UK coronavirus news – Summer holiday boost with Spain 'DESPERATE' to welcome Brits back this year and stay off red list

SUMMER holidays in Europe are back on the cards for Brits due to the success of the vaccine rollout, reports have claimed.

Countries with a strong jabs rollout are set to be exempt from the EU’s blanket entry ban – bringing hope to millions of Brit sunseekers this summer.

A senior EU official said the UK will “certainly” be one of the first foreign nations allowed back in under its vaccine passport scheme, possibly from June.

Boris Johnson is poised to lift the ban on people leaving the country for hols from May 17 – but there are fears they could still be barred from the continent.

Meanwhile, an expert has warned that a surge in coronavirus cases could delay Boris Johnson's road map out of lockdown.

Professor Adam Finn, from the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), today warned that as lockdown is relaxed, cases would naturally rise.

His comments come after Mr Johnson last night addressed the nation at a Downing Street press conference.

He warned that it was likely the UK would experience a third wave, possibly in the winter months.

Prof Finn agreed with the PM's point regarding a third wave in the UK and said the models point to a "summer surge in cases".

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning he said: "The models that we've seen on JCVI clearly point to a summer surge in cases as the lockdown is relaxed, because there are still many people in the adult population who've not been immunised and who will therefore start to transmit the infection between each other."

It comes as:

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Alice Fuller

    KATE GARRAWAY REVEALS 'LITTLE POSITIVES' OF HAVING HUSBAND DEREK HOME

    Kate Garraway has revealed her husband's "moments of reaction" since returning home from hospital.

    Derek Draper, 53, was in hospital for a year after being admitted with coronavirus symptoms and being placed in a coma.

    Garraway said of the former political adviser's return to the family this month: "It's been wonderful having Derek home and there are lots of little positives.

    "There are little moments of reaction and he actually said something the other day," she explained on Good Morning Britain.

    "I walked in the other morning… and he said, 'New dress?', which was just amazing. And it was, actually!"

  • Alice Fuller

    SPAIN 'DESPERATE TO WELCOME UK VISITORS THIS SUMMER'

    Spain's tourism minister has said the country is "desperate to welcome" UK visitors this summer.

    Fernando Valdes told Sky News: "I think we will be ready here in Spain. We also think that the vaccination scheme in the UK is going pretty well, so hopefully we'll be seeing this summer the restart of holidays."

    He added that certificates enabling holidaymakers to prove they have either been vaccinated or recently tested are "going to help us".

  • Alice Fuller

    DRIVING TESTS RESTART TODAY

    Driving tests restart in England and Wales today after months of being on hold.

    But learner drivers face extra pressure to pass as lockdown has caused a 17-week backlog, the MailOnline reports.

    Since January, more than 450,000 non-emergency tests have been cancelled.

    But the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has said it is offering an additional 2,500 car test slots per month by utilising weekends and bank holidays.

  • Alice Fuller

    SMALL BUSINESSES 'NEED HELP TO RECOVER'

    Small firms are at a "critical moment" and need help from politicians to boost their recovery from the coronavirus crisis, a business group has said.

    The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called on candidates in next month's local and mayoral elections to help small companies and the self-employed after an "incredibly hard" year.

    Politicians were asked to commit to plans including speeding up grants, encouraging shoppers back to high streets and tackling late payments of bills, which the FSB said had got worse during the pandemic.

    Ian O'Donnell of the FSB said: "After an incredibly hard year we are at a critical moment. The Government's road map has provided small firms with some certainty and confidence moving forward, but to ensure reopening is successful, it must be powered by collaboration and innovation.

    "That is why we are calling on all major parties and candidates at all levels across England, to commit to our three-point plan to back small business."

  • Alice Fuller

    SINGLE COVID JAB SLASHES RISK

    A single Covid jab slashes hospitalisation risk in elderly Brits by as much as 98 per cent, real-world data suggests.

    Analysis of NHS pandemic admissions shows vaccinations may be more effective at preventing serious illness than previously thought.

    Public Health England last month revealed the risk of hospital admission dropped by at least 80 per cent for the over-80s, three weeks after their first shot.

    But Government scientific adviser Professor Calum Semple said the real-world data shows vaccines are even better.

    The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies member said the early findings were “very good news".

  • Alice Fuller

    SURGE TESTING IN BIRMINGHAM

    Covid surge testing is to begin in Birmingham to try to stop the spread of the South African variant.

    The testing will be targeted at households in the city's Alum Rock, Glebe Farm and Tile Cross areas of the city.

    The Department of Health and Social Care said a confirmed case had "self-isolated and their contacts have been identified".

    Health officials said: "Initial investigations indicate that this case is not linked to a case previously identified in the Birmingham and Sandwell areas."

    The DHSC said that everybody aged 16 years and over who is contacted from the new areas would be "strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 PCR test", whether or not they are symptomatic.

  • Alice Fuller

    MATT HANCOCK SAYS 'WE'RE MAKING GREAT STRIDES'

    Matt Hancock has thanked everybody who has had a Covid vaccine for helping to keep the country safe.

    The Health Secretary tweeted this morning: "A huge thank you to everyone playing their part in protecting our country from this virus.

    • Over 43 million vaccines have been administered across the UK
    • There are under 2,000 Covid patients for the first time since September

    "We're making great strides."

    DOMINO'S DISHES UP SALES SURGE AS LOCKDOWN BOOSTS DEMAND

    Domino's Pizza has seen sales surge by nearly a fifth over its first quarter as demand for takeaways jumped during lockdown.

    The takeaway chain reported an 18.5% hike in UK and Ireland like-for-like sales – excluding stores opened near another outlet in so-called split territories – for the three months to March 28.

    Domino's, which is holding its annual general meeting for shareholders on Thursday, said overall UK and Ireland system sales were 18.7% higher at £371.3 million.

    It hailed the success of its delivery service, with orders rising 6.8%, which helped offset a hit to collection business amid the lockdown.

    The group said collections were seeing some recovery, now trading at around 65% of pre-pandemic levels.

    COVID OUTBREAK AT CUPCAKE FACTORY

    More than 40 workers at a cupcake factory in Wales have tested positive for Covid-19.

    Health officials said 42 members of staff at the Cake Crew production facility in Bala, Gwynedd, which employs 330 people, were affected, WalesOnline reports.

    Those identified and their contacts are in self-isolation, they added.

    • Alice Fuller

      'DETRIMENTAL IMPACT' OF LOCKDOWN ON GRADUATES

      Research released today has revealed the continued detrimental impact the pandemic is having on the prospects of the younger generation.

      In the past year, a third of graduates have seen jobs and applications withdrawn due to the pandemic impact on the economy.

      The study, from Bright Network of 15,000 graduates, also highlighted a worrying inequality gap rising, with a 5% decrease in expected starting salary amongst state-educated graduates this year and a 1% decline amongst privately educated graduates.

      The data also showed more than two thirds of university graduates educated at state schools do not feel confident about securing a graduate role after leaving their studies.

    • Alice Fuller

      33-YEAR HIGH GROWTH PREDICTED AFTER LOCKDOWN

      The UK could be set for its fastest growth spurt for 33 years as the easing of Covid restrictions encourages consumers to start spending.

      The expected bounceback — which would be a huge boost for Chancellor
      Rishi Sunak — comes from a Treasury monthly poll of economists.

      They upgraded gross domestic product projections for the year amid signs households want to spend the “accidental” £180billion savings built up during lockdown.

      The average of 2021 forecasts collected this month by the Treasury from 19 independent economists is 5.7 per cent, a leap from the 4.7 per cent in March.

      If correct, it will be the fastest growth since 1988.

    • Alice Fuller

      INDIA SETS GLOBAL RECORD FOR CASES

      India has set a new global record for the number of new Covid cases reported in 24 hours.

      The country recorded 314,835 new infections in the last day – the highest one day tally recorded anywhere in the world.

      There were also 2,104 new deaths in the same period – the worst the country has seen since the pandemic began.

      It brings the country's total confirmed cases to almost 16 million.

      India has been placed on the UK’s red list restricting travel amid fears prevalence of the variant could be up to 10 to 20 times higher and fears rapid tests may not be able to detect it.

    • Alice Fuller

      VACCINES FULL STEAM AHEAD

      The UK's world-class vaccination programme continues full steam ahead – with more than 33 million Brits now jabbed against the virus.

      And one in five UK adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid, with more than two-and-a-half million second doses delivered in the past seven days, latest figures show.

      A total of 10.8 million people have now received both jabs – the equivalent of 20.5 per cent of the adult population.

      The Government's target to get all adults inoculated by July is still expected to be met.

    • Alex Winter

      HOLI-YAY!

      The big news today is that Covid passports will be available from next month – and that'll give Brits the chance to head away on summer breaks.

      The Government is said to want the passports up and running by May 17, when foreign travel resumes.

      The documents will allow tourists to avoid quarantines.

      Here's the story.

    • Alex Winter

      'VACCINATIONS ARE WORKING – AND THEY'RE PHENOMENAL'

      Good Morning Britain medic Dr Hilary has discussed a new study on vaccines which showed that just 32 Brits who had been given a jab at least three weeks before were hospitalised with Covid between September and March.

      That's out of a total of almost 75,000 people admitted to a ward with the deadly bug.

      Dr Hilary said it's "beyond the wildest expectations" of scientists.

      "Nearly 2,000 people were admitted who had been vaccinated, but the vast majority of those people had only just been vaccinated," he said.

      "Of those vaccinated at least three weeks before, only 32 out of that 2,000 were [admitted].

      "It's reduced hospitalisations by 98 per cent, which is phenomenal."

    • Alex Winter

      EU LEADERS SET TO TAKE ACTION OVER MISSING DOSES

      More on that last post.

      Politico reports that the point of the legal proceedings is to make it mandatory for AZ to provide the doses set out in its EU contract.

      But there's apparently a deadline later this week – and after that, the bloc could well sign off on getting legal action under way.

      There was fury in the EU earlier this year when AstraZeneca said it wouldn't be able to offer the number of doses initially anticipated.

      By the end of the first quarter, the company delivered 30m doses to EU countries – rather than the 100m pledged in its contract.

      And 70m doses will be delivered by the end of the second quarter – rather than the entire 300m doses secured in the EU's contract.

      .

    • Alex Winter

      EU 'TO LAUNCH LEGAL BID AGAINST ASTRAZENECA'

       The European Commission is getting ready to launch legal proceedings against vaccine producer AstraZeneca, five EU diplomats told Politico.

      The Commission raised the matter at a meeting of ambassadors yesterday.

      And the majority of EU countries said they would support suing the company over complaints it massively failed to deliver pledged doses to the bloc. 

      More on this next.

    • Niamh Cavanagh

      'DIRTY DEALS'

      Nearly £4 billion worth of Covid PPE contracts appear to be corrupt, a bombshell report reveals.

      A staggering one in five of all contracts doled out in the pandemic “raise one or more red flags” for being dodgy, a major new study found.

      The Transparency International report slammed the VIP lane which gave high priority to companies referred by MPs, peers and top mandarins.

      There appears to be “systemic bias towards those with connections to the party of government in Westminster”, the study found.

      And it lashed Whitehall for failing to keep a proper paper trail of why contracts were dished out to certain firms.

    • Niamh Cavanagh

      FUNERAL MISERY

      Brits are being forced to endure "extended grief" as tens of thousands of cremations and burials get set to fall under Covid funeral curbs in the months ahead, it has been reported.

      Funeral directors expect another 80,000 services to fall under the restrictions between now and June 21 – the earliest date measures will be lifted.

      As Covid rules stand, only 30 mourners are allowed to attend any funeral taking place in England over the next two months.

      And charities have backed calls to review the limit.

      Dr Shelley Gilbert, founder of the charity Grief Encounter, estimated that 750,000 Brits have been "deeply impacted" by grief following the death of a loved one in the past year.

    • Niamh Cavanagh

      BRAZIL REGISTERS 3,742 NEW CASES

      Brazil recorded 79,719 new cases of coronavirus and 3,472 new COVID-19 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

      That takes Brazil's death toll to 381,475 and the total confirmed cases to 14.1 million.

    • Niamh Cavanagh

      INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL RESTART AT RISK DUE TO 'VAGUE AND COSTLY' PLANS, MPS WARN

      The planned restart of international travel next month is in jeopardy with "vague and costly" proposals not enough to reboot the aviation and tourism sectors, a committee of MPs has warned.

      The Transport Select Committee said that international travel has had its "wings clipped" by the "cautious" Government Global Travel Taskforce report.

      The committee said the report gave "insufficient" detail to allow businesses and travellers to prepare for the safe resumption of international travel as planned on May 17.

      It also said that, where detail was provided, the costs could be "disproportionate to the risk" and could add £500 for a family of four travelling to the "safest" parts of the globe where vaccine rollout is comparable to the UK.

    • Niamh Cavanagh

      IRELAND – PFIZER TO OFFER COVID VACCINE TO EMPLOYEES' RELATIVES

      Thousands of family members of Pfizer Ireland employees will be offered the Covid-19 vaccine by the company in the coming months, it has been confirmed. The vaccine manufacturer said the family of Pfizer staff will be offered the vaccine over the coming months in line with the Government's age-based approach.

      Pfizer's more than 4,000 staff across its five locations in Ireland were informed of the company's offer on Wednesday. The company said its decision will not affect the supplies set to be delivered by the manufacturer to the State's vaccination programme in the coming months.

      The latest figures from the HSE show that Pfizer provided more than 1 million of the almost 1.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine supplied to Ireland up to April 16. The rollout is set to begin with "immediate family/household members" over the age of 60 from next month.

    • Niamh Cavanagh

      JAB JOY

      A single Covid jab slashes hospitalisation risk in elderly Brits by as much as 98 per cent, real-world data suggests.

      Analysis of NHS pandemic admissions shows vaccinations may be more effective at preventing serious illness than previously thought.

      Public Health England last month revealed the risk of hospital admission dropped by at least 80 per cent for the over-80s, three weeks after their first shot.

      But Government scientific adviser Professor Calum Semple said the real-world data shows vaccines are even better.

      The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies member said the early findings were “very good news”.

    • Niamh Cavanagh

      COSTA BRAVO

      Brits will be welcomed with open arms to European hotspots this summer thanks to our stonking jabs success.

      Spain, Portugal and Greece are leading the push as EU chiefs meet to discuss reopening borders to sunseekers.

      A senior EU official said the UK will “certainly” be one of the first foreign nations allowed back in under its vaccine passport scheme, possibly from June.

      Boris Johnson is poised to lift the ban on people leaving the country for hols from May 17 – but there are fears they could still be barred from the continent.

      It currently bans non-essential travel from the UK, threatening summer getaway hopes.

    • Niamh Cavanagh

      HEATHROW REJECTS REQUESTS FOR EXTRA FLIGHTS FROM INDIA BEFORE 'RED LIST' MOVE

      Heathrow Airport has refused requests for extra flights from India before the country is added to the UK's coronavirus "red list".

      Four airlines asked for a total of eight extra flights to arrive at the west London airport before 4am on Friday.

      Britons returning after that point will be forced to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

      Anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen will be banned from entering the country if they have been in India in the previous 10 days.

      It is understood Heathrow declined the airlines' requests to ensure existing pressures at the border are not exacerbated.

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