Coronavirus UK live updates as schools prepare for pupils to return

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Class sizes at primary schools will be restricted and desks will be spaced apart when primary school children return after lockdown.

The government's new guidance comes as the Department for Education advised schools to stagger lunch and break times, as well as drop-off and pick-up times, to reduce the number of pupils moving around.

Schools should also consider introducing one-way circulation, or placing a divider down the middle of the corridor, to keep young people apart.

The advice, published by the department on Monday evening, suggests that nurseries and schools should remove soft furnishings and toys that are hard to clean – and try to keep children in the same small groups at all times each day.

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Classrooms should also be limited to 15 pupils at a time to keep social distancing in place.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also tried to clarify advice on meeting up with family members during lockdown after there was mass confusion.

Meanwhile the death toll continues to rise on Merseyside with a further 17 coronavirus-related fatalities recorded at Liverpool hospitals on Monday.

And although some people seem determined to add to our problems others are moving mountains in order to help.

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Neil Macdonald

Coronavirus deaths in Merseyside

The figures for deaths make for depressing reading when they are announced each day.

However they do not mean that people passed away on THAT day, rather that was the day when their deaths were announced after the necessary paperwork passed through the system.

This chart shows deaths per day at our local hospital trusts across Merseyside.

You can use it to see when the highest point was reached, back at the start of April, as well as look at each trust individually.

Charlotte Hadfield

Matt Hancock on whether people should return to work if they don't feel safe

The Health Secretary refused to directly answer whether people have a legal right not to go to work if they do not feel safe due to coronavirus.

Matt Hancock was asked the question twice on BBC Breakfast this morning.

In response, he said: "Well this needs to be a collaborative effort. Absolutely workplaces need to follow the guidelines on making a workplace safe for Covid, so that is very important.

"Critically, everybody who can work from home should continue to work from home."

Asked for a second time whether people are protected by law if they felt unsafe in the workplace, Mr Hancock said: "Well, employment law has not changed, but that isn't the point.

"The point is that businesses and employees should be working together to make the best of a very difficult situation."


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Charlotte Hadfield

Ryanair set to restore 40% of flights from start of July

Ryanair has announced it is set to restore two out of five flights from July 1.

The airline said: "Ryanair, Europe's largest low fares airline, today announced plans to return to 40% of normal flight schedules from Wednesday 1 July 2020, subject to Government restrictions on intra-EU flights being lifted, and effective public health measures being put in place at airports.

"Ryanair will operate a daily flight schedule of almost 1,000 flights, restoring 90% of its pre-Covid-19 route network."

Charlotte Hadfield

William Hague urges Boris Johnson to drop use of slogans

Boris Johnson should consider dropping slogans like "stay at home" and "stay alert" as the public has a "real appetite for extensive information", William Hague has said.

The former Conservative leader said the approach of delivering a "straightforward and direct" message paid off in the early day of the battle against coronavirus but more nuance was needed now.

The Prime Minister has told the country "stay alert, control the virus and save lives" in new messaging, but the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have stuck with the "stay home" message.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague said Mr Johnson's team deserved credit for their prowess in coining slogans like "Get Brexit Done" and "Take Back Control".

But he added: "Such slogans also have their limitations, particularly when the simplicities of campaigning are succeeded by the complexities of governing.

"Slogans don't work if you have to change them repeatedly, endlessly explain them, or if different versions are employed at the same time."

Lord Hague, who previously held Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Richmond seat, said the complications of the challenge ahead meant communication could not be reduced to slogans from here.


Furlough scheme set to be extended

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce an extension to the furlough scheme under which the Government subsidises the wages of workers temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus.

At least 6.3 million people are currently having up to 80% of their salaries paid by the taxpayer under the furlough system at a cost of some £8 billion.

Mr Sunak has previously said he was preparing to "wean" workers and businesses off the programme – which currently runs until the end of June – but calls have been made for it to be prolonged.

It has been reported the programme will continue to September, although the rate of support will be cut from a maximum of 80% of salary to 60%.

Meanwhile, ministers are to set out guidance on how people can travel safely on public transport as the coronavirus lockdown begins to ease.

The death toll from coronavirus in the UK stood at more than 32,000 as the Prime Minister said he wants those who cannot work from home to start returning to their workplaces from Wednesday.

Mr Sunak last week warned the furlough scheme was not "sustainable" at its current rate although he promised there would be no "cliff edge" cut-off.

Charlotte Hadfield

Good Morning

Good Morning and welcome to our live blog.

We'll be bringing you all the latest coronavirus updates today as we get them.