PM ‘inspired by Scotland’ for face-masks U-turn

The PM visits Castle Rock school in Coalville on the pupils' first day back - Jack Hill
The PM visits Castle Rock school in Coalville on the pupils’ first day back – Jack Hill

PM: Scotland’s ‘sensible’ masks move triggered U-turn

Boris Johnson has admitted the Government’s U-turn on face masks in schools was inspired by Scotland’s “sensible” move to mandate their use in communal areas. Speaking during a visit to a school in the Midlands, the Prime Minister said the change in guidance, announced some hours after Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a similar move, would only affect “few and far between” schools in outbreak hotspots. Wales has also now announced it will follow Scotland’s lead on face masks. It comes after the U-turn was attacked by several Conservative backbenchers. Huw Merriman, the Transport Select Committee chair, said the Government “needs to get a grip… rather than just changing its mind”. It has also emerged that Government scientists warned face masks in schools could hinder children’s speech development. Sarah Knapton has more.

Meanwhile, a second official has lost their job in the wake of the exams debacle in the space of two days, with the Prime Minister saying there is “need for fresh official leadership”. Jonathan Slater, the permanent secretary at the Department for Education will leave his post from next week. Yesterday Ofqual boss Sally Collier quit with immediate effect and will be replaced by her predecessor Dame Glenys Stacy as the regulator seeks to regain the public’s confidence. Read on for the latest.

No big return to the office as Britain lags behind world

The UK is lagging behind most of the developed world in heading back to the workplace, as major employers tell staff they can permanently split their time between home and the office post-crisis. Data shows the UK has had one of the slowest returns to the office of any OECD country, dealing a blow to Boris Johnson’s bid to send workers back to city centres. It comes after JP Morgan and Linklaters, two of the City’s most powerful firms, called an end to the daily commute by allowing staff to permanently choose to work flexibly once the pandemic has ended. These charts show how the UK has been much slower returning to work than its international peers. Meanwhile, Emma Cook analyses the rise of working remotely abroad. Read how five new “digital nomads” did it.

Top baby names revealed – search if yours is popular

It can be one of the most difficult decisions new parents have to make – choosing the name of your child which they will carry through life, shaping how they are perceived or even their opportunities in life. The question is: do you play it safe or go out on a limb? The Office for National Statistics has revealed the most popular baby names for last year, with detailed stats on exactly how many children were given each name in England and Wales. Once again, Oliver and Olivia come out on top. You can use this search tool to see whether your name features in the top 100. Meanwhile, Oliver Pickup argues why his name’s mediocrity makes it the perfect boy’s name for our times.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Harding reveals breast cancer | Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding has revealed she has advanced-stage breast cancer which has spread to other parts of her body. The 38-year-old revealed the diagnosis on social media today, sharing a photo of herself in hospital. Read on for details.

Around the world: Melania Trump’s rare speech

Melania Trump told coronavirus victims “you are not alone” and spoke of the challenge of tackling racial inequality in a Republican convention speech whose message of sympathy and unity contrasted sharply with other speakers. Speaking from the Rose Garden in her most high profile public address in four years, the US first lady urged Americans to “reflect on our mistakes” and try seeing issues through other people’s eyes. Bethan Holt examines the meaning behind her military jacket. Donald Trump’s 26-year-old daughter Tiffany also made a rare speech at the convention, slamming the media and technology firms. Read on here.

Wednesday interview

‘Athletes should not be bottom of the pecking order’


Adam Gemili - Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images
Adam Gemili – Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

No longer the boy in the headlights, Adam Gemili is determined to use his voice for athletes worldwide ahead of a future career in governance

Read the full interview

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice: Features and arts

  1. Fashion symbols | Why Meghan relaxed her look to meet Gloria Steinem

  2. Property market | The postcodes driving the mini-boom (and the ones being left behind)

  3. Moral Money ‘My friend wants me to loan her my inheritance but I don’t trust her’

Business and money briefing

Stocks surge | Global equities have touched a record high, as hopes on trade and vaccine progress outweigh fears over a second pandemic wave. The MSCI All-Country World Index, the broadest measure of global equity prices, has topped the previous peak reached in February – before markets went into reverse. Our business liveblog has the latest.

Sport briefing

How much for Lionel Messi? | Lionel Messi’s decision to hand in a transfer request at Barcelona is set to trigger a scramble for his signature. But how many clubs would be willing and able to afford someone many consider the greatest footballer of all time? Ben Rumsby breaks down the anatomy of one of the most complicated transfers in historyDaniel Zeqiri sets out the options of where he could go while JJ Bull questions whether Messi is still worth the huge cost of signing him.

Tonight’s TV  

Peter: The Human Cyborg, Channel 4, 9pm | After being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, Dr Peter Scott-Morgan’s fascination with Star Trek set him on a path to become the world’s first full cyborg. Read more.

And finally… for this evening’s downtime

I Hate Suzie | Billie Piper’s new drama is based on the disastrous and unpleasant events of “Celebgate”, where stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Upton and Amber Heard had their phones hacked and intimate photos plastered across the internet. Six years on, Anthony Brett details how the “nudes” hack has haunted Hollywood ever since and examines if the internet learnt its lesson.