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Covid 19

Coronavirus live news: US death toll passes 170,000, New Zealand postpones election

Australia records deadliest day 25 deaths; India death toll passes 50,000; Japan GDP falls at annual rate of 27.8%; Italy closes nightclubs. Follow latest updates

Lebanon should be locked down for two weeks after a spike in COVID-19 infections, the caretaker government’s health minister was quoted as saying on Monday.
“We declare today a state of general alert and we need a brave decision to close (the country) for two weeks,” Hamad Hassan told Voice of Lebanon radio.
Lebanon registered a record 439 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Hi. Caroline Davies here. I am going to be helming the blog for the next few hours. You can get in touch on caroline.davies@theguardian.com

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Covid 19

Tell us how your use of cash has changed during the pandemic

With Covid shifting physical transactions to contactless payments, do you think the pandemic has spelled the end for cash?

Cash use was one of the earliest behavioural shifts of the coronavirus pandemic, with physical transactions moving online when most retailers were forced to shut, and the hygiene-conscious essential services that remained open largely banning cash in favour of contactless payments.

While data from banks suggested Covid-19 was speeding up the demise of cash in favour of credit card and tap and go smartphone payments, Reserve Bank data released last week appeared to highlight one enduring appeal of banknotes to emerge from Australia’s second wave of Covid-19.

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Covid 19

Australia’s state by state coronavirus lockdown rules and restrictions explained

What are the restrictions within Victoria and the border closures with NSW and Queensland? How far can I travel, and how many people can I have over at my house? Untangle Australia’s Covid-19 laws and guidelines with our guide

Australians had been slowly emerging from Covid-19 lockdowns since the federal government announced a three-stage plan in May to ease restrictions across the country, but from 8 July the Melbourne metropolitan area and Mitchell shire immediately to the north returned to a stage three lockdown for six weeks.

After consistently high case numbers despite the lockdown, the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, announced further restrictions for the state. From 2 August, metropolitan Melbourne entered a six-week stage four lockdown, while a stage three lockdown took effect across regional Victoria and Mitchell shire from 6 August.

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Covid 19

Soon there won’t be anyone left this government hasn’t blamed for its mistakes | Nesrine Malik

As their troubles mount, bungling ministers will point the finger at minorities, migrants, teachers … anyone but themselves

As a second peak of Covid-19 infections looms, one thing is certain: the Conservative party is dedicating itself to what it does best – crafting a narrative that blames everyone else for its mistakes.

Brace for it. After six months of catastrophic mismanagement, from delaying lockdown to the A-level marking fiasco, this autumn is sure to bring even more diversion, distraction and brazen victim-blaming.

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Covid 19

‘The god of hellfire returns!’ Can Arthur Brown incinerate Covid?

Known for his face paint, flaming helmet and 1968 hit Fire, the 78-year-old is back with a molten-hot manifesto for music in the pandemic era

‘I am the God of Hellfire!” proclaimed Arthur Brown at the start of Fire, the 1968 UK No 1 by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, an international smash in the psychedelic era. Such commercial heights weren’t scaled again, but the singer’s flaming helmet, pre-Kiss face paint and mix of pop, opera, progressive rock and proto-heavy metal have become influential. Alice Cooper admits, “without Arthur Brown, there’d be no Alice Cooper”, and other stars who have paid homage range from Iron Maiden to Elton John.

“About 12 years ago I got a call from Robert Plant’s agent,” chuckles the singer. “He told me that Robert would love to get someone like Arthur Brown to sing with on tour and asked if I could recommend anyone. I said, ‘I’m pretty like me and I’d love to do it.’”

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Covid 19

‘There’s no way we’d go back’: will Covid-19 end free wine tastings forever?

Complimentary wine flights are a cornerstone of Australian cellar door visits – but as wineries reopen, they’re rethinking the tradition

For decades free wine tastings have been an essential part of the Australian cellar door experience. They helped turn a nation of beer drinkers on to the charms of shiraz, sémillon and sagrantino.

Before the Covid-19 shutdown, there was already a move away from this tradition: the number of Australian wineries charging for tastings went from 29% in 2017-18 to 50% in 2019, according to Wine Australia’s 2019 cellar door survey report. As wineries have reopened post-shutdown, more are questioning the value of giving away their product free.

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Covid 19

Covid-19, the climate crisis and the return of Extinction Rebellion – podcast

When Extinction Rebellion began holding protests two years ago, the movement could not have predicted its rapid growth or the public support it received. But missteps and the Covid-19 shutdown meant the group lost momentum. Now, it is planning a series of new actions in the autumn

Extinction Rebellion (XR) has grown rapidly since it was set up in the UK in 2018. Its early protests had a carnival atmosphere and its demands were simple: the government should, above all else, be truthful about the extent of the climate crisis.

Daze Aghaji started attending XR meetings while still at university and became an influential member of the group’s youth wing. She describes the participatory structure and how decisions are made without a formal leadership – and how XR has grappled with racial equality within its movement. The Guardian’s Matthew Taylor has been following XR since the beginning and is observing it enter a new phase of its evolution. Can it recreate the atmosphere of its early protests and avoid some of the recent controversies and missteps, while still growing as a mass movement?

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Covid 19

UK coronavirus: calls for U-turn over exam grading crisis intensify – live news

Follow the latest on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK as the government faces pressure over the A-levels and GCSEs exam grading crisis in England and its plans to scrap Public Health England

A theatre company which hoped to stage the only live Fringe event at the Edinburgh festival this month, Grid Iron Theatre Company, has cancelled its plans to put the event on outdoors.

Grid Iron’s chief executive Judith Doherty said it had failed to get permission from the owners of an open air site in Edinburgh they wanted in time to stage a show called Doppler, based on a satirical novel by Norwegian writer Erlend Loe, so would put it online instead.

Sir Edward Leigh, has become the latest Conservative backbencher to express his concern about the exam crisis. He says wants teacher assessments to be used to correct clear cases of injustice.

There is one high performing school in my constituency which appears to have been particularly hard hit through no fault of this year’s students. This can happen when this cohort are above average compared to last years.

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Covid 19

Victoria hotel quarantine inquiry: Covid training for security gave ‘misleading’ advice

First day of hearings told ‘crucial’ information on face masks was incorrect for setting

A mandatory training module on Covid-19 for private security personnel working in hotel quarantine appeared designed for the general public, contained no advice on personal protective equipment and gave “confusing” and “clearly misleading” advice about mask use, the hotel quarantine inquiry has heard.

On the first day of hearings for the Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry, being overseen by former judge Jennifer Coate, a training module on Covid-19 that personnel working for security contractors in hotel quarantine were required to undertake was examined by the director of infectious diseases at Austin Health, Prof Lindsay Graham.

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Covid 19

Fears overcrowding in Wetherspoon pubs may lead to Covid spike

Customers in a pub run by chain also not asked for personal details for track and trace system

Fears that relaxed summer socialising will lead to a surge in Covid-19 cases around the UK have been heightened after concerns that JD Wetherspoon is failing to prevent overcrowding in pubs in its 900-strong chain.

Concerns about poor social distancing by customers in Wetherspoon pubs followed a surge in visitors during recent hot weather and after the publication of A-level results last Thursday. Customers in a south London pub run by the company said they had not been asked to provide personal details, including mobile phone numbers that can be used in the government’s track and trace system.

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