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Covid news – live: Deadline missed for travel ‘green list’ as ‘several’ variant cases found in east London

Covid could ‘reignite’ despite vaccine success, Mark Walport warns

A deadline for grading countries under the new traffic light system for international travel has been missed by the government.

The Commons’ Transport Select Committee issued a report last week which stated the green, amber and red lists of destinations must be published by Saturday “at the latest”, but this has not happened.

However, the Department for Transport insisted the deadline – which is not recognised by the government – has not been missed and that it will confirm international travel arrangements by “early May”.

The ban on overseas leisure travel is expected to be lifted for people in England from 17 May as part of the next easing of coronavirus restrictions, leaving holidaymakers eager to discover which countries they will be able to travel to without needing to self-isolate upon their return.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced that surge testing will be deployed in Tower Hamlets this weekend after “several” cases of the South African and Braziliant variants were discovered. According to the east London council’s website, everyone over the age of 11 living in 10 different sub-districts are being encouraged to get tested for Covid-19.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Stay tuned for rolling updates on the latest news and statistics.

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 07:52
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Rule forcing care home residents to isolate after days out axed

Strict rules requiring English care home residents to isolate in their rooms for 14 days after returning from days out are being scrapped, after protests.

Ministers have bowed to pressure to end the restriction – which had triggered the threat of legal action – after visits to the gardens of friends or family members, or to parks and beaches.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more details:

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 07:58
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Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 08:05
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Easing of care home isolation rules ‘massively inadequate’, says campaigner

A campaigner has described the easing of the government’s care home restrictions to allow residents to leave for “low-risk” visits without having to self isolate as “massively inadequate”.

Asked if she was celebrating the move, John’s Campaign co-founder Julia Jones told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m waiting until we see the guidance.

“I still struggle to see what legal right the government thinks it has for preventing people with full mental capacity from walking out of their homes the same as every other member of the population. I struggle to see why they should be under surveillance.”

Asked about the requirement to isolate for 14 days remaining if residents visit the doctor, she said: “It’s massively inadequate.”

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 08:15
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Easing of care home restrictions is ‘cautious step forward’

The National Care Association said the easing of restrictions for care home residents is a “cautious step forward” but criticised the short period of notice.

Executive chair Nadra Ahmed told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s a cautious step forward and we have to make these steps forward.

“I don’t welcome it on a Friday night with guidance to follow on Tuesday, which is when it comes into effect, because providers are going to have to have some preparations and communicate with families to make sure everybody knows where we are.”

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 08:25
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Overseas holidays to be allowed from 17 May, reports say

According to The Telegraph, the government is planning to introduce a traffic light system to allow Britons to go abroad on holiday, with a “tiny handful” of countries expected to be on the green list with the lowest level of restrictions.

My colleague Conrad Duncan explains more below:

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 08:37
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‘Wonderful’ to see look on clubbers’ faces at pilot event, says Liverpool health chief

Liverpool director of public health Matt Ashton said it was “wonderful” to see the looks on clubbers’ faces as they returned to the dancefloor at a pilot event for 3,000 people in the city.

He told BBC Breakfast the event gave a glimpse of what the future might hold but stressed it was still a scientific experiment about how more events could be opened in the future.

Mr Ashton added: “This is a scientific experiment, both before and after the event people have to return to doing the things they are supposed to, so following the rules in place.

“We have to deal with Covid still as if it is still around because it is, even if it is at low levels, so we have to be cautious in our approach. And for me that’s why it is so important that we collect the science around this to allow us to do this safely and properly in the future.

“But it is still wonderful to see the looks on people’s faces as they were at the event last night. It just gives a glimpse of what think we think the future might hold.”

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 09:06
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Nightclubbers to be tracked after pilot to identify any virus transmission

Liverpool director of public health Matt Ashton said people who test positive following the city’s pilot club night will be expected to self-isolate and then be followed up by contact tracers as normal.

“But the likelihood is if it is people who have attended the event then it will be through the event and that allows us to speak to other people about it as well.”

When asked if everyone at the event will be tracked afterwards and for how long he said: “Everybody who attended with a ticket, absolutely will be.

“We ask people to take a PCR [polymerase chain reaction] five days afterwards and that helps us identify any virus that happened as a result of the event.

“I’m not expecting any.”

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 09:16
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Deadline missed for release of holiday lists

A deadline for grading countries under the new traffic light system for international travel has been missed by the government.

The Commons’ Transport Select Committee issued a report last week which stated that the green, amber and red lists of destinations must be published by Saturday “at the latest”, but this has not happened.

Instead, the Department for Transport has only said the lists will be made public in “early May”.

The ban on overseas leisure travel is expected to be lifted for people in England from 17 May as part of the next easing of coronavirus restrictions.

The traffic light system will be risk-based, with different rules for people returning to England depending on which list their destination is on.

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 09:26
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Don’t ‘reignite the spark’ by speeding up lockdown roadmap, expert warns

A former chief medical adviser has warned demands to speed up the lifting of lockdown restrictions risk “reigniting the spark” of the pandemic.

Sir Mark Walpole said the next scheduled date for lifting curbs – 17 May – is “frankly not far away” and “there is the potential for that spark to reignite”.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more details below:

Chiara Giordano1 May 2021 09:45