Tui is to close nearly a third of its high street stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

The UK's biggest tour operator said the "difficult" decision to shut 166 shops is due to the need to cut costs because of the coronavirus pandemic and respond to changes in customer behaviour.

It plans to move 70% of the 900 affected jobs to a new "home-working sales and service team".

Tui also aims to relocate staff to vacancies in the remaining 350 retail stores.

The firm announced in May that it planned to cut around 8,000 jobs globally as it seeks to reduce overhead costs by 30%.

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Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, said: "We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it's in a high street store, over the telephone or online, and will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do.

"It is therefore imperative that we make these difficult cost decisions, look after our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty and also offer a modern customer service.

"Customer behaviours have already changed in recent years, with 70% of all Tui UK bookings taking place online.

"We believe Covid-19 has only accelerated this change in purchasing habits, with people looking to buy online or wishing to speak with travel experts from the comfort of their own home.

"We have world-class travel advisers at Tui, so we hope many of them will become home-workers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value."

Tui said it will not be publishing a list of potential store closures but none of those which have reopened since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased are at risk.

The travel industry has been badly hit by Government restrictions and the collapse in demand during the pandemic.

Tui resumed its flights and holidays programme on July 11 but has cancelled trips to Spain due to the UK's decision to reimpose quarantine requirements and travel warnings in relation to the country.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, which represents staff in the travel trade industry, said: "We have been warning for weeks that high street travel shops could become a thing of the past unless the Government took urgent action to help our industry navigate this crisis.

"Today's announcement by Tui means that ministers must sit up, smell the coffee and act without further delay.

"We need a bespoke package of measures to save our travel industry. I call on Tui and other employers to engage with our union so we can jointly lobby Government for this to happen."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced further changes in Scotland's route map out of lockdown.

Vulnerable people who have been shielding have been told they can follow guidance for the general population from Saturday.

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Schools will be reopening from August 11, although some local authorities may opt for a phased return over the first few days.

The Scottish Government said it expects all pupils to be back in class full-time from August 18.

Restrictions for childcare providers will be reduced from August 10.

A wider range of dental care will be possible from August 17, including aerosol procedures for urgent cases.

The Scottish Government hopes live outdoor events, funfairs, outdoor sports as well as some indoor venues such as bingo halls, amusement arcades, casinos, snooker and pool halls will reopen from August 24 with appropriate hygiene measures.

It also wants driving lessons to resume on that day.

The First Minister set September 14 as the indicative date for the reopening of gyms, swimming pools and indoor soft play centres.This is due to be reviewed in three weeks to see if an earlier date can be set.

It is hoped entertainment sites and cultural venues such as theatres and live music venues will also reopen from the same date, with physical distancing in place.

September 14 is also the indicative date for a limited reopening of stadiums, with restricted numbers and physical distancing, and the Scottish Government said there is the option for testing on earlier dates where agreed.

Non-essential offices and call centres will not return before September 11, Ms Sturgeon said, and Scottish Government guidance indicates working from home and working flexibly remain the default.

The Co-operative Bank has taken an £11.2 million hit from the coronavirus crisis, widening its loss for the first half of the year.

The bank said its loss before tax reached £44.6 million over the six months as it took the impairment charge - £6.1 million worse than the same period last year.

The bank has lent money to around 6,000 businesses through the government-backed Bounce Back and CBILS programmes.

Only a small proportion of the 18,000 customers who deferred their repayments at the start of lockdown have applied for an extension to the deferral, the Co-op said.

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