UK Covid live: Delta variant cases rise by 46% on last week | Politics

UK Covid live: Delta variant cases rise by 46% on last week | Politics

Delta variant cases up by 46% on last week


The UK transport secretary has refused to say he would book a foreign holiday for himself and his family yet, even as travel restrictions are eased for several destinations.

Grant Shapps warned anyone looking to travel abroad that the rules could change at short notice after Malta, Madeira and the Balearic islands, among others, were added to the list of countries from which travellers could return without having to quarantine.

But there was concern across the beleaguered travel sector, with one prominent figure accusing the government of being “overly cautious”.

Shapps said: “People will have to come to their own decisions … If people are in a situation where, from next week, they wanted to get away then these are the places where you can go for the purposes of holiday, of course, being aware of all the caveats about the risk of things changing because … that happens with quite a lot of regularity.”

And he acknowledged that the ongoing pandemic meant the status of any country could change with no notice, with those on the “green watchlist” most likely to see harsher restrictions reimposed.

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A longtime friend of Matt Hancock would have gone through a “very rigorous” process before being given a job at the health department, Grant Shapps has said, after photographs emerged of Hancock kissing the woman.

Stills from what appeared to be CCTV footage in the health secretary’s Whitehall office, published in the Sun, showed Hancock in what the paper called a “clinch” with Gina Coladangelo, who he first met when they were at Oxford University.

In November last year, Labour complained about apparent cronyism after it emerged that Coladangelo, head of marketing at the Oliver Bonas retail chain, was first made an unpaid adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care, and then a non-executive director, a part-time role paid £15,000 a year.

Labour said that while ministers are “entitled to a private life”, there needed to be full transparency about whether any rules had been broken over the appointment.

Shapps, the transport secretary, said such roles involved significant civil service oversight, and declined to comment on the nature of the relationship between Hancock and Coladangelo.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

The only thing I know is that if you are appointed to a government position there are very rigorous programmes in place when people are appointed, which require all sorts of civil service sign off before public money is spent.

That’s the situation I’m sure will be followed in a position like this.

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