Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 July 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Nurses mull strike over pay rise

Nurses are likely to reject a 3% pay rise as too low and may take industrial action in response to the government’s offer. The Royal College of Nursing told the BBC it would be consulting members over potential strikes, describing staff as “angry”. During what The Guardian describes as “a day of confusion and rising tensions”, the government yesterday dropped plans to make only 1.5% of the 3% uplift a permanent increase to salaries, with the other 1.5% in effect coming as a one-off bonus. Other health unions also plan to ballot their memberships over possible strike action.

Tory minister hits back at criticism of 1% pay rise for NHS staff

2. Exclude staff from self-isolation

Food industry bosses have warned supermarket supply chains are “starting to fail” because the “pingdemic” is sending thousands of workers into self-isolation. High street chain Iceland said it has already closed “a number of stores” due to staff having to spend 10 days at home. MPs are joining industry leaders to urge Boris Johnson to include supermarket staff, lorry drivers and other frontline workers on a list of those exempted from self-isolation when contacted by the track-and-trace app.

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Inside the plan to end the track-and-trace epidemic

3. Sex offenders change identities

Hundreds of sex offenders have changed their identity by exploiting a loophole to avoid scrutiny. The Times says it has been shown examples of convicted child sex abusers changing their name by deed poll, failing to inform the authorities and using their new identity to gain access to children. Men barred for life from working with young people used their new name to get jobs in schools and homes where they committed further offences.

UK launches global sex offender register

4. London ‘will not return to pre-Covid days’

The chairman of NatWest has said the number of people working in central London will never return to pre-pandemic levels as employees will not return to the office five days a week. Howard Davies told Bloomberg that “the days when 2,500 people walked in through our office door at Bishopsgate at 8.30am and then walked out again at 6pm, I think that is gone”. Several other British banks have already begun cutting office space in the capital.

1,500 homes to be created from empty offices in City of London

5. Orban plans new anti-LGBTQ+ law

Viktor Orban has announced a referendum to measure support for a law that bans the “depiction or promotion” of homosexuality and gender reassignment for under-18s. The proposed legislation has been criticised for conflating paedophilia with homosexuality and violating EU rules on freedom of expression, free trade and provision of services. Opposition politicians say the law is a distraction from domestic scandals.

How Viktor Orban’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws made the EU more hawkish on Hungary

6. New York has worst air quality in world

The air quality in New York City was the worst in the world earlier this week as cities across the eastern US were shrouded in smoke from wildfires thousands of miles away on the west coast. As air pollution in the city soared to eclipse Lima in Peru and Kolkata in India, state officials advised the vulnerable to avoid strenuous outdoor activity. George Pope, professor of earth and environmental studies at Montclair State University, said: “This is unprecedented.”

Is lower air pollution under lockdown saving lives?

7. One-third of Covid deaths in care homes

At least one in three Covid deaths in England were in care homes, according to new figures from the Care Quality Commission. The data reveals that some care homes lost around 75% of residents to the virus, with more than 40 people dying in one home alone. Care home bosses said the sector was “left out to dry” by a lack of PPE and testing, as well as being forced to accept infected patients after they had been discharged from hospital.

Just how bad was the Covid crisis in UK care homes?

8. Spending rose during last quarter

Spending on charities and pets rose as Covid-19 restrictions continued to ease during the last quarter, data from Nationwide has revealed. Other sectors to benefit between April and June included tourism, eating and drinking, leisure, gardening and clothing. Spending on online dating also rose; between April and June people spent £3.8m, a rise of 5% from the previous quarter. Contactless and mobile payments also continued to increase, Nationwide added.

Brits ‘gearing up for £50bn post-lockdown spending spree’

9. Police ‘held back at Wembley’

A police officer who challenged ticketless fans at the Euro 2020 final at Wembley has claimed he and his colleagues were “held back” because senior officers were concerned over “brand image”. The officer said fans were “roaming round in packs” and he and his colleagues “wanted to chase them off properly as we could see that the stewards didn’t care”. However, he added: “We weren’t allowed.” An investigation by The Times found there were at least nine breaches of disabled entrances and exits at Wembley.

Euro 2020 final: ‘why would football want to come home to this anyway?’

10. Gender-reveal couple charged over fires

A couple in California whose gender-reveal party sparked a wildfire have been charged with 30 crimes. The El Dorado blaze torched close to 23,000 acres of land, destroyed five homes and 15 other buildings and killed a firefighter. Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr and Angela Renee Jimenez were indicted for 30 crimes including involuntary manslaughter, said the San Bernardino county district attorney. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The Week Unwrapped: what on earth is a gender-reveal party?

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