Ministers facing renewed pressure over lockdown easing

Critics are looking to drive ministers back on their plans to ease parts of the lockdown as the Government faces fresh pressure from council leaders and Labour over its steps to return the country back to a sense of normality.

Leaders of local authorities and unions chiefs have accused ministers of going too fast on its plans to reopen schools and want more local control over their return.

And Labour has taken aim at the Government's track-and-trace plans – seen as key to allowing the UK to lift the most stringent lockdown measures –warning ministers its crack team of contact tracers should be close to three times the size of the operation currently being installed.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said schools should be allowed to make their own decisions about reopening, especially in areas where there is a higher proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic residents.

Councillor Judith Blake, chairwoman of the LGA's children and young people board, said parents were "anxious" about sending their children back to school and said more needed to be done to reassure families.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, when announcing his plans for taking England out of lockdown, said Reception, Y1 and Y6 pupils could go back as soon as next month.

And Education Secretary Gavin Williamson this week said medical and scientific advice was "saying it's the right time to start bringing schools back in a phased and controlled manner".

But the LGA is calling for some schools, in consultation with councils, to be given greater flexibility locally over reopening as they argue that some communities are at higher risk.

It comes after an analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested that black men and women are more than four times more likely to die a coronavirus-related death than white people.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said a "wider opening of schools, too early, poses a lot of unanswered questions about the risks in poor communities".

100 PHOTOS
Coronavirus impacts Britain
See Gallery
Coronavirus impacts Britain
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: A customer buys an ice cream from an ice cream van which shows a social distancing sign at Hollow Ponds in East London on May 31, 2020 in London, England. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
GWITHIAN, HAYLE, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: RNLI lifeguards on duty at Gwithian beach on May 31, 2020 in Gwithian, United Kingdom. Lifeguards returned at Gwithian and six other Cornish beaches this weekend after being absent since the start of the UK Covid-19 lockdown. Cornwall Council has been working with the RNLI to have the cover restored as people flock to beaches in the warm weather. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of the Covid-19. (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - People sunbathe on the beach in front of the derelict West Pier in Brighton, on the south coast of England on May 31, 2020 on the eve of a further relaxation of the novel coronavirus lockdown rules. - The UK government has set out a gradual easing of lockdown measures in England, with socially distanced groups of six friends and families allowed to meet in parks and gardens from June 1. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 31: People in pedalo's go through the Olympic Park in Stratford on May 31, 2020 in London, England. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
People fill the beach at Durdle Door, near Lulworth, despite Dorset Council announcing that the beach was closed to the public after three people were seriously injured jumping off cliffs into the sea.
Police patrol the cliff top near Durdle Door, Lulworth, after Dorset Council announced that the beach was closed to the public after three people were seriously injured jumping off cliffs into the sea.
People play tennis at North Berwick Tennis Club, as people can meet family and friends outdoors and play sports such as golf and tennis again as Scotland is moving into phase one of the Scottish Government's plan for gradually lifting lockdown.
Protest �Black Lives Matter� - Kneel for Floyd - at Trafalgar Square, London
Protest �Black Lives Matter� - Kneel for Floyd - at Trafalgar Square, London
Nine-year-old Tobias Weller, from Sheffield, who has cerebral palsy and autism, completes the final leg of a 26.2 mile total of a walk he has called his "ginormous challenge", to walk a marathon using his walker during the lockdown.
Horses from Ed de Giles stables on the gallops at his yard in Little Marcle, Herefordshire .
Cyclists cross the railway bridge in White Waltham, Berkshire, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England are eased.
Extinction Rebellion activists stage a socially distanced protest outside the Woolwich Centre, in south London, calling on the council to better respond to Covid-19 and climate change.
File photo dated 29/04/20 of Tobias Weller, who has cerebral palsy and autism, being cheered on by neighbours as he walks along the street outside his home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Nine-year-old Tobias, who cannot stand or walk unaided, is gearing up for the final leg of what he has called his "ginormous challenge" to walk a marathon using his walker during the lockdown.
A security guard wearing a face shield and mask checks a customers temperature before he enters a supermarket, as the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown eases, Chinatown, London. Picture date: Friday 29th May 2020. Photo credit should read: David Jensen/EMPICS Entertainment
Thank You Our Heroes and Union Flags are displayed over New Bond Street in preparation for the shops to reopen as the Coronavirus lockdown eases, Mayfair, London. Picture date: Friday 29th May 2020. Photo credit should read: David Jensen/EMPICS Entertainment
Cookhouse Joe's Chef awaits customers in the doorway of the restaurant as it reopens to the public for takeaway only as the Coronavirus lockdown eases, Berwick Street, London. Picture date: Friday 29th May 2020. Photo credit should read: David Jensen/EMPICS Entertainment
MAESYCWMMER, WALES - MAY 29: A customer waits to pick up her order from Fish Kitchen 1854, a traditional fish and chip shop which has reopened for online orders only on May 29, 2020 in Maesycwmmer, Wales, United Kingdom.The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
A woman walks past closed shops and restaurants on Piccadilly in central London's main high street retail shopping area on May 29, 2020 ahead of some shops reopening from their coronavirus shutdown from next week. - The UK Prime Minister announced on May 28 that some English schools and shops would reopen from next week people would a little more freedom to meet others in public as he tried to plot Britain's path through a health disaster that has officially claimed 37,837 lives -- second only to the United States -- and devastated the economy. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Police officers patrol as people enjoy the weather at Alexandra Palace, London, after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. (Photo by Ian Hinchliffe/PA Images via Getty Images)
A woman walks past closed Debenhams department store on Oxford Street in central London's main high street retail shopping area on May 29, 2020 ahead of some shops reopening from their coronavirus shutdown from next week. - The UK Prime Minister announced on May 28 that some English schools and shops would reopen from next week people would a little more freedom to meet others in public as he tried to plot Britain's path through a health disaster that has officially claimed 37,837 lives -- second only to the United States -- and devastated the economy. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 29: A couple with cycles meet in front of a fountain in Trafalgar Square during warm sunny weather on May 29, 2020 in London. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 28, 2020: NHS staff stage a silent protest outside the gates of Downing Street during the weekly 'Clap for our Carers' applause for the NHS and key workers on the front line of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on 28 May, 2020 in London, England.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Former nurse Joan Rich, 101, walks through Allenby Park in Felixstowe, Suffolk, to raise money for NHS Charities Together. Mrs Rich, who uses a frame to aid her walking, aims to walk 102 laps of the park before her 102nd birthday on 11 September. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
A woman, Tina Jane from Shoreham, sings songs out the back of her car to entertain the people that live on her street after the Clap for Carers, as the UK continues to ease out of lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 28: People enjoy the warm and sunny weather relaxing on the pavement outside their homes in the Shorefields area of Liverpool during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown on May 28, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 28: Fire and explosion damage can be seen on an EE network 5G mast that was attacked by an arsonist earlier this week in Brodie Avenue on May 28, 2020 in Liverpool, England. A lot of the damage was caused by the resulting explosion when the petrol was ignited. Several phone masts have been deliberately damaged around the UK, their attackers inspired by a conspiracy theory positing that 5G technology is linked to the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People buy fresh fruit and vegetables from a stall in an outdoor street market in Walthamstow, east London on May 28, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. - Britain has suffered the highest death rate from the coronavirus among the most-affected countries with comparable tracking data, according to Financial Times research published Thursday. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Cleaner James York from First Bus cleans a bus at their Larbert depot ahead of the bus returning to service. Due to social distancing measures only a certain amount of people will be able to travel on a particular bus at a certain time after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man wearing a protective mask strolls across a bridge in central London, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, during hot weather following the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown, allowing more outdoor recreation and letting some shops and businesses reopen. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
GLASGOW - MAY 27: Members of the public walk past new graffiti on Clyde Street on May 27, 2020 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
People walk along Portobello Road Market in London, Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Following the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown, street markets will be allowed to reopen in Britain from Monday onwards. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Shop owners wait for customers and prepare at Sherpherd's Bush Market in London, Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Following the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown, street markets will be allowed to reopen in Britain from Monday onwards. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Dominic Cummings, the chief advisor to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives at Downing Street in London, Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The prime minister's populist appeal has been hammered by news that, as the coronavirus outbreak raged, chief adviser Cummings drove 250 miles (400 kilometers) to his parents' house while he was falling ill with suspected COVID-19 — allegedly flouting lockdown rules that the government had imposed on the rest of the country. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A workman removes graffiti from a wall near the north London home of the Prime Minister's top aide Dominic Cummings as the row over his Durham trip during the coronavirus lockdown continues.
A sign displaying advice on social distancing is displayed at the beach in Weston-super-Mare, south west England on May 27, 2020, as lockdown measures are eased during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
CHEAM, ENGLAND - MAY 27: AFC Wimbledon Footballer Jack Rudoni trains at home during the Coronavirus Pandemic on May 27, 2020 in Cheam, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Cleaner James York from First Bus cleans a bus at their Larbert depot ahead of the bus returning to service. Due to social distancing measures only a certain amount of people will be able to travel on a particular bus at a certain time after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves his residence in north London on May 26, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top adviser Domonic Cummings said yesterday he acted "reasonably and legally" despite mounting pressure on him to resign for allegedly breaking coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/05/25: A man sunbathes in London on a very hot and sunny day. The UK government has started to ease the coronavirus lockdown allowing people to spend more time outdoors. (Photo by Steve Taylor/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
CILFYNYDD, WALES - MAY 26: A general view of a car sales showroom which is currently closed for business on May 26, 2020 in Blackwood, United Kingdom. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Social Distancing measures are seen on a Bakerloo line tube train on May 24 2020 in London, England. The prime minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Team GB taekwondo athlete Lutalo Muhammad trains at his home in Walthamstow, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 24, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The Young Westminster Foundation (YWF), a charity that supports young people in the Westminster Borough, unveil their new and original digital artwork by the graffiti artist STIK on the Piccadilly Lights screen, at Piccadilly Circus, central London. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/05/24: A view of a coronavirus awareness mural and a tribute to NHS workers drawn on a wall during the coronavirus crisis. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 24, 2020 - Coronavirus: pavement stickers indicating the correct social distancing whilst queuing- PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
PORTHCAWL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 25: A surfer in the water at Sandy Bay on May 25, 2020 in Porthcawl, United Kingdom. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings arrives home on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
A police officer talks to a protester outside the north London home of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings , as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Mounted police patrol Barry Island, Wales, where the stay at home message is still in force and only essential travel is allowed. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Long Eaton (Derbyshire) resident and NHS worker presents a Tribute and Memorial to the dedicated members of the NHS and Social Care family who gave their lives during the fight against COVID-19. (Photo by Scott Wilson/PA Images via Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Team GB Olympic Trap Shooter Augusta Campos-Martyn trains at her home on May 24, 2020 in Salisbury, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
A man feeds a swan in Hyde Park, London, after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. (Photo by Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images)
People sit in their vehicles as they wait at a KFC in Killingworth North Tyneside, after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
BIGBURY-ON-SEA, ENGLAND - MAY 23: An NHS heart is drawn in the sand at Bigbury Beach on May 23, 2020 in Bigbury-on-Sea, England. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
BIGBURY-ON-SEA, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Kitesurfers enjoy the windy conditions at Bigbury Beach on May 23, 2020 in Bigbury-on-Sea, England. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
A woman sits alone on a bench under a tree at the top of Cissbury Ring, Worthing, after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Two women walk through a heavy rain shower in St James's Park in central London, on the first day of the Bank Holiday weekend, as people flock to parks and beaches with lockdown measures eased.
A view of a near empty beach in Brighton as the hot weather cools following scenes of people flocking to parks and beaches this week as lockdown measures were eased.
Shoppers wearing protective masks in a farmers market in West Ealing, London during the coronavirus crisis. Photo date: Saturday, May 23, 2020. Photo credit should read: Richard Gray/EMPICS
People sit in their vehicles as they wait at a KFC in Killingworth North Tyneside, after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown.
Kitesurfer and windsurfers in Bowleaze Cove in distance in Weymouth, Dorset
Surfers in Bowleaze Cove in Weymouth, Dorset
Member of the public taking a walk along the seafront in Swanage, Dorset
Painted stones in support of the NHS in Swanage, Dorset
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 21, 2020: Paramedics and local residents clap their hands outside Chelsea and Westminster Hospital during the weekly 'Clap for our Carers' applause for the NHS and key workers on the front line of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic as the UK's nationwide lockdown continues for the ninth week on 21 May, 2020 in London, England.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 21, 2020: Nurses clap their hands outside Chelsea and Westminster Hospital during the weekly 'Clap for our Carers' applause for the NHS and key workers on the front line of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic as the UK's nationwide lockdown continues for the ninth week on 21 May, 2020 in London, England.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Members of the public participate in a national "clap for carers" to show thanks for the work of Britain's NHS (National Health Service) workers and other frontline medical staff around the country as they battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic, at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London on May 21, 2020. - The British government on on May 21 announced that foreign care workers would be exempt from a charge imposed on migrants to fund the health service, after an outcry sparked by the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
Members of the public participate in a national "clap for carers" to show thanks for the work of Britain's NHS (National Health Service) workers and other frontline medical staff around the country as they battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic, at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London on May 21, 2020. - The British government on on May 21 announced that foreign care workers would be exempt from a charge imposed on migrants to fund the health service, after an outcry sparked by the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
Staff outside Abbeydale Court Care Home in Hamilton clapping to salute local heroes during Thursday's nationwide Clap for Carers initiative to recognise and support NHS workers and carers fighting the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
An Irish dancer performs outside the Belfast City Hospital in south Belfast, during Thursday's nationwide Clap for Carers initiative to recognise and support NHS workers and carers fighting the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Swimmers in the Serpentine in Hyde Park on May 21, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. This week temperatures reached 28 degrees celsius in the UK, as many people enjoy the sunshine despite lockdown still being in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Workers unload a shipment of 120,000 surgical coveralls from China for the protection of NHS workers, from a plane at Bournemouth Airport in southern England on May 21, 2020, during the novel coronavirus pandemic. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday the country will have 25,000 virus tracing staff recruited by June so the country can "make progress" in its strategy to keep easing the nationwide lockdown (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Social distancing queue at the home and outdoor store Homebase garden centre under Coronavirus lockdown on 21st May 2020 in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom. DIY shops have been allowed to be open for the last few days and flocks of people have queued at them to buy home and garden goods. Coronavirus or Covid-19 is a new respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans. While much or Europe has been placed into lockdown, the UK government has put in place more stringent rules as part of their long term strategy, and in particular 'social distancing'. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)
LEE-ON-THE-SOLENT, ENGLAND - MAY 19: A paramedic is seen wearing PPE as she waits outside an ambulance to monitor an incident at on May 19, 2020 in Lee-On-The-Solent, England. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
ENFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Equipment is disinfected between training sessions during the Tottenham Hotspur training session at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre on May 20, 2020 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
Cars queue at the McDonald's drive-thru in Hounslow as McDonalds has reopened three of its restaurants in London but only as drive-thrus after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man in a face mask walks in front of a mural of a nurse with a PPE face mask on, painted by the artist Akse in Manchester's Northern Quarter, UK on 19th May 2020. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: 7-year-old Saskia Brunskill, the photographer's daughter, in action during a social distancing tennis coaching session with Shaun Murray at Sale Sports Club on May 19, 2020 in Sale, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
FLEET, ENGLAND - MAY 19: A general view of a thank you sign in support of NHS and key workers is displayed on a fence outside a house on May 19, 2020 in Fleet, England. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19: A quiet view of Tower Bridge from St Katherine's Dock on May 19, 2020 in London. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
Neonatal Nurse Kirsty Hartley carries premature baby Theo Anderson to his mother Kirsty Anderson in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre at Burnley General Hospital in Blackburn, England, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Hannah McKay/Pool Photo via AP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Toilets are taped off to help customers observe social distancing at Waterloo Station on May 18, 2020 in London, England. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A delivery worker rides his bike at Holborn, in London, Monday, May 18, 2020. Large areas of London are to be closed to cars and vans to allow people to walk and cycle safely as the coronavirus lockdown is eased. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
A sign advising passengers to wear a face mask at Clapham Junction station as train services increased as part of the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, in London, Monday May 18, 2020.Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Sunday that people could return to work if they could not work from home. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
A view of the M6 motorway near Birmingham, after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Birmingham, England, Monday, May 18, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Sunday that people could return to work if they could not work from home. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Commuters, some wearing protective masks to protect against coronavirus stand on the platform at Leytonstone underground station, in London, Monday, May 18, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Sunday that people could return to work if they could not work from home. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
BOLTON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 18: Barry Dieters poses wearing his face mask as he shops for essentials on May 18, 2020 in Bolton, United Kingdom. People are beginning to get back to work and try to get life back to a sense of normality as aspects of the lockdown are eased. The government has relaxed the lockdown meant to curb the spread of Covid-19, and has asked the public to wear face masks in enclosed spaces and where social distancing isn't possible. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BLACKWOOD, WALES - MAY 18: A general view of a Safety sign at Bryn Meadows Golf Club as restrictions on playing golf in Wales have been eased but still differ to golf in England on May 18, 2020 in Blackwood, Wales, United Kingdom. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - MAY 17: People flock to the beach to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather during the coronavirus, covid-19 pandemic on May 17, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England . The prime minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
People queue for ice cream in Cambridge after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown.
Neonatal Nurse Kirsty Hartley carries premature baby Theo Anderson to his mother Kirsty Anderson in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre at Burnley General Hospital in East Lancashire during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.
Kayakers return to the River Cam in Cambridge after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown.
Members of Marlow Rowing Club take to the River Thames at Marlow, Buckinghamshire, after the lifting of some restrictions to bring the country out of lockdown.
Pharmacist Susan Holgate talks on the telephone in the Critical Care Unit at The Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital in East Lancashire during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.
Coronavirus: UK death toll rises by 384 to 33,998
Coronavirus: UK’s R rate of infection has increased, scientists say
A member of the social distancing team wears a face shield to protect from coronavirus as he watches to help construction workers observe social distancing at lunchtime in the site canteen at the "Goodluck Hope" development which is under construction by the Ballymore Group international property development company on Leamouth Peninsula in east London, Friday, May 15, 2020. Some of the coronavirus lockdown measures were relaxed in England on Wednesday, with those workers who are unable to work from home, such as those in construction and manufacturing, encouraged to return to work. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A woman wears a face guard to protect against the coronavirus as she shops at a food market in London, as the country is in lockdown to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Thursday, May 14, 2020. Some of the coronavirus lockdown measures are being relaxed in England, with coffee shops reopening but with extra measures such as take away only and social distancing. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 15, 2020: A social distancing floor marking and poster advising passengers to wear face covering on public transport are seen at Vauxhall underground station on 15 May, 2020 in London, England. Earlier this week the UK government relaxed some of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England , encouraging employees who can't work from home to gradually return to their workplaces and allowing people to leave home for outdoor leisure activities.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

On track-and-tracing, Rachel Reeves, Labour's shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has challenged the Government on whether its manual contact tracing operation – designed to warn people if they have come into close proximity with an infected person – will be well resourced enough to carry out the task successfully.

In a letter to her opposite number Michael Gove, she questioned why, according to reports, outsourcing giant Serco had been asked to provide 18,000 staff "despite some public health professionals suggesting as many as that 50,000 staff are needed" on top of the roll-out of the NHS Covid-19 symptoms app.

She said the set-up of the team would have "consequences which are profound both in terms of public health and the economy".

The UK's rate of infection appeared to be slowing, with academics at the University of Cambridge reporting that the R rate was now firmly under 1.0 – a goal the Prime Minister has set in order to keep gradually releasing the lockdown in the coming months.

London, according to the university's MRC Biostatistics Unit, has an R rate (a measurement of the number of people an infected person passes the disease to) of 0.4, the lowest in the country, having once been the worst affected in terms of coronavirus-related hospital admissions.

It means for every 10 people who are infected, they are likely to pass it onto four people, with 24 daily transmissions said to be occurring currently in the capital.

According to the modelling, which is the the work of a joint Public Health England (PHE) and University of Cambridge group, the English region with the highest R rate is the North East and Yorkshire, with a transmission rate of 0.8.

It comes as:

– Frontline workers, including those in the NHS, will be the first to get a new antibody test for Covid-19, England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said.

– Boris Johnson's fiance Carrie Symonds joined the Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street to join in with the national applause for health workers.

– A mayoral source confirmed to the PA news agency that Transport for London had been granted a Government bailout, after its income slumped by 90% as a result of the lockdown measures.

– Northern Ireland took its first steps towards easing its coronavirus restrictions, with garden centres and household recycling centres to be allowed to reopen on Monday.

– One in 370 people in England, equivalent to 0.27% of the population, were infected with coronavirus over the two weeks up to May 10, figures released by the ONS suggested.

– Some 126,064 tests were carried out on Wednesday.

– Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more than half of people on the Isle of Wight have now downloaded the NHS contact tracing app.

30 PHOTOS
Pictures of the week: May 10 - 16
See Gallery
Pictures of the week: May 10 - 16
Cyclists ride under a clear blue sky in Blyth, Northumberland, as highs of 22C are now expected for some parts of the UK by the weekend.
Young deer roam the Deer Park, near Ashford, Kent, during the spring weather and form part of a heard of around 100 fallow deer which were established in the 17th Century. Highs of 22C are now expected for some parts of the UK by the weekend.
The Spencer Lawn Tennis Club in Wandsworth on the second day of the easing of some lockdown restrictions in England as the UK continues in the eighth week to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Early morning sun catches the leaves of a Japanese Maple tree in North Wales, as highs of 22C are now expected for some parts of the UK by the weekend.
Amanda Holden seen leaving the Global Radio Studios in London. (Photo by Brett Cove / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
British swimmer Adam Peaty trains at his house in Loughborough in pool provided by Jacuzzi in partnership with Bedfordshire Hot Tubs to allow our GB Olympic Swimmers to continue to train at home for Tokyo 2021 during the current UK lockdown.
Neals Nurseries in Wandsworth reopens on the first day of the easing of some lockdown restrictions in England as the UK continues in the eighth week to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Golfers, wearing protective masks, push their trollies at Rookwood Golf Club, Horsham, Sussex, after golfers return to play as restrictions are lifted in England, as the UK continues in lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic.
The Spencer Lawn Tennis Club in Wandsworth reopens on the first day of the easing of some lockdown restrictions in England as the UK continues in the eighth week to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
British swimmer Luke Greenbank trains at pool in Ed Baxter's home in Loughborough watched by coach Mel Marshall. The pool was provided by Jacuzzi in partnership with Bedfordshire Hot Tubs to allow GB Olympic Swimmers to continue to train at home for Tokyo 2021 during the current UK lockdown.
Seven police officers attend an incident on the Old Shoreham Road as the UK continues in lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus during the pandemic.
A family stop to buy an ice cream from an ice-cream van at Hove Park, near Brighton, as the UK continues in lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus during the pandemic.
A general view of people sitting in Hove Park, near Brighton, as the UK continues in lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus during the pandemic.
ScotRail staff at Edinburgh's Haymarket Station have decorated a window in tribute to the NHS as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A near empty concourse at Waterloo station with a message of support for the NHS during what would normally be the evening rush hour, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Signs for McDonald's and The NHS on display at Wandsworth roundabout as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A man walks across empty passenger lanes at The Port of Dover in Kent as passengers arriving from France will be exempt from forthcoming UK coronavirus quarantine measures while the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A cyclist passes a mural featuring a skeleton on a bicycle in Edinburgh as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A Morrisons supermarket sign selling unleaded petrol at 99.7p per litre at its store in Belle Vale, Liverpool, after the chain reduced its prices across its UK forecourts.
Sunset over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A British Transport Police officer wears a face mask on the London Underground Central line during what would normally be the evening rush hour, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People make use of a new widened pavement to aid social distancing on Camden High Street in London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A woman walks between a coronavirus information sign and a light installation near London Bridge, London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People walk through Broadway Market in London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Uncollected recycling around bins in Harringay, north London. Picture date: Sunday May 10, 2020. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
An overgrown cemetery in Earlsfield during the UK lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People take their exercise on Wandsworth Common as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A view of the empty beach at Camber Sands in East Sussex as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A bee taking pollen from alliums in a South London garden as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A man exercising on London Fields, in London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Further updates are expected in the coming days on how the forthcoming antibody test will work.

PHE has approved a new test from the pharmaceutical giant Roche after experts at its Porton Down facility gave it the green light.

The test – which the PM has previously called a "game-changer" – picks up cases where somebody has had coronavirus in the past, and can be used on people who experienced no symptoms.

Professor Van-Tam said it was clear that people who had Covid-19 generated an antibody response, but it would "take time" to understand whether in all cases people developed immunity against coronavirus.

Number 10 said the new antibody test would "certainly" be available on the NHS, but commercial discussions with Roche are ongoing.

Roche said it could supply hundreds of thousands of the tests each week.

The pharmaceutical firm said it would prioritise tests for distribution via the NHS before looking at how they may be sold to individuals.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the idea of an "immunity certificate" was also still under consideration if science showed that people developed immunity to Covid-19.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS