Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 20 Jun 2020

1. Government accused of playing down Covid-19 deaths

The government has been accused of playing down coronavirus death rates after it emerged that more than 1,000 people died every day in the UK for 22 consecutive days – in contrast with daily tolls announced by ministers. The true data includes deaths in hospitals, care homes and private residences and far outstrips the figures announced at the daily Downing Street briefings.

2. Boris Johnson prepares to scrap two-metre distancing rule

The two-metre rule could be scrapped as a review into the social distancing guideline is set to conclude “within the coming days”, says Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden. Downing Street said the government would update the country on the social distancing rules next week, with Boris Johnson telling reporters to “watch this space”. The news comes as the coronavirus alert level was downgraded from four to three on Friday.

3. WHO warns that world remains in ‘dangerous phase’

The World Health Organization issued a warning as the 150,000 new Covid-19 cases recorded in a single day set a new record. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from Geneva: “The world is in a new and dangerous phase. The virus is still spreading fast, it is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible.”

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4. Distancing guidelines for pubs, hotels and gyms are leaked

Pubs will be patrolled, hotels will leave room service orders at the door and restaurant tables will not be set in advance according to leaked plans to reopen the hospitality sector. In gyms, treadmills and weightlifting machines will be spaced out from one another. The Times says that the guidance drawn up by the government and the hospitality industry will be published next week.

5. Mike Pence refuses to say that black lives matter

The US vice president Mike Pence has declined to say that “black lives matter”. Asked during a television interview whether black lives matter, he said: “We celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation we've cherished the ideal that all, all of us are created equal, and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And so all lives matter in a very real sense."

6. Schools are set to re-open fully from September

Schools could re-open fully from September as ministers plan to drop restrictions on classroom “bubbles” and let all pupils attend school full-time in England. Speaking of “bubbles,” Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We’ve been creating bubbles of children in the classroom, creating a protective environment for those children. Currently that is at 15 – what we would be looking at doing is expanding those bubbles to include the whole class.”

7. India vows to use force to defend its border with China

India’s prime minister has vowed to defend the country’s border with military force, after 20 of its soldiers were killed in violence with Chinese troops on Monday. Narendra Modi said that India's armed forces had been “given a free hand to take all necessary steps” to protect the border. “India wants peace and friendship, but upholding sovereignty is foremost,” he said.

8. Daily Mail eclipses The Sun to become UK's top newspaper

The Daily Mail has eclipsed The Sun to become UK's top-selling paper. The Sun had been the nation’s most popular newspaper since 1978 but the Daily Mail has been steadily closing the sales gap. It sold 980,000 copies a day on average last month, and the Mail on Sunday sold 878,000 a week, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations figures published on Friday.

9. Top Tory activist suspended from party over racist tweet

A leading Tory activist has been suspended after she tweeted that a Muslim MP born in Bradford should “go back to Pakistan”. Theodora Dickinson later apologised, saying: “I fully recognise how offensive it was, which is why I deleted the tweet almost immediately, though of course this does not excuse posting it in the first place.” The Conservatives say Dickinson is being investigated.

10. Katie Hopkins is permanently suspended from Twitter

Katie Hopkins has been permanently suspended from Twitter for violating its hateful conduct policy. The social media firm said: “Keeping Twitter safe is a top priority for us - abuse and hateful conduct have no place on our service and we will continue to take action when our rules are broken.” Hopkins, who had more than one million followers, has criticised refugees and the Black Lives Matter movement.

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