Coronavirus UK LIVE: VAT reduction starts TODAY as face masks in shops could last until 2021 and deaths hit 44,968

THE CORONAVIRUS death toll in the UK hit 44,968 on Tuesday as face masks are set to become mandatory in shops.

It comes as VAT will be cut from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries – sectors which have been badly hit by the pandemic.

Face mask wearing will not be compulsory in bars and restaurants, Environment Secretary George Eustice has said.

His comments come as officials announce that wearing a face mask in shops and supermarkets will be made mandatory in England this month.

In a statement on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that anyone failing to comply with the order of wearing face masks in shops – which comes into force on July 24 – could face a fine of up to £100.

Mr Hancock said: "The liability for wearing face-covering lies with the individual.

"Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply. The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine."

Follow the latest news and updates surrounding coronavirus below…

  • CORONAVIRUS 6AM SUMMARY:

    – US SETS ANOTHER RECORD For the 36th day in a row, the US has set a record for the number of coronavirus cases reported. 

    – CLEANING ROBOTS AT HEATHROW The airport said the machines use UV rays to kill viruses and bacteria at night.

    – CHINA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CONCEALING COVID-19, SAYS TRUMP Donald Trump has said he holds China “fully responsible” for concealing the coronavirus and “unleashing it” on the world.

    – UK WORKERS MAY BE FORCED TO DON MASKS Face coverings may soon be recommended in all public spaces including offices and other workplaces. Officials have begun private talks with groups representing major employers amid growing fears within Government over the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus infections in the autumn.

    – TRUMP ADMINISTRATION REVERSES LATEST IMMIGRATION MEASURES The Trump administration abandoned its attempt to force foreign students to leave the United States if all of their classes are to be taught online this autumn, in a dramatic reversal from a policy announced just last week.

    – CATALONIA ORDERS LOCKDOWN AS SPAIN CASES SURGE Spain's populous Catalonia region made a fresh attempt on Tuesday to put an area of 160,000 people under lockdown to stem the latest local coronavirus surge.

  • NEW ZEALAND FACES PROSPECT OF COVID RETURN

    New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has addressed the possibility the virus has re-emerged in the country.

    “When we closed our borders on the 19th of March there were 240,000 cases in the world in total,” she told reporters at a news conference in Wellington.

    “It’s fifty times worse than that now.

    New Zealanders are returning to their home country, as was their legal right, but despite quarantine, rules are spreading the virus.

    “Experts tell us that even with the best precautions possible, the chances of the virus passing from a surface, or contact with someone who is a carrier are high,” Ardern said. “We must prepare now for that eventuality and have a plan at the ready in the event that it does.”

  • 133 MILLION PEOPLE RE-ENTER LOCKDOWN IN INDIA

    India has the third highest number of cases in the world, at around 906,000, with almost 24,000 deaths.

    Bangalore, with a population of 8 million, and the northern state of Biihar, where 125 million people live, have been ordered into a new seven day and 15 day-long lockdown respectively, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2020/jul/15/coronavirus-live-news-update-covid-19-cases-latest-updates-india-lockdown?page=with:block-5f0e3de38f08e16b6a1e739fblock-5f0e3de38f08e16b6a1e739f“>the Guardian reports.

  • BURGER KING WORKERS STAGE STRIKE AFTER TRANS COLLEAGUE'S DEATH

    Employees also filed a complaint against the branch in Santa Monica, USA, after a trans woman died while working with coronavirus symptoms.

    Burger King leadership reportedly blamed Angela Martinez's death on her hormone injections.

  • COLOMBIA EXTENDS NATIONAL LOCKDOWN

    President Ivan Duque said Colombia's national lockdown will be extended until August 1, as the Latin American country stays on course for implementing the world's longest lockdown.

    The country has reported more than 4,350 deaths, and although the lockdown was due to lift on July 15, and businesses had been returning to normal in the Bogotá capital, a rise in cases has meant Duque is shutting down the nation again.

  • ELDERLY MAN DIES WHILE WAITING IN LINE FOR CORONAVIRUS TEST

    A 71-year-old man was found dead on Sunday at a coronavirus testing site in Utah, America, after he was brought by nursing home staff to be tested.

    By the time the nursing facility's van reached the drive through testing tent, hthe man was unresponsive and cold to the touch, according to reports.

  • DOMESTIC ABUSE CALLS TO LONDON POLICE SURGE

    Domestic abuse calls to the Metropolitan Police were up 11.4% on average during the 11 weeks since March 23, compared to the same period in 2019.

    The increase, which equated to about 380 more calls a week, was driven by calls from concerned neighbours and other third parties, according to the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance, whose experts analysed the data.

  • US SETS ANOTHER RECORD DAY FOR COVID-19 CASES

    For the 36th day in a row, the US has set a record for the number of coronavirus cases reported.

    Texas leads the surge with 10,745 cases in one day.

    In the past week alone, the state has recorded more than 64,000 cases and 607 deaths, according to data gathered and analyzed by The Washington Post.

  • TOKYO TO LIFT CORONAVIRUS ALERT TO HIGHEST LEVEL

    Tokyo will lift its alert level for coronavirus infections to the highest of four levels on Wednesday, the Asahi newspaper reported.

    It comes after a recent spike in cases to record levels in the Japanese capital.

    Daily coronavirus cases exceeded 200 in four of the last six days, touching an all-time high of 243 cases last Friday.

    The highest alert level suggests that “coronavirus infections are likely spreading”, the Asahi said.

  • UV CLEANING ROBOTS INTRODUCED AT HEATHROW

    Ultraviolet (UV) cleaning robots are being deployed at Heathrow as the airport tries to encourage passengers to return to air travel.

    The airport said the machines use UV rays to kill viruses and bacteria at night.

    It is also using UV technology to continuously disinfect moving handrails, and coating surfaces such as security trays, lift buttons and trolley handles with a material providing long-lasting anti-viral protection.

    Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We have reviewed the entire Heathrow Airport experience to ensure that our passengers and colleagues are kept safe as travel resumes to 'green' and 'amber' countries.

    “Now we need Government to safely restore Britain's long-haul connections as the country prepares for life outside the EU, with common international standards for Covid testing from 'red' countries.”

  • MEDICS URGE MPS TO TACKLE HEALTH INEQUALITIES IN NORTH EAST

    The British Medical Association (BMA) is calling on MPs in the north-east of England to take “urgent, concerted action” to tackle health inequalities after the region suffered one of the highest Covid-19 death rates in the country.

    The BMA said the North East had “suffered disproportionately” during the coronaviruspandemic, leading to a crisis in the healthcare system.

    It said the high fatality rate in the region emphasised pre-existing health inequalities, brought about by employment, education, housing and other social factors, and urged the Government to tackle these as a priority.

    The letter, sent to 29 MPs following a meeting of the BMA North East Regional Council on July 8, said the north-south health gap had widened before the pandemic, with the largest decreases in life expectancy seen in the most deprived areas of the North East.

    Dr George Rae, chairman of the BMA North East Regional Council, wrote: “Unfortunately, not enough has been done to resolve this unfair situation, which now must be tackled head-on.”

    Calling for “urgent political action”, Dr Rae continued: “The consequences on health must be factored into all political decision-making.

    “We are asking for a health-in-all-policies approach to understand the impact of Government policy on tackling inequalities.”

  • RETURNING TO VISITOR ATTRACTIONS IS 'AN OASIS IN A CORONAVIRUS DESERT'

    Returning to visitor attractions as coronavirus restrictions ease is a “very emotional experience” for many people, according to a trade body.

    Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva), said many sites are “vastly oversubscribed” as people tick off places on their “wish list” created during lockdown.

    He made the comments as Alva published figures showing that 145 million visits were made to 266 of the UK's most popular sites in 2019, up 6 per cent on the previous 12 months.

    Asked about people's response to being able to return to attractions, Mr Donoghue told the PA news agency: “They've been confined to their house for three-and-a-half months, they've been drawing up a wish list of places that they want to go back to, and very often going back to their favourite places is a very emotional experience.

    “One person who went back to the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire said it was like coming back to an oasis in a coronavirus desert.

    “You're seeing that a lot. People have got such built-up expectations and anticipation of going back to their favourite places that it's quite an emotional experience for them.”

  • 'MISTAKE' FOR CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS TO REMAIN CLOSED, SAYS TRUMP

    US President Donald Trump said in an interview on Tuesday that it was a “mistake” for the two largest California school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, to keep schools closed in the autumn.

    Trump has pushed for schools to open up for the school year even as states across the country see a surge in cases of the coronavirus.

    There are also questions about whether schools can hold in-person classes safely.

  • AROUND 5,000 FEWER HEART ATTACK ADMISSIONS TO ENGLISH HOSPITALS 'DUE TO COVID'

    There were around 5,000 fewer hospital admissions with heart attacks in England by the end of May than would be expected, research suggests.

    This suggests that thousands of people missed out on potentially life-saving treatment because of the coronavirus outbreak, the study indicates.

    By the end of May, admission rates had partially recovered, but remained below expected levels.

    The data indicates only two thirds of the expected admissions with heart attacks took place at the end of March 2020.

    The study, published in The Lancet, used data regularly collected by NHS Digital from NHS Hospital Trusts in England to get up-to-date information about admissions to hospital.

    Dr Marion Mafham, clinical research fellow at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford – and lead author of the study, said: “Our study shows that far fewer people with heart attacks have attended hospital during this pandemic.

    “It is important that anyone with chest pain calls an ambulance immediately, because every minute of delay increases the risk of dying or experiencing serious complications from a heart attack.”

  • DEATHS FROM COVID-19 SPIKE IN FLORIA, ALABAMA AND NORTH CAROLINA

    Alabama, Florida and North Carolina reported record daily increases in deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday.

    Florida, which has become an epicentre of the new outbreak, reported 133 new COVID-19 fatalities on Tuesday, raising the state's death toll to more than 4,500.

    “We must all continue to do our part to protect Florida's most vulnerable and avoid the 3 Cs: closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings,” Governor Ron DeSantis wrote on Twitter. “Safeguarding the elderly and those with underlying health conditions will continue to be our top priority.”

    Alabama reported a record spike of 40 deaths on Tuesday and North Carolina an increase of 35, bringing each state's total to over 1,100.

  • BRAZIL CORONAVIRUS CASES RISE PAST 1.9 MILLION

    Brazil recorded 41,857 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours and 1,300 additional deaths, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

    The nation has now registered 1,926,824 total confirmed cases of the virus and 74,133 deaths.

  • DONALD TRUMP SAYS CHINA IS 'FULLY RESPONSIBLE' FOR CONCEALING COVID-19

    Donald Trump has said he holds China “fully responsible” for concealing the coronavirus and “unleashing it” on the world.

    The US President is currently holding a news conference at the White House.

    He also said today he signed legislation and an executive order to hold China accountable for its actions against Hong Kong.

  • WORKERS MAY BE FORCED TO WEAR MASKS IN OFFICES

    Face coverings may soon be recommended in all public spaces including offices and other workplaces.

    Officials have begun private talks with groups representing major employers amid growing fears within Government over the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus infections in the autumn, The Telegraph reported.

    It comes as the Government today faced a heavy backlash over the delay in making face coverings compulsory in shops.

  • FRANCE SCALES DOWN BASTILLE DAY PARADE DUE TO CORONAVIRUS

    France held a scaled-down Bastille Day celebration on Tuesday, with none of the usual tanks and troops parading down Paris's Champs Elysees avenue because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Instead, President Emmanuel Macron, standing in the back of a military jeep, reviewed ranks of socially distanced troops in the Place de la Concorde after a flypast by military aircraft.

    “I wish, with all the French, with the armies themselves, to pay a vibrant tribute to health workers and those who, in all sectors, have enabled public, social and economic life to continue,” Macron said in message released ahead of the parade.

    “The dedication, tenacity, courage, solidarity that emerged strongly everywhere, in our cities as in our countryside, command admiration.”

  • FAUCI SAYS DECISION ON SCHOOL OPENINGS SHOULD BE LEFT TO LOCAL OFFICIALS

    Top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said that decisions on whether to open schools in US regions hit hard by the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak should be left to local officials.

    “We should try, as the default, to get the kids to stay in school,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at an event hosted by Georgetown University.

  • BANKSY'S CORONAVIRUS-RELATED ARTWORK REMOVED FROM LONDON UNDERGROUND TRAIN

    Banksy's latest artwork inside a London Underground train carriage, with messages about the spread of coronavirus, has been removed by Transport for London.

    TFL confirmed on Tuesday evening that the work was removed “some days ago” due to strict anti-graffiti policy, but that it would welcome Banksy to recreate his message “in a suitable location”.

    A TfL spokesperson said: “We appreciate the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings, which the vast majority of customers on our transport network are doing.

    “In this particular case, the work was removed some days ago due to our strict anti-graffiti policy.

    “We'd like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location.”

  • MEXICO PROPOSES TO EXTEND BAN ON LAND BORDER CROSSINGS

    Mexico proposed to the United States extending a ban on non-essential travel by land over their shared border for another 30 days considering the development of the coronavirus pandemic, Mexico's foreign ministry said.

    The measure would be in place until August 21, under the same terms agreed when they were first implemented on March 21, the ministry added.

  • TRUMP ADMINISTRATION REVERSES LATEST IMMIGRATION MEASURES

    The Trump administration abandoned its attempt to force foreign students to leave the United States if all of their classes are to be taught online this autumn, in a dramatic reversal from a policy announced just last week.

    US District Judge Allison Burroughs in Massachusetts said the US government and Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that sued over the measure had come to a settlement that would roll back the new rules and restore the previous status quo.

    The universities argued the measure was unlawful and would adversely affect their academic institutions.

    Many academic institutions are grappling with the logistical challenges of safely resuming classes as the coronavirus pandemic continues around the world.

  • AMERICANS QUICK TO USE CLOTH MASKS AFTER GOVERNMENT RECOMMENDATION

    Most Americans wore cloth face coverings after the government recommended their use in April, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a publication released today.

    CDC researchers analysed data from more than 800 adults in two internet surveys in April and May who reported going outdoors in the past week.

    Data published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed that within days of the first national recommendation, 61.9 per cent people reported using cloth face coverings when they left home.

    This number rose to 76.4 per cent a month later.

  • CATALONIA ORDERS LOCAL LOCKDOWN AS SPAIN BATTLES NEW VIRUS SURGES

    Spain's populous Catalonia region made a fresh attempt on Tuesday to put an area of 160,000 people under lockdown to stem the latest local coronavirus surge.

    Authorities also recommended that people stay at home in a suburb of Barcelona.

    Having suffered more than 28,400 deaths, tourism-dependent Spain brought the epidemic largely under control through a tough national lockdown that was lifted on June 21.

    However, since then, more than 170 local outbreaks have been detected, with 120 still active – including a worrying one around the Catalan city of Lleida.

    The order for residents of Lleida, and seven nearby towns, to stay at home still needs to be approved by a judge amid tensions over how to handle local outbreaks.

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