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22nd July 2020

Science Coronavirus: People shielding allowed to gather from 6 July

Science Coronavirus: People shielding allowed to gather from 6 July


Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak this Monday evening. We’ll have another update for you on Tuesday morning.

Science 1. Shielding to be paused from August

The advice to the 2.2 million people considered vulnerable to coronavirus will be paused on 1 August. From 6 July, those who are shielding will be able to meet in groups of up to six outdoors and form a support bubble with one other household. And at the end of July, people will no longer be advised to shield. The changes come as the UK recorded its lowest number of daily deaths since 15 March, with 15. One of those shielding is Natasha Howard who has shared her story with us.

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Media captionNatasha Howard has been campaigning for a “shielding hour”

Science 2. Energy firms can chase unpaid bills again

Energy companies have been given the go ahead to chase people who have not paid their bills – although they are being warned not to do so aggressively. Many households have benefited from pandemic-related payment holidays but regulator Ofgem has said firms can once again collect debts. But bailiffs have been banned from knocking on doors for another two months to collect other unpaid debts, such as parking fines or council tax.

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Getty Images

Science 3. PM expected to announce if pubs can reopen

Boris Johnson is expected to announce if English pubs can reopen in July when he gives an update tomorrow. Non-essential retail shops have already reopened in England and in Wales today, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the country is on track to further ease lockdown restrictions. The hospitality sector has been asking for the 2m social distancing guidance to be relaxed, and the prime minister told people to “watch this space” ahead of his announcement on Tuesday.

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Wiktor Szymanowicz/Getty Images

Science 4. Ireland presses on with contact app

While there have been problems with the UK’s efforts to launch a contact tracing app, the Irish health authority is pressing ahead with its own version. Despite some concerns about the accuracy of the Google and Apple technology, Ireland’s Health Service Executive said it will submit a memo to the government this week, with plans to release the app shortly after. Here’s our technology correspondent on what went wrong with the UK app.

Science 5. Ever wondered what a tiger does in lockdown?

Well, wonder no more as the keepers at Shepreth Wildlife Park have taken us behind the scenes at the Cambridgeshire zoo. The attraction closed in March and some of the furry residents have been otter-ly bored by the lack of visitors. The park has lost around £500,000 in income during the pandemic but staff are delighted they are able to reopen.

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Media captionCoronavirus: Shepreth Wildlife Park staff record life during lockdown

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Science And don’t forget…

….with the prime minister expected to discuss changes to the 2m social-distancing guidance on Tuesday here what the science says about it.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page and get all the latest via our live page.

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