LiveCoronavirus in UK live blog: latest as Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden holds daily press briefing

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Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 4:15 pm

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A satirical poster from the group Led By Donkeys depicting Boris Johnson as former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain delivering his “Peace for Our Time” speech in Kentish Town, London (Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
A satirical poster from the group Led By Donkeys depicting Boris Johnson as former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain delivering his “Peace for Our Time” speech in Kentish Town, London (Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Coronavirus live blog, May 20

Last updated: Wednesday, 20 May, 2020, 18:00

That concludes today’s daily press briefing and today’s live blog. 

We will be back at 8am tomorrow with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

On when holidays could return in the UK, Dowden said: "I would love to get the tourism sector up as quickly as we possibly can. We've set this very ambitious plan to try and get it up and running by the beginning of July.

"Clearly, we can only do it if it's safe to do so because I think the worse thing for our tourism sector would be to start, then see the R rate rise out of control, see a second peak that overwhelms the NHS that we then have to slam on the brakes again. 

"But, believe me, when we get to the point when we can have British tourism back, perhaps apart from the Prime Minister you won't get a bigger champion of the great British break than me."

Stephen Powis says Sage will keep the two-metre rule under review. 

He says: "The current advice is two metres, I'm sure that, along with a whole host of other things, that will constantly be kept under review as new evidence emerges."

Stephen Powis says Sage will keep the two-metre rule under review. 

He says: "The current advice is two metres, I'm sure that, along with a whole host of other things, that will constantly be kept under review as new evidence emerges."

Dowden now says he hopes the government will show flexibility over the TV license fee.

He says: "I think the BBC made absolutely the right decision in saying that, in the middle of this coronavirus crisis when particularly older people are being asked to self-isolate and who are feeling lonely often the TV is a lifeline for them, it wouldn't be acceptable to take away that TV licence, which is why they rightly extended the proposal for removing it until the beginning of August.

"I very much hope that if we are in a similar situation come the beginning of August the BBC will show similar flexibility again."

“We won't proceed unless we can be sure of children's safety - of course that goes without saying,” says Dowden after a question on concerns over schools returning.

Mr Dowden said Sage advice is published "routinely" and that it would "continue to be the case".

Dowden said he wanted schools in England to return at the same time, just hours after his Cabinet colleague Robert Buckland said there may not be a "uniform approach".

Mr Dowden told the Downing Street press conference: "It is best, and the Government has said this repeatedly, that we move as a whole nation, and that would include of course the whole of England in doing so."

But there could be different measures in "micro-hotspots" where there was an outbreak of new coronavirus cases.

Now Powis rejects that ill patients were discharged from hospital to care homes. 

"I was a frontline doctor for many, many years and I wouldn't discharge a patient from a hospital into whatever setting - home or care home - unless I was absolutely confident that their medical treatment was complete and they no longer required hospital treatment."

He said that, particularly for the elderly, remaining in hospital when treatment is complete "can be harmful to individuals".

"I'm absolutely sure that my medical colleagues would not be discharging patients under any circumstances unless they were sure that their medical treatment in hospital was complete, they were fit for discharge and it was safe to discharge them."

Now questions from the press.

First, the duo are asked why the government is sending out mixed messages on the handling of the crisis in care homes. 

Dowden says government have introduced care home action plan and that we’re moving in the right direction. 

Dowden said there will be a time to learn lessons, but the public right now want us to focus on dealing with virus. He says testing has been available to care homes from the beginning. 

A second question from the BBC asks whether Powis is confident that the test and trace system will meet high standards.  

Powis says effective strategy is important, but must be combined with other social distacning measures. 

Now questions from the press.

First, the duo are asked why the government is sending out mixed messages on the handling of the crisis in care homes. 

Dowden says government have introduced care home action plan and that we’re moving in the right direction. 

Dowden said there will be a time to learn lessons, but the public right now want us to focus on dealing with virus. He says testing has been available to care homes from the beginning. 

A second question from the BBC asks whether Powis is confident that the test and trace system will meet high standards.  

Powis says effective strategy is important, but must be combined with other social distacning measures. 

The duo are taking questions now. 

First Dowden is asked what the government are doing to support poorer nations. He says the 0.7% of national income is going towards aid, “despite all the challenges we have faced”. 

Government also making efforts to make sure that vaccines are affordable. 

Next they are asked how long it will be before NHS workers can move from frontline to regular work?

Professor Powis says if a patient is experiencing emergency symptoms they shouldn’t hesitate to contact the NHS. 

Services for cancer has kept going, although there has been disruption according to Powis. 

We are now in a position where we can start to stand up NHS services that were shut down during surge in April. 

The duo are taking questions now. 

First Dowden is asked what the government are doing to support poorer nations. He says the 0.7% of national income is going towards aid, “despite all the challenges we have faced”. 

Government also making efforts to make sure that vaccines are affordable. 

Next they are asked how long it will be before NHS workers can move from frontline to regular work?

Professor Powis says if a patient is experiencing emergency symptoms they shouldn’t hesitate to contact the NHS. 

Services for cancer has kept going, although there has been disruption according to Powis. 

We are now in a position where we can start to stand up NHS services that were shut down during surge in April. 

Professor Stephen Powis is speaking now. 

Daily admissions continue to drop. 

Seven day rolling average of deaths consistently downwards. 

“Not the time to… become complacent about this”.

Here’s what Newcastle United footballer Danny Rose said about the return of live football earlier.

Oliver Dowden is speaking now. 

177,216 tests carried out yesterday. 363 more fatalities in all settings since yesterday. 

He is now providing an update on the culture sector

Queen’s birthday honours list delayed until autumn.

British people have contributed £800m in fundraising campaigns. Government have matched every penny raised by BBC’s big night in. £70m being distributed by comic relief to charities on the frontline. 

Support scheme for small and medium charites will open for applications this week.

£150m released from dormant accounts to social enterprises. 

On live sport he says that this week he is setting up a renewal task force to help get industries back up and running. 

“These things will return when it is safe to do so”.

Oliver Dowden is speaking now. 

177,216 tests carried out yesterday. 363 more fatalities in all settings since yesterday. 

He is now providing an update on the culture sector

Queen’s birthday honours list delayed until autumn.

British people have contributed £800m in fundraising campaigns. Government have matched every penny raised by BBC’s big night in. £70m being distributed by comic relief to charities on the frontline. 

Support scheme for small and medium charites will open for applications this week.

£150m released from dormant accounts to social enterprises. 

On live sport he says that this week he is setting up a renewal taskforce to help get industries back up and running. 

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