Coronavirus live news: England ends ‘pingdemic’ for vaccinated; New Zealand details plans to reopen border

Fewer than one in five people working in cities across the UK had returned to the office by the end of July, figures have revealed.

A report from the Centre for Cities thinktank said worker footfall in 30 big cities stood at an average of just 18% of pre-pandemic levels in the immediate aftermath of most Covid laws being scrapped in England.

The biggest migration of workers back to the office has occurred in Brighton, with 49% of people having returned to their desks, a rise of 6% on the previous week. This was followed by Gloucester (39%), Southend (38%) and York (37%).

Cities where only a fraction of workers have gone back to the office include Glasgow, with an 8% figure – the city has had coronavirus restrictions in force for longer, given Scotland’s slower easing than England – followed by London and Oxford (15%) and Sheffield and Milton Keynes (16%).

Daytime worker footfall fell by 1% in the final week of July compared with the previous seven days, and on average was running at barely half the pre-Covid levels:

New Zealand details plans to reopen border

New Zealand will continue to pursue its ambitious Covid-19 elimination strategy indefinitely, Jacinda Ardern has said, adding that borders would never be the same as she laid out plans for a cautious, phased, reopening of the country.

The prime minister set out the country’s much-awaited reopening strategy on Thursday, and warned that New Zealand would always need some kind of protection at its border. “Just like after 9/11, the border will never be the same after Covid … things can change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt to them in a way that eventually feels normal again.”

However, she also indicated, that all going well, vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries will be allowed to skip quarantine and enter the country early next year.

There are also plans to speed up the vaccine rollout to protect against the threat of the Delta variant.

New Zealand’s elimination strategy, which has included strict border measures, short and intensive lockdowns and quick contract-tracing methods, has proved successful, with no community cases of the virus in 165 days and a total of 26 deaths since the pandemic began:

England ends ‘pingdemic’ for vaccinated

Fully vaccinated people in England will no longer be legally required to self-isolate upon contact with a positive Covid case from Monday, and will instead be advised to take a PCR test – in a marked shift from rules that have led to more than 14m instructions to stay at home.

Ministers have confirmed that the legal requirement to isolate will be replaced with non-binding advice to take a test for the double-jabbed, as well as those 18 and under. And those who do come into contact with the infected will not be told to isolate while waiting for their results. For people who do test positive, isolation will continue:


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