UK coronavirus news: Boris Johnson says people can ‘shop with confidence’ as two-metre rule is reviewed

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “UK coronavirus: official death toll rises by 36 in lowest increase since lockdown began – as it happened” was written by Molly Blackall and Josh Halliday, for theguardian.com on Sunday 14th June 2020 17.07 UTC

6.06pm BST

We’re going to be closing down this live blog now. Thank you to all those who’ve read along or sent in tips and pointers, it’s much appreciated. I hope you’re all able to stay safe and well, wherever you’re reading from.

If you’d like to continue with our live coronavirus coverage, you can head over to the global blog which will carry on bringing you breaking news on the pandemic from the UK, and around the world.

Before I go, here’s a quick summary of the key developments in the UK today:

  • The UK’s daily death toll is at its lowest since lockdown began, with 36 recorded deaths recorded yesterday. However, it is important to note that Sunday figures are often lower due to delays in reporting over the weekend.
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak suggested the government was keen to lower the 2m social distancing rules, and said it was a decision for ministers rather than scientists. Boris Johnson said that the lowering number of coronavirus cases gave a “margin for manoeuvre” on the regulations, and said the government was constantly reassessing the 2m regulations. However, after Sunak’s interview made the headlines, he slightly changed the emphasis, insisting that any changes would be based on science, and saying he saw the “benefits” of keeping the 2m rule in place.
  • PM Boris Johnson and Labour leader Keir Starmer joined people across the UK marking the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire, in which 72 people died when the cladding on their building caught fire. Landmarks across London have been lit up in commemoration, and Johnson released a video message saying he was committed to discovering the cause of the fire and preventing it from happening again.
  • Scuffles have broken out in Glasgow after demonstrators calling for the statue of Robert Peel, founder of the Metropolitan police, to remain in place, became violent with police. The protest came after plans were laid for a demonstration calling for the removal of the statue, but this was cancelled. However, skirmishes also broke out between the pro-Peel statue protesters and an unknown group, thought to oppose the statue.
  • Schools in Scotland are likely to continue with a ‘blended learning’ approach from August until the end of the next academic year, with a mixture of at-home and in-school learning, the Scottish education secretary has said.
  • 23 police officers were injured and 113 protesters arrested at a violent far-right gathering in London yesterday, Metropolitan police have said. The force also said they have arrested a man in connection to the photograph appearing to depict someone urinating on or next to the memorial to PC Keith Palmer, who was killed during a terrorist attack at Westminster.
  • More than 6,000 people attended two illegal raves in Greater Manchester last night, in what the deputy mayor described as a “flagrant breach of the coronavirus legislation”.

Updated at 6.07pm BST

5.31pm BST

One more person has died in Ireland after testing positive for Covid-19, the National Public Health Emergency Team said, bringing the overall death toll to 1,706.

5.31pm BST

This video shows Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the violent protests in Glasgow today in full:

5.11pm BST

“At least 15,000 people have died in UK care homes from confirmed or suspected Covid-19, but few facilities have faced such an ordeal as Melbury Court. It was “three weeks of hell”, staff have told a Guardian investigation into what happened.”

The Guardian’s social affairs correspondent Robert Booth talks to carers and family members at one of the UK’s hardest hit care homes, in an investigation into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the home.

5.06pm BST

The Scottish government has re-affirmed its commitment to transgender rights as equalities campaigners express disappointment at reports that Westminster is planning to ditch reform of transgender rights.

The Sunday Times reported on leaked proposals to shelve reforms developed by Theresa May’s government to make it easier for transgender people to change the sex on their birth certificate by removing the requirement to provide medical evidence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

No 10 sources on Sunday strongly played down the front page story, insisting that no decision has been made. Stonewall and Amnesty International described the reports as “disappointing” and “extremely worrying”.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government – which is further ahead on legal reform than its UK counterparts, having carried out two consultations on the fraught issue – said on Sunday afternoon that it “remains committed to reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Trans people continue to suffer poorer outcomes relative to the wider population and this needs to change. We know that we must do so in a way that ensures women’s rights are preserved and protected”.

But the spokesperson added that work on the bill had been halted in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, so the bill would not be brought forward before next May’s Holyrood elections.

4.57pm BST

Thanks to all those getting in touch with tips and pointers.

If you see something you think we should be reporting on in this blog, you can drop me a message on Twitter. I won’t be able to reply to everything, but will endeavour to read it all. Thanks in advance!

4.55pm BST

Scotland’s justice minister has joined first minister Nicola Sturgeon in describing scenes of violent protests in Glasgow as “shameful”.

Police officers appear to have been attacked during the demonstrations, where protesters were calling for the statue of Metropolitan Police founder Robert Peel to be kept up after there were plans to hold a demonstration calling for its removal. This was cancelled.

Humza Yousaf praised the police, saying they had been “at the front line keeping us safe during pandemic”.

4.47pm BST

Channel 4 news have spoken to Patrick Hutchinson, the Black Lives Matter demonstrator depicted rescuing a far-right activist from a crowd where he was being attacked.

You can watch an extract of the interview here, before it is aired in full on Channel 4 this evening:

Photographs of the incident, with the far-right demonstrator looking bemused and badly shaken up as he is slung over Hutchinson’s shoulders and carried away, have gone viral, and Hutchinson has been widely praised for his actions.

A protester carries an injured counter-protester to safety, near the Waterloo station during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in London, Britain, June 13, 2020.
A protester carries an injured counter-protester to safety, near the Waterloo station during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in London, Britain, June 13, 2020.
Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
A group of men carry an injured man away after he was allegedly attacked by some of the crowd of protesters as police try to intervene on the Southbank near Waterloo station on June 13, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.
A group of men carry an injured man away after he was allegedly attacked by some of the crowd of protesters as police try to intervene on the Southbank near Waterloo station on June 13, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.
Photograph: Luke Dray/Getty Images

4.33pm BST

Senior scientists have reported flaws in an influential World Health Organization study into the risks of coronavirus infection and say it should not be used as evidence for relaxing the UK’s two-metre physical distancing rule.

Critics of the distancing advice, which states that people should keep at least two metres apart, believe it is too cautious. They seized on the WHO research, which suggested a reduction from two metres to one metres would raise infection risk only marginally, from 1.3% to 2.6%.

But scientists who delved into the work found mistakes they believe undermine the findings to the point they cannot be relied upon when scientists and ministers are forming judgments about what constitutes safe physical distancing.

You can read the full story from my colleague Ian Sample here:

4.16pm BST

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described protesters in Glasgow as “utterly shameful” after skirmishes erupted and police were forced to step between demonstrators for and against the removal of a statue of Robert Peel.

Hundreds of people arrived at George Square in Glasgow to call for the statue of Metropolitan Police founder Robert Peel to stay in place. The event was organised by a group called the Loyalist Defence League, after a protest was organised to call for its removal.

However, the protest in favour of the statue’s removal, organised by Glasgow Youth Art Collective, was postponed due to what organisers say was a lack of access to the square and “police targeting activists”. Sturgeon welcomed the cancellation.

Police officers move in to position in central Glasgow to form a barrier between opposing groups on June 14, 2020, as people gather to ‘defend’ a statue of former Conservative prime minister and Metropolitan Police founder Robert Peel from those calling for it’s removal.
Police officers move in to position in central Glasgow to form a barrier between opposing groups on June 14, 2020, as people gather to ‘defend’ a statue of former Conservative prime minister and Metropolitan Police founder Robert Peel from those calling for it’s removal.
Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

At the daily coronavirus press briefing, the Nicola Sturgeon said that violent protest was “never acceptable”, particularly not during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I say to anyone that has found themselves on the streets of Glasgow in an altercation with other groups or with the police, that they should really take a long hard look at themselves,” she said. “That is not acceptable behaviour at any time, but at this time of crisis that the country faces, I think it’s particularly shameful behaviour.”

Despite the cancellation, police were forced to step between protesters calling for the statue to stay, and those in favour of its removal, who were from an unknown group, with objects thrown between the groups.

Updated at 5.24pm BST

3.50pm BST

Number of UK daily deaths at lowest since lockdown began

The UK’s daily coronavirus death toll is today at 36 – its lowest since lockdown began.

A total of 41,698 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Saturday, The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

This is an increase of 36 from 41,662 the day before. On March 21, the day the UK went into lockdown, the death toll rose by 35, making today’s figures the lowest since lockdown began.

The DHSC also said in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Sunday, 144,865 tests were carried out or dispatched, with 1,514 positive results.

This brings the total number of tests to 6,772,602, with 295,889 cases confirmed to have been positive.

The figure for the number of people tested has been “temporarily paused to ensure consistent reporting” across all methods of testing.

It is worth noting that figures provided on a Sunday are often lower due to under-reporting over the weekend.

Updated at 3.59pm BST

3.38pm BST

Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor has described the 6,000 people who attended illegal raves in the city last night as “reckless”, saying the events were a “flagrant breach of the coronavirus legislation”.

Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said attendees risked public health and put a “strain on our police at what is still a very difficult time”.

She also revealed that the city’s events industry have agreed to ban anyone involved with the raves in light of the events, and praised the mass clean-up which has happened in communities across Greater Manchester this morning.

Hughes also said that Greater Manchester Police have seen a “noticeable reduction in Covid related incidents over recent weeks”.

“Greater Manchester will not allow a small minority to put us the sacrifices we have made over recent months at risk,” she added.

You can read the full statement here.

3.28pm BST

The Welsh health minister has admitted he would have made “different choices” in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but denied accusations that the Welsh Government had been “cavalier” in its approach.

Speaking on BBC Politics Wales, Vaughan Gething said that, had the government been in possession of the information now available, it would have done things differently.

Gething was asked about the discharging of 1,300 patients from hospitals into care homes which occurred during March and April. The consistent testing of patients leaving hospital and entering into care homes did not begin until late April, leading to concerns that those discharged before that date could have been carrying the virus.

“It should always have been the case that anyone who was symptomatic should have been tested and that was our understanding of the science and the evidence at the time when all of the choices were made,” Gething said. “We of course developed further understanding and further knowledge, so if I had the knowledge I have today, I’d have probably made different choices at a number of points in the coronavirus pandemic.”

“We certainly haven’t taken a cavalier approach,” he added.
“The safety of the people in Wales has always been the driving force in the choices we’ve made, right from the choice to stop large areas of NHS activity in the middle of March, to the way we’ve done the testing strategy, to where we are now.”

3.19pm BST

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that, while she hopes to lift further lockdown restrictions in Scotland this Thursday at her three-weekly review, the pace of change will remain cautious.

The expected announcements in Phase 2 include more social interaction, the re-mobilisation of the NHS, as well as a date for the retailer sector to begin to reopen.

Sturgeon told reporters at her daily briefing: “We should also realise the prize for going a bit more cautiously now could be a return to greater normality in the medium term.”

She reiterated that the Scottish government would continue to keep evidence for reducing the 2 metre rule under review.

3.13pm BST

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has issued message reminding Londoners that “lockdown has not been lifted. The virus is still out there.”

He has previously requested that anti-racism demonstrators “stay at home and find a safe way to make your voice heard” over concerns that the protests would cause a spike in the number of cases of coronavirus.

London had significantly more deaths from coronavirus per 100,000 people than any other region, and experienced the fastest rise in cases when the outbreak began.

2.58pm BST

Around 10,000 people have gathered in Millennium Square in Leeds for an anti-racism demonstration.

Cheers and applause swept the protest, organised jointly by Black Lives Matter and Black Voices matter, when it officially began at 2.30pm. Police vans lined the surrounding streets while officers stood in pairs.

There were another “couple of hundred” demonstrators standing around the city’s war memorial, PA reporters said.

Dionne Edwards, from Black Voices Matter, said: “Our rally is a peaceful protest. We do not condone damage to public or private property. We simply want to raise a call for our voices of pain to be heard – and to be heard loudly. We will no longer be silenced from fear.”

Updated at 3.04pm BST

2.51pm BST

England: 27 new deaths takes total to 27,954

A further 27 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, NHS England have said. This brings the total death toll in English hospitals to 27,954.

2.40pm BST

Boris Johnson has said lowering case numbers give ‘margin for manoeuvre’ over 2m distance rules

Boris Johnson has said that there are “benefits” to maintaining the two distancing metre rule, but that the government was keeping it “under constant review”.

During a visit to the Westfield shopping centre in east London, Johnson said the number of people currently infected with coronavirus was “probably” fewer than one in every thousand people.

Echoing Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s message when he suggested the government were looking to ease the two metre distancing rules this morning, Johnson said the current infection figures allowed for “more margin for manoeuvre” in easing the social distancing regulations.

However, he insisted this he would work “very closely with the scientists at all times” and the decision would be based on “safety, health, and stopping the disease”.

“As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one-in-a-thousand, one-in-sixteen hundred, maybe fewer, your chances of being, two metres one metre or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus are obviously going down statistically, so you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre, and we’ll be looking at that and keeping it under constant review,” he said.

He also said that people should be able to “shop with confidence” when non-essential stores reopen in England tomorrow, and that he hoped there would be a “gradual” increase in the numbers of people returning to the high street.

“I am very optimistic about the opening up that is going to happen tomorrow,” he said. “I think people should shop and shop with confidence, but they should of course observe the rules on social distancing and do it as safely as possible.”

Updated at 4.08pm BST

2.34pm BST

Boris Johnson has said that there are “benefits” to maintaining the two metre rule, but that the government was keeping it “under constant review”.

During a visit to the Westfield shopping centre in east London,Johnson said the number of people currently infected with coronavirus was “probably” fewer than one in every thousand people.

Echoing Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s message when he suggested the government were looking to ease the two metre distancing rules this morning, Johnson said the current infection figures allowed for “more margin for manoeuvre” in easing the social distancing regulations.

However, during a visit to the Westfield shopping centre in east London, the prime minister said there were “benefits” to keeping the social distancing measures in place.

He also said that people should be able to “shop with confidence” when non-essential stores reopen in England tomorrow, and that he hoped there would be a “gradual” increase in the numbers of people returning to the high street.

“I am very optimistic about the opening up that is going to happen tomorrow,” he said. “I think people should shop and shop with confidence, but they should of course observe the rules on social distancing and do it as safely as possible.”

“As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one-in-a-thousand, one-in-sixteen hundred, maybe fewer, your chances of being, two metres one metre or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus are obviously going down statistically, so you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre, and we’ll be looking at that and keeping it under constant review,” he said.

Updated at 2.42pm BST

2.26pm BST

Here is an update from my colleague Libby Brooks in Scotland about protests happening there, in violation of coronavirus lockdown rules:

Police have moved to contain a sizeable disturbance in Glasgow city centre, after the Loyalist Defence League called for a protest at George Square to “protect our monuments” from Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists.

A statue of Robert Peel in the square was vandalised last week along with a statue of William of Orange in Cathedral Square.
Witnesses reported a “volatile” crowd, with a number of police riot vans present and traffic being directed away from the square.

Police Scotland described the disturbance as “football-related” and said that none of the groups were affiliated with Black Lives Matter.

You can read more about one of the instances here.

2.16pm BST

Wales: Further three coronavirus deaths

A further three people have died after testing positive for coronavirus, Public Health Wales have said, taking the total coronavirus death toll to 1,444.

There were a further 39 recorded cases of the virus, taking the total number of cases to 14,742.

Updated at 2.20pm BST

2.10pm BST

Here is a video of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s response to a question from Andrew Marr this morning about whether scientists would have to be consulted over a decision to lower the social distancing guidelines from 2m.

He said that scientists were simply there to advise ministers, who would ultimately make the decision.

2.05pm BST

23 police officers injured at Saturday’s far right protests

More than 100 people were arrested and 23 police officers were injured during violent protests by far-right activists in London, yesterday, the Metropolitan Police have said.

Here are the key figures:

  • 23 officers were injured after protesters threw items at police or “targeted them with violence”. None of the injuries are serious.
  • 113 people were arrested at the demonstrations.
  • The arrests were made for offences including breach of the peace, violent disorder, assault on officers, possession of an offensive weapon, possession of class A drugs and being drunk and disorderly.
  • The 28 year old man detained on suspicion of outraging public decency in connection with the photograph of someone urinating near the memorial to PC Keith Palmer remains in custody.

Commander Bas Javid thanked the officers and said: “The scenes officers encountered across central London yesterday were utterly shocking. Once again, they were pelted with missiles, or challenged by groups of men intent on violence.

“Mindless hooliganism such as this is totally unacceptable and I am pleased arrests were made. We will now work closely with the courts in pursuit of justice.”

Updated at 2.17pm BST

1.51pm BST

Police say that a shocking 6,000 people attended two illegal raves in Greater Manchester last night.

According to Greater Manchester Police, 4,000 people attended a rave in Droylsden, and a further 2,000 were present at one in Carrington.

At the Droyslden event, a 20 year old man died from a suspected drug overdose. At the Carrington event there were three separate stabbings and the alleged rape of an 18 year old woman.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes, said: “These raves were illegal and I condemn them taking place – they were clearly a breach of Coronavirus legislation and guidelines, and have had tragic consequences.”

“We hope the public can recognise the challenges we are facing at the moment and our communities join together in doing the right thing by following the government guidelines,” the statement continued.

Coronavirus is still a threat and we will continue to engage with people to encourage them to take some personal responsibility and do the right thing,” he added. “Ultimately we need the people of Greater Manchester to join together and demonstrate the spirit that they have previously shown in the face of hard times.”

Updated at 1.53pm BST

1.27pm BST

Scotland: Schools likely to continue ‘blended learning’ until end of next school year

Scotland’s education secretary John Swinney says that schools are likely to continue with the ‘blended learning’ model from August until the end of the next school year.

With pupils across Scotland expected to return on August 11 to a mixture of at-home and in-school learning, Swinney told Sunday Police Scotland that things were “unlikely” to return to normal before the end of the school year since social distancing will be required for some time yet.

Some councils have already made public plans that involve children being in school buildings for only two days out of every five.

He also said that, while he understands some parents will be nervous about sending their children back to school, it will be a legal requirement.

Teaching unions and parents groups area already expressing concerns that the new model with impact especially on poorer families and those parents who are unable to work from home.

Updated at 2.18pm BST

1.20pm BST

A little more information from Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s appearance on Sophy Ridge’s programme on Sky News this morning…

Sunak claims there have been 9 million jobs protected through the furlough scheme “sorry” that not everyone got “what they wanted” through government support schemes.

1.16pm BST

The Labour Party has launched a ‘Holidays Without Hunger’ petition to get the government to offer free school meals during the summer holidays.

“The coronavirus crisis has left millions of people up and down the country with an uncertain future, struggling to make ends meet,” the petition says.

“In England, 1.3 million kids rely on Free School Meals. Parents know how important a healthy diet is for children – and for children from struggling families, these meals are a lifeline. Once school is out, these families’ kids get left behind.

Since schools closed because of the crisis, a voucher scheme has made sure these children don’t go hungry. Now, the Government is planning to take these vouchers away.”

During the pandemic, free school meals have been operated on a voucher system, which meant parents can trade in the voucher at local supermarkets if their child cannot come in for their lunch, but this will stop during the holidays.

1.03pm BST

Protesters calling for the removal of a statue of Metropolitan Police founder Robert Peel and counter-protesters have been separated by police in Glasgow.

A group of protesters calling for the removal of the statue were being escorted down North Hanover Street when they overtook the police escort and began running towards George Square.

Hundreds of counter-protesters then ran towards the group, before police intervened to get between the two groups. Protesters calling for the statue’s removal were forced back up North Hannover Street.

A police helicopter was deployed and could be seen flying over the city centre.

12.34pm BST

Prime minister Boris Johnson has released a video message saying he is committed to uncovering the causes of the Grenfell Tower Fire and ensuring it is never repeated, on the third anniversary of the tragedy.

He also acknowledged the impact of coronavirus on grieving friends and relatives, saying that he understood that this anniversary was “particularly hard”.

“We’ve introduced stricter laws on fire safety, launched a billion-pound fund to remove dangerous cladding and created a new watchdog to protect the residents of tall buildings,” Johnson said in the video. “We’re working to implement every recommendation made by the first phase of the public inquiry. And the second phase, while it’s been delayed by coronavirus, is slowly but surely getting to the definitive truth of how this disaster was allowed to happen.”

“I know this anniversary is particularly hard, coming at a time when so many survivors and bereaved can’t even come together to share a hug,” he said. “While those affected by Grenfell are not able to gather in person, I want you to know that all of us in this country are with you in spirit.”

“You will not be forgotten. We stand with you, we weep with you and we are with you, today and always,” he added.

People at the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic at the base of the tower block in London on the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire which claimed 72 lives on June 14 2017
People at the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic at the base of the tower block in London on the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire which claimed 72 lives on June 14 2017
Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

There have still been no arrests made over the fire, which killed 72 people after cladding on the building caught fire and spread rapidly.

The Labour Party have warned that 56,000 people still living in buildings with Grenfell-style cladding.

Updated at 12.37pm BST

12.20pm BST

If you spot something you think we should be reporting on in this blog, you can drop me a message on Twitter. I won’t be able to reply to everything, but will endeavour to read it all. Thanks in advance!

12.19pm BST

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has defended the Government’s “reasonable and measured” approach to schools reopening, after the Children’s Commissioner for England said that it was undermining children’s right to an education

During a round of broadcast interviews this morning, Sunak said that every day children were away from school was a “tragedy” but insisted the Government had acted correctly.

With most pupils likely to stay home until September, Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield told the Observer that “very dangerous” threat to the right to guaranteed education and that next year’s academic year could be seriously impacted.

You can read more from my colleagues Michael Savage and Liz Lightfoot here:

Ministers are set to mount a new push this week to get more primary school children back school ahead of the summer break.

Currently, primary schools in England are opening to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, but ministers will reaffirm that schools can host children from other year groups – as long as they have the resources and space to do so safely.

This means limiting class sizes to 15 and introducing protective measures such as regular hand washing to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus spreading.

11.49am BST

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said it will monitor any moves by the UK to introduce a “light touch” approach to goods entering the country from the EU after the Brexit transition period.

It comes after the the UK Government said on Friday that it was exploring whether to adopt fewer checks on imports from the EU for around six months.

Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the WTO, said that such a move is “not a no-go by definition”, but that the UK would have to follow strict rules.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “You have transitional periods in most of these trade deals. So, you may have a period where that ‘light touch’ may be part of the transitional agreement and other members of the WTO may take that as something acceptable.

It may, however, be done in a way that challenges the rules of the WTO a little bit more and then members, I think, will be looking very carefully.”

He also said he believes there is a “pretty good chance” of the UK and EU finding a deal before the end of the transition period.

11.41am BST

A couple who were arrested when armed police stormed their home and held them for 36 hours over the flying of drones at Gatwick Airport will receive £200,000 in compensation and an apology from police.

Paul and Elaine Gait, who were questioned after the airport was forced to cancel flights and repeatedly close over a three day period during the height of Christmas travel in 2018, have settled their claims for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment in an out-of-court settlement package with Sussex Police.

To this day, no-one has been charged over the incident, and police have said that some reported drone sightings may have been Sussex Police’s own craft.

11.33am BST

Hi everyone, I’m Molly Blackall, taking over the blog from my colleague Josh Halliday for a little while.

10.59am BST

Returning briefly to Rishi Sunak’s interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, the chancellor said the economy was taking a “enormous hit” from coronavirus but insisted that the government had protected millions of jobs through the furlough scheme.

Sunak said he hoped the opening of non-essential shops in England from Monday, coupled with the ability for companies to take on workers part-time next month, would help “drive the recovery” before the furlough scheme ends in October.

Asked about research by the Institute for Employment Studies, which suggests that 3 million people are currently unemployed – the highest since the 1980s – and that by Autumn the level of unemployment would be the highest in UK history, Sunak said there would be “hardship ahead” and that the government was dealing with an unprecedented situation and that the virus would have “an enormous cost”.

“What I do know is the situation would be a lot worse if we hadn’t acted in the way we did,” he added.

Sunak said it was important people had the confidence to go shopping because the government had “made enormous progress” in tackling the virus, and that shops would have safety measures in place.

On the 14-day quarantine of arrivals to Britain, Sunak said it would keep it under review and that it was “looking at all options,” including opening up travel corridors with other countries. He did not demur from the suggestion that the quarantine would be relaxed.

Sunak said a second spike in infections would be “very damaging” and that all countries were “feeling our way through” the virus. He added:

Until there’s a cure, a vaccine, everything we do carries some degree of risk. I think everybody acknowledges that. Our job is to execute the plan we put in place, which is to protect people, make sure the NHS isn’t overwhelmed and that is what thus far we’ve been able to achieve.

10.46am BST

Memorial to mark third anniversary of Grenfell fire

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer will today join people across the country in marking the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

A video message from the prime minister will be shown at a virtual service being hosted by the Bishop of Kensington this morning. This evening, Downing Street will be illuminated to commemorate those who lost their lives.

Several other landmarks, including the Palace of Westminster, Trafalgar Square fountains and Grenfell Tower have also been lit up this weekend, while digital screens at the site of the tower carry messages from local stakeholder groups.

“We can all remember where we were three years ago today when we saw this tragedy unfolding on our screens and across the London skyline,” Johnson recalls in his message.

Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, said he would be “relentless” in ensuring those responsible for the disaster are held to account:

David Lammy, the Labour MP, has released this powerful interview with Channel 4 News in which he says that a crucial part of Britain’s safety net for vulnerable people – safe housing – is “falling apart around our eyes”:

10.39am BST

Chancellor says decision on easing two-metre rule is for ministers rather than scientists

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has said a decision on whether to ease the two-metre rule in England will be for ministers rather than the government’s scientific advisers.

Sunak said the public would take confidence from the fact ministers were being advised by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty.

He told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show:

Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance throughout all of this have provided advice to ministers. Ultimately it is for ministers. We are the people who are elected to make decisions in this country.

People should hold us responsible and accountable for making those decisions. I think that people are comforted and have confidence in those decisions if they know that we are taking advice from our scientists.

Pippa Crerar, the Daily Mirror’s political editor, points out that taking such a decision without the express backing of Vallance and Whitty would be even trickier if the pair are “on resignation watch,” as the Sunday Times reports today.

Updated at 1.37pm BST

10.19am BST

Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy has accused the government of having “buried” recommendations from a report by Public Health England looking at the disproportionate toll Covid-19 has had on people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Lammy said:

It’s horrifying that at the moment across this country it’s hard to be black or Asian and not know someone, or someone who knows someone, who has died. I’ve lost an uncle. I’ve lost a classmate who died at 45 due to this terrible virus.

The point is it’s a scandal if one week Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and then we find out today that they buried part of the review that had the recommendations in it to do something about it.

He added: “Get on it with it because people are dying every day and you said ‘Black Lives Matter’. It’s no wonder why people are upset.”

9.42am BST

Man arrested after photograph of someone urinating next to PC Keith Palmer memorial

A 28-year-old man has been arrested in Essex on suspicion of outraging public decency after a man was photographed urinating next to the memorial dedicated to PC Keith Palmer, the Metropolitan Police has said.

The man is currently in custody in Essex after presenting himself at a police station, the force said.

Speaking yesterday in response to an image circulating on social media, Commander Bas Javid said: “We are aware of a disgusting and abhorrent image circulating on social media of a man appearing to urinate on a memorial to PC Palmer.

“I feel for PC Palmer’s family, friends and colleagues. We have immediately launched an investigation, and will gather all the evidence available to us and take appropriate action.”

9.39am BST

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has suggested he is very much in favour of reducing the two-metre social distancing rule. Unsurprising, perhaps, for the minister responsible for the economy but important nonetheless that he has said it.

On Sky News, Sunak said “I very much understand the positive impact it will have” on the economy but “at the same time we must make sure it’s safe to do so”.

He suggested that reducing the rule could be the “difference between three quarters and a third of pubs opening, for example” – an example that will almost certainly win the backing of some newspapers. Sunak also said Norway and Denmark had recently reduced their social distancing guide from two metres.

He welcome that Boris Johnson was overseeing a “comprehensive review” of the policy, which Sunak said would consider evidence from economists as well as scientists “so we can look at it in the round”.

When Sophy Ridge said it sounded like Sunak was very much in favour of shortening the rule, the chancellor said: “I wouldn’t want to pre-empt the findings of [the review] … it’s right to look at it and I’m glad we’re doing so.”

9.28am BST

Rishi Sunak condemns violent protests as ‘shocking and disgusting’

The chancellor Rishi Sunak has described the clashes between police and protestors in London yesterday as “shocking and disgusting” but said the UK had made “enormous progress” on issues of race.

Appearing on Sophy Ridge’s programme on Sky News, Sunak confirmed that the justice secretary Robert Buckland would meet Conservative MPs this week to discuss strict new measures against those who vandalise a war memorial, including potential 10-year jail terms.

“There will always be a small minority who maintain prejudice and indeed are racist but that’s not the description that I would make of our country,” he said, adding that things have changed “enormously for the better”.

8.58am BST

Labour’s shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, has said the party would potentially support proposals to jail for 10 years anyone who desecrates a war memorial.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that ministers are considering plans to make it easier to prosecute those who vandalise historic monuments, including with jail terms of up to a decade.

Speaking on the Sky News Sophy Ridge programme, Thomas-Symonds said he was “extremely disturbed” by the “completely unacceptable” scenes of violence on the streets following protests on Saturday.

My colleague Peter Walker tweets:

8.42am BST

Today’s front pages

A variety of stories make the front pages of Sunday’s newspapers, with some focusing on the violent scenes in London yesterday and others on coronavirus.

The Observer leads with a warning from England’s children’s commissioner Anne Longfield that there was a “very dangerous” threat to the historic right to education for children after the government said most schools would not reopen until September at the earliest.

The Sunday Times reports that plans to allow people to change their legal gender by self-identifying as a different sex have been scrapped.

The Mail on Sunday says Boris Johnson has paved the way for the two-metre social distancing rule to be scrapped by “taking personal control of the decision to axe it”. It says the prime minister has commissioned a “comprehensive No 10 review” of the policy.

The Sunday Mirror leads with a simple one-word headline: “Shameful” as it depicts the violent demonstrations by far-right activists in London.

The Independent on Sunday reports on Brexit (remember that?) and a poll suggesting that most Britons would support an extension to the transition period for leaving the European Union due to Covid-19.

The Sunday Telegraph says ministers are considering proposals to jail for 10 years anyone who desecrates a war memorial.

And finally… the Daily Star Sunday reports on “a big flap” in the Royal household after “eight of the Queen’s racing pigeons died in quarantine”. The paper says the poor pigeons died in crates after being flown to South African to take part in a race. A “Palace coo” is underway, it says.

Updated at 8.43am BST

8.29am BST

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to the UK liveblog.

There is widespread condemnation of the violent protest in central London yesterday, which saw thousands of demonstrators – including far-right activists – descend on the capital prompting clashes with the police.

As of 9pm on Saturday, the Metropolitan police said it had made more than 100 arrests at the protest which Boris Johnson said had descended into “racist thuggery”.

The clashes with police and journalists came after thousands of white nationalists poured into London to “protect the monuments,” after graffiti on the statue of Winston Churchill and the Cenotaph in London, and the toppling of the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, during Black Lives Matter protests last weekend.

Elsewhere today, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is touring the TV studios ahead of the reopening of non-essential shops in England on Monday as the government attempts to reboot the economy.

It’s also emerged that the prime minister has ordered an official review of the two-metre social distancing rule, potentially providing a further boost for business. However, any move to one metre is likely to split the government’s scientific advisors who have repeatedly expressed caution about reducing the rule.

Updated at 1.42pm BST

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