Coronavirus live news: Auckland finishes week of lockdown, England prepares to reopen schools

In Australia, the Queensland government will hand out 15,000 travel vouchers worth up to $200 each in an attempt to stimulate domestic tourism and drive the state’s Covid-19 recovery.

Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced the voucher scheme on Sunday, as the state again recorded no new locally acquired Covid-19 cases.

The vouchers will be able to be used in Queensland’s far north – including the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas and Cairns – until the end of June, covering the Easter holidays.

“We know that the people in the far north, especially the tourism industry, are doing it tough,” she told reporters.

“We have decided that we want to make sure that people across Queensland get to enjoy tropical far north Queensland, but most importantly, let’s help people who need help the most.”

“We have decided that we want to make sure that people across Queensland get to enjoy tropical far north Queensland, but most importantly, let’s help people who need help the most.”

Britain’s festival directors say musicians and their fans need to be told by the government that they must be vaccinated in order to attend music festivals this summer.

Festival tickets have been selling in record time since the government set out its roadmap to recovery last month, yet these events may still be in jeopardy say many of the 70 independent festival organisers who held an emergency meeting on the subject on Friday.

“A lot of us want to urge government to follow the example set up already in other areas, like travel, where people will have to show vaccination passports,” said Josh Robinson, events director of Hospitality Weekend in the Woods, a drum’n’bass festival set to take over a park in south-east London in September.

Gareth Williams, director of Cropredy, the folk festival hosted by the band Fairport Convention on the borders of Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire in mid-August said: “What we really need is for government to say everybody needs a vaccination to get in. We need that clarity, rather than each having to go to people and explain.”

In Australia, the vaccine rollout which began a couple of weeks ago is about to enter a new phase with GPs to take a major role in the delivery.

While the Australian Medical Association says the majority of GPs have put up their hand to participate, there is criticism about insufficient information about how it will work and low payment rates.

The Guardian reported on GPs’ concerns a week ago. And now, the Nine newspapers are reporting one state health minister has called for the federal program to be junked and the process for administering flu vaccines adopted.

“I can’t understand why the normal practice for giving vaccinations, the core business of GPs, has been excluded,” NSW health minister Brad Hazzard reportedly said. “Discussions with state health ministers have indicated that they share my view”.

The Australian government insists everything is on track for the rollout, which aims to vaccinate the country’s adult population by October.

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, emerged on Sunday from a strict weeklong lockdown imposed after a community cluster of the more contagious UK coronavirus variant.
  • The reopening of England’s schools to all pupils on Monday will mark the first step back towards normality, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. A
    further 158 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK as of Saturday, bringing the total to 124,419.
  • France reported 23,306 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Saturday, down from 23,507 on Friday. The French health ministry reported 170 new deaths, taking the total to 88,444.
  • Italy has reported 307 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday against 297 the day before, the health ministry said. The daily tally of new infections fell to 23,641 from 24,036 the day before.
  • The US Senate has passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan. The all-night session saw Democrats battling among themselves over jobless aid and the Republican minority failing in attempts to push through some three dozen amendments.
  • Ireland reached the milestone of half a million coronavirus jabs administered. The taoiseach, Micheál Martin, hailed progress made fighting the pandemic. He said he was inspired by recent visits to vaccination centres where thousands of frontline healthcare workers are receiving the vaccine doses.
  • The Dalia Lama had a Covid-19 vaccine administered. The Tibetan spiritual leader said: “In order to prevent some serious problems, this injection is very, very helpful.”
  • Hundreds of thousands of people in northern France went back into lockdown. The residents of Pas-de-Calais on the north coast joined those in the region’s port of Dunkirk – and the Mediterranean resort of Nice – already shut down on Saturdays and Sundays.
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