Greater Manchester’s night-time czar has warned pubs and clubs to stop encouraging customers to break lockdown restrictions by socialising with other households, saying the result could be a 5pm curfew as in Aberdeen.

Sacha Lord, who in normal times runs the Warehouse Project and Parklife festivals as well as acting as the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, spoke out after Greater Manchester police revealed they had their busiest weekend for coronavirus-related calls in nine weeks, with reports of more than 750 illegal gatherings last weekend.

Lord said:

Yesterday we saw new restrictions imposed in Aberdeen, placing 5pm curfews on pubs and restaurants across the city and these are the types of stricter regulations we absolutely want to avoid here in Greater Manchester.

It is clearly a very difficult time for everyone involved in the hospitality and leisure industries and the majority of operators are working their hardest to keep people safe.

But over the past week, I have heard of numerous pubs, bars and restaurants who have been squeezing customers in, flouting social distancing rules, ignoring contact tracing and actively persuading mixed groups not to cancel bookings.

These venues clearly have a disregard for the safety of both their customers and their staff, and I support our mayor, Andy Burnham, and Greater Manchester police in taking action over repeat breaches in these venues.

ITV has been hit by the steepest decline in advertising in its 65-year history, a 43% fall in the second quarter, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic looks set to push the broadcaster out of the FTSE 100 at next month’s reshuffle.

The broadcaster, which has scrapped paying an interim dividend to fortify its balance sheet, reported a 50% fall in adjusted profits to £165m in the first half. The company said advertising revenues fell 21% in the first six months, a drop of £178m to £671m, including a 43% decline in the second quarter.

Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of ITV, said that while the worst was over the ongoing uncertainty in the market meant the company would not issue performance guidance for the remainder of this year.

This has been one of the most challenging times in the history of ITV. While our two main sources of revenue – production and advertising – were down significantly in the first half of the year and the outlook remains uncertain, today we are seeing an upward trajectory with productions restarting and advertisers returning.

Scotland’s health secretary has played down the prospects of Aberdeen’s emergency lockdown being extended to other parts of the economy or the region after the outbreak in cases there.

Jeane Freeman said NHS Grampian’s contact tracers had so far found and spoken to all 191 people identified as being in close contact with the 54 people known to be infected in the city, and all had been told to self-isolate for 14 days.

Freeman confirmed ministers would act quickly if there was evidence of wider community transmission, but that had not yet emerged. Further data would be published later on Thursday, she said, to show whether new Covid-19 cases had emerged in the city or wider area.

The first minister warned on Wednesday that Aberdeen’s emergency lockdown could extend to other towns in the region after health officials linked 32 pubs and golf courses to the outbreak in the city.

Good morning and welcome aboard the Guardian’s live blog, where we’ll be keeping a particularly close eye out for the latest data on England’s contact tracing system. They’re due to be published at 11am, amid concerns about the effectiveness of the operation.

On Wednesday, my colleagues Sarah Marsh and Molly Blackall revealed that, despite the prime minister’s grand claims, some people working on it have said they are making only a handful of calls every month and are occupying their time with barbecues and quizzes.

That came only a day after Josh Halliday reported that English councils with the highest infection rates had felt it necessary to launch their own contact-tracing operations to plug holes in the “world-beating” £10bn central government system. And here’s a little more background on the contact tracing operation:

The Guardian

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