Here is a round-up of the latest news in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, June 15.
Confirmed worldwide cases: 7,995,877
Confirmed deaths: 435,598
Confirmed recoveries/discharges: 4,128,318.
In Wales, threemore people have died after testing positive for coronavirus, according to figures released by Public Health Wales on Sunday.
The total number of people to have died with lab-confirmed coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak now stands at 1,444.
Officials also confirmed 39 new cases of the virus, taking the total in Wales to 14,742.
Shops re-open as rule on mandatory face coverings in England comes into force
Thousands of non-essential shops across England are reopening their doors to customers for the first time in almost three months in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown rules.
Zoos and safari parks are also welcoming back visitors, places of worship can open for private prayer while some secondary school pupils will begin returning to their classrooms.
At the same time passengers on public transport will be required to wear face coverings as the pace of activity begins to pick up.
With official figures showing the economy shrank by a fifth in April, ministers are desperate to get businesses going again to stave off another wave of job losses.
In Wales, the First Minister has resisted calls to follow suit and said Wales must patiently wait for the current rules to change.
Boris Johnson said he did not know whether to expect “a flood or a trickle” when the shops reopened but that he hoped people would return in “sensible” numbers.
Visiting Westfield shopping centre in east London on Sunday, he acknowledged some people may be nervous about returning to the high street after so long away but insisted they “should shop and shop with confidence”.
A decision on opening shops in Wales is expected to be made later this week.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who is reported to be considering a VAT cut to stimulate spending – acknowledged further redundancies were inevitable as the Government’s furlough scheme begins to unwind.
“There is going to be hardship ahead. People are going to lose their jobs,” he said.
Wales’ Health Minister would have made ‘different choices’
Vaughan Gething has denied that the Welsh Government has employed a “cavalier approach” to tackling coronavirus, but admitted that he would have made “different choices” at a number of points during the pandemic.
The Wales health minister made the admission when he appeared on the BBC’s Politics Wales Show on Sunday.
He was asked about the discharging of 1,300 patients from hospitals into care homes in Wales in March and April, and answered by saying that he would have made different decisions had he been armed with the knowledge that he had now.
The blanket testing of patients leaving hospitals and entering care homes did not start until the end of April, meaning that some of those patients could have had coronavirus at the time, and could have transmitted it to other residents.
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Two-metre rule is under review
Ministers are under intense pressure from Conservative MPs to go further by the easing the two-metre social-distancing so the hard pressed hospitality sector can also reopen.
Boris Johnson confirmed at the weekend that he had ordered a “comprehensive” Downing Street review of the regulation.
The Prime Minister said the falling numbers of Covid-19 cases meant there was a greater “margin for manoeuvre” as the chances of coming into contact with someone with the disease diminished.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it would be an “all round” survey of the issue drawing on advice from economists as well as the scientific and medical experts who have been advising ministers on the pandemic.
He said it would be ministers, not the scientists, who would make the decisions on any easing, fuelling the belief at Westminster that the relationship between ministers and the advisers is becoming increasingly strained.
The review is reported to be scheduled to be completed by July 4, the date slated by the Government for the hospitality sector to start welcoming back customers.
Many pubs and restaurants have warned, however, that it will simply not be viable for them to do so unless the social-distancing rule is cut to no more than one metre.
English contact tracing system is criticised
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the Government to not lift the lockdown until it is proven its widely-criticised coronavirus contact tracing system works.
After it was revealed the Government failed to trace the contacts of a third of those testing positive in the first week of the new system, Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s director for Europe, warned Britain was still in the midst of a “very active phase of the pandemic”.
Dr Kluge said while the tracking in England of some 31,000 contacts of 8,000 infected people was “encouraging”,the Government needed to be sure it could “aggressively” track infections if it is to reopen the country’s economy.
“Contact tracing is key especially as the UK starts to relax the social and physical distancing measures,” Dr Kluge told The Guardian.
“There has to be a robust track-and-trace system in place of operation. I would like to … say we need an effective tracking system in place, it is one of the measures that we recommend that are in place now.”
Illegal raves attract 6,000 people
A 20-year-old man has died, a woman has been reportedly raped and three people have been stabbed during two illegal “quarantine raves” that attracted 6,000 people.
Thousands flocked to Daisy Nook Country Park and Carrington in Greater Manchester late on Saturday.
The man at the country park died of a suspected drug overdose and the stabbings and the alleged attack on an 18-year-old woman took place in Carrington.
Police said the illegal raves have had tragic consequences.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes condemned them as a clear breach of coronavirus legislation, adding officers “were met with violence, resulting in items being thrown and a police car being vandalised”.
Spain to re-open its borders
Spain will reopen its borders to visitors from Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel area on June 21, bringing forward the original date by 10 days, the country’s prime minister has announced.
Spain will also drop its requirement for people arriving from abroad to stay in quarantine, either at home or in a hotel, for 14 days on arrival, Pedro Sanchez said.
In an exception, the border between Spain and Portugal will remain closed to non-essential crossings until July 1.
Travellers from other, non-Schengen countries will be allowed into the country without the need to self-quarantine from July 1 onwards, if there is a reciprocal agreement on travel.
Spain’s government had already announced that on June 21 it would end the nation’s state of emergency to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
From then on, Spaniards will be able to move freely around the country without restrictions, but face masks will remain mandatory on public transport and in crowded spaces.
Today, Spain’s Balearic Islands will test their reopening strategy by accepting the first flights from Germany of tourists who will be exempt from a quarantine.
The islands plan to welcome up to 10,900 Germans during the trial.
France is also lifting some coronavirus restrictions
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a number of coronavirus restrictions are being lifted.
From today, cafes and restaurants can open across France and travel to other European countries will be allowed.
People will also be able to visit family members in retirement homes, which have been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.
In a televised address, Mr Macron said France had won its “first victory”, but warned the virus could return.
“As soon as tomorrow we will be able to turn the page on this first chapter across all our territory,” he said.
EasyJet resumes flights
EasyJet’s boss has insisted he would “feel 100 per cent safe” on packed planes as the airline restarts operations for the first time in 11 weeks.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren said the carrier has taken guidance from international regulators to develop an enhanced safety and hygiene regime for its resumption of flights today.
Passengers and crew will be required to wear masks, aircraft will be regularly deep-cleaned and disinfection wipes and hand sanitiser will be made available.
EasyJet’s first UK flight since it grounded its aircraft on March 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic will take off from Gatwick at 7am and touch down in Glasgow 90 minutes later.
Mr Lundgren said not operating a single flight in nearly three months has been “devastating”, and the airline is “super excited” to resume.