Monday evening UK news briefing: ‘Now or never’ to reopen society

The future looks a little clearer. Boris Johnson has said the time to reopen society is now – or never – as he revealed plans to replace legal restrictions with "personal judgment" at the next stage of the road map, expected on July 19. View our at-a-glance guide.

Ahead of the final go-ahead to so-called Freedom Day, the Prime Minister this evening promised to tear up all of England’s coronavirus regulations – meaning an end to compulsory masks (although businesses can set the rules on their own premises), working from home, the one-metre social distancing rule, rule of six indoors and limits on outdoor gatherings of more than 30. 

Mr Johnson said: "If we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks… then we must ask ourselves: when will we be able to return to normal?" 

Officials acknowledged that Covid cases and deaths would continue to increase. 

Global Health Security Editor Paul Nuki says "anyone looking dispassionately at this week’s data would surely take a sharp intake of breath", as he asks: Are we heading for another Covid U-turn? 

But reopening plans pushed the FTSE 250 to a new high.

Travel and schools are two key areas where significant questions remain. 

Ministers are due later this week to set out plans for fully-vaccinated Britons to travel to amber countries (see a full list) without having to quarantine for 10 days on their return. The double-jab travel plan could start from July 19. 

It came as Madeira said it will allow entry to 5m Britons with an Indian-made vaccine that has not been approved by Europe’s regulator. 

Meanwhile, ministers are also due to outline plans tomorrow to end the need for schools to send home student "bubbles".

Duchess of Cambridge forced into self-isolation

The Duchess of Cambridge has been forced into self-isolation after coming into contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus. Kensington Palace today said that Kate was alerted on Friday afternoon and began isolating immediately. But royal aides did not reveal which day she had been in contact with the relevant person. The Duchess was at Wimbledon on Friday, but left earlier than usual after watching one set of Dan Evans’s Centre Court match. It meant she was unable to attend a service of thanksgiving for the NHS at St Paul’s Cathedral today or join the Duke for an NHS Big Tea at Buckingham Palace. Victoria Ward explains the Royal Household testing regime.

How England have peaked at the perfect moment

England’s masterplan to win Euro 2020 remains on track. Gareth Southgate is at the centre of it all, navigating his team’s path through the tournament. From backing Harry Kane to changing his team’s formation, Chief Football Correspondent Jason Burt looks at the nine very deliberate decisions the manager has made to steer England to within two matches of a first major tournament win since 1966. And read how Sweet Caroline, England’s unofficial anthem, almost never happened.

At a glance: Coronavirus evening briefing

  • Pfizer | Vaccine efficacy drops in Israel as delta variant spreads
  • Furlough ends | 350k will be ‘scarred by recession for years’
  • Education | Employers will be suspicious of ‘pandemic pupils’
  • Quarantine U-turn | Poorer travellers to avoid £1,750 hotel cost
  • Indonesia | Patients dying as hospitals run out of oxygen

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

War of words | Boris Johnson admitted in 2016 it would be "ludicrous" for him to become Prime Minister, according to Dominic Cummings. In his latest sideswipe, Mr Johnson’s former adviser said he was a more "complex" character than David Cameron and was capable of being two personalities – "Boris normal" and "Boris self-aware". Whitehall Editor Harry Yorke has the highlights from a 4,000-word blog post.

  • Motoring | ‘GB’ will be banned on cars driving abroad
  • New Zealand | Record warm winter due to climate change
  • Landslide | Scores missing in Japan mud disaster – pictures
  • Hate | ‘Torrent of anti-Semitic abuse’ filmed at Tube station
  • ‘Get a grip’ | Railway ‘gravy train’ must end, bosses told

Around the world: Zuma refuses to surrender to police

Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, has claimed the country is sliding back to "apartheid rule" as he refused to hand himself over to police after being sentenced for corruption. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison after being found guilty of contempt last week. Instead of starting his sentence, Zuma addressed crowds over the weekend. Read our report from Peta Thornycroft in Johannesburg.

Monday in-depth: My Afghanistan tour – How politicians left the military exposed

As a 20-year military mission in Afghanistan comes to an end, Defence and Security Editor Dominic Nicholls – who served in the British Army for 23 years – reflects on his experiences of the conflict. In this video, the former Lieutenant Colonel describes the dawning realisation that Britain was set up to fail and the war could never be "won". Watch the video below.

Comment and analysis

  • Iain Duncan Smith | End indiscriminate self-isolation now
  • Matthew Lynn | Masks are the new Remain and Leave divide
  • Telegraph View | Mixed messages on masks must now go
  • Dominic Cavendish | Cancellations already ruining theatre
  • Alastair Sooke | Fourth Plinth winner feels like marker in sand

Editor’s choice

  • Covid immunity | Now for the good news – resistance to the virus could last years
  • ‘At a loss’ | My husband will not call his frail mother – and I am losing respect for him
  • Midlife fitness | Trying to lose weight or get a flatter stomach? All you need to know
  • Business and money briefing

    Trade mystery | Post-Brexit exports have recovered, but trade with the Continent remains far from normal – and the problems could worsen. Louis Ashworth explores the imports disappearing from the EU.

    • ‘Nein’ | German hawks dig in against eurozone inflation threat
    • Ben Marlow | Mob pursuing Morrisons has no claim on legacy
    • On top of markets | Live stocks and shares updates 24 hours a day

    Sport briefing

    Wimbledon | Novak Djokovic eased into his 50th grand slam quarter-final with a straight-sets victory over Cristian Garin on Centre Court. The world No1 made it 18 consecutive slam wins as he chases a third title of the year and 12 consecutive sets at the All England Club this year. Follow live updates as Emma Raducanu faces Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.

    • Mark Cavendish | How Manx Missile got back to his best
    • Cheltenham to Harrogate | Top 10 cricketing out-grounds
    • F1 | Forget Max Verstappen, Lando Norris was the real star

    Three things for tonight

    • Watch | Gold Rush: Our Race to Olympic Glory; BBC One, 9pm
    • Read | Eight titles you won’t be able to put down this summer
    • Play | Telegraph Puzzles featuring today’s Crossword and Sudoku

    And finally… for this evening’s downtime

    How posh is your dog? | Rishi Sunak is the proud owner of a new labrador puppy – but are they still the smartest breed? Melissa Twigg ranks every breed, from whippet to corgi.

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