Michael Gove says four-week November shutdown could be EXTENDED if it fails to tackle Covid

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Key points in COVID lockdown Mark 2 

  • Restrictions will start at midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2. 
  • People can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home.
  • Non-essential shops will be told to shut, although supermarkets do not need to close off aisles as has happened in Wales.
  • Restaurants and bars will be told to close unless they can operate a takeaway service. 
  • Travel abroad is only permitted for ‘essential’ reasons such as work, people can still return to the UK from abroad. 
  • Leisure centres, gyms, sporting venues, hairdressers and beauty parlours will have to close, although professional sport will continue. 
  • Key businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should carry on as before with safety precautions.
  • Places of worship can stay open for private prayer. Funerals are limited to close family only.  
  • The furlough scheme will be extended during the period of the lockdown, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. 
  • Exercise is permitted with no limits on frequency, but organised sports – including outdoor activities such as golf – will not be permitted. 
  • When the lockdown lapses the Tiers system will be reinstated, leaving questions about what metric will be used to decide whether areas can have restrictions eased. 
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England could spend Christmas under a full lockdown if the four-week November shutdown failed to tackle the second wave of coronavirus sweeping the nation, Michael Gove warned today. 

The Cabinet Office Minister raised the spectre of a gloomy December with pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops closed if the R rate does not fall enough.

Appearing on television this morning he defended Boris Johnson’s decision last night to plunge England into a full lockdown, despite previously calling it the ‘nuclear option’.

He said that expert information showed that without it, the NHS nationally would be ‘full’ by December 1, affecting not only Covid patients but all critically ill cases.

Appearing on Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News he was repeatedly pressed on whether the lockdown could be extended before its current December 2 cut-off.

He said: Yes. We want to be in a position where … we can have an approach where if we bring down the rate of infection sufficiently we can reduce measures nationally and also reduce measures regionally. Because the regional approach is one that wherever possible we want to take.’

But he added: ‘We are going to review it on December 2 but we will always be driven by what the data shows.’   

Last night Mr Johnson was forced to unveil the new lockdown  at a hurriedly-arranged press conference yesterday, after sources told the Daily Mail about the plans hours after the Quad committee meeting.

The measures come into force from midnight on Thursday morning until December 2, and close all but essential shops, restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and leisure centres. 

The furlough scheme that pays workers 80% of their wages will be extended for a month, and travel outside the UK will be allowed only for ‘work’. 

Mr Johnson said it was the the only way to avert bleak Sage predictions of 85,000 deaths this winter, which would force doctors to choose between saving Covid sufferers and those with other illnesses. 

‘No responsible PM can ignore the message of those figures. We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,’ he said.   

As England braces for a second national lockdown: 

  • Some furious Tory MPs threatened to shoot down the PM’s new shutdown in a crunch vote in the Commons;
  • Backbenchers accused Boris Johnson of being ‘bounced’ into lockdown and compared Covid to ‘Suez’; 
  • Keir Starmer called for an immediate national lockdown as he said delaying until Thursday would cost lives;
  • Stunned hospitality chiefs warned that new Covid-19 restrictions would spell doom for dying industry;  
  • Johnson will bring in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid tests’ which will see ‘whole cities’ tested within days 
  • Graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE’s ‘worst cases scenario’ were shown by government advisers at the press conference 
  • The UK recorded 326 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 and 21,915 lab-confirmed cases; 
  • The National Education Union called for schools and colleges to be shut as part of the lockdown; 
  • Health Minister said government could only have predicted need for a second lockdown with ‘crystal ball’; 
  • Number of virus patients in hospital has doubled in the past fortnight, with 10,708 patients being treated; 

PM Boris Johnson was given hard facts about real people in hospital beds, and the debate was effectively over

Heat maps were presented at the press conference showing that the infections were spreading among older age groups

Heat maps were presented at the press conference showing that the infections were spreading among older age groups

‘This could be Boris Johnson’s Suez’: Tory civil war as anti-lockdown ‘redwall’ MPs accuse PM of being ‘bounced’ into shutdown and threaten to vote against move in Commons vote on Wednesday 

Furious anti-lockdown Tory MPs last night accused Boris Johnson of allowing himself to be bounced into an England-wide shutdown after No10 binned its three-tier Covid-19 alert system.  

Conservatives were outraged that plans to plunge the country into a second shutdown were leaked to the Saturday papers, including the Mail, before the Prime Minister’s announcement in Parliament. 

The Prime Minister’s allies have suggested that ministers who are pushing for further shutdowns – Health Secretary Matt Hancock and senior minister Michael Gove – had hoped to secure the new measures by leaking them. 

In a WhatsApp message , Mr Johnson wrote to MPs to apologise to them and assure them that Downing Street had not informed journalists of the measures.     

With MPs expected to vote on the measures on Wednesday, the Prime Minister will have to keep backbenchers, with a significant number of them highly sceptical of restrictions, on side.

But senior Tories are chomping at the bit over the new shutdown which they believe will leave the already-weak UK economy in tatters and potentially tear the Party apart. 

Sir Robert Syms, an ex-Tory whip, suggested that No10 had not properly ‘audited progress’ made by the three-tier system which sees restrictions with varying degrees of severity placed on individual regions.

Desmond Swayne, the Conservative MP for New Forest West, described the move as ‘disastrous’ and accused Cabinet ministers of behaving like ‘headless chickens’.  

Lockdown sceptic Sir Graham Brady, Tory shop steward and chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers, was silent on No10’s announcement after the press conference. 

If Downing Street can persuade Sir Graham and Mr Baker to back the measure, any Tory revolt in the House of Commons next Wednesday is likely to be minimal and easily dealt with.  

Sir Robert tweeted: ‘I am open to more measures [but] we have a regional approach which we have not given time to work. If we need to tweak it, fine, let’s measure what works and discard what does not. At the moment the Government is getting bounced into a change before we have audited progress.’ 

Mr Swayne said: ‘Lockdowns make everyone poorer and poor people even poorer. I fear more people will die sooner than they would have as a consequence of the decision.

‘In a bad flu season 80,000 people die, but we don’t behave like headless chickens.’ 

Sir Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, told the BBC: ‘There has to be another way of doing this. If you want first world public services, you need a first world economy. 

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THREE CRUCIAL DAYS: HOW No10 WAS BOUNCED INTO ANNOUNCING ENGLAND-WIDE SHUTDOWN

Thursday, October 29

  • New Imperial College study 

A Government-led study by Imperial College London is published which states that nearly 100,000 people in the UK are getting infected with Covid-19 every day.

The REACT-1 project – which has been swabbing tens of thousands of people every week – estimated there were around 96,000 people getting infected every day in England by October 25. 

  • ‘We can save Christmas’

Senior SAGE sources say it is ‘not too late to save Christmas’ if a month-long lockdown is introduced.

They are calling for the closure of all pubs and restaurants and venues where households mix indoors.  

  • France and Germany go into lockdown

French President Emmanuel Macron announces a second national lockdown until the end of November.

Mr Macron says that under the new measures, starting on Friday, people would only be allowed to leave home for essential work or medical reasons.

Non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and bars, will close, but schools and factories will remain open. 

He says the country risked being ‘overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first’.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announces a ‘lockdown lite’ which  is less severe but includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres.  

Friday, October 30

  • SAGE papers show that PM was warned about serious situation two weeks before No10 press conference 

Papers are released online from a SAGE meeting which show that advisers warned ministers on October 14 that the UK could be headed for a situation more serious than the scientists’ ‘worst case scenario’.  

They say ‘we are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario’ and the outlook for Covid-19’s future spread was ‘concerning’ if no action was taken.

The SAGE papers warn that modelling suggests up to 74,000 people a day could be becoming infected in England alone, far beyond the worst case scenario. 

  • England lockdown plans leaked to the Mail 

No10’s plans to shut-down England for at least a month are leaked to the Daily Mail.

The Mail learns that SAGE told ministers Covid-19 is spreading ‘significantly’ faster than even their original ‘worst-case scenario’ prediction.   

Downing Street is furious to read details of the lockdown in the first editions of the Saturday newspapers, hours after the decision had been taken by Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock.

It forces Mr Johnson to bring forward the announcement of the measure from Monday to Saturday night, despite many details still being finalised.

The leak means that the shutdown was on the front pages before the rest of the Cabinet had been told. 

Saturday, October 31

  • Probe into Cabinet leak 

PM apologises to Conservative MPs and tells them that he will launch an inquiry to find the ‘culprit’ who leaked details of the new lockdown before his announcement.   

 Mr Johnson sends a message to Conservative MPs on WhatsApp to apologise and warn there are ‘no easy short term options’. ‘Folks – so sorry that you’ve had to hear about all this from the newspapers today,’ he writes in a message seen by the PA news agency.

‘Let me assure you that the leak was not a no10 briefing and indeed we have launched an inquiry to catch the culprit. I had hoped to make the announcement in parliament on Monday but to avoid any further uncertainty I’ll now do a press conference from Downing Street this evening.

‘My team will make sure you have access to all the data and briefing from scientists you need in the coming days. Please speak to your whip if you have anything to feed in. 

‘I assure you we are doing what we believe is best for the country and to ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed in a way that could cost many thousands of lives.

‘There is a clear way out of this, with better medication and rapid testing – and the genuine prospect of a vaccine. Our country will recover well. But I am afraid there are no easy short term options. Best Boris.’

One Tory MP says numerous parliamentarians are angry that newspapers learned of the lockdown before a Commons announcement.  

  • No10 press conference

No10 hastily arranges a press conference for Saturday after the information became public, amid outrage that newspapers should learn of the new measures through leaks or official selective briefings. 

PM holds a crunch Cabinet meeting at 1.30pm to thrash out plans for new England-wide shutdown.

Downing Street announces a press conference at 4pm. This is pushed back to 5pm and 6.30pm.

PM, Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance eventually hold their press conference closer to 7pm. 

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The decision was made to effectively wipe the next month from the calendar – ‘losing November to save December’, in the words of one official.

A Treasury source said: ‘France and Germany make it harder for us. The fear was that by Christmas France and Germany will be out of lockdown and people there will be merrily celebrating Christmas, when we will have to be locked down.’

Sources last night said the Government was effectively ‘bounced’ into the national lockdown through press reports. One with knowledge of the Quad meeting said: ‘The Prime Minister wasn’t wholly over the line – he was reluctant and said we need to think about it more.’

One Government source said: ‘The scientists want to lock us up for ever. Matt Hancock and DH [Department of Health] keep saying, ‘More, more, more lockdowns, the numbers are terrible.’

To show that lessons had been learnt from the first lockdown, schools, universities and nurseries would stay open, allowing parents more freedom to work. And to address the public’s growing exasperation, the lockdown would end on December 2 – in an attempt to ‘save’ the festive period.

The hawks assembled behind the Chancellor, however, are suspicious that the date will be allowed to slip if the death rate is still high at the end of November – and fear that a third lockdown could be imposed in January. 

The Ministers realised that Mr Johnson would face political flak for introducing the measures after weeks of resisting them, having decried Sir Keir Starmer’s call for a two-week lockdown just nine days ago. 

At the time, a Government source called the Labour leader ‘a shameless opportunist playing political games in the middle of a global pandemic. He says he wants a national lockdown but he’s refusing to vote for targeted restrictions in areas that need them most.’

It also represented an abandonment of Mr Johnson’s coveted strategy of region-by-region restrictions: to maintain at least the impression of continuity, it was agreed that on December 2 the regional variations would return – but as an incentive for ‘good behaviour’ the restrictions would be reviewed in the light of the latest infection rates.

After the meeting broke up, Mr Johnson decided to put the plans to the rest of the Cabinet during a phone call yesterday. The meeting was attended by Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser.

Ministers were shown evidence of rising infection rates across the country and SPI-M, the forecasting group that advises the Government, predicted the NHS would surpass its bed capacity by December 4 – even after elective procedures were cancelled – if measures were not taken. 

The Cabinet was also presented with modelling showing the South West could be where the North is in terms of infections by November 27.

The Prime Minister planned to make a statement to Parliament tomorrow setting out the measures and putting it to a debate and vote to appease rebellious Conservatives. 

In the end – thanks to a mysterious leak – most of them found out about them first from Saturday’s newspapers.  

Last night the Prime Minister effectively took the country back to square one as he unveiled a dramatic new national month-long lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’ – ordering the public to stay at home. 

After weeks insisting he is sticking to local restrictions, he completed an humiliating U-turn by announcing blanket coronavirus restrictions for England at a press conference alongside Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance. 

Mr Johnson said the draconian measures – which come into force from midnight Thursday morning until December 2 – were the only way to avert bleak Sage predictions of 85,000 deaths this winter, far above the previous ‘reasonable worst case’, and the NHS being swamped before Christmas. 

He said otherwise doctors would have to choose between saving Covid sufferers and those with other illnesses. ‘No responsible PM can ignore the message of those figures,’ Mr Johnson said. ‘We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature.’

Mr Johnson pointed out that the action was not the same as March as key sectors of the economy are under orders to stay open, but said he was ‘under no illusions’ about how tough it would be.

He declared that the furlough scheme will be extended for the period, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. That could add another £7billion to the Treasury’s spiralling debt mountain. 

Mr Johnson also refused to rule out extending the measures beyond the proposed end date. Asked if the time would be enough, the premier said: ‘I hope so. We have every reason to believe it will be. But we will be driven by the science.’ 

Reviving the Government mantra from the height of lockdown, Mr Johnson urged the public: ‘Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’  

But he tried to send a slightly more optimistic message, saying he hoped that the severity of the squeeze meant families would have a chance of being together at Christmas. ‘I am confidence we will feel very different and better by the spring,’ he added.  

The brutal squeeze – billed as ‘Tier 4’ on the Government’s sliding scale – will see non-essential shops in England shut, as well as bars and restaurants despite the ‘absolutely devastating’ impact on the already crippled hospitality sector. 

Households will be banned from mixing indoors during the period, and people will be told not to leave home and travel abroad unless for unavoidable reasons, such as work that cannot be performed remotely, or to take exercise. 

However, unlike the March lockdown schools and universities will remain open – despite unions warning they are key to the spread. 

When the rules lapse at the beginning of December the Tiers system will be reapplied, raising questions about what metric will be used to judge whether an area can have restrictions loosened.  

West Yorkshire will not enter the highest Tier 3 restrictions on Monday as planned because of the new England lockdown, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said.

The hospitality industry warned it faces disaster and millions of job losses following the news of the crackdown, even though the government has pledged to pump in more money. 

Many Tory backbenchers are in uproar, with some even threatening to vote against the plan in the Commons on Wednesday.

Party whips warned the 2019 intake of Tory MPs from the so-called ‘Red Wall’ of traditionally Labour seats in the North of England, who have led the opposition, that they ‘could kiss their careers goodbye’ if they voted against the Government and ‘should beware of the D-word – deselection’.

Former Tory Cabinet Minister David Davis said that deciding on a second national lockdown was probably even bigger than ‘a decision to go to war’ and it was essential that MPs were given a ‘substantive vote’ on Wednesday, with the chance to amend the motion.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, also expressed concern, saying: ‘The way in which this announcement has come about was deeply unhelpful. It created a media frenzy, concern and speculation. What is important now is that there are no blurred lines or confusion around rules so that my colleagues can effectively police these restrictions.’

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle was also understood to be disappointed that the details were not given first to MPs.

Under the new restrictions, which take effect from a minute past midnight on November 5 and last until December 2:

Meanwhile, MPs were furious at the idea the Government had been ‘bounced’ into announcing the lockdown measures because of the leak. One Tory said: ‘The leak has only helped those who were pushing for a national lockdown. But whoever it is has not won themselves any favours with people on any side of the argument.’

Another said Mr Johnson was ‘under immense pressure from the Right of the party… it will get worse after a Brexit deal – the Right won’t feel they need Boris any more.’

In an attempt to appease MPs, the Prime Minister sent a WhatsApp message to his backbenchers in which he said he was ‘so sorry that you’ve had to hear about all this from the newspapers today’.

Responding to the claims that he was responsible for the leak, an ally of Mr Hancock said: ‘Such claims are not true. The Health Secretary is focused on dealing with a global pandemic and protecting lives, not briefing journalists.’

The rebels, led by Tory MP Steve Baker, yesterday demanded Mr Johnson devise a clear plan to avoid further lockdowns, including improvements to testing and protection of the most vulnerable.

A senior Tory MP added: ‘I don’t understand what we are going to get out of it. If people were not complying with the regional lockdowns, why will they comply with a national one?’

Mr Johnson previously slapped down demands for a ‘circuit-breaker’ – a form of which has already been implemented in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – instead extolling the virtues of his ‘tiered’ system of local measures. 

But he sounded defiant yesterday, dismissing accusations from Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer that his delay had cost lives and saying the policy had been ‘right’ before. ‘It is true the course of the pandemic has changed,’ Mr Johnson said.  

Nicola Sturgeon made clear that she does not intend to shift her policy based on the new arrangements for England. She said: ‘We will base decisions on circumstances here – though what happens just across our border is clearly not irrelevant to our considerations.’ 

 

How do the lockdowns differ across the UK? 

England

From Thursday, pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail will close until December 2 and people will be told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, but schools, colleges and nurseries will remain open.

People will be allowed outside to exercise and socialise in public spaces outside with their household or one other person, but not indoors or in private gardens, and will be able to travel to work if they cannot work from home.

Wales

The whole of Wales is currently under a 17-day ‘firebreak’ lockdown which started on October 23 and will last until November 9.

People can only leave their homes for limited reasons and must work from home where possible. Leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses are closed, along with community centres, libraries and recycling centres. Places of worship are shut other than for funerals or wedding ceremonies.

Scotland

The majority of Scots will be placed into Level 3 of a new five-tier system from Monday, with the rest of the country in either Levels 1 or 2.

The central belt – including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Falkirk – will be joined by Dundee and Ayrshire in Level 3.

Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Fife, the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, Perth and Kinross and Angus will be in Level 2.

Highland, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have been assessed as Level 1.

Levels 1, 2 and 3 are broadly comparable to tier system currently in place in England.

Nicola Sturgeon decided against putting North and South Lanarkshire into Level 4 – equivalent to a full lockdown.

She has told Scots not to travel to England unless it is for ‘essential purposes’.

Northern Ireland

Pubs and restaurants were closed for four weeks starting on October 16 with the exception of takeaways and deliveries. Schools were closed for two weeks.

Retail outlets remain open, along with gyms for individual training.

People have been told they should work from home unless unable to do so, and have been urged not to take unnecessary journeys.

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Surprise! Unions want to shut the schools 

Britain’s biggest teachers’ union was branded a ‘disgrace’ last night after demanding that schools and colleges close during the month-long lockdown.

Boris Johnson announced earlier that schools would remain open during the new lockdown period, but the National Education Union (NEU) said they were ‘an engine for virus transmission’ and a ‘major contributor’ to the spread of Covid-19.

It also urged the Government to allow secondaries to operate a rota model, where students are taught remotely part of the time, when the lockdown ends on December 2.

But leading educationalist Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, said: ‘Closing schools in the first lockdown took an enormous toll on both the learning and mental health of children. Happily, children who catch the virus seem little affected by it so there is every reason to keep schools open.The NEU is showing an excess of caution and is getting the balance very wrong between keeping people safe and protecting young people’s futures.’

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘The children that are affected most by the lockdown are the less privileged. By calling for school closures, the NEU is effectively promoting social division, which is pretty disgraceful.’

The NEU was criticised earlier in the pandemic for resisting attempts to get children back to classrooms before summer holidays.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the union, said yesterday: ‘It is clear from ONS data that schools are an engine for virus transmission. It would be self-defeating for the Government to impose a national lockdown, whilst ignoring the role of schools as a major contributor to the spread of the virus.

‘Such a lockdown would impose pain on the whole community – but not be as effective as it could be if schools were included.’

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Another 326 UK fatalities were declared – nearly double last Saturday’s tally. But infections, which can represent the current situation more accurately, were down five per cent on a week ago at 21,915 in a possible sign that the rise could already be slowing. 

Hawkish Conservative backbenchers are threatening to revolt in Parliament when the measures come to a vote on Wednesday – the first time curbs have come before MPs in advance of being introduced.   

At his press conference, Mr Johnson insisted the new national lockdown is not the same as the ‘full scale lockdown’ of the spring.

‘We will get through this but we must act now to contain this autumn’s surge,’ he said.

‘We’re not going back to the full scale lockdown of March and April, the measures I’ve outlined are less restrictive.

‘But I’m afraid from Thursday the basic message is the same: Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’

Mr Johnson said overrunning of the NHS would be a ‘medical and moral disaster, beyond the raw loss of life’.

He said: ‘Doctors and nurses would be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would get oxygen and who wouldn’t, who would live and who would die.

‘Doctors and nurses would be forced to choose between saving Covid patients and non-Covid patients.

‘The sheer weight of Covid demand would mean depriving tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of non-Covid patients of the care they need.’

He added: ‘The risk is, for the first time in our lives, the NHS will not be there for us.’

In what amounts to a plea for the public and Tory MPs to trust him, Mr Johnson said: ‘We know the cost of these restrictions – the impact on jobs and livelihoods, and people’s mental health. No-one wants to be imposing these measures.’

He thanked people who had been ‘putting up with’ local restrictions.

But he warned: ‘We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature… the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst case scenario of our scientific advisers.

‘Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day – a peak of mortality, alas, bigger than the one we saw in April.’

Mr Johnson said that Christmas is likely to be ‘very different’ this year, but there still might be scope for families to spend it together. 

‘Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different. But it’s my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together,’ he said.

Mr Johnson confirmed that the Westminster government was speaking to the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland about ‘plans for Christmas and beyond’.

Saying education would be protected this time around, Mr Johnson said: ‘We’re not closing schools, it’s very very important that we’re keeping schools open. 

‘We want to keep going. People of course should work from home, and we want to minimise contact. That’s the way to protect the NHS. I’m not gonna pretend to you that these judgments aren’t incredibly difficult. We have to find the right balance.’ 

Prof Whitty said the number of people in NHS beds in England will exceed the peak of the first wave without further measures.

He said there was an increase in prevalence ‘in virtually every part of the country’, apart from possibly the North East where stricter measures are in place, and cases are not constrained to one age group.

Discussing NHS bed use in England, he said: ‘Currently only in the North West is this coming close to the peak that we previously had, but it is increasing in every area.

‘And if we do nothing, the inevitable result is these numbers will go up and they will eventually exceed the peak that we saw in the spring of this year.’

Prof Whitty dodged when pressed on whether he thought the government had acted too late. 

‘There is basically no perfect time and there are no good solutions, all the solutions are bad, and what we’re trying to do is have the fewest – the least bad – set of solutions at a time which you actually achieve the kind of the balance that needs to be struck between all these things that ministers have to make decisions on.

‘In terms of festivities, whether it’s Christmas or any other religious tradition, we would have a much better chance of doing it with these measures than we would if these measures were not being taken today.

‘I think let us see how this goes over the next few weeks.’ 

Earlier, Cabinet was presented with evidence from the SPI-M group that the NHS will exceed its normal and surge bed capacity by the first week in December unless action is taken. Ministers were told that would be the case even if elective operations were postponed or cancelled.

‘A devastating blow for industry’: Business leaders despair at new restrictions and it say ‘will be much harder to survive’ – and plead with government to fix testing to avoid a THIRD lockdown 

Boris Johnson‘s new raft of restrictions have dealt ‘a devastating blow’ to business communities, the head of British Chambers of Commerce has said.

Industry leaders insist it will now be ‘much harder’ for firms to survive, even as the much-trumpeted furlough scheme was extended for another month, and have pleaded with the government to fix testing to avoid a third lockdown.

After weeks insisting he is sticking to local restrictions, the PM completed a humiliating U-turn by announcing blanket coronavirus restrictions for England at a press conference alongside medical and science chiefs Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.

The draconian measures – being billed as ‘Tier Four’ on the government’s sliding scale – come into force from midnight Thursday morning after bleak Sage modelling projected the virus could kill 85,000 this winter, far above the previous ‘reasonable worst case’.

The brutal squeeze will see non-essential shops in England shut until December 2, as well as bars and restaurants despite the ‘absolutely devastating’ impact on the already crippled hospitality sector.  

It emerged earlier this month that the UK economy grew by just 2.1 per cent in August as the recovery from the pandemic’s impact stalled despite Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme – down on the 6.4 per cent expansion recorded in July.

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Cabinet was also warned that the growth is national, and while the prevalence in parts of the North was highest, the R was above the critical level of one everywhere.

The doubling time in the South East is now quicker than in the North West, and the South West could be in the same position as the North West by November 27. 

Under the new restrictions, people will be told they can only leave home for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home. 

But the government is stressing that businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should continue as before.

International travel is set to be out of bounds if not for work purposes, and travel within the UK will be heavily discouraged. 

Restaurants and bars will only be allowed to operate a takeaway service.

There is expected to be more government support for those businesses affected. 

Sir Keir welcomed the national lockdown for England but said it should have happened ‘weeks ago’, warning that the delay will cost lives and cause restrictions to last for longer.

The Labour leader told reporters: ‘Everybody is concerned about the rise in infections, the hospital admissions and tragically the number of deaths. That’s why three weeks ago, I called for circuit-break.

‘The Government completely rejected that only now to announce the self-same thing.

‘Alas the delay now will cost, the lockdown will be longer, it’ll be harder and there’s a human cost which will be very, very real.

‘Now, there’s no denying these measures are necessary and I’m glad that the Government has finally taken the decision that it should have taken weeks ago.’  

British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) director general Adam Marshall said the new restrictions will be ‘a devastating blow to business communities who have done everything in their power to adapt and operate safely”.

Who’s the lockdown leaker? Pro-restriction Matt Hancock is at the centre of leak inquiry after PM had to reveal new rules two days earlier than planned 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was at the centre of an extraordinary Government leak inquiry last night after the Prime Minister was forced to announce the second national lockdown two days earlier than planned.

Downing Street officials were infuriated on Friday evening to read details of the lockdown in the first editions of the Saturday newspapers, just hours after the decision had been taken by the ‘quad’ of Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and Mr Hancock.

As a furious Mr Johnson announced an immediate leak inquiry, multiple Government sources sought to pin the blame on Mr Hancock by accusing him of trying to ‘bump’ the Prime Minister into announcing the lockdown before he could have second thoughts. The Health Secretary strenuously denied the claims. 

It forced Mr Johnson to bring forward the announcement of the measure from Monday to yesterday, despite many details still being finalised.

The leak meant that the shutdown was on the front pages before the rest of the Cabinet had been told about the decision.

Yesterday, Downing Street announced a formal inquiry.

 A senior Government source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There were four people in that meeting, plus trusted officials who never, ever betray confidences. You have to ask who would benefit from getting it all out there before the boss has the chance to row back.’

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Business and market confidence have been hit hard by the unclear, stop-start approach taken by governments across the UK over the past eight months, with little end in sight. Many firms are in a much weaker position now than at the start of the pandemic, making it far more challenging to survive extended closures or demand restrictions,’ he said.

‘The temporary extension of the furlough scheme will bring short-term relief to many firms, and responds to Chambers’ call for business support to be commensurate with the scale of the restrictions imposed.

‘The full financial support package for businesses facing hardship, whether through loss of demand or closure, must immediately be clarified and communicated.

Mr Johnson – who spoke to Sir Keir and Speaker Lindsay Hoyle before the announcement today – is set to make a statement to the Commons on Monday, before the crunch vote on Wednesday. 

The careful choreography of the announcement was torn up after leaks overnight caused a storm, with Downing Street launching a hunt for the mole amid fresh evidence of Cabinet splits. 

Mr Johnson has been thrashing out the changes in meetings with his core ministers leading the Covid response, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock. 

But the plans descended into shambles after the shape of the proposals were leaked. 

‘The data is really bad. We’re seeing coronavirus rising all over the country and hospitals are struggling to cope. There has been a shift in our position,’ a government source told The Times.  

Only yesterday Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the Government’s battle plan of localised lockdowns was the right approach.  

Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon said she would ‘carefully consider the impact of today’s announcement in England’ but stressed ‘we will continue to take decisions that reflect circumstances in Scotland’.

Boris Johnson brings in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround’ tests for Covid for ‘whole cities’ within days 

Boris Johnson will bring in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround tests’ which will see ‘whole cities’ able to tested for Covid within days.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at a Downing Street press conference this evening, as he plunged the nation back into a full lockdown until December 2.

Government scientific advisers have endorsed Mr Johnson’s £100billion Operation Moonshot, which would see 10 million people tested a day regardless of whether they have symptoms, in a paper submitted to Downing St last month. 

Population-wide testing has the ability to slash Covid-19‘s reproduction rate in half, the experts said. 

 

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‘We expect to have further discussion in the coming days about the scope of additional financial support being made available,’ she said.

‘A crucial point for us is whether support on the scale announced for English businesses is available for Scottish businesses now or if we needed to impose further restrictions later — or if it is only available if Scotland has a full lockdown at the same time as a lockdown in England.’

She added: ‘People across Scotland have faced significant restrictions since late September as we work to stop the increase in Covid cases across the country. Prevalence of the virus is currently lower in Scotland than in other parts of the UK and there are some signs that those earlier restrictions may be starting to slow the rate of increase.’

Entertainment groups have warned of a ‘huge void in financial support’ after the Government announced the closure of venues as part of a month-long lockdown.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail will close across England from Thursday, Boris Johnson announced during a briefing.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden subsequently confirmed that TV and film production would be able to continue during the lockdown period.

Mr Dowden said further details of how the lockdown would affect the arts and sports sectors would be announced in the coming days.

Writing on Twitter, he said: ‘As the Prime Minister has just confirmed we will be taking additional restrictions from Thursday. We understand the anxiety & impact these will have, and will ensure they last not a day longer than necessary.

‘The changes mean people should WFH where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.

‘We understand people will have a lot of questions and @DCMS officials & ministers will be working through these and detailed implications with sectors over the coming days.’

The Government is currently distributing a £1.57billion funding package to the arts, as well as further measures.

However, Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said the announcement left the sector facing ‘financial armageddon’.

He said: ‘The announcement from the Prime Minister today will leave night time economy businesses facing a ‘financial armageddon’. It is the most horrific of Halloweens.

‘It’s frightening to think that given the gravity of the situation, we are still being given limited communication, consultation or time to respond, or plan around these decisions.

‘The entire night time economy consisting of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of workers are suffering.

‘Their plight is being made even worse by the huge void in financial support for the sector.

‘Many of our businesses have experienced extreme financial hardship, been presented with unmanageable operational measures and have in some cases been forced into complete closure since March.’

Mark Davyd, chief executive of the Music Venue Trust, called on the Government to offer the live events industry further financial support.

He said: ‘National lockdowns have been announced in France, Germany and the UK.

‘In France, the government has announced it will cover 100 per cent of wages for people impacted by the required lockdown. In Germany, the government will cover 75 per cent of lost turnover.

‘Across the country, grassroots music venues have been told to close from Thursday, but we have no similar commitment from the UK Government.

‘We look forward to urgent details from ministers on the financial package that will protect businesses and livelihoods in this vital, world leading British industry.’ 

Percentage change in coronavirus cases across England in the week to October 25: The five local authorities where the infection rate grew the most are: Kingston upon Hull City, 92.81 per cent; Derby, 91.84 per cent; North Somerset, 82.99 per cent; Medway, 77.17 per cent; and Bath and North East Somerset 69.72 per cent

 Percentage change in coronavirus cases across England in the week to October 25: The five local authorities where the infection rate grew the most are: Kingston upon Hull City, 92.81 per cent; Derby, 91.84 per cent; North Somerset, 82.99 per cent; Medway, 77.17 per cent; and Bath and North East Somerset 69.72 per cent

Michael Gove

Matt Hancock

The Prime Minister’s allies have suggested that ministers who are pushing for further shutdowns – Health Secretary Matt Hancock and senior minister Michael Gove – had hoped to secure the new measures by leaking them

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago

Separate data from King's College London predicted England has around 32,000 cases per day and claimed infections are rising 'steadily' and 'have not spiralled out of control'

Separate data from King’s College London predicted England has around 32,000 cases per day and claimed infections are rising ‘steadily’ and ‘have not spiralled out of control’

  

 

 

 

What you CAN and CAN’T do under new lockdown: Pubs, shops, restaurants, hairdressers and leisure centres will close – but construction sites stay OPEN

By Harry Howard for MailOnline 

A new national lockdown across England means people must stay at home unless for specific reasons, such as attending school or college, or going to the supermarket.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new measures at a Downing Street press conference on Saturday. 

He said the measures were necessary to avert bleak predictions of 85,000 deaths this winter. 

Below, MailOnline outlines the key details of the new restrictions, which will see pubs, bars and restaurants forced to close once again. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new lockdown measures at a Downing Street press conference on Saturday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new lockdown measures at a Downing Street press conference on Saturday

When do the new rules come into force?

The new national lockdown will run from Thursday November 5 until Wednesday December 2.

The lockdown will then be eased on a regional basis according to the latest coronavirus case data at that time.

Can I leave my home?

Yes but only for specific reasons such as education, work if you cannot work from home and for exercise, which you can take as many times a day as you wish.

Construction sites or manufacturing facilities are examples of workplaces which employees will still need to go to.  

People can also leave home for recreation with their own household, or on their own with one person from another household (a ‘one plus one’ rule).

Construction sites or manufacturing facilities are examples of workplaces which employees will still need to go to but in general, people are being advised to work from home

Construction sites or manufacturing facilities are examples of workplaces which employees will still need to go to but in general, people are being advised to work from home

Examples of recreation include meeting up with a friend in the park for a walk or to sit on a bench and eat a sandwich.   

People will not be allowed to meet in homes and gardens, and golf clubs will remain shut.

People can also leave home to shop for food and essentials and to provide care for vulnerable people or as a volunteer.

Attending medical appointments is also allowed or to escape injury or harm (such as for people suffering domestic abuse).

Support bubbles will remain in place and people can still meet up in their bubble.

Children can move between the homes of their parents if their parents are separated.

What will close?

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed.

Click and collect can continue and essential shops such as supermarkets will remain open.

Bars, pubs and restaurants must stay closed except for delivery or take-away services.

Hairdressers and beauty salons will close.

Bars, pubs and restaurants must stay closed except for delivery or take-away services

Bars, pubs and restaurants must stay closed except for delivery or take-away services

Leisure facilities such as gyms and entertainment venues will all be closed

Hairdressers and beauty salons will also close, as they did during the first lockdown which began in March

Hairdressers and beauty salons will also close, as they did during the first lockdown which began in March

What if I shielded last time?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people over 60 and those who are clinically vulnerable are being told to be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise their contact with others.

Anyone who was formally notified that they should shield last time and not go out to work will be advised not to go out to work this time.

However, formal shielding as happened during the March and April lockdown – where people were told not to leave home for any reason – will not be brought in.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people over 60 and those who are clinically vulnerable are being told to be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise their contact with others

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people over 60 and those who are clinically vulnerable are being told to be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise their contact with others 

Should my children go to school or to the childminder? Can they go to a playground?

Yes, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open.

Childminders and nurseries will stay open and childcare bubbles, where for example a grandparent provides childcare while a parent works, will be able to continue.

After-school clubs and sports clubs will be suspended until December 2.

Playgrounds and parks will remain open.

Schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Childminders and nurseries will stay open and childcare bubbles, where for example a grandparent provides childcare while a parent works, will be able to continue. 

Can I go on holiday?

No, you are advised not to travel unless for essential reasons. People can travel for work.

Those who are already on holiday will be able to return to the UK and airports and train stations will remain open. 

What if I’m already abroad?

Travellers are not required to return from their trips early.

Airlines are responsible under consumer law to bring travellers home, but flight schedules will be slashed in response to the drop in demand, meaning many people will be forced to change their travel dates.

You are advised not to travel unless for essential reasons. People can travel for work

You are advised not to travel unless for essential reasons. People can travel for work

Those who are already on holiday will be able to return to the UK and airports and train stations will remain open

Those who are already on holiday will be able to return to the UK and airports and train stations will remain open

I thought we could go to the Canary Islands?

It is less than two weeks since the Government removed the quarantine requirement for people returning from the Spanish islands.

This led to airlines putting on extra flights to cope with the surge in bookings.

Will travel corridors continue?

The Prime Minister did not mention travel corridors in his Saturday night press conference, meaning people arriving from some areas are likely to continue being exempt from quarantine.

But the lockdown means the number of travellers will be diminished anyway.

Will I get my money back if I’ve booked a holiday I can no longer go on?

If your flight is still going ahead and nothing has changed in your destination, you are not automatically entitled to a refund.

But many aircraft are likely to be grounded from Thursday due to the new restrictions, meaning people with existing bookings will be due a refund.

If I am entitled to a refund, how quickly will I get my cash?

UK consumers are protected under European laws which state that they should receive full cash refunds within seven days for cancelled flights and 14 days for package holidays that do not take place.

But since the coronavirus outbreak many people have faced difficulties obtaining payouts from airlines and holiday firms.

That situation is likely to continue over the coming weeks.

Is there a furlough scheme?

Yes, furlough will be payable at 80 per cent for the duration of the package of tougher national measures. 

The support will be available across the UK.

Business premises forced to close in England will also receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under a Local Restrictions Support Grant.

A further £1.1 billion will be given to local authorities – distributed on the basis of £20 per head – for one-off payments to support businesses.

Is there support for mortgages? 

Yes. Homeowners will be able to take the option of mortgage payment holidays, which had been due to end on Saturday but have been extended.

Home sales are expected to be allowed to continue.  

Can I go to church?

Churches will remain open for private prayer.

Funerals are limited to close family members only. It is currently unclear what the rules are for weddings.

Churches will remain open for private prayer. Funerals are limited to close family members only. It is currently unclear what the rules are for weddings. Pictured: St Bartholomew The Great church in Smithfield, London

Churches will remain open for private prayer. Funerals are limited to close family members only. It is currently unclear what the rules are for weddings. Pictured: St Bartholomew The Great church in Smithfield, London

Will Premier League football matches continue?

Yes. Boris Johnson said games would continue despite the restrictions.

What if I live in an area with lower cases?

You must still observe the rules because they apply across England. 

Professor Chris Whitty said that many of the areas with lower case numbers have the highest rates of increaseHe also warned: ‘Some areas including the South West are likely to get pressure on beds really relatively early because of the way the NHS is constructed in those areas.’

‘This could be Boris Johnson’s Suez’: Tory civil war as anti-lockdown ‘redwall’ MPs accuse PM of being ‘bounced’ into shutdown and threaten to vote against move in Commons vote on Wednesday

By Jack Wright for MailOnline 

Furious anti-lockdown Tory MPs last night accused Boris Johnson of allowing himself to be bounced into an England-wide shutdown after No10 binned its three-tier Covid-19 alert system.  

Conservatives were outraged that plans to plunge the country into a second shutdown were leaked to the Saturday papers, including the Mail, before the Prime Minister’s announcement in Parliament. 

The Prime Minister’s allies have suggested that ministers who are pushing for further shutdowns – Health Secretary Matt Hancock and senior minister Michael Gove – had hoped to secure the new measures by leaking them. 

In a WhatsApp message seen by the PA news agency, Mr Johnson wrote to MPs to apologise to them and assure them that Downing Street had not informed journalists of the measures.     

With MPs expected to vote on the measures on Wednesday, the Prime Minister will have to keep backbenchers, with a significant number of them highly sceptical of restrictions, on side.

But senior Tories are chomping at the bit over the new shutdown which they believe will leave the already-weak UK economy in tatters and potentially tear the Party apart. 

Sir Robert Syms, an ex-Tory whip, suggested that No10 had not properly ‘audited progress’ made by the three-tier system which sees restrictions with varying degrees of severity placed on individual regions.

Desmond Swayne, the Conservative MP for New Forest West, described the move as ‘disastrous’ and accused Cabinet ministers of behaving like ‘headless chickens’. 

Meanwhile, Tory MPs told Matt Chorley of Times Radio that the Prime Minister is on ‘borrowed time’ and ‘totally inept’, while another reportedly said: ‘I think it could be his Suez.’  

It comes as Mr Johnson last night announced that England will be plunged into a second national shutdown, due to take effect from midnight on Thursday until December 2. 

People must stay at home unless for specific reasons, such as attending school or college, or going to the supermarket, while hospitality venues and non-essential shops will be shut. 

Childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will remain open, with the Prime Minister telling the press conference: ‘We cannot let this virus damage our children’s futures even more than it has already’ 

As England braces for a second national lockdown:

  • Keir Starmer called for an immediate national lockdown as he said delaying until Thursday would cost lives;
  • Stunned hospital chiefs warned that new Covid-19 restrictions would spell doom for dying industry; 
  • The UK recorded 326 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 and 21,915 lab-confirmed cases; 
  • The National Education Union called for schools and colleges to be shut as part of the lockdown; 
  • Health Minister said Government could only have predicted need for a second lockdown with ‘crystal ball’;
  • SAGE adviser warned Covid-19 is ‘running riot’ across all age groups and hospitals are at risk of being overrun;
  • Number of virus patients in hospital has doubled in the past fortnight, with 10,708 patients being treated;
  • ONS said 50,000 people were being infected with Covid-19 each day, with 274 deaths reported yesterday;
  • A poll by anti-lockdown group Recovery found that more than 70 per cent of people were more worried about the effect of lockdown than they were of catching Covid. 
Furious anti-lockdown Tory MPs last night accused Boris Johnson of allowing himself to be bounced into an England-wide shutdown after No10 binned its three-tier Covid-19 alert system

Furious anti-lockdown Tory MPs last night accused Boris Johnson of allowing himself to be bounced into an England-wide shutdown after No10 binned its three-tier Covid-19 alert system

Lockdown sceptic Sir Graham Brady, Tory shop steward and chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers, was silent on No10's announcement after the press conference. If Downing Street can persuade Sir Graham and Mr Baker to back the measure, any Tory revolt in the House of Commons next Wednesday is likely to be minimal and easily dealt with

Lockdown sceptic Sir Graham Brady, Tory shop steward and chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers, was silent on No10’s announcement after the press conference. If Downing Street can persuade Sir Graham and Mr Baker to back the measure, any Tory revolt in the House of Commons next Wednesday is likely to be minimal and easily dealt with

England's chief public health officials unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE's 'worst cases scenario'. At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson's decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College. They show the number of deaths peaking at 4,000 deaths a day without intervention, their reasonable worst case scenario for the winter had predicted a maximum of around 800 deaths a day

England’s chief public health officials unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE’s ‘worst cases scenario’. At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson’s decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College. They show the number of deaths peaking at 4,000 deaths a day without intervention, their reasonable worst case scenario for the winter had predicted a maximum of around 800 deaths a day 

One said: ‘Is this a deliberate destruction of the Tory Party? People only vote for us because they think we don’t care, but are competent. Lose the competence and we’re f****d. We’ve lost the competence. And we are f****d.’ 

However, senior ministers and MPs who have rejected calls for a second lockdown appear to have become persuaded by data showing that the NHS would be overwhelmed next month minus action. 

THREE CRUCIAL DAYS: HOW No10 WAS BOUNCED INTO ANNOUNCING ENGLAND-WIDE SHUTDOWN

Thursday, October 29

  • New Imperial College study 

A Government-led study by Imperial College London is published which states that nearly 100,000 people in the UK are getting infected with Covid-19 every day.

The REACT-1 project – which has been swabbing tens of thousands of people every week – estimated there were around 96,000 people getting infected every day in England by October 25. 

  • ‘We can save Christmas’

Senior SAGE sources say it is ‘not too late to save Christmas’ if a month-long lockdown is introduced.

They are calling for the closure of all pubs and restaurants and venues where households mix indoors.  

  • France and Germany go into lockdown

French President Emmanuel Macron announces a second national lockdown until the end of November.

Mr Macron says that under the new measures, starting on Friday, people would only be allowed to leave home for essential work or medical reasons.

Non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and bars, will close, but schools and factories will remain open. 

He says the country risked being ‘overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first’.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announces a ‘lockdown lite’ which  is less severe but includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres.  

Friday, October 30

  • SAGE papers show that PM was warned about serious situation two weeks before No10 press conference 

Papers are released online from a SAGE meeting which show that advisers warned ministers on October 14 that the UK could be headed for a situation more serious than the scientists’ ‘worst case scenario’.  

They say ‘we are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario’ and the outlook for Covid-19’s future spread was ‘concerning’ if no action was taken.

The SAGE papers warn that modelling suggests up to 74,000 people a day could be becoming infected in England alone, far beyond the worst case scenario. 

  • England lockdown plans leaked to the Mail 

No10’s plans to shut-down England for at least a month are leaked to the Daily Mail.

The Mail learns that SAGE told ministers Covid-19 is spreading ‘significantly’ faster than even their original ‘worst-case scenario’ prediction.   

Downing Street is furious to read details of the lockdown in the first editions of the Saturday newspapers, hours after the decision had been taken by Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock.

It forces Mr Johnson to bring forward the announcement of the measure from Monday to Saturday night, despite many details still being finalised.

The leak means that the shutdown was on the front pages before the rest of the Cabinet had been told. 

Saturday, October 31

  • Probe into Cabinet leak 

PM apologises to Conservative MPs and tells them that he will launch an inquiry to find the ‘culprit’ who leaked details of the new lockdown before his announcement.   

 Mr Johnson sends a message to Conservative MPs on WhatsApp to apologise and warn there are ‘no easy short term options’. ‘Folks – so sorry that you’ve had to hear about all this from the newspapers today,’ he writes in a message seen by the PA news agency.

‘Let me assure you that the leak was not a no10 briefing and indeed we have launched an inquiry to catch the culprit. I had hoped to make the announcement in parliament on Monday but to avoid any further uncertainty I’ll now do a press conference from Downing Street this evening.

‘My team will make sure you have access to all the data and briefing from scientists you need in the coming days. Please speak to your whip if you have anything to feed in. 

‘I assure you we are doing what we believe is best for the country and to ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed in a way that could cost many thousands of lives.

‘There is a clear way out of this, with better medication and rapid testing – and the genuine prospect of a vaccine. Our country will recover well. But I am afraid there are no easy short term options. Best Boris.’

One Tory MP says numerous parliamentarians are angry that newspapers learned of the lockdown before a Commons announcement.  

  • No10 press conference

No10 hastily arranges a press conference for Saturday after the information became public, amid outrage that newspapers should learn of the new measures through leaks or official selective briefings. 

PM holds a crunch Cabinet meeting at 1.30pm to thrash out plans for new England-wide shutdown.

Downing Street announces a press conference at 4pm. This is pushed back to 5pm and 6.30pm.

PM, Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance eventually hold their press conference closer to 7pm. 

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It is thought they include Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who confirmed that the Treasury is extending furlough payments of 80 per cent of salaries for the month, and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

And rebel ringleader Steve Baker told Sky News: ‘I would encourage all members of the public, and all members of Parliament, to listen extremely carefully to what the Prime Minister says today and over the coming days.’   

Lockdown sceptic Sir Graham Brady, Tory shop steward and chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers, was silent on No10’s announcement after the press conference. 

If Downing Street can persuade Sir Graham and Mr Baker to back the measure, any Tory revolt in the House of Commons next Wednesday is likely to be minimal and easily dealt with.  

Sir Robert tweeted: ‘I am open to more measures [but] we have a regional approach which we have not given time to work. If we need to tweak it, fine, let’s measure what works and discard what does not. At the moment the Government is getting bounced into a change before we have audited progress.’ 

Mr Swayne said: ‘Lockdowns make everyone poorer and poor people even poorer. I fear more people will die sooner than they would have as a consequence of the decision.

‘In a bad flu season 80,000 people die, but we don’t behave like headless chickens.’ 

Sir Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, told the BBC: ‘There has to be another way of doing this. If you want first world public services, you need a first world economy. 

‘Come Spring, we won’t have a first world economy anymore. We won’t be able to pay pensions, employ people, raise taxes, fund armies, fund police forces. Our hospitality industry will be finished. This is utterly catastrophic.’

The Prime Minister’s allies have suggested that ministers who are pushing for further shutdowns – Health Secretary Matt Hancock and senior minister Michael Gove – had hoped to secure the new measures by leaking them.    

At the heart of the scientific data supporting Mr Johnson’s decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College. 

They show the number of deaths peaking at 4,000 deaths a day without intervention, their reasonable worst case scenario for the winter had predicted a maximum of around 800 deaths a day.  

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance said that England is currently experiencing ‘around 50,000 new cases a day’. 

Citing Office for National Statistics data, the chief medical officer for England alleged the ‘prevalence of this disease has been going up extremely rapidly over the last few weeks’.

Prof Whitty said that the rate of transmission had been ‘very flat due to the work of everybody in the country over Spring and Summer’ before claiming that NHS England hospitalisations are now rising ‘exponentially’.

He said that the number of people in hospital beds will exceed the peak of the first wave without further measures, adding that there is an increase in prevalence ‘in virtually every part of the country’, apart from possibly the North East where stricter measures are in place, and cases are not constrained to one age group.

The chief medical officer for England said: ‘Currently only in the North West is this coming close to the peak that we previously had, but it is increasing in every area. And if we do nothing, the inevitable result is these numbers will go up and they will eventually exceed the peak that we saw in the spring of this year.’

Sir Patrick, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, then said that if cases keep rising, ‘in terms of deaths over the winter, there’s the potential for this to be twice as bad, or more, compared to the first wave’. 

Most of SAGE’s models peak at around 2,000 deaths from the virus per day during the winter and predict  that hospitalisations are likely to peak in mid-December, with deaths rising until at least late December. 

Meanwhile, a separate paper circulating in Whitehall warns that the NHS would be unable to accept any more patients by Christmas, even if the Nightingale hospitals were used.

This document, which is based on NHS England modelling from October 28, claims that south-west England and the Midlands will be the first to run out of capacity within two weeks. 

Mr Johnson said it would be a ‘medical and moral disaster, beyond the raw loss of life’ if the NHS was overrun, claiming: ‘The sheer weight of Covid demand would mean depriving tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of non-Covid patients of the care they need.’

The Prime Minister described the pandemic as ‘a constant struggle and a balance that any Government has to make between lives and livelihoods, and obviously lives must come first’. 

He added: ‘Yes it is true that the course of the pandemic has changed and it’s also right that the Government should change and modulate its response in accordance, and I make absolutely no apologies for that.’   

Cabinet sources leaked news of the impending month-long shutdown to the Mail last night after the Government’s scientists warned Mr Johnson that Covid-19 cases in the UK are accelerating faster than their worst-case scenario’ of 85,000 coronavirus deaths this winter, with 1,000 deaths a day by December. 

Another 326 UK fatalities were declared today – nearly double last Saturday’s tally. But infections, which can represent the current situation more accurately, were down five per cent on a week ago at 21,915.   

This week papers from a meeting of the SAGE committee showed that scientists warned ministers two weeks ago that Britain could be headed for a more serious situation than their worst projections.

The document, dated October 14, which was released online, claimed ‘we are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario’ before adding that the outlooks for Covid-19’s future spread was ‘concerning’ if no action was taken.    

Sir Robert Syms

Desmond Swayne

Sir Robert Syms (left) suggested that No10 had not properly ‘audited progress’ made by the three-tier system which sees restrictions with varying degrees of severity placed on individual regions. Desmond Swayne (right), the Conservative MP for New Forest West, described the move as ‘disastrous’ and accused Cabinet ministers of behaving like ‘headless chickens’

England's chief public health officials unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE's 'worst cases scenario'. At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson's decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College. They show the number of deaths peaking at 4,000 deaths a day without intervention, their reasonable worst case scenario for the winter had predicted a maximum of around 800 deaths a day

England’s chief public health officials unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE’s ‘worst cases scenario’. At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson’s decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College. They show the number of deaths peaking at 4,000 deaths a day without intervention, their reasonable worst case scenario for the winter had predicted a maximum of around 800 deaths a day 

Another 326 UK fatalities were declared today - nearly double last Saturday's tally. But infections, which can represent the current situation more accurately, were down five per cent on a week ago at 21,915

Another 326 UK fatalities were declared today – nearly double last Saturday’s tally. But infections, which can represent the current situation more accurately, were down five per cent on a week ago at 21,915

Key points in COVID lockdown Mark 2 

  • Restrictions will start at midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2. 
  • People can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home.
  • Non-essential shops will be told to shut, although supermarkets do not need to close off aisles as has happened in Wales.
  • Restaurants and bars will be told to close unless they can operate a takeaway service. 
  • Leisure centres, gyms, sporting venues, hairdressers and beauty parlours will have to close, although professional sport will continue. 
  • Key businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should carry on as before with safety precautions.
  • Places of worship can stay open for private prayer. Funerals are limited to close family only.  
  • The furlough scheme will be extended during the period of the lockdown, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. 
  • Exercise is permitted with no limits on frequency, but organised sports – including outdoor activities such as golf – will not be permitted. 
  • When the lockdown lapses the Tiers system will be reinstated, leaving questions about what metric will be used to decide whether areas can have restrictions eased. 
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According to briefings from advisers, they believe there is still time to save Christmas with a lockdown of at least a month that closes restaurants, pubs and all but essential shops.

The experts believe soaring cases mean the UK could face 1,000 deaths a day within a month and exceed 85,000 coronavirus deaths. The SAGE papers from two weeks ago warned that modelling suggested that up to 74,000 people a day could be becoming infected in England alone, far beyond the worst case scenario. 

There is a lag of around three weeks between infections and deaths. The scientists told ministers that without further restrictions, the death toll will keep rising exponentially, and hospitals will be overwhelmed. 

Separate Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures found daily coronavirus infections in England surged by 50 per cent last week. It estimated that almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago. 

The weekly update is far lower than another Government-funded study, called REACT-1, which claimed there were 96,000 new cases per day by October 25, putting the current outbreak on par with levels seen in the first wave. 

However yesterday, other researchers at King’s College London, predicted England has around 32,000 new symptomatic cases per day and claimed infections are rising ‘steadily’ and ‘have not spiralled out of control’. 

The competing projections have led to confusion over how bad the current rate of coronavirus infections is. Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist behind the King’s study, said the spread of Covid-19 currently appears ‘steady’ and may even be slowing in Scotland. The team estimated that Britain’s cases are doubling once a month. 

The worrying figures from SAGE are behind the Prime Minister’s  decision to announce a new national lockdown after his scientific advisers told him it was the only way to save Christmas..

SAGE – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which is made up of senior scientists and disease experts -presented their analysis to the Government on October 14. 

They warned: ‘In England, we are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario that is based on Covid’s winter planning strategy. 

‘The number of daily deaths is now in line with the levels in the Reasonable Worst Case and is almost certain to exceed this within the next two weeks.’

They added: ‘There is complete consensus in SPI-M-O that the current outlook for the epidemic’s trajectory is concerning, if there are no widespread decisive interventions or behavioural changes in the near term.’  

The SAGE scientists did say that if the number of new infections were to fall in the ‘very near future’ then the reasonable worst case scenario may ‘only continue for three to four weeks.’ 

However, they warned that if the ‘R’ rate were to remain above 1 then the epidemic ‘will further diverge from the planning scenario.’ 

The Government-funded REACT study at Imperial College London predicted that the R rate across all of England had climbed to 1.6 – the highest since the first lockdown.  It added it could be as high as 2.8 in London.  

Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one last night as he unveiled a dramatic new national month-long lockdown to avoid a 'medical and moral disaster' - ordering the public to stay at home

Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one last night as he unveiled a dramatic new national month-long lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’ – ordering the public to stay at home

At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson's decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College

At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson’s decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago

Separate data from King's College London predicted England has around 32,000 cases per day and claimed infections are rising 'steadily' and 'have not spiralled out of control'

Separate data from King’s College London predicted England has around 32,000 cases per day and claimed infections are rising ‘steadily’ and ‘have not spiralled out of control’

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific adviser

Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer

England’s chief public health officials unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE’s ‘worst cases scenario’

When the R rate is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially. An R of 1.8 would mean on average every 10 people infected will infect 28 other people. 

SAGE’s latest official R rate estimates did claim the figure had dropped and estimated it stood between 1.1 and 1.3 both nationally and in London. Either way, there appears to be consensus that the infection rate remains above 1.  

The committee had called for the Government to follow the footsteps of Germany and France by retreating back into a full national shutdown ‘for at least a month’ because they said the three-tiered system was failing.  

It comes as experts claimed the NHS could be overwhelmed ‘within weeks’ without drastic action to tackle the spread of Covid-19, in a repeat of warnings made to lock-down the country in March.  

Ministers fear that hospitals could fill up with rising coronavirus admissions. Without action to stem the tide of cases, it would be ‘impossible’ for the health service to cope in the coming weeks, academics said.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘Doctors and scientists agree that none of the current restrictions have been enough to stop the virus spreading.

‘Without a change, the NHS would have been overwhelmed within weeks and it would have been difficult if not impossible to cope in the winter months with the inevitable increase in caring for people with Covid as well as non-Covid illnesses. There’s absolutely no doubt that many more of us would have seen loved ones die, suffer with long-term Covid symptoms or from other illnesses.

‘The only way to get things back to normal quickly is to get the virus under control as soon as possible.’

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge, added: ‘None of us want this at all. But it now seems there is no choice if we are to avoid letting thousands and thousands more die, and the health service swamped to an extent that even non-Covid patients are seriously affected.’ 

Sir Keir Starmer says new national lockdown should start NOW, not on Thursday as Labour claims vindication on calling for circuit breaker two weeks ago 

By Jack Wright for MailOnline 

Sir Keir Starmer last night called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as the Labour Party claimed vindication for calling for a ‘circuit-breaker’ two weeks ago.

The Labour leader also indicated that his Party will back the Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week.

He welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s plans to plunge the country into a second shutdown, but told reporters that it should have happened ‘weeks ago’. 

Sir Keir had previously called on the Government to impose a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown on the UK for two to three weeks, warning that ‘sacrifices’ would have to be made to suppress the virus.  

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was ‘furious’ that the Government had ‘dithered and delayed’, saying their ‘indecision will have unimaginable consequences’ for ‘lives and livelihoods’. 

And Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey called the Tory Government ‘an utter shambles’, tweeting: ‘Through dither and delay they have cost jobs and lives. PM must ensure people have the support they need through this lockdown – and start work on a UK wide plan for Christmas.’   

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the furlough scheme, which ended today, will be extended for a further month, with the Treasury covering 80 per cent of employees’ wages to prevent further unemployment.

But Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham reacted angrily to this, with the Government having refused to grant the subsidy for the region as they battled over Tier 3 measures. 

Mr Burnham said that ‘when we asked you to do that for the lowest-paid people in the North, you refused’, adding: ‘People here will remember that.’ Liverpool region mayor Steve Rotheram added: ‘Now we know for sure that the Government thinks workers in the North were worth 13 per cent less than those in the South.’

It comes as the Prime Minister last night announced that England will be plunged into a second shutdown, due to take effect from midnight on Thursday until December 2. 

As England braces for a second national lockdown:  

  • The UK recorded 326 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 and 21,915 lab-confirmed cases; 
  • The National Education Union called for schools and colleges to be shut as part of the lockdown; 
  • Health Minister said Government could only have predicted need for a second lockdown with ‘crystal ball’;
  • SAGE adviser warned Covid-19 is ‘running riot’ across all age groups and hospitals are at risk of being overrun;
  • Number of virus patients in hospital has doubled in the past fortnight, with 10,708 patients being treated;
  • ONS said 50,000 people were being infected with Covid-19 each day, with 274 deaths reported yesterday;
  • A poll by anti-lockdown group Recovery found that more than 70 per cent of people were more worried about the effect of lockdown than they were of catching Covid. 
Sir Keir Starmer last night called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as the Labour Party claimed vindication for calling for a 'circuit-breaker' two weeks ago. The Labour leader also indicated that his Party will back the Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week

Sir Keir Starmer last night called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as the Labour Party claimed vindication for calling for a ‘circuit-breaker’ two weeks ago. The Labour leader also indicated that his Party will back the Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was 'furious' that the Government had 'dithered and delayed yet again'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was ‘furious’ that the Government had ‘dithered and delayed yet again’

Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one as he unveiled a new national month-long lockdown to avoid a 'medical and moral disaster' - ordering the public to stay at home until December 2

Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one as he unveiled a new national month-long lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’ – ordering the public to stay at home until December 2

Sir Keir told reporters: ‘Everybody is concerned about the rise in infections, the hospital admissions and tragically the number of deaths. That’s why three weeks ago, I called for circuit-break.

Key points in COVID lockdown Mark 2 

  • Restrictions will start at midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2. 
  • People can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home.
  • Non-essential shops will be told to shut, although supermarkets do not need to close off aisles as has happened in Wales.
  • Restaurants and bars will be told to close unless they can operate a takeaway service. 
  • Leisure centres, gyms, sporting venues, hairdressers and beauty parlours will have to close, although professional sport will continue. 
  • Key businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should carry on as before with safety precautions.
  • Places of worship can stay open for private prayer. Funerals are limited to close family only.  
  • The furlough scheme will be extended during the period of the lockdown, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. 
  • Exercise is permitted with no limits on frequency, but organised sports – including outdoor activities such as golf – will not be permitted. 
  • When the lockdown lapses the Tiers system will be reinstated, leaving questions about what metric will be used to decide whether areas can have restrictions eased. 
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‘The Government completely rejected that only now to announce the self-same thing. Alas the delay now will cost, the lockdown will be longer, it’ll be harder and there’s a human cost which will be very, very real.

‘Now, there’s no denying these measures are necessary and I’m glad that the Government has finally taken the decision that it should have taken weeks ago.’

He indicated Labour will back the Government in a Commons vote on the shutdown, calling the measures ‘necessary’ but warning against further delay.

Asked about the restrictions not coming into force until Thursday, the Labour leader told reporters that they should be brought in ‘swiftly’.  ‘The last thing we need is days before restrictions come in. If they’re necessary, they’re necessary now,’ he added.

Sir Keir added it was unfair to pretend to the public that Christmas ‘will be normal’, telling reporters: ‘This lockdown is going on to at least December 2, everybody’s seen the figures, and, therefore, I don’t think it’s fair to pretend that Christmas is going to be normal in any sense of the word.

I think we need to level with the public on that. 

Responding to the No10 press conference, Mr Khan accused the Prime Minister of choosing to ‘completely ignore the expert, scientific advice’.

‘Acting early and decisively is the best way to control this virus, which is why I and many others urged the Government to listen to SAGE and introduce a short, national, circuit breaker weeks ago when it could have saved lives and done the least damage to our economy,’ the Mayor of London tweeted.  

‘The Government’s delay means that case numbers are now too high for a short, sharp, circuit breaker to be effective. This has left the Prime Minister with no choice but to introduce a longer national lockdown. 

‘It is absolutely imperative that the Government does not repeat its dithering when it comes to the additional economic support that will now clearly be needed.

‘Ministers have a once-in-a-generation responsibility to provide whatever public funding is needed to prop up our economy and support businesses and jobs through this period of much tighter restrictions. The Chancellor needs to stand up urgently and say that he will do whatever it takes for as long as is needed.’

In his statement on the new lockdown measures in England, Mr Khan added: ‘The Prime Minister has done the right thing by extending the furlough scheme which was due to end tomorrow – but he must immediately confirm that it will be at 80 per cent of wages for everyone who needs it.  

‘Government support must also include direct grants and loans for businesses in the sectors likely to be worst affected to be made available now. 

‘I would like to make a direct appeal to all Londoners as your Mayor: Thank you for the enormous sacrifices you have made over the last seven months. You may not agree with or like the Government’s latest restrictions. 

‘However, we must all follow them. Please continue following the restrictions and public health guidance. We must act to protect each other. 

Mr Khan accused the PM of 'completely ignor[ing] the expert, scientific advice'. 'Acting early and decisively is the best way to control this virus, which is why I and many others urged the Government to listen to SAGE and introduce a short, national, circuit breaker weeks ago when it could have saved lives and done the least damage to our economy,' he tweeted

Mr Khan accused the PM of ‘completely ignor[ing] the expert, scientific advice’. ‘Acting early and decisively is the best way to control this virus, which is why I and many others urged the Government to listen to SAGE and introduce a short, national, circuit breaker weeks ago when it could have saved lives and done the least damage to our economy,’ he tweeted

Labour's shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blasted the Government's 'inexcusable' 'lack of clarity on support'

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blasted the Government’s ‘inexcusable’ ‘lack of clarity on support’ 

‘I know it won’t be easy, but history tells us that Londoners always pull together in times of crisis. We must once again make huge collective sacrifices now in order to prevent even greater suffering later. 

‘I will continue to lobby the Government to finally sort out a fully functioning test and trace system and the financial support London needs. I promise you that our city will get through this together.’ 

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blasted the Government’s ‘inexcusable’ ‘lack of clarity on support’.

She tweeted: ‘Dither and delay has damaged public health. After the PM’s speech, many will be wondering how they’ll cope – from the self-employed to those on short contracts, and seeking work.’ 

Boris Johnson brings in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround’ tests for Covid for ‘whole cities’ within days 

Boris Johnson will bring in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround tests’ which will see ‘whole cities’ able to tested for Covid within days.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at a Downing Street press conference this evening, as he plunged the nation back into a full lockdown until December 2.

Government scientific advisers have endorsed Mr Johnson’s £100billion Operation Moonshot, which would see 10 million people tested a day regardless of whether they have symptoms, in a paper submitted to Downing St last month.

Population-wide testing has the ability to slash Covid-19’s reproduction rate in half, the experts said.

Britain’s overall R rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is estimated to be as high as 1.5, which has sparked the PM into launching fresh action. 

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Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband slammed the Prime Minister’s ‘terrible misjudgement’ for having ‘delayed necessary for so long’. 

He tweeted: ‘Vital now that businesses and workers are properly supported, yet total silence from government on support for the self-employed and grants for most businesses significantly less than in first lockdown.’ 

Meanwhile, the leader of Bradford Council said the announcement of new coronavirus measures is ‘confusing’ for West Yorkshire residents who had been preparing for Tier 3 restrictions on Monday.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said she had been assured there would not be a national lockdown during discussions with the Government last week about West Yorkshire entering the very high level of measures.

Following the announcement of new national measures by the Prime Minister today, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said the area would no longer enter Tier 3 on Monday as planned.

Ms Hinchcliffe said: ‘I asked the Secretary of State twice last week whether the country was going into national lockdown and was told firmly no.

‘This latest Government announcement, coming only two days after the announcement that Bradford and West Yorkshire was to enter Tier 3 very high restrictions, will understandably therefore be confusing for residents and businesses alike.

‘All the Tier 3 regulations we briefed residents and businesses on on Friday are now irrelevant and we must wait for fresh information from Government on Monday.

‘Just a couple of days ago Government were impressing upon us, as leaders in West Yorkshire, that the health emergency was very urgent.

‘The new Tier 3 restrictions were therefore due to start Monday. Now we hear it’s going to be national restrictions from Thursday.

‘If it was urgent on Thursday, it’s certainly urgent today and I would therefore make a plea to all residents and businesses to be extra careful from now on, don’t wait until Thursday to exercise extra caution.’

‘A devastating blow for industry’: Business leaders despair at new restrictions and it say ‘will be much harder to survive’ – and plead with government to fix testing to avoid a THIRD lockdown 

Boris Johnson‘s new raft of restrictions have dealt ‘a devastating blow’ to business communities, the head of British Chambers of Commerce has said.

Industry leaders insist it will now be ‘much harder’ for firms to survive, even as the much-trumpeted furlough scheme was extended for another month, and have pleaded with the government to fix testing to avoid a third lockdown.

After weeks insisting he is sticking to local restrictions, the PM completed a humiliating U-turn by announcing blanket coronavirus restrictions for England at a press conference alongside medical and science chiefs Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.

The draconian measures – being billed as ‘Tier Four’ on the government’s sliding scale – come into force from midnight Thursday morning after bleak Sage modelling projected the virus could kill 85,000 this winter, far above the previous ‘reasonable worst case’.

The brutal squeeze will see non-essential shops in England shut until December 2, as well as bars and restaurants despite the ‘absolutely devastating’ impact on the already crippled hospitality sector.  

It emerged earlier this month that the UK economy grew by just 2.1 per cent in August as the recovery from the pandemic’s impact stalled despite Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme – down on the 6.4 per cent expansion recorded in July.

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On Thursday, it was announced the two million residents in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Wakefield and Kirklees would be subject to Tier 3 restrictions from Monday, after local authorities agreed a financial support package from the Government worth an additional £59.3million.

Ms Hinchcliffe urged residents to stay at home if they could, wash their hands and wear face coverings indoors ahead of the introduction of new measures next week. She added: ‘The infection rate is extremely high and our hospitals are getting an increasing number of admissions.

‘We are determined to work with our West Yorkshire partners to make sure we get the right support for our area so that we limit the damage these restrictions will cause for businesses and communities.’ 

The Prime Minister effectively took the country back to square one as he unveiled the new national lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’.

After weeks insisting he is sticking to local restrictions, he completed a humiliating U-turn by announcing blanket restrictions for England at a press conference alongside Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.

Mr Johnson said the draconian measures – which come into force from midnight Thursday morning until December 2 – were the only way to avert bleak Sage predictions of 85,000 deaths this winter, far above the previous ‘reasonable worst case’. He said otherwise doctors would have to choose between saving Covid sufferers and those with other illnesses. 

The Prime Minister pointed out that the action was not the same as March as key sectors of the economy are under orders to stay open, but said he was ‘under no illusions’ about how tough it would be.

He declared that the furlough scheme will be extended for the period, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. He also refused to rule out extending the measures beyond the proposed end date. Asked if the time would be enough, the premier said: ‘I hope so. We have every reason to believe it will be.’    

Announcing the extension of furlough payments for the month of shutdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘Over the past eight months of this crisis we have helped millions of people to continue to provide for their families. But now – along with many other countries around the world – we face a tough winter ahead.

‘I have always said that we will do whatever it takes as the situation evolves. Now, as restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses. 

‘These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.  

North of the border, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told Scots not to travel to England unless it is for ‘essential purposes’ as Mr Johnson announced a second national lockdown.

Miss Sturgeon said she and the Scottish Government will seek clarity over the furlough extension announced by Mr Johnson, adding such support would make an impact on decisions previously taken north of the border.

However, she said the devolved administration ‘will take considered decisions based on what is right for Scotland’.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured here in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, has urged Scots not to travel to England as it was announced England would go into a four-week lockdown next week until December 2

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured here in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, has urged Scots not to travel to England as it was announced England would go into a four-week lockdown next week until December 2

Travel firms warn of ‘complete shutdown’ across industry when England reenters shutdown

Travel firms have warned of a ‘complete shutdown’ across the industry when England goes back into lockdown next week.

Travel and overnight stays in the UK and abroad will be restricted when the ‘stay home’ instruction comes into effect nationwide again from Thursday.

According to Government guidance issued on Saturday night: ‘This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.’

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said the rules ‘will mean a complete shutdown for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic’, but added ‘public health must come first’.

Budget airline easyJet has called for ‘urgent’ support for the sector, similar to that which has been provided to hospitality.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘Given the steps the Government has taken, which essentially prevents air travel in the UK, our call for sector specific support has never been more urgent.

‘The Government has recognised the need to directly support the hospitality sector, where decisions have directly affected its ability to trade.

‘The same principle needs to be applied to aviation. The Government’s own statistics show that activity in aviation is already 90% down on pre-pandemic levels, yet to date the Government has still failed to provide any sector specific support.’

The sentiments were echoed by Airlines UK, which said: ‘Aviation has been devastated by the pandemic, and has essentially never had the opportunity to recover.’

The trade body has called for ‘a comprehensive restart package’ for the industry.

It said in a statement: ‘This needs to include immediate additional economic support for the winter and steps to support recovery, including urgent rollout of a testing regime, business rates relief for airports, and an emergency waiver of Air Passenger Duty that will be essential for enabling and stimulating international travel – absolutely vital for the UK economy – for as long as we are living with this virus.

‘Hundreds of thousands of jobs and our economic recovery are on the line.’ 

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Miss Sturgeon said the prevalence of the virus is lower in Scotland than in other parts of the UK, after stricter measures were introduced north of the border in September.

Those saw Scots barred from going into other people’s homes, and the Scottish Government also acted to close bars and restaurants across the central belt in early October.

In Scotland, a new five-tier levels of restriction will come into effect on Monday – with Levels 1, 2 and 3 broadly comparable to the three tiers of restrictions currently in place in England. 

In Level 3 areas – the second highest tier in the new Scottish system and which affects the central belt including Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as Ayrshire and Dundee – people are urged not to go outside of their own local authority area.

In a series of tweets urging Scots to stick to the new rules, Ms Sturgeon also said people are being asked not to travel to or from England.

She said: ‘People should not travel to or from Level 3 areas in Scotland and for now, we are asking people not to travel to or from England at all, except for essential purposes.’

With regards to the furlough extension announced by Johnson, Sturgeon said: ‘We expect to have further discussion in the coming days about the scope of additional financial support being made available.

‘A crucial point for us is whether support on the scale announced for English businesses is available for Scottish businesses now or if we needed to impose further restrictions later – or if it is only available if Scotland has a full lockdown at the same time as a lockdown in England.

‘However, notwithstanding the above, today’s developments should be a reminder to people across Scotland of the need to follow the rules and not to put their own twist on them.

‘It is important we all comply with the rules in our area if we are to successfully suppress the virus, protect the NHS and keep as many businesses and services open.’

In another tweet responding to news the extension until December would be UK-wide, she said: ‘This is good and expected. But a key question – is it only available during the period of English lockdown?

‘Or will it be available in event a devolved gov thinks it necessary to have tougher restrictions at a later stage?’

Scottish Government ministers and SNP MPs have made repeated calls for furlough to be extended since Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in September the scheme would end this month.

Miss Sturgeon has also previously warned the new measures in Scotland represent the best chance of avoiding another national lockdown.

She added: ‘People across Scotland have faced significant restrictions since late September as we work to stop the increase in Covid cases across the country.

‘Prevalence of the virus is currently lower in Scotland than in other parts of the UK and there are some signs that those earlier restrictions may be starting to slow the rate of increase.

‘We will not hesitate to increase the level of protection either locally or nationally if required. Our new levels approach – including a potential Level 4 – enables us to respond quickly and flexibly as required.

‘We are also asking that people do not travel to England, or from England into Scotland unless absolutely essential, just as we are also asking people not to go to Northern Ireland or to Wales.’

Source


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