School districts in Florida may impose mask mandates, a judge said, ruling that the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, overstepped his authority by issuing an executive order banning the mandates. The Leon county circuit judge John Cooper agreed with a group of parents who claimed in a lawsuit that DeSantis’ order is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.
Early data from Israel suggests that people given both doses of Pfizer-BioNTech are almost six times more likely to contract the Delta Covid variant and seven-fold more likely to have symptomatic disease than those who had previously recovered, according to data from the largest real-world study comparing natural immunity gained from earlier infection with inoculation.
Production of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines at a plant of partner Rovi in Spain can continue after an initial assessment, the EU drugs regulator said, as it continues its investigation of a contamination incident which saw Japan suspend the use of 1.63m doses of the jabs after about 4,700 shots from the potentially contaminated batches were used.
Canada’s Liberal party has said that if re-elected they would provide C$1 billion to help the 10 provinces create vaccine passports for people to prove they had been inoculated against Covid-19 as the governing party seeks to make vaccination a dividing election issue.
Italy announced a return of some coronavirus restrictions to Sicily, the first time such measures have been reimposed on a regional level since the start of summer. From Monday, masks would again be required outdoors as well as indoors on the island and restaurant diners will be limited to groups of four
The US supreme court’s conservative majority allowed evictions to resume across the US, putting millions at risk of homelessness and blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a temporary ban that was put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two UK government advisers reportedly said that prime minister Boris Johnson has privately accepted an average of 1,000 Covid-related deaths in the UK per week and would “only consider imposing further restrictions if that figure looked like it could rise above 50,000” per year.
Denmark is to lift all Covid restrictions by 10 September, health officials have said, saying the virus no longer posed “a threat to society” due to the country’s broad vaccination coverage.
Two-thirds of countries imposed restrictions on the media amid Covid, with freedom of expression “the biggest human rights casualty of the pandemic”, according to a report by campaigning organisation Article 19.
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Secondary school and college pupils will need to wear face masks in communal areas outside of their classrooms yet again in areas of the south west of England as extra support was pledged in response to a rise in coronavirus cases.
PA Media reports that the Department of Health and Social Care said that from today, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay local authority areas – which have seen a rise in cases – would get help to increase vaccine and testing uptake, and deliver more public health messaging.
Although schools will return from next week as planned, students in secondary schools and colleges will again need to wear face masks in communal areas after the guidance was scrapped on 19 July. The new measures are expected to be in place for five weeks, with the impact monitored.
It comes after new figures showed growing numbers of local areas – including in the South West – were recording their highest rates of new cases of Covid-19 since comparable records began, as the third wave of coronavirus continues to pick up pace across the country.
Florida schools can mandate masks, judge rules
School districts in Florida may impose mask mandates, a judge said Friday, ruling that the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, overstepped his authority by issuing an executive order banning the mandates.
The Leon county circuit judge John Cooper agreed with a group of parents who claimed in a lawsuit that DeSantis’ order is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.
The news came as it emerged that some Florida districts are asking the public to conserve water because it’s in short supply to keep hospitals provided with all the liquid oxygen they need to help Covid patients breathe, as well as utilities which need it for water processing.
The governor’s order gave parents the sole right to decide if their child wears a mask at school. Cooper said DeSantis’ order “is without legal authority”.
His decision came after a three-day virtual hearing, and after at least 10 Florida school boards voted to defy DeSantis and impose mask requirements with no parental opt-out.
Italy has announced a return of some coronavirus restrictions to Sicily, the first time such measures have been reimposed on a regional level since the start of summer.
AFP reports that from Monday, masks would again be required outdoors as well as indoors on the island and restaurant diners will be limited to groups of four following an increase in cases of Covid-19.
“I have just signed a new decree which makes Sicily a yellow zone,” said health minister Roberto Speranza. “It is confirmation that the virus is not yet defeated.”
Sicily will be classed as “yellow”, the second lowest level in a four-level classification system based on rates of Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions. For two months, all Italy’s regions have been classed as the lowest risk “white”, but the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant has sparked concern.
Since early August, Italy has required proof of vaccination, recent recovery from coronavirus or a negative test for people wanting to dine indoors or enter museums and sports events. The so-called green pass will also become compulsory for teachers and on trains and planes from 1 September.
However, further measures were considered necessary in Sicily, where vaccination rates are lower than the national average and where crowds have flocked for the summer season.
Librarians in Grenoble, Lyon, Toulouse and La Rochelle have been striking over the controversial French health pass.
Huffington Post reports that one of the groups in Lyon said the mandatory requirement for the pass sanitaire to enter libraries is a “discriminatory and unequal measure” applied in “a desire to force a part of the population” to get vaccinated.
Others fear of the effects the exclusion of marginalised audience from access to cultural institutions could have, the website reported.
They have also criticised an apparent double standard since bookstores, university libraries, specialised libraries and some leading state archive libraries do not require the health pass – which requires people to have their vaccine or Covid status proven to enter a number of public buildings and services, Huffington Post reported.
In Grenoble, librarians have striked on multiple days this week, with a majority of libraries in the city closed yesterday as a result. The local group said:
[The sanitary pass is] “in total contradiction with the conception of the profession. A public service must be free and open to all, without discrimination. We would like to point out that our action only concerns access to our establishments and is in no way a position concerning vaccination.
Ministers should be planning for a huge rise in Covid cases as schools return, the government’s scientific advisers have warned, as debate continues over whether all older children should be offered a Covid vaccine, my colleagues Richard Adams and Sally Weale report.
Canada’s Liberal party has said that if re-elected they would provide C$1 billion to help the 10 provinces create vaccine passports for people to prove they had been inoculated against Covid-19.
“Proof of vaccination systems ensure Canadians can be confident that those around them are fully vaccinated, in addition to providing businesses with important and clear guidance around how to reopen safely,” the Liberals said.
Polls show the Liberals, led by prime minister Justin Trudeau, are narrowly ahead of their Conservative rivals, Reuters reports. The election is on 20 September.
The question of vaccines is being used by the Liberal as a potential wedge issue in the election. The Conservatives, led by Erin O’Toole, are not requiring inoculations for their candidates and has espoused his respect for personal health decisions while suggesting that rapid testing is an alternative to vaccine passports.
Trudeau admitted today that all Liberal candidates are not yet vaccinated – though they intend to swiftly – while he also faced criticism that the news event where he was speaking clearly breached Ontario state limits on no more than 25 people gathering inside.
You deserve better, you deserve a government that’s going to continue to say get vaccinated. And you know what, if you don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s your choice. But don’t think you can get on a plane or a train besides vaccinated people and put them at risk.
The C$1bn would help cover costs incurred by the provinces for creating vaccine passports for people wishing to enter nonessential businesses or public spaces. Some provinces, including Quebec, have already said they plan to set up such a system.
Earlier this month, the Liberal government said it would soon require all federal public servants and many other workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Under one of the world’s strictest vaccine policies for transportation, the mandate would also include air, train and cruise ship travellers.
The International Air Transport Association told the Wall Street Journal it was unaware of any other country in the world banning unvaccinated passengers from planes, as Trudeau proposes.
“Vaccinations should not be a prerequisite for restarting international air travel …alternative solutions must be offered to those who are unable to get vaccinated,” the trade group said.
Larry Elliott Larry Elliott
Share prices hit fresh records on Wall Street after the head of the US central bank, Jerome Powell, expressed concern about rocketing Covid-19 infections and gave no new clues on when the Federal Reserve would start to ease back on its stimulus programme.
Wall Street hits new highs after Fed extends stimulus package
Half of children aged 12 to 17 have received at least their first vaccination dose against Covid-19, and the age group is seeing the fastest growth rate in vaccinations, the White House has said.
“We have now hit a major milestone in our effort to vaccinate adolescence, 50% of 12 to 17 year olds now have at least their first shot,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said, according to Reuters. “And in fact the vaccination rate among adolescents is growing faster than any other age group.”
Production of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines at a plant of partner Rovi in Spain can continue after an initial assessment, the EU drugs regulator has said, as it continues its investigation of a contamination incident.
Yesterday, Japan suspended the use of 1.63m doses of the Moderna vaccine, with the company saying contamination could be due to a manufacturing issue on one of the production lines at its contract manufacturing site in Spain run by Rovi.
About 4,700 shots from the potentially contaminated batches were used before they were suspended yesterday, after “foreign substances” were found in opened vials on 16 August.
A health ministry official said the company Takeda only reported the issue to the government yesterday because it needed time to gather information on which vials were affected and where they were in the country, the official said.
The European Medicines Agency told Reuters:
Covid-19 vaccine production in Rovi is able to continue, following a preliminary risk assessment of the information received so far. An investigation into the root cause is ongoing. EMA will be able to provide more information as the investigation progresses.
The EU has moved to reinstate Covid travel restrictions like quarantine and testing requirements for unvaccinated citizens of the US and five other countries, two diplomats told Reuters.
EU countries are set to start a procedure to remove the US from a list of countries whose citizens can travel to the 27-nation bloc without additional Covid restrictions.
The non-binding list currently has 23 countries on it, including Japan, Qatar and Ukraine, but some of the 27 EU countries already have their own limits on US travellers in place.
One diplomat said other countries that would be removed from the safe travel list were Kosovo, Israel, Montenegro, Lebanon and North Macedonia, Reuters reports.
The decision on new EU travel restrictions for foreigners would become final on Monday should no EU country object, the sources, as well as two more EU officials added.
The list is compiled on the basis of Covid-19 situation in each country, as well as reciprocity. Despite EU calls, the US does not allow European citizens to visit freely and the bloc has been divided between those pushing for equal treatment and those more reliant on tourism and reluctant to restrict US travellers.