Downing Street says the country is at a “critical juncture” in managing Covid-19 as Boris Johnson prepares to lay out a new three-tier alert system for England. After a Cobra meeting this morning which will determine the final plan, Johnson will address parliament and then appear on TV tonight alongside the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty.
“This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus,” a spokesman for No 10 said.
The plan is expected to include areas with relatively low infection levels being placed in what is being described as tier 1, where only national restrictions such as the rule of six, the 10pm curfew on restaurants and pubs and existing rules on masks and social distancing will apply. The next tier is likely to include bans on home visits and indoor socialising with other households in bars or restaurants.
In areas under the toughest tier 3 restrictions – including Merseyside, Manchester and Newcastle – bars and pubs are expected to be forced to close. Late last night, the metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region and six other local leaders said in a statement their area was expected to face the toughest restrictions. Restaurants in tier 3 councils were expected to be allowed to stay open until 10pm, but casinos, gyms and betting shops will have to close.
However, government sources have reportedly disputed that restaurants would be allowed to remain open in Liverpool, and claimed that “nothing has been agreed” until this morning.
You can read the details of the tiers here. The plans will be debated on Tuesday, and could be implemented as soon as Wednesday, sources said. Business leaders are preparing to mount a legal challenge to the changes, which they say have “decimated the hospitality industry”. It comes as a survey by the Sustainable Restaurant Association showed 76% of respondents said they would revert to their previous habits of dining out up to four times a month, once restrictions allowed.
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, shed tears as he issued a rare apology for his failure to guide the country through tumultuous times exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking at a huge military parade held at the weekend to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ party, Kim removed his glasses and wiped away tears – an indication, analysts say, of mounting pressure on his regime.
“Our people have placed trust, as high as the sky and as deep as the sea, in me, but I have failed to always live up to it satisfactorily,” he said, according to a translation of his comments in the Korea Times. “I am really sorry for that.”
Citing his grandfather and father – North Korea’s previous two leaders – Kim continued: “Although I am entrusted with the important responsibility to lead this country upholding the cause of the great comrades Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il thanks to the trust of all the people, my efforts and sincerity have not been sufficient enough to rid our people of the difficulties in their lives.”
UK cinema admissions are set to hit their lowest level since records began almost a century ago, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic wiping almost £1bn from box office sales.
When the final ticket stubs are counted at the end of the year, it is expected that British cinemagoers will have attended between 40m and 44m times this year, the fewest since records began in 1928. It is well below the previous nadir of 53.8m set in 1984, when hits included Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters and The Karate Kid.
Attendance this year will be about 75% down on the 176m admissions in 2019, one of the best years in decades:
South Korea will make wearing masks mandatory on public transport and in public spaces from Tuesday, as the country attempts to prevent a resurgence in coronavirus cases following an easing of social distancing measures.
The country’s authorities, which have won praise for their response to the pandemic, warned that people who refused to wear masks faced fines of up to 100,000 won (£67), possibly including those who wear them incorrectly.
South Koreans, though, will be given a 30-day grace period to acclimatise to the measure, while people with medical conditions and children under 14 will not be required to wear masks, South Korean media said.
Bigger fines of up to 3 million won could be imposed on operators of medical and care facilities if they fail to ensure that visitors are wearing masks. The penalty could also apply to the organisers of protests after Covid-19 clusters were linked to large demonstrations, including those organised by conservative Christian groups.
The mask requirement appears to be an attempt to keep the outbreak in check now that social social distancing guidelines have been relaxed to their lowest level following a recent slowdown in new cases.
High-risk businesses such as nightclubs and karaoke bars can open provided they take preventive measures, such as requiring masks and keeping lists of visitors, while spectators will be allowed to occupy up to 30% of seats in baseball and football stadiums.
South Korea confirmed 97 new infections on Monday, a modest rise from the daily levels reported last week. It has recorded a total of 24,703 cases, including 433 deaths, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
People in Gaza are searching through rubbish to find food as Palestinians battle unprecedented levels of poverty, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has said.
Across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and elsewhere, Palestinian refugees are suffering at new depths because of the pandemic, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency chief, Philippe Lazzarini. “There is despair and hopelessness,” he said in an interview:
In Australia, the top public servant in the state of Victoria, the country’s coronavirus hotspot, has resigned after a review of his telephone records revealed he spoke to the state’s highest-ranking police officer on the afternoon that the decision was made to use private security guards in Covid-19 quarantine hotels.
Chris Eccles, the secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, released a detailed statement on Monday morning saying he had resigned, effective immediately.
Eccles previously held similar roles as the top bureaucrat in South Australia and New South Wales:
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