Coronavirus latest news: Britons prepare for big step towards normality amid Covid threat

The nation has been warned not to “squander the gains” made against coronavirus ahead of a major easing of the lockdown to allow greater freedoms outside.

NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said Covid-19 still has the capacity to “wreak more havoc and ill health on a significant scale”, citing concerns over new variants.

He issued the warning ahead of groups of up to six, or two households, being able to socialise in parks and gardens as outdoor sports facilities reopen and the stay-at-home order ends in England on Monday.

Writing in The Telegraph, Prof Powis said the prospects “look immeasurably brighter and more positive” but said that the easing “does not mean job done”.

“We’ve made enormous progress that we need to build on and not squander the gains we’ve made,” he wrote.

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6:20AM

Care staff may have to sign new job contracts

Hundreds of thousands of care home workers could have to sign new contracts as part of a bid to force them to get the Covid jab, ministers have admitted.

Ministers are concerned that only around two-thirds of care home workers have agreed to receive a jab.

Last week, The Telegraph disclosed that care home workers could be required by law to have a vaccine under a historic legal change. An announcement from Boris Johnson could come as early as next week.

Ministers feel compelled to act amid alarm at the low take-up of vaccines among staff in care homes, where many of those most at risk from Covid live.

5:59AM

The four-tier system that could save holidays

Ministers will consider a “quarantine-light” traffic light system in a bid to save summer holidays, The Telegraph can reveal.

Heathrow Airport has submitted plans to Boris Johnson’s global travel taskforce proposing a four-tier traffic light scheme with an “amber” option of a customised three-day quarantine and testing regime specifically designed to combat the threat from new Covid variants.

The risk of importing variants – such as the South African and Brazilian versions now spreading in mainland Europe – is regarded by government scientists and Mr Johnson as the biggest hurdle to restarting international travel on May 17 and saving summer holidays.

READ MORE: Exclusive: The four-tier traffic light system that could save summer holidays

4:56AM

‘EU must acknowledge British taxpayer funding of Oxford jab’

Britain will this week tell the European Union that it must take into account the millions of pounds spent by British taxpayers on creating the AstraZeneca vaccine as the threat of its export being blocked remains.

Talks to break the stand-off over jabs manufactured in the company’s Halix plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, will resume as early as Monday.  

The European Commission has threatened to block any shipment of vaccines from Halix to the UK because British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has fallen far short of its contracted deliveries to the bloc.  

Exclusive: Britain to tell Brussels AstraZeneca jab would not exist without UK investment

4:52AM

On Monday we can put pandemic behind us: NHS chief

Monday marks a “turning point” as the “toughest limits on our freedom” start to ease and Britons can start to return to pre-pandemic routines, a leading NHS official has said.

Prof Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, urges people not to “squander the gains” made over the past months because “this virus still has the capacity to wreak more havoc and ill health on a significant scale”.

Lockdown rules start to ease further on Monday for the first time in months, with up to six people or two full households allowed to meet in parks or back gardens.

Golf, tennis and team sports can also resume as part of the first stage of the Government’s roadmap to restore normal life in England by June 21.

Read the full story here.

4:50AM

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