© Provided by The GuardianPhotograph: Martin Rickett/PA
Top story: doctors urge public to remain cautious © Photograph: Martin Rickett/PAUp to six people or households will be able to gather indoors in England and most of Scotland again from today.
Morning everyone. I'm Martin Farrer and these are the top stories this morning.
Most of the country will edge a step closer to normality today as coronavirus restrictions are eased further in England, Wales and most of Scotland. Groups of six can meet indoors and the long-awaited reopening of pubs for indoor drinking is set to go ahead in England. But as rules are also relaxed from today in Wales and most of Scotland, health professionals stepped up their warnings that people should avoid socialising in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 variant first detected in India. The British Medical Association said people should remain "cautious" as cases of the variant continued to spread all over Britain. There were also warnings about the growing use of fake vaccine certification to dodge border checks, with a study unearthing more than 1,200 vendors of forged documents. With travellers required to show proof of negative tests as overseas holidays resume today, a Heathrow official fears his staff will be "overwhelmed" by the time-consuming extra checks.
In India, prime minister Narendra Modi faces an unprecedented and visceral wave of public anger for his failure to contain the coronavirus wave sweeping the country. More than four out of five Japanese do not want the Olympics to go ahead this summer because of the risk of spreading Covid. In the US, Biden administration health chiefs have defended the president's announcement last week telling vaccinated Americans they no longer needed to wear masks outside. Follow all the latest updates at our live blog here.
* * * © Provided by The GuardianSmoke and flames rise above a building in Gaza on Monday. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
New Gaza airstrikes - Israel launched another wave of airstrikes on Gaza overnight after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signalled the bombardment would continue at "full force". The bombing raids on the Palestinian enclave appeared to be the heaviest yet of the week-long fighting between Israel and the Hamas militant group that rules Gaza. Reports from Gaza said explosions rocked the city from north to south for 10 minutes. The attack was more intense, covered a broader area and lasted longer than the raids 24 hours earlier in which 42 Palestinians were killed. It comes after air-raid sirens sounded for the seventh consecutive day across southern Israel as Hamas and other groups in Gaza launched more rocket attacks. The Middle East conflict has the potential to develop into an "uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis", the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, warned on Sunday. The executive editor of Associated Press called for an independent investigation into Israel's bombing of a building in Gaza housing the agency's office. Israel said Hamas was operating a "terrorist cell" from the building.
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Pro-Palestine protests - Tory MP Michael Fabricant was criticised for describing pro-Palestinian demonstrators who clashed with police on Saturday as "primitives". He deleted the tweeted message after he was accused of "hateful racism that stirs up division". Video from a separate incident in the capital appeared to show antisemitic abuse being shouted from a car on Sunday.
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Plastic trashed - Plastic waste sent from the UK for recycling in Turkey is being dumped, burned, piled into mountains and left to spill into rivers and the sea, Greenpeace claims. Plastic packaging from Britain's leading supermarkets was found, left in bags or burned in 10 locations around the southern city of Adana, the environmental group says in a report called Trashed. Turkey became the leading destination for our plastic waste after China stopped taking it in 2017.
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Labour laws - A slew of new offences concerning violence against women and girls are planned by Labour if it returns to power. They include prohibiting street harassment, making misogyny a hate crime and banning sex-for-rent. The party says the government's plan on police, crime, sentencing and courts is inadequate, and should also include criminal sanctions for tech executives who do not act fast enough to remove misogynistic abuse on their platforms.
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Price record - The average price of a home in Britain has reached £333,564, according to Rightmove. The average asking prices ticked up by 1.8% since the previous all-time high, recorded in April. Demand in northern parts of Britain had continued to drive prices over one-third of a million pounds. Buyers faced record prices for properties in all parts of Britain except London.
Today in Focus podcast: Michael Lewis on Covid
The author and journalist Michael Lewis discusses reporting on a group of individuals who tried to alert the US government to the dangers of its inaction as coronavirus cases began to rise at an alarming rate.
Lunchtime read: Mel Brown - 'I felt so much self-hate'
Four years after escaping her marriage to film producer Stephen Belafonte, the former Spice Girl Mel Brown is rebuilding her life in her home town of Leeds surrounded by her children, her mother and her dogs. She tells Simon Hattenstone about how she is learning to trust people again, and also learning to like herself again. "I felt so much self-hate. I'd lied to so many people. Then I felt very angry that I'd let that person get away with all that for 10 years."
Chelsea's dreams of lifting the Women's Champions League evaporated in 36 minutes in Gothenburg last night as the newly crowned super league winners conceded four goals to Barcelona without reply. The shattered players later vowed to owner Roman Abramovich that they would return to the final next year. In the Premier League, Liverpool's Alisson joined the rare club of goal-scoring goalkeepers when he headed a last-minute winner against West Brom to keep his team on course for the top four. Spurs also kept their European hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Wolves. England fast bowler Jofra Archer has been ruled out of next month's New Zealand tests and may need surgery for a persistent elbow problem. Colombia's Egan Bernal took the overall lead in the Giro d'Italia after winning the ninth stage. Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua will have a dust-up in the desert in Saudi Arabia on 14 August for all four world heavyweight boxing titles.
Britain's employers are struggling to hire staff as lockdown lifts amid an exodus of overseas workers caused by the Covid pandemic and Brexit. The number of job searches from overseas has halved to 250,000 since last February, according to recruitment data. AT&T, which includes CNN and HBO, is nearing a content-streaming deal with Discovery that could create a new company worth $150bn, according to reports. The FTSE100 is on course to open flat this morning while the pound in your pocket is worth $1.409 and ?1.161. Bitcoin is down 9%.
Most papers lead on today's easing of virus restrictions - although the Mirror sums up the mood very well with its splash headline: "Happy hours for now".
The Guardian leads with "Britain opens up - but experts warn public to stick to meeting outdoors", the i says "New freedoms come with a health warning" and the Express says "Enjoy freedom with 'a heavy dose of caution'". The Mail urges "Don't blow it, Britain", while the Times is concerned with more travel disruption: "Holiday plans thrown into chaos". The Telegraph has "Play your part to beat variant, PM urged public", while the Sun's solution is "Get the shots in". The FT leads with "AT&T closing in on a content-streaming deal with Discovery".
In Scotland the big story is the gathering of Rangers fans in the centre of Glasgow. The Scotsman's lead is "Sturgeon: rioting Rangers fans 'selfish beyond belief'", while the Record just has "Selfish beyond belief".
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