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Coronavirus news – live: Shoppers risk fines as face masks become mandatory in England on 24 July

Follow the latest developments from the pandemic

Enough coronavirus vaccine doses for everyone in UK 'in first half of next year' if trials succeed, research chief says

Matt Hancock will announce on Tuesday that face coverings will become mandatory mandatory in English shops from 24 July, with shoppers risking a £100 fine if they fail to comply.

The prime minister – who was first pictured wearing a mask only days ago – said: “The scientific evaluation of face coverings and their importance on stopping aerosol droplets, that’s been growing, so I do think that in shops it is very important to wear a face covering if you’re going to be in a confined space and you want to protect other people and receive protection in turn.”

His comments came as three people escaped quarantine at a Herefordshire farm – where 200 staff members had been ordered to isolate after 74 infections were identified. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation warned that the coronavirus pandemic had the potential to get “worse and worse and worse” if countries do not follow basic healthcare guidance.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 07:47

More than 100 outbreaks tackled a week, health secretary says

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said action is being taken to tackle more than 100 local coronavirus outbreaks a week in the UK as part of a “targeted” approach by officials.

Mr Hancock wrote in The Daily Telegraph that the government was now able to take measures against small areas, such as a single business or building, with the aim of avoiding city-wide lockdowns like the one seen in Leicester.

“Each week there are more than 100 local actions taken across the country - some of these will make the news, but many more are swiftly and silently dealt with,” he wrote, adding that increased testing had helped locate cases.

His comments came as about 200 workers were forced into self-isolation at a farm in Herefordshire after 73 members on the site tested positive for Covid-19. 

Our reporter, Rory Sullivan, has more on that story below:

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 08:00

Beauty salons and tattoo shops to reopen in England as Scotland and Wales ease restrictions

Beauty salons, nail bars and tattoo shops are to reopen for the first time since March in England today as Scotland and Wales also ease lockdown restrictions.

Spas, massage studios and physical therapy businesses have been allowed to welcome customers again but will be required to follow coronavirus guidelines, with restrictions on treatments which involve work directly in front of a customer’s face.

Government guidance has stated that face waxing, eyelash treatments, make-up application and facials should not be provided because of the greater risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Meanwhile in Scotland, hospitals will reopen to visitors, children will be allowed to play contact sports outdoors and shopping centres will welcome back customers on Monday.

In Wales, pubs, bars and restaurants can now serve customers outdoors and hairdressers can also reopen.

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 08:11

Our policy correspondent, Jon Stone, has more details below on the government’s “targeted action” against local outbreaks:

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 08:15

Coronavirus immunity could vanish in months, study suggests

Coronavirus immunity could be lost in months, indicating patients could be reinfected again after they have recovered from Covid-19, a new study has suggested.

Researchers at King’s College London found 60 per cent of people retained a “potent” level of antibodies for coronavirus in the two weeks around the first sign of symptoms.

However, the study found that proportion dropped to less than 17 per cent after three months.

Our reporter, Vincent Wood, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 08:30

Leicester's mayor says data shows city-wide lockdown is ‘not justified’

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has told BBC Breakfast that he has received data which shows the lockdown of the entire city was not justified.

Sir Peter said he had “finally” been given “useful data”, showing about 10 per cent of the city was recording a higher level of transmission for coronavirus.

“If we had known that weeks ago we could've actually dealt with it at that time and prevented this lockdown,” he told the BBC.

“It's very clear when you look at the data that it's a couple of areas of the city that have got a higher than the average transmission of the virus, and certainly the way in which the city has been locked down in its entirety, and indeed beyond our boundary, is not justified.”

He added: “We should have been able to know this many, many weeks ago and we should have focused on those areas, preventing the transmission there.”

However, the mayor warned Leicester needed a more detailed breakdown of testing data in order to accurately identify where the virus was being passed on.

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 08:40

‘Very sensible’ to wear face coverings in small shops, justice secretary says

Justice secretary Robert Buckland has said he wears a face covering inside small shops and carries one with him amid growing pressure on the government to make their use mandatory.

When asked on BBC Breakfast, Mr Buckland said: “Yes I do, I carry one with me. I think outside is one thing, with social distancing, but a small shop I think is a very sensible place to wear a covering, and it protects people working in the shop, and also anybody else who you might come into contact with.”

He added: “I think a mask is just an additional helpful mitigation that isn't just an act of courtesy. I think it's an act of increasing safety and public confidence.”

The minister also said he thought it would be “absolutely sensible” to wear a mask in a busy supermarket but insisted people could be trusted to make their own judgement on the issue.

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 08:53

Face coverings should be mandatory in shops, president of Royal Society says

Face coverings should be mandatory in shops as the evidence in favour of their use has “shifted”, the president of the Royal Society has said.

"[The evidence] is now quite strongly in favour of using face coverings in enclosed spaces where we're likely to come into contact with strangers,” Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, who also sits on the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told Good Morning Britain.

“I think that the government should be very clear, it's not consistent to make it mandatory in public transport and not make it mandatory in other enclosed and busy public spaces because the behaviour of the virus is the same in all of these spaces.”

He added: “Scotland made it mandatory and it's not been a problem in Scotland. People have, since last week, been going about their business, going shopping, it gives people confidence.

“I should also point out that the best way to revive our economy is to prevent repeated disruptive lockdowns, these are disruptive economically but they're also disruptive psychologically.

“The more tools we can throw at the problem to avoid disruptive lockdowns the better off we are in reviving our economy.”

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 09:05

Coronavirus can severely damage the heart, study finds

More than half of heart scans among hospitalised Covid-19 patients are abnormal, suggesting the virus may be having a devastating impact on the vital organ, new research has found.

A study from 69 countries, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), found 55 per cent of the 1,261 patients studied had abnormal changes to the way their heart was pumping, with around one in seven showing evidence of severe dysfunction.

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at BHF and a consultant cardiologist, said there was an urgent need to understand why this was happening in order to provide appropriate care.

You can find more on this story below:

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 09:13

Quarantined farm workers receiving ‘best support’, public health director says

The 200 workers who have been forced into self-isolation at a farm in Herefordshire following a coronavirus outbreak are being given the “best support”, the county’s director of public health has said.

“The situation on site is that we are supporting the farm owners, who are doing their very best in this difficult situation,” Karen Wright told BBC Breakfast.

“We're helping by providing food and other provisions to all of the people on site.

“We've had translators on site over the weekend and that will be the same for the coming days, to look after the welfare of individuals and also to keep reinforcing those messages around reducing the spread of the infection.”

Ms Wright added that there was no risk around the food coming from the farm.

“Our main priority is obviously to make sure people are well and that people are looked after and that's the main thing we need to be doing and that's our focus, to look after people really well,” she said.

“And to provide that reassurance to the local community that we are focused on obviously containing this outbreak within the farm situation.

“These are people's homes, where they live on the farm, and it's important that we support people to stay on the farm and look after their health and wellbeing on the site.”

Conrad Duncan13 July 2020 09:24

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