been badly undermined as people see it’s one rule for the Tory elite and another for everyone else.
Given this chaos, measures to lift lockdown appear premature.
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced on Friday that the furlough scheme will come to an end at the end of October. From August, businesses will have to pay national insurance and pension contributions, then 10% of salaries in September, rising to 20% in October.
But the lack of protections for shielded workers is a “major missing piece” of the furlough scheme, according to Citizens Advice.
Analysis of around 2,000 of all employment cases Citizens Advice has seen since 14 April showed that more than 70% of those who are shielding or are at higher risk from coronavirus – such as those who are pregnant or have diabetes – were not furloughed.
Further research from the charity found that four in 10 (41%) of those in the shielded group have lost at least 20% of their income since the coronavirus outbreak began, more than a quarter (27%) have lost 60% of their income, and as many as one in 10 (12%) are working outside the home despite this potentially putting their health at risk.
Responding to the chancellor’s changes to the job retention scheme, Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
The furlough scheme has protected millions of jobs and incomes, but the failure to give additional protection for the shielded group means there is still a major missing piece of the puzzle. Many in this group fear their jobs will be the first to go as the scheme starts to wind down.
One in 10 people who are clinically extremely vulnerable are continuing to work outside the home despite the risk to their health, and thousands more are struggling to make ends meet because they have been denied furlough. No one should face this impossible choice.
As long as the shielded group are asked to remain at home, they and those they live with should have a right to be furloughed and employers should be exempt from contributing to the cost of the scheme for these employees.
The UK government released more than 50 documents on Friday – including the minutes of 34 meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). The documents set out how scientists tracked – and reacted to – the pandemic. By mid-March, a sense of panic was setting in.
Scientists warn coronavirus spreading ‘too fast’ to ease lockdown measures
Good morning. Government advisers have voiced concerns that the easing of lockdown measures from Monday will come too soon and could cause a surge in the spread of coronavirus. The R level is currently between 0.7 and 0.9 and, with 8,000 new daily infections in England alone, they warn this is “a very high level of incidence”.
Prof John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said the lifting of lockdown measures, at a time when the test, track and trace system has only been in place for a few days, is “risky”.
He told Sky News:
I think it’s risky for a couple of reasons. One, I think the reproduction number is only just below one and so there’s not a lot of room for manoeuvre and so small changes can put that reproduction number up above one.
I think the other more important thing is that we still have a lot of cases here in this country. The numbers of infections that we have is about 8,000 new infections every day in England alone.
Asked if he agreed with some fellow members of Sage that it was too soon to ease lockdown restrictions, Prof Peter Horby of the University of Oxford, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
Actually, I do.
You know, we have still got 8,000 cases a day. We have been very successful in bringing it down, decreasing the numbers because of the social distancing.
But, you will have heard that the R level is between 0.7 and 0.9, so it’s only a bit below one, so we have got very little headroom, actually.
And, it’s really important that we use that headroom very wisely and we don’t lose control again.
The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said this morning he feels restrictions are being eased too soon.
He told the Today programme that, with the R number still quite high, easing the lockdown was “premature”. He said:
I think we have arrived at quite a dangerous moment. This is premature, this easing of the lockdown.
Test and trace is not fully operational and it should be, in my view, before these steps are taken.
The R number … is still quite high.
I’ll be taking you through all the latest coronavirus-related developments in the UK. Please do feel free to get in touch with me throughout the day as I work.