Tuesday briefing: Wheels fall off reopening of schools

Top story: Education secretary expected to concede defeat

Hello, Warren Murray with you to flip through the matters of greatest import.

Plans to push ahead with reopening schools in England are in disarray after the government admitted not all primary school pupils will be able to return before the end of summer. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, is expected to concede today that many primary pupils will not return until the new school year in autumn. Boris Johnson last month announced the opening of primary schools for reception, year one and year six from 1 June. Now, government sources acknowledge that with little more than six weeks remaining before schools close for summer, the practicalities are too difficult for the planned return of all children.

Ministers are facing a high court legal challenge after they refused to order an urgent investigation into the shortages of personal protective equipment faced by NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic. About 300 UK health workers have so far died of Covid-19, and many NHS staff groups and families claim inadequate PPE played a key role in exposing them.

Scotland’s strict lockdown regulations could be eased more quickly after Nicola Sturgeon, the first secretary, announced on Monday that no deaths had been recorded for two days running. Sturgeon has been pressed to explain her much more cautious approach than the government in Westminster, or the Welsh and Northern Irish administrations. She is due to announce on Thursday 18 June how much more the lockdown might be eased.

At Heathrow airport there has been some confusion as the first passengers subject to new quarantine restrictions landed. From Monday arrivals are being required to self-isolate for 14 days. Travellers were asked to fill in online forms. Fiona Gathright, 59, who travelled from Washington DC, said:  “They didn’t even do a temperature check at either end, not in Washington … and not in London.” Here is how the system is set up to work. Stay on top of coronavirus developments at our global live blog.

There’s more in our Coronavirus Extra section further down … and here’s where you can find all our coverage of the outbreak – from breaking news to factchecks and advice.

‘I hear you’ – Boris Johnson has responded to Black Lives Matter protests by acknowledging the “incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice” motivating the rallies, while condemning those who have flouted social distancing. “You are right, we are all right, to say Black Lives Matter; and to all those who have chosen to protest peacefully and who have insisted on social distancing – I say, yes of course I hear you, and I understand.

Boris Johnson: emotions triggered by George Floyd’s death can not be ignored – video

“But I must also say that we are in a time of national trial, when for months this whole country has come together to fight a deadly plague. After such sacrifice, we cannot now let it get out of control.” Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has sparked some unease in his party after he condemned as “completely wrong” the tearing down of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol – saying “we can’t, in 21st century Britain, have a slaver on a statue” but it should have been taken down properly and put in a museum. In the US, where protests continue, a judge has set $1m bail on Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder after he was filmed kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes before Floyd died.

‘Seeking publicity’ – Prince Andrew has become embroiled in a war of words with US prosecutors investigating the child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. His lawyers issued a statement on Monday accusing US investigators of misleading the public and breaching their own confidentiality rules. The firm alleged the US Department of Justice (DoJ), despite its claims, had effectively rejected three offers of help volunteered by the prince this year. The firm suggested US authorities were “seeking publicity” in their attcks on Andrew. In reply to Monday’s letter, Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the southern district of New York, wrote that Andrew’s lawyers had previously “informed us unequivocally” that the prince would not come in for an interview, but if he would “our doors remain open”.

Rape victim adds to McCann case – An Irish woman raped in Portugal has asked detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann to review her case after hearing about the German prisoner who is now the main suspect. Hazel Behan was working in Praia da Rocha, Portugal, 30 minutes’ drive from where Madeleine was abducted, when she was viciously raped by a stranger in her apartment in 2004. The assailant was never caught. Christian Brückner has been named as a key suspect in Madeleine’s 2007 disappearance. The 43-year-old German was recently convicted of raping a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz in 2005. Behan, who has waived anonymity, said: “My mind was blown when I read how he had attacked a woman in 2005, both the tactics and the methods he used.” Behan has given a statement to the Met.

Underground radar reveals ancient city – Archaeologists have mapped a complete Roman city for the first time using ground-penetrating radar. The detailed scanning of the town of Falerii Novi, just over 30 miles north of Rome, has uncovered the layout of the city’s water system, offering new clues to how it was planned and laid out. 

Ground-penetrating radar image of the Roman city of Falerii Novi, Italy. Photograph: L Verdonck/PA

As well as a bath house, theatre, shops and several temples, the team from the universities of Cambridge and Ghent discovered a large public monument of a kind never seen before, which may relate to the religion of the pre-Roman population. First occupied in 241BC, Falerii Novi survived until around AD700 but few ruins remain visible above ground. Unusually the 30 hectare site has not been built over, allowing it to be scanned quickly using antennae towed behind a quad bike.

Coronavirus Extra

Why is it more difficult to stay physically apart from friends and family than a stranger in a supermarket queue? Nicola Davis speaks to Prof John Drury about the psychology of physical distancing and why we like to be near those with whom we feel emotionally close.

Science Weekly

Psychology of physical distancing

“We sold eight bikes in 20 minutes!” Shops can barely keep up with demand as bicycles – and even parts – sell out. But experts say time is running out to grasp the “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to change how we travel.

Molly and John Phillis, who were both treated in hospital for Covid-19

Molly and John Phillis, who were both treated in hospital for Covid-19. Photograph: Jonny Weeks/The Guardian

As coronavirus patients across the UK are discharged, photojournalist Jonny Weeks meets some of those reunited with their loved ones after being released from University hospital, Coventry.

Today in Focus podcast: Could curtain fall on British theatre?

Every year 34 million people go to the theatre, double the number that attend Premier League football. But lockdown and physical distancing rules mean the industry is on the edge of collapse. The artistic director of the Pitlochry theatre, Elizabeth Newman, describes the impact.

Today in Focus

Could curtain fall on British theatre?

Lunchtime read: How Hong Kong caught fire

Hong Kong used to be seen as cautious, pragmatic and materialistic. But in the past year increasingly bold pro-democracy demonstrations have transformed the city. Now, as Beijing tightens its grip, how much longer can the year-old protest movement survive?

A woman shouts at police officers as they advance towards protesters in the district of Yuen Long during protests in Hong Kong

A woman shouts at police officers as they advance towards protesters during protests in Hong Kong. Photograph: Getty Images


Raheem Sterling has called for English football to seize the moment and finally address its lack of black representation in positions of power. Lewis Hamilton has supported unequivocally the actions of protesters who pulled down the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol. Premiership rugby clubs have unanimously agreed to reduce the salary cap to £5m for the 2021-22 season, the Guardian understands. Tony Dunne, one of Manchester United’s European Cup heroes of 1968, has died at the age of 78. And jobs are to be lost at the Racing Post, the daily paper that serves horse racing and its followers, with its owner blaming loss of revenue caused by the Covid-19 crisis.


Britain’s retailers suffered another steep fall in sales in May with monthly figures showing that consumers spent 5.9% less than in the same month last year. However, there were some signs of hope with office supplies, fitness equipment and bicycle suppliers all performing well thanks to strong online sales. BP, one of Britain’s biggest companies, is not immune from the crisis and is shedding 10,000 jobs worldwide thanks to falling demand for oil. Stocks broadly continued their rally in Asia overnight with the FTSE100 expected to open flat this morning while the pound is buying $1.272 and €1.126.

The papers

The Guardian leads with “Bid to defuse tensions as racism protests escalate”. The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, is seeking to apply pressure on the Metropolitan police, the UK’s largest force, over the use of stop and search, Tasers and other practices. The Times summarises Priti Patel: “Statue thugs must face justice” though it might be questionable whether an inanimate object can be subjected to thuggery.

Guardian front page, Tuesday 9 June 2020

Guardian front page, Tuesday 9 June 2020.

The home secretary is on the Metro’s front page as well: “This is Priti pointless” – the story is about the 14-day quarantine strictures. The Mail has “Andrew and US at war on Epstein”. The front also points to a story inside: “German police shock revelation: we have evidence Maddie is dead” and the Mirror has that one as its splash: “German cops on Maddie: we have evidence she is dead”.

The FT leads with “BP to slash 10,000 jobs as virus crisis hammers oil” – here is our version of that story. The Express has “Virus in retreat but we can’t risk 2nd wave” while the Telegraph leads on “Schools may remain shut beyond September”.

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