The Department for Health and Social Care has published the latest weekly test and trace figures.
I will take a more detailed look at the figures shortly.
Here is my colleague Matthew Weaver’s story about the violence at the mass street party in Brixton.
Some of the best reporting on the coronavirus coverage has come from Radio’s 4 statistics factcheck programme, More or Less. In particular, it has been looking at the reliability of the government’s testing statistics in detail, and generally its verdict has been withering.
But now Tim Harford, the programme’s presenter, has tried using a home testing kit himself, and the experience has left him more sceptical than ever about the value of the oft-quoted statistic given by ministers for the number of tests being carried out per day. Four categories of test contribute to the overall number, but a large proportion are tests sent to people to use at home which count in the official figures when they get sent out. Harford thinks many of them never get returned. He explains why here.
The government started to count “tests sent out” in its headline testing numbers (which implies tests completed) near the end of April, when it was under pressure to reach the 100,000 tests a day target set for the end of that month. With help from the new, elastic methodology, the target was supposedly hit. Boris Johnson then set a target of achieving the capacity to carry out 200,000 tests a day by the end of May. This goal was also reached, and now the government says it does not just have the capacity for more than 200,000 tests per day, it is doing more than 200,000 per day.
But these figures have been criticised as misleading, not just because they include tests sent out but not necessarily completed, but because if people provide a swab test (nose and throat) as well as a saliva test, that counts as two tests, not one.
At one point the government also published figures for the number of individuals actually tested per day. But, on the day it supposedly reached the 100,000 target with a headline figure for tests of 122,347, the small print showed that only 73,191 individuals had been tested. The gap between the headline figure and the total for number of individuals actually tested grew ever more embarrassing, and last moth the government stopped publishing a daily figure for the number of individuals tested. It is still not releasing that data, claiming it cannot do so until the data is robust.
It’s not just Brixton where there were large gatherings last night after the hottest day of the year so far.
There were reports on hundreds of young people congregating on the seafront in Hove, East Sussex, where police were called after “pockets” of violence broke out.
One witness said the teenagers should have finished their GCSEs and had their prom on Wednesday if it wasn’t for the coronavirus lockdown.
Large groups were also pictured gathering in the Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate in breach of the coronavirus regulations.
There was also trouble on Exmouth beach in Devon, where hundreds of people gathered before police were called to a “large group of people fighting”.
And this was the scene at the Meadows park in Edinburgh on Wednesday night. One residents said the park looked “like a nightclub” as youngsters gathered to enjoy the warm weather. The crime writer Ian Rankin photographed the rubbish left behind this morning.
Around 10,000 care home residents and staff will be repeatedly tested for coronavirus in a study forming part of the government’s testing strategy, PA Media reports. The repeat testing will give a “detailed picture” of infections in over 100 care homes in England and allow them to react quickly to outbreaks, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
Helen Whately, the care minister, said:
We know care homes are on the front line of our fight against coronavirus, with the virus affecting older people more acutely than the general population.
Not only will this study provide important reassurance to thousands of residents and staff, it will also build our understanding of the rate of infection in care homes and add to our knowledge about the risk factors that mean the virus can affect individuals differently.
The results of this study will help inform our future plans for managing the pandemic, to protect the public and those who receive care as we work to carefully return to normality.
Footage on social media shows police officers and vehicles being pelted with objects when they attended an illegal music event in Brixton, south-east London, last night.
The disorder broke out after police tried to break up the party, which was in breach of coronavirus lockdown measures. Warning: the footage below contains some bad language.
On the Today programme this morning Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service and the former permanent secretary at the communities department (where Robert Jenrick is secretary of state), said that even though Jenrick “got to the right place in the end”, in that he turned down a follow-up meeting with Richard Desmond to discuss the Westferry development, the documents released last night raised troubling issues. Kerslake explained:
I’m pleased the documents have come out but I do think they have raised some troubling issues, I have to say, about access and influence.
I don’t for a moment suggest the minister took his decision simply because of a donation to the Conservative party.
But the fact is, for the price of a dinner, the developer was able to present his scheme to the minister, follow up with texts and seek to influence the decision.
Kerslake said the fact that Desmond was able to raise the application with Jenrick at a dinner “creates the impression – and appearance here is really important – that the developer has some level of influence over the decisions”.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, has condemned the “utterly vile scenes” of violence at an illegal gathering in Brixton last night. She said she would immediately raise the issue with Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan police commissioner.
More than 20 police officers injured at illegal music event in Brixton
The Metropolitan police have said 22 officers were injured and police vehicles damaged when they attended a large unlicensed music event in breach of the coronavirus lockdown on Wednesday night.
Footage on social media showed a number of police vehicles being smashed and officers chased during a confrontation with a large crown near the Angell Town estate in Brixton, south-east London.
The Met police said a group of people became hostile when officers encouraged them to leave the event. It said 22 officers were injured, including two who required hospital treatment, though none of the injuries are thought to be serious.
Four people were arrested for assault and public order offences, the force said, adding that gatherings like these were “unlawful, as well as posing a risk to public health and against coronavirus restrictions”.
Met police commander Colin Wingrove said:
Our role is to protect the public and ensure guidelines are adhered to in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 protecting the NHS and save lives. Our officers work incredibly hard to engage and explain the public health message and regulations to prevent such gatherings occurring.
Business minister suggests voters should attend Tory fundraising dinners to get special access
The business minister, Nadhim Zahawi, denied that Jenrick’s approval of Richard Desmond’s housing scheme represented “special treatment for a billionaire” in a testy interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Zahawi insisted that “there is no smoking gun” and that Jenrick had allowed a different minister to decide on the approval of the £1bn plan when there was a “perception of bias”.
However, Zahawi was then questioned about the special access bought by Desmond at a £900-a-head dinner at which he showed Jenrick a video of the scheme and swapped mobile numbers with the housing secretary.
Asked by the Today presenter Justin Webb what message this sent to the ordinary Conservative voter in Doncaster or Ashfield who would not enjoy this kind of access to a government minister, Zahawi said:
If people go to a fundraiser in their local area, in Doncaster, for the Conservative party they’d be sitting next to MPs and other people in their local authority. People can act with different parts of that authority.
The important this [is] the access didn’t buy this billionaire the decision. The secretary of state very clearly said to Richard Desmond: ‘I can’t see you, I can’t have this meeting’.
Zahawi’s suggestion that voters should go to Tory fundraising dinners if they want special access to decision-makers has been picked up by Westminster journalists:
The former leader of the Conservative group on Tower Hamlets council, who resigned over Robert Jenrick’s decision to approve the housing scheme against the advice of his own officials, has posted an interesting thread on the documents released last night.
Councillor Andrew Wood is the secretary of the Isle of Dogs neighbourhood planning forum so he knows the intricacies of the story probably better than most. He resigned in February, saying Jenrick’s overruling of the local planning inspector was “so shocking I knew immediately that I had to resign”.
Wood says the emails and texts released last night showed discrepancies in Jenrick’s account:
Representatives of one of Scotland’s most popular national parks, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, which is also the closest park to big cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, have written to the Scottish government begging for help with what they describe as increasingly serious health, hygiene and safety issues as more and more day-trippers ignore the current five-mile travel limit.
Destination National Park Group and the Friends of Loch Lomond describe visitors going to the toilet on public beaches, in woodlands and in local residents’ gardens; dangerous roadside parking and tailbacks in towns and villages where the car parks have remained closed; and littering at a scale not seen in the national park for many years.
The letter goes on:
We would earnestly ask for your assistance in encouraging public sector bodies to start quietly re-opening their car park and toilet facilities to help ease the very real problems being encountered on the ground which are impacting adversely on the health and wellbeing of local residents and visitors.”
With the five-mile limit lifting on 3 July, these concerns are only likely to get worse if car parks and toilet facilities remain closed.
Back in the city, crime writer Ian Rankin, who lives near the Meadows, a large and popular city centre park in Edinburgh, has been documenting litter and unending outdoor micturition on sunny days:
Robert Jenrick leads the front pages of five of the national newspapers in England this morning, including the Daily Mail, the Guardian and the Times.
The Daily Mail splashes on the “cosy texts that damn minister”. Its columnist Stephen Glover says Jenrick must resign, in a piece headlined: “This haughty and reckless minister is now a drag on the Tories.”
The Times’ leader column says the emails and text messages released on Wednesday night leave Jenrick with “many more questions to answer”. It writes that Jenrick is “not the victim of confected outrage”, whatever he or his supporters might say, and that his cases suggests some in government see transparency as “a burden”.
The Guardian sets out its view in this leader column, which says: “Without the hefty Conservative majority and Mr Johnson’s own relaxed attitude to personal responsibility, Mr Jenrick would surely have left by now. The pandemic still consumes public attention which might otherwise turn to the case. Nonetheless, it exacerbates the perception that there is one rule for this government and its friends and another for the rest of us.”
The senior Tory MP, Bernard Jenkin, is backing calls for a “rapid” review of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic but said it should not take the place of a full public inquiry.
Jenkin, the chair of the Commons liaison committee, said the review would “ensure that every stone has been turned over and looked under” and take the form of the parliamentary banking standards committee, established in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said the review should scrutinise governance, constitutional weaknesses, use of scientific advice, coordination across government, and the disproportionality of deaths of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
“Select committees are doing this scrutiny piecemeal all the time; the question is how can you bring this select committee scrutiny together,” he said.
Jenkin was also asked about Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary under pressure over his dealings with the property tycoon Richard Desmond.
Jenkin said he suspected “the storm will pass” and backed his colleague to remain in post. He added:
The cabinet secretary has been very clear that there’s no case to answer. Clearly there’s been a little bit of a mistake, where decisions have had to be rescinded, but there’s no sign of actual maladministration. And secondly, in these things what happens next depends on whether anything new comes out, and it looks as though he’s put everything on the table.
Good morning and welcome to the UK liveblog.
It takes something big to knock coronavirus off the front pages but the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, has succeeded this morning.
Jenrick backed the former media mogul Richard Desmond’s plans to build 1,500 flats on the Isle of Dogs in east London in mid-January, overruling the objections of planning officers and the local council.
The Guardian, Times, Daily Mail and i all lead on the release of documents last night that show Jenrick “insisted” a planning decision for a £1bn property development should be rushed through so a Tory donor’s company could reduce costs by £45m. The documents also reveal that Jenrick gave Desmond his private mobile number after he was sat next to the former Daily Express owner at a £900-a-head dinner, following which they swapped messages.
Boris Johnson indicated last night that he was sticking by Jenrick, but the pressure on the housing secretary is building this morning.
We will also have all the day’s live developments on the coronavirus pandemic. There are reports this morning that the government will on Monday confirm which European countries Britons will be able to visit without having to go into quarantine when they return to the UK.