Masks compulsory in England today but police won’t be needed to enforce rule, minister says

Police are not expected to be called in to enforce the compulsory wearing of face masks in shops in England from Friday, a minister has said. - OLI SCARFF/AFP
Police are not expected to be called in to enforce the compulsory wearing of face masks in shops in England from Friday, a minister has said. – OLI SCARFF/AFP

Police are not expected to be called in to enforce the compulsory wearing of face masks in shops in England from Friday, a minister has said. 

Health minister Helen Whately told the BBC: “There is the option of the police to get involved for enforcement and for there to be fines, but I really don’t think we will need to go down that line because most people will follow the rules and take this very seriously. 

“People don’t want to see the Covid-19 rate go up again. People know that by wearing a face mask it’s about protecting those around you – particularly the most vulnerable – and making sure we do not get increased rates of Covid-19 which could mean we have to put restrictions on again. 

“We don’t want that to happen, so we know that people will act responsibly and will wear face masks.”

But the police have urged shops to refuse entry to anyone not wearing a face covering.

John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers will be available to help stores “only as a last resort” as they “simply do not have the resources”.

“It is our members who are expected to police what is a new way of living and I would urge retail outlets to play their part in making the rules crystal clear; if you are not wearing a face covering then you are not coming in,” he said.

Follow the latest updates below.

07:51 AM

South Korea: Overseas arrivals could drive up new cases, authorities warn

Coronavirus infections among people arriving from abroad could drive the number of new cases in South Korea to more than 100, the first time since the beginning of April that daily cases hit triple digits, South Korean health authorities said today.

The numbers for Friday will not be announced until tomorrow, but Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) deputy director Kwon Jun-wook told a briefing a large number of crewmembers on a Russian ship had tested positive, as had a number of South Korean workers brought home on military flights from Iraq.

So far, 32 members of the ship’s crew, along with five people who had been in contact with them, had tested positive, Kwon said.

Meanwhile, two South Korean military aircraft arrived from Iraq on Friday, carrying 293 workers who were evacuated as cases swelled in that country. At least 89 of the workers were showing symptoms, Kwon said.

As of midnight Thursday, South Korea reported 41 new cases, bringing the total case count to 13,979. One more person died, the KCDC reported, putting total virus-related deaths at 298.

07:42 AM

Eight killers die of coronavirus on America’s biggest death row 

The death chamber at San Quentin prison - Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
The death chamber at San Quentin prison – Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

At least eight inmates on America’s largest death row have died from suspected coronavirus, Nick Allen reports from Washington.

On Tuesday child killer John Beames, 67, became the latest to die at San Quentin state prison in California.

There have been 2,041 coronavirus cases at the jail since the outbreak began, with more than half the inmates testing positive. A total of 244 prison workers have also contracted the virus.

Read the full story here.

07:28 AM

Poll | Will you be wearing a face mask in shops?

Have your say below as face masks in shops become mandatory – though not necessarily enforceable – in England from Friday.

07:12 AM

How to make a no-sew, Government-approved cloth face mask

If you still don’t have a face mask – here is how you can make your own. 

07:00 AM

Retail sales surge back to pre-pandemic levels

Retail sales surged back to pre-pandemic levels as shoppers barrelled out of lockdown in June to resume spending, reports Tim Wallace.

Sales volumes surged by 13.9pc compared with May, the Office for National Statistics said, raising hopes of a “V-shaped” recovery.

Volumes at non-food stores jumped by almost half, with non-essential shops allowed to open from the middle of the month, while fuel sales picked up by more than a fifth as more people start driving again. Both of these categories are still down on pre-pandemic sales levels, however.

Grocers and online shops are doing best, with food sales up 5.3pc on pre-coronavirus levels and non-store retail up by more than half.

06:48 AM

Starting university this year? No house parties nor overnight stays

Universities are banning house parties and overnight stays as part of social distancing rules, reports Education Editor Camilla Turner.

When students take up their places at university at the start of next academic year, social gatherings of any kind will not be permitted in halls of residence and guests will be barred from entry.

Read the full story here.

06:34 AM

New ‘red list’ | Holidaymakers could face quarantine on return to Britain

Holidaymakers due to travel abroad have been warned that they could be forced into quarantine on their return under a new system that could see “air bridges” collapse at short notice, report our Home Affairs Editor Charles HymasGraham Keeley in Madrid and Jorge Branco in Lisbon.

The UK currently reviews nations on its “safe list” every three weeks but is expected to announce a rolling review system that could see countries placed on its “red list” at short notice should they see a serious spike in coronavirus cases.

It raises the prospect of holidaymakers travelling abroad to countries only to discover, before they end their holiday, that they may have to stay in quarantine on their return.

Read the full story here to see if your holiday may be affected. 

06:22 AM

Free flu jabs for half the population

The Government is aiming to double its winter flu vaccination programme in England to 30million people, with free jabs for those aged 50 and over and 11-year-olds.

Last year, around 15million people received a jab against seasonal flu but ministers hope this will rise to 30million this winter.

Experts are concerned about the impact of a double whammy of Covid-19 cases and seasonal flu potentially overwhelming the NHS.

There are also worries that people could suffer both seasonal flu and Covid-19 at the same time.

At the moment, the free NHS flu programme is for people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, people with certain conditions such as kidney disease, asthma or heart disease and carers or those in care homes.

Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine.

06:16 AM

Mothers with Covid-19 unlikely to pass to their newborns, study suggests

Mothers who have Covid-19 infection are unlikely to pass the virus to their newborns if appropriate hygiene precautions are taken, a small study suggests.

The findings, which involved 120 babies and their mothers, suggest that mothers can breastfeed and stay in the same room as their newborns, if they use face coverings and follow infection control procedures.

Lead author Dr Christine M Salvatore, from the Weill Cornell Medicine-New York Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital, US, said: “Data on the risk of Covid-19 transmission during pregnancy or while breastfeeding are limited to a small number of case studies.

“Consequently, guidelines for pregnant women and new mothers vary. We hope our study will provide some reassurance to new mothers that the risk of them passing Covid-19 to their babies is very low.

“However, larger studies are needed to better understand the risks of transmission from mother to child.”

The research is published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

06:04 AM

Face masks in shops mandatory in England from Friday

From midnight on Friday, wearing face masks in shops in England has become mandatory.

Here are the guidelines and exemptions.  And below is why: 

Effectiveness of face masks
Effectiveness of face masks

05:49 AM

Furlough helped stem tide of mental health problems

The Government’s furlough scheme, coupled with reduced working hours, has helped stem the tide of mental health problems expected to flare up as a result of the virus crisis, a new study suggests.

Research by a team of sociologists led by the University of Cambridge indicated that workers who were furloughed or moved from full to part-time hours during April and May had around the same risk for poor mental health as those who kept working full-time.

In contrast, people who lost all paid work were twice as likely to fall into an “at risk” category for poor mental health, compared to those furloughed or still working any number of hours, the report said.

Data from May suggests that over half of those who lost all work during the Covid-19 crisis are at risk of mental health problems, it was suggested.

05:42 AM

Today’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Friday, July 24. 

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04:49 AM

Man arrested for pulling gun when asked to wear mask in Florida

A man was arrested for pointing a gun at a fellow shopper who asked him to wear a mask because of the coronavirus pandemic at a Walmart store in Florida, police in the US state said.

Vincent Scavetta, 28, was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and improper exhibition of a firearm, the Palm Beach sheriff’s office said.

Scavetta had drawn the gun during a verbal altercation over his refusal to wear a mask.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has since July 20 required everyone in its stores to wear face coverings.

04:12 AM

Brazil study finds no hydroxychloroquine benefit for Covid-19

A study published on the use of hydroxychloroquine in Brazil to treat Covid-19 found the drug ineffective, the latest blow to President Jair Bolsonaro’s push for its widespread use.

The clinical trial, conducted at 55 hospitals across Brazil and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested whether hydroxychloroquine improved the condition of patients with mild to moderate cases alone or in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin.

Bolsonaro’s government has recommended since May that doctors in Brazil’s public health system prescribe hydroxychloroquine or the related anti-malaria drug chloroquine, plus azithromycin, from the onset of symptoms of the new coronavirus.

However, a slate of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), considered the gold standard for clinical investigation, have found the drug is ineffective against coronavirus and has potentially damaging side effects.

The Brazilian RCT reached the same conclusion.

The drug hydroxychloroquine - Reuters
The drug hydroxychloroquine – Reuters

03:42 AM

Bill Gates denies conspiracy theories 

Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates - AFP
Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates – AFP

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates yesterday pushed back against some of the conspiracy theories spreading online accusing him of creating the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s a bad combination of pandemic and social media and people looking for a very simple explanation,” the Microsoft founder said during a CNN Town Hall interview.

Doctored photos and fabricated news articles crafted by conspiracy theorists – shared thousands of times on social media platforms and messaging apps, in various languages – targeting Gates have gained traction online since the start of the pandemic.

A video accusing Gates of wanting “to eliminate 15 per cent of the population” through vaccination and electronic microchips has racked up millions of views on YouTube.

“Our foundation has given more money to buy vaccines to save lives than any group,” Gates said, referring to his eponymous foundation.

He has pledged $250 million (£96,122,500) in efforts to fight the pandemic, and his foundation has spent billions of dollars improving health care in developing countries over the past 20 years.

It is not the first time Gates has found himself targeted by conspiracy theorists. When Zika virus broke out in 2015 in Brazil, he was one of several powerful Western figures blamed for the disease.

Other rumours claim he is secretly a lizard, an old favorite among online trolls.

02:49 AM

An Israeli firm is developing a 30-second virus breath test

NanoScent's headquarters in Misgav industrial zone near the northern Israeli city of Karmiel - AFP
NanoScent’s headquarters in Misgav industrial zone near the northern Israeli city of Karmiel – AFP

An Israeli company is developing a coronavirus breathalyser test that gives results in 30 seconds, billing it as a “front line” tool that can help restore a sense of normality during the pandemic.

NanoScent, the firm making the test kits, said an extensive trial in Israel for the presence of live virus delivered results with 85 percent accuracy, and the product could receive regulatory approval within months.

Chief executive officer Oren Gavriely told AFP the breathalyser would not replace lab tests, but was a mass screening tool that could help people gain “the confidence to go back and act as normal”.

NanoScent has been operating for several years, specialising in rapid recognition technology, including for medical purposes.

02:26 AM

Disney delays Mulan movie due to infection rise

Yifei Liu in the title role of "Mulan" - Disney
Yifei Liu in the title role of “Mulan” – Disney

Disney has postponed the release date of its blockbuster Mulan remake indefinitely amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the US.

It was part of a wider reshuffle by the entertainment giant, as it also pushed back four Avatar films and three untitled Star Wars movies.

This is the fourth delay for Mulan, which was on the verge of release on March 27 when the pandemic closed cinemas around the world.

Mulan, which stars Lui Yifei in the lead role, has now been postponed indefinitely.

A Disney representative said: “Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for Mulan as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world.”

Sony also announced the upcoming Spider-Man sequel starring Tom Holland had been delayed by a month to take advantage of Avatar 2 vacating the Christmas 2021 slot.

While cinemas in England were allowed to reopen from July 4 – as long as social distancing guidelines were followed – the picture across North America is much more uncertain.

New York City and Los Angeles, the two biggest markets in the US, have no concrete plans for reopening cinemas.

02:15 AM

Despite infection, Brazilian president is out and about

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (L) walks next to rhea in the gardens of the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia - AFP
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (L) walks next to rhea in the gardens of the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia – AFP

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro refused to let his case of coronavirus keep him down yesterday, going for a spin on a motorcycle and chatting maskless with a team of groundskeepers outside the presidential palace.

Bolsonaro, 65, has been in quarantine at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia since testing positive for the new coronavirus on July 7. He had to cancel upcoming travel plans after a new test came back positive again Wednesday.

The South American country has the second-biggest outbreak in the world, after the United States, with nearly 2.3 million infections and more than 84,000 deaths.

Bolsonaro, who has compared the virus to a “little flu” and condemned the economic impact of stay-at-home measures to contain it, said on Facebook he was feeling “great.”

He has also been spotted in the gardens feeding – and occasionally getting bitten by – rheas, a South American bird related to the emu.

01:35 AM

Ruby Princess cruise ship sparks class action in Australia

The Ruby Princess cruise ship set to depart Wollongong, Australia back in April - James D. Morgan/Getty Images AsiaPac
The Ruby Princess cruise ship set to depart Wollongong, Australia back in April – James D. Morgan/Getty Images AsiaPac

A law firm has filed a class action in an Australian court against Carnival Corp’s Ruby Princess cruise ship alleging mishandling of a coronavirus outbreak on board the ship.

The cruise ship has also become part of a homicide investigation in Australia as one of the country’s deadliest virus infection sources.

“It is not our intention to respond to the assertions of class action lawyers,” a Carnival Corp spokesman said in an emailed statement.

01:12 AM

Mothers are unlikely to pass virus to newborns 

Mothers are 'unlikely to infect newborns' if the follow hygiene precautions - KidStock /Getty Images Contributor
Mothers are ‘unlikely to infect newborns’ if the follow hygiene precautions – KidStock /Getty Images Contributor

Mothers who have Covid-19 infection are unlikely to pass the virus to their newborns if appropriate hygiene precautions are taken, a small study suggests.

The findings, which involved 120 babies and their mothers, suggest that mothers can breastfeed and stay in the same room as their newborns, if they use face coverings and follow infection control procedures.

The research is published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK recommends that mothers should share a room with their babies and breastfeed, with appropriate precautions.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also advocates a similar guidance, emphasising the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the potential risks of transmission.

12:59 AM

Australian state tightens restrictions as clusters grow

Restrictions were reintroduced in Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales today as authorities battle to control fresh coronavirus clusters that have emerged in Sydney over the last several days.

Group bookings at restaurants, cafes and clubs will be limited to 10 people and patrons inside a venue will be capped to 300 in rules that take effect amid a growing cluster stemming from a Thai restaurant in suburban Sydney.

Wedding and corporate events will be limited to 150 people with strict social distancing rules including a ban on singing, dancing and mingling, while only 100 can attend funerals and places of worship.

Australia has so far escaped the high Covid-19 casualty numbers of other nations, with just over 13,000 infections and 133 deaths from the virus as of Thursday.

In Melbourne, the streets are almost empty after a recent rise in coronavirus cases - Anadolu Agency
In Melbourne, the streets are almost empty after a recent rise in coronavirus cases – Anadolu Agency

Victoria state yesterday reported five deaths from Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours and the third-highest daily rise in cases.

A flare-up of infections in Melbourne, the state’s largest city, prompted the government to enforce a six-week partial lockdown and make face masks mandatory for its residents or risk a A$200 (£112) fine.

12:42 AM

Under 8 per cent of Mexican firms got state aid as recession hit 

Less than 8pc of Mexico’s firms received government support even as an economic recession deepened in the pandemic, which has sharply boosted activity at funeral homes.

That comes as Mexico’s economy is forecast to contract by up to 10pc or more in 2020, and millions have lost their jobs. The finance ministry and the central bank have said the recession will be the worst since the 1930s Great Depression.

Just over half of Mexico’s firms suspended operations, the survey showed.

The main reason companies said they did not get aid is because they were not aware they could.

Meanwhile, services at large funeral homes leapt 47pc to an average of 516 services per home in May, from 351 in February, the second poll showed. 

Mexico has reported 362,274 known cases and 41,190 deaths, though the government admits the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher.

12:35 AM

US coronavirus deaths top 1,000 for a third day in a row

The United States yesterday recorded more than 1,000 deaths from Covid-19, marking the third straight day the nation passed that grim milestone as the pandemic escalates in southern and western US states.

Fatalities nationwide were recorded at 1,014 on Thursday, with not all states reporting. Deaths were 1,135 on Wednesday and 1,141 on Tuesday.

Even though deaths are rising in the United States for a second week in a row, they remain well below levels seen in April, when 2,000 people a day on average died from the virus.

Yesterday, the United States  also passed a total of more than 4 million coronavirus infections since the first US case was documented in January, according to a Reuters tally.

US President Donald Trump now chooses to occasionally wear a face mask - Patrick Semansky/AP
US President Donald Trump now chooses to occasionally wear a face mask – Patrick Semansky/AP

Requirements that residents wear masks in public have become the subject of a fierce political divide, as many conservatives argue that such orders violate the US Constitution.

US President Donald Trump, a Republican who has rejected a nationwide mask rule and been reluctant to wear one himself, this week reversed course and encouraged Americans to do so.

11:56 PM

Supermarkets: It’s up to police to enforce face masks, not us

Major supermarkets and coffee chains say they will not enforce new rules which say customers should wear face coverings from Friday.

Sainsburys, Asda, Co-op and Costa Coffee are among retailers saying they have no intention of policing the laws, which carry a penalty of a £100 fine.

It comes after the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it was “unrealistic and unfair” to expect them to patrol the aisles looking for people breaking the coronavirus regulations.

Read more: Supermarkets refuse to enforce face masks

From Friday, customers in England will be breaking coronavirus laws if they do not wear a face covering in shops - BLOOMBERG
From Friday, customers in England will be breaking coronavirus laws if they do not wear a face covering in shops – BLOOMBERG

11:15 PM

Pompeo: West must triumph over ‘Frankenstein China’

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, called China a “Frankenstein” country and appealed to America’s allies to join the struggle against a “new tyranny”.

In rhetoric that echoed the Cold War, Mr Pompeo compared China to the Soviet Union and declared decades of US engagement with it a dismal failure.

He said Nato, the United Nations, the G7, and “freedom-loving nations” must use “more creative and assertive ways” to pressure the Chinese Communist Party to change.

Mr Pompeo added: “We imagined engagement with China would produce a future of bright promise. But today we’re all still wearing masks and watching the pandemic’s body count rise because the CCP failed in its promises to the world.”

Read more: Pompeo ramps up Cold War-style rhetoric in speech attacking ‘new tyranny’ of China

11:13 PM

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