The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Schools stay shut, Colston tumbles and bell tolls for Japan’s bike bells


The government lurched uncertainly in dealing with coronavirus. Not all years in primary schools would after all return before September, and secondary schools perhaps not even then. A 14-day quarantine was imposed on people entering the country. Churches could open for individual prayer from 15 June, as could shops of all kinds. Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers would have to wait until 4 July at the earliest. Face coverings were made obligatory on public transport from 15 June. The number of workers furloughed reached 8.9 million, and 2.6 million more had made claims under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. The drug company AstraZeneca began to make a planned two billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine while trials proceeded on its safety and efficacy. A paper was withdrawn after being published in the Lancet; it had said hydroxychloroquine was ineffective in treating Covid-19 and led to a higher death rate.

Thousands of young people chanting ‘Black lives matter’ demonstrated in Parliament Square and outside the American embassy in Vauxhall two days running, despite a statement by Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, that it was illegal, under the Coronavirus Regulations, to gather in groups of more than six. There was violence towards police. ‘These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery,’ Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said. In Bristol a statue dating from 1895 of Edward Colston (1636-1721), a philanthropist and merchant implicated in the slave trade, was pulled down and rolled past Colston Hall and down Colston Avenue to be thrown into the harbour. Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party, said that it was ‘completely wrong to pull a statue down like that’. Campaigners earmarked other statues, including Sir Francis Drake, Gladstone and Christopher Columbus. Sadiq Khan set up a Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm to review statues and street names connected with disapproved people and to recommend the names of black people, women and those from the ‘LGBTQ+ community’.

At the beginning of the week, Sunday 7 June, total deaths from Covid-19 stood at 40,465; a week earlier the total had been 38,376.

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