Here’s what you need to know on 2 September. This article was updated at 5pm.
Deaths: The government said 41,514 people had died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, an increase of 10 on the day before.
Death registrations in England and Wales involving COVID-19 fell to 138 in the week ending 21 August – the lowest figure since March. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 9,631 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 21 August – 239 higher than in the previous week. Read more here.
Local lockdowns: The government has U-turned again, halting the easing of local lockdown rules in Bolton and Trafford following a spike in cases. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham had earlier described the initial decision to loosen as “completely illogical” in light of an uptick in cases. Read more here.
Nicola Sturgeon has defended the decision to put Glasgow and the surrounding areas into local lockdown after a spike in cases. She said the restrictions on entering other people’s homes were necessary and proportionate. Read more here.
Education: Gavin Williamson was told not to cancel A-level and GCSE exams but ignored the advice, the chair of beleaguered exam regulator Ofqual has said. Roger Taylor told MPs the controversial calculated grades system – which resulted in 40% of A-level students being downgraded before a dramatic government U-turn reversed this – was the regulator’s third choice, but the one picked by Williamson. Read more here.
A secondary school in Buckinghamshire has delayed a full reopening after multiple pupils tested positive for coronavirus. The students, who attend Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, had reportedly been on a group holiday and tested positive for the virus on their return, along with some family members. Read more here.
Politics: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of “serial incompetence” that is “holding Britain back”. In the first Prime Minister’s Questions since Parliament resumed after the summer recess, Starmer and Johnson picked up where they left off with another bad-tempered exchange in the House of Commons. Read more here.
The UK government will have to overcome reluctance among both staff and employers as it pushes to get people back into offices. Britain lags well behind continental Europe in return-to-office rates and there is growing concern about the economic impact of extended home-working. City centre employers like Pret A Manger have already cut thousands of jobs and the Confederation of British Industry has warned that cities could become “ghost towns” unless normal working patterns resume. Read more here.
Just days after telling representatives of COVID-19 victims that he would “of course” meet them, Boris Johnson has U-turned and told them in a letter that it is now “regrettably not possible”. The prime minister said “of course I will meet the bereaved” when questioned last week in an interview about attempts by the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group to secure a meeting. Should he meet them? Vote in Yahoo’s poll here.
Finance: Budget fitness chain Gym Group said on Wednesday that it lost more than £26m ($34.7m) in the first half of its financial year, as the coronavirus pandemic and associated gym closures razed its revenue. Sweeping coronavirus restrictions introduced by the UK government forced the closure of the chain’s gyms on 20 March, and they did not reopen until 25 July. Read more here.
UK house prices hit a new all-time high in August after the biggest monthly rise since 2004, according to new figures from Nationwide. The average home sold for £224,123 ($299,828) in August, up 2% from £220,935 in July. Read more here.
Half of UK customers say they have used no cash since Britain went into lockdown, a survey suggests, in the latest sign the coronavirus is accelerating the decline of cash. Around 40% of more than 2,000 adults polled nationwide last month said they plan to continue avoiding cash in shops, restaurants or bars because of health concerns. Read more here.
Entertainment: London’s Winter Wonderland has been cancelled for the first time in 13 years as organisers confirmed they could not hold the event “in light of ongoing health concerns, travel restrictions and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19”. The annual event in Hyde Park usually welcomes millions of visitors and brings together fanfair rides, attractions, market stalls and food. Read more here.
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Rest of the world
More than 80% of newly qualified doctors in the Indian state of Kerala have quit after their monthly pay was cut from 42,000 rupees (£430) to 27,000 rupees (£276). They had all been assigned to hospitals dealing with COVID-19. Read more here.
Cheap and readily available steroids can reduce the risk of death in critically ill coronavirus patients by 20% according to a new study. The benefits were found to be consistent across the trials, regardless of age or sex. Read more here.
A £2bn scheme to help young people into work in the UK has launched with support from major employers like Tesco, the Treasury said. The Kickstart programme, first announced in July, will see out-of-work 16- to 24-year-olds offered six-week job placements with their wages paid by the government. Employers will also be given up to £1,500 to pay for uniforms and other costs associated with the programme. Read more here.
Antibodies used to fight off coronavirus last longer than originally thought, according to a new study. Scientists monitoring more than 30,000 people in Iceland found antibodies remained stable for four months. Read more here.