Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 July 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Millions could catch Covid
Up to two million people could catch Covid this summer, meaning up to ten million would be expected to isolate in just six weeks, according to analysis by The Guardian. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has admitted that England is entering “uncharted territory” in its wholesale scrapping of lockdown rules from 19 July, with new infections expected to rise above 100,000 a day over the summer - more than at any point in the pandemic.
Hancock faces emails probe
The Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating the use of private email accounts by Matt Hancock and health minister Lord Bethell. The ICO, which has the power to seize evidence and recommend criminal prosecution, will probe the use of all private correspondence channels used by ministers. A spokeswoman said the allegations could lead people to feel there was “a loss of transparency about decisions affecting them and their loved ones”.
Cheapest mortgage announced
HSBC and TSB have launched Britain’s cheapest-ever mortgages at 0.94% with a 40% deposit. The emergence of the deals, at all-time low rates, marks the latest stage in an “escalating interest rate price war,” says the Daily Telegraph. Rachel Springall of Moneyfacts said: “With competition continuing, it will be interesting to see how low lenders are prepared to go to grab the spotlight.” However, other analysts have questioned for how long such low rates will be available.
Journalist shot in the street
A leading Dutch crime journalist is “fighting for his life” after being shot on a street in Amsterdam, the city’s mayor has said. Police said three suspects were detained, including the possible gunmen. Peter De Vries is known for his work in exposing the criminal underworld. “He is a national hero to us all,” said Mayor Femke Halsema. “A rare, courageous journalist who tirelessly sought justice.”
Customers tired of ‘Covid excuse’
A study has found that customers are fed up with being told they are getting poor service “because of Covid”. The UK Institute of Customer Service says firms are being accused of using the pandemic as an excuse for long waits on the telephone or late deliveries. The number of complaints about poor service in the last six months was at its highest level since 2009, according to the research.
London Bridge ‘hero’ to be released
A man who tackled the Fishmongers’ Hall attacker on London Bridge has been told he can be freed from jail. Steven Gallant was one of the three men who restrained Usman Khan during a terror attack in November 2019, in which he killed two people. Gallant, who was serving a life sentence for murder, was on day release when he helped stop Khan’s rampage.
Pfizer not as effective against Delta
The Israeli government says the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appears to be less effective against infections caused by the Delta variant compared to other strains of Covid. It said that, as of 6 June, the vaccine provided 64% protection against infection. CNN says the statement highlights the “big risk” of the emergence of new variants that might evade some of the protection provided by jabs.
Heathrow to fast-track the jabbed
Two leading airlines will trial fast-track lanes at Heathrow airport for fully-vaccinated arrivals. Under the scheme, launched by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, passengers from some countries will be able to upload their vaccination status before boarding. The airport hopes the trial will reassure ministers that airlines and airports can check vaccine status away from the border, which would reduce pressure on UK immigration halls.
Ministers may ban lobster boiling
Boiling live lobsters will be outlawed under plans being drawn up by ministers to acknowledge that animals are sentient beings. The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which is making its way through the House of Lords, currently covers only vertebrates - animals that have a backbone. But following an outcry, ministers will back an amendment by peers to extend the legislation to shellfish and cephalopod molluscs.
England one match from Euro final
England will reach their first major final since 1966 if they beat Denmark in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 at Wembley this evening. Gareth Southgate’s side will face Italy in Sunday’s final if they prevail against the Danes in front of around 60,000 mostly England fans at Wembley. “We don't have as good a football history as we like to believe sometimes,” said Southgate. England have never reached a final of the European Championships.