Top story: UK tourists face tougher EU rules
Hello, Warren Murray here, and thanks as ever for making this Briefing part of your day.
Ministers have eased Covid restrictions for some overseas destinations but European bans may undermine plans to free up travel for fully vaccinated Britons. The government has promised that later in the summer, fully vaccinated people returning from amber-list countries will be able to avoid quarantine or self-isolation. But a date for the change has not been agreed, amid the fears of some ministers that it could create vaccine shortages by prompting a rush for second jabs. Belgium has announced that it is banning British travellers from Saturday, following the German chancellor Angela Merkel’s call for other leaders to protect the EU’s external border. Portugal is considering tightening things up as well.
Malta is to be added to all UK governments’ travel green list from next Wednesday while the Balearic islands, Madeira and Israel are being moved from the amber list to the “green watchlist” – meaning they are at risk of returning to amber. A handful of Caribbean nations will also be added to the green watchlist including Barbados, Bermuda and Grenada. Six countries – including Tunisia, Uganda and Eritrea – are being placed on the red list, which means travel is allowed only for British residents and nationals, who must pay for 11 nights of hotel quarantine on their return. Here is a full rundown of the latest traffic light changes – and if you’re thinking of visiting Malta while the lights favour it, here is our freshly published travel guide.
Separately, almost 600m lateral flow tests given to the public in England may not yet have been used, according to a report from the National Audit Office, which says the test and trace system is struggling with “fundamental parts” of its role. And A&E units are treating a sudden surge in young children suffering from infections usually only seen in winter. The easing of lockdown has meant that children are being exposed to these bugs as they come back into contact with other children, says the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. The college says most of the conditions are mild and should be treated at home rather than waiting for hours unnecessarily in A&E.
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Miami condo disaster – A rescue operation has been continuing at the site of a collapsed apartment block in Miami, Florida, where authorities said at least one person was killed, 10 injured and dozens more unaccounted for.
Crews reported hearing noises from inside the rubble as they searched for survivors at the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, a 12-storey apartment block that came crashing down at about 1.30am on Thursday. The cause of the collapse was not known – some reports said maintenance work had been taking place on the roof of the condominium building.
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‘It cannot be right’ – Amanda Spielman, the head of England’s Ofsted schools watchdog, has denounced a “militant” activism around schools, saying it is limiting children’s education as well as affecting staff and parents. She told a virtual Festival of Education: “It cannot be right for children to have to cross what amount to picket lines outside their school because one group’s religious beliefs – protected by law – sit uncomfortably with teaching about another group’s sexuality – also protected by law. It cannot be right that the curriculum can be filleted by pressure groups … We are also seeing more pupil activism in schools, on many fronts. Some of this is about racism, or anti-racism; some is about climate change; some is about issues … such as the charged and complicated politics of the Middle East. But in some cases children and teachers are suffering abuse or even violence simply for being who they are: for being the wrong religion, or race or ethnicity. This is completely unacceptable.”
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‘Demonstrably false’ – Rudy Giuliani has been suspended from practising law in New York state because of his misleading statements to courts and the public following the 2020 US presidential election. The New York supreme court said there was “uncontroverted evidence” that Giuliani made “demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large”, on behalf of his client, then president Donald Trump, and created a “narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client”. Giuliani’s licence will be revoked while disciplinary action is considered. His lawyers said they were disappointed and hoped a hearing would overturn the decision.
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Isis regroups in Africa – Islamic State’s affiliates in Africa are set for major expansion after a series of significant victories that led to gains in Nigeria, the Sahel, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A new bid by the group to create zones of “jihadi governance” could pose a major challenge to weak, corrupt and inefficient national authorities, analysts fear.
In Nigeria, Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) recently routed Boko Haram, killing Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, and inheriting many of his followers as well as his treasury and weapons. As Jason Burke explains, western officials fear that in Nigeria and elsewhere, Isis moving in will pose a formidable challenge to local armed forces and authorities.
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Test spots cancer early – A simple blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer before signs of the disease emerge is accurate enough to be rolled out for screening, according to scientists. The test is aimed at people at higher risk of cancer including patients aged 50 or older. It is able to identify many types that are difficult to diagnose early such as head and neck, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophageal and some blood cancers. The test picks up fragments of genetic code that leak from tumours into the bloodstream. Results from an NHS pilot of the test, which will include 140,000 participants, are expected by 2023.
Today in Focus podcast: Unionists in crisis
From a leadership fiasco to the “sausage wars”, the Democratic Unionist party’s stance on Brexit has forced it to contend with a new – perhaps even existential – set of problems. What will they mean for the region’s future?
Lunchtime read: ‘Scratching the surface of my powers’
She quit social media, embraced the feral and grieved for her beloved dog. Now rejuvenated, Lorde is back with a free-spirited new album – though there’s a sinister side to its sunniness, writes Laura Snapes.
Marcus Rashford has urged England to write their names into history by securing a famous victory over Germany in the last 16 of Euro 2020. England beat Sri Lanka by five wickets after reaching a revised target after rain delays and sealed a 2-0 T20 series win. Lewis Hamilton has expressed grave concern at the announcement that the British Grand Prix will host more than 140,000 spectators this year. Although 184 riders will roll away from the Tour de France start line in Brest on Saturday, there are in fact fewer than a dozen contenders for victory in Paris on 18 July. There is a growing confidence in UK Athletics circles that Mo Farah is injury-free and can revert to “Classic Mo” in his final attempt to make the Tokyo Games. Arsenal are confident of signing Ben White from Brighton in the next few days after offering a deal worth up to £50m for the England defender. And Marcus Smith and Joe Simmonds have been challenged to stake their claims for the England No 10 jersey when they square off in the Premiership final between Harlequins and Exeter on Saturday.
The BT-owned mobile operator EE is to start charging UK customers to use their phones in Europe, having previously said it had no plans to reintroduce roaming costs after Brexit. New EE customers or those upgrading after mid-July will have to pay £2 a day when they use their phones in 47 European countries from January. Meanwhile the Brexit minister, David Frost, claims the deterioration in UK relations with the EU has come as something of a surprise to leavers. The government is hoping the EU will today agree to give three extra months to resolve the so-called “sausage war” in Northern Ireland. On the markets, Asian shares have risen, buoyed by the rally on Wall Street that came after Joe Biden announced a bipartisan deal on infrastructure spending. The FTSE will open higher too, while a pound is worth $1.393 or €1.166 at the moment.
“Travel eased but UK surge in cases sparks fears in EU of Covid spread” – the Guardian’s lead story this morning. Our front page also reports on the closure of the Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong under China’s crackdown on freedoms. The Mail is happy about traffic light news – “Holiday islands here we come” – but the Times says “Foreign holidays confusion deepens” because of the “green watch list” of countries at risk of going amber.
The Telegraph has “EU threat to thwart holidays” because of continental moves to scrap quarantine-free holidays for Britons. The Express goes harder with “Spain vows to defy EU plot to ruin our hols”, because that’s really what it’s all about isn’t it. The Mirror prefers to look at the positives: “2 jabs & go hols joy”.
Angela Merkel is leading the call for the EU to protect its common border and the Metro ties that in with the upcoming England-Germany game: “Think it’s all over? It isn’t … Germany demands penalties”. The Financial Times has “BoE holds tight on interest rates despite inflation forecast above 3%” – policymakers on the monetary policy committee have said the base rate should remain at 0.1% until the economic outlook is more certain. The front page also covers Joe Biden announcing agreement among Republican and Democrat senators for a $953bn national infrastructure plan.
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