News, Culture & Society

Coronavirus UK: 26,688 new cases and 191 deaths in daily toll

Britain today recorded 26,688 more Covid-19 cases and 191 deaths as a SAGE adviser warned the second wave of coronavirus could peak at Christmas unless there is a national lockdown now.

Department of Health figures show the number of daily infections has risen by a third in a week, up from the 19,724 cases posted last Wednesday. But they are still a far-cry from the true numbers seen during the peak of the first wave in the spring, when at least 100,000 Britons were catching the illness every day.

Deaths are also rising in line with the nation’s growing outbreak, with today’s figure a 40 per cent rise on the 137 laboratory-confirmed fatalities added to the UK’s official toll exactly a week ago. Health chiefs yesterday posted 241 more victims, in the darkest day of Britain’s Covid-19 crisis since the start of June.

The figures come as Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and member of Number 10’s scientific advisory panel, told MPs that the three-tier lockdown system will only slow down the outbreak and not shrink it.

The ultimate outcome, he said, can only be stabilised ‘high incidence everywhere’ because ‘nobody expects’ the policies to bring the reproduction rate (R) in crisis-hit areas below one. If the R stays at one or above the epidemic will never shrink and Professor Edmunds warned the policy would just lead to constant pressure on hospitals and regular deaths.  

The scientist, who has already called for at least one ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown for the whole UK and repeated his support for one in front of MPs today, claimed the Government is ‘not being as cautious as I would like’. He said England is already at the point where the NHS in the North will be under immense strain in the coming weeks, and warned he doesn’t see a way out of the current situation without ‘deaths in the tens of thousands’.

Official data shows, however, that infection rates are already coming down in many parts of England. A PHE report last week revealed almost a third of local authorities in the country – 41 out of 149 – saw per-person infection rates drop in the week ending October, up from only two that had a downward trend the week before. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, yesterday showed heat maps of the country with ‘more patches of green’ than the week before, indicating a larger number of places have shrinking outbreaks.

But Boris Johnson once again stuck to his ‘tiers’ system today and dismissed the idea of a ‘circuit breaker’— which is backed by Labour and has already been implemented in different forms in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales — saying: ‘It would involve closing schools, it would involve shuttering businesses with all the psychological, emotional damage that lockdown of that kind brings.’ 

LABOUR’S DEPUTY ACCUSED OF CALLING TORY MP ‘SCUM’ IN COMMONS

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner was today accused of calling a Tory MP ‘scum’ after he claimed members of the opposition frontbench view coronavirus as a ‘good crisis’.

The clash between Ms Rayner and Conservative backbencher Chris Clarkson happened during an opposition day debate in the Commons this afternoon as MPs debated funding for areas facing additional coronavirus restrictions. 

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Clarkson suggested senior Labour figures viewed the current outbreak as an opportunity to be exploited.

Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner

Ms Rayner, who was sat on the frontbench, then appeared to heckle Mr Clarkson who asked her: ‘Excuse me, did the honourable lady just call me scum?’

The exchange prompted an intervention from a furious Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing who said she would not accept such comments in the chamber ‘under any circumstances’.

Tory MPs immediately demanded an apology and called on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to reprimand Ms Rayner over the alleged remark.

More than seven million people will be in the top level of Boris Johnson’s three-tier lockdown system by Sunday, with the new socialising bans being imposed on Greater Manchester and parts of Yorkshire. Around 43million people in Britain will be living under tougher restrictions come Sunday.

The move for Manchester was met by furious refusals from the region’s mayor, Andy Burnham, who said it would shatter local businesses and demanded £90million in compensation, refusing to accept the stricter restrictions until Mr Johnson forced them into place in a televised briefing to the nation last night.

The Prime Minister moved to sideline Labour’s Mr Burnham today after their vicious slanging match over Greater Manchester’s lockdown. 

The PM insisted he would honour the £60million package of business support for the region he offered to the Labour mayor, even though it was angrily rejected with Mr Burnham accusing the government of dooming people to ‘poverty’. But Mr Johnson said the money would now be ‘distributed to the boroughs’ instead of going through the mayor’s office.

In a combative PMQs this afternoon, Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of a ‘corrosive and miserly’ approach sparking ‘local battles’. The Labour leader said: ‘Stop bargaining with people’s lives, stop dividing communities and provide the support that’s needed in Manchester.’

Professor Edmunds’s comments come as: 

  • Boris Johnson said boroughs of Greater Manchester will still get £60million in compensation for being moved to Tier Three lockdown, even though the mayor, Andy Burnham, rejected the deal;
  • MPs in Greater Manchester have called for the regional mayor Andy Burnham, a Labour politician, to resign after he did not co-operate with the Government on toughening social distancing restrictions in the area; 
  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has extended the country’s circuit-breaker lockdown by a week to make it last until November 2 instead of October 26; 
  • Death rates among hospital patients with Covid-19 are only around a quarter as high as they were during the first wave of the pandemic, according to studies from the UK and US;
  • Amnesty International has warned the policy of discharging Covid-positive patients into care homes – which is making a comeback in the UK despite being credited for hundreds of deadly outbreaks – is a violation of human rights.
Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, appeared in front of MPs on the Science and Technology Committee today

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night said Greater Manchester will be forced into a Tier Three lockdown from Friday night

Professor John Edmunds (left) told MPs on the Science and Technology Committee today that he would not use the three-tier local lockdown system being used by Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right)

‘WE’VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING’: PUBS ARE BEING SACRIFICED TO SAVE SCHOOLS

Professor Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh, said in the Science and Technology Committee today that it was a ‘reasonable’ decision for the Government to target the hospitality industry in lockdowns.

He said there is evidence that the virus spreads in pubs and restaurants, even if it was weak. Officials have to enforce social distancing somehow, he said, and there wasn’t good enough evidence for them to pick anywhere other than the hospitality industry.

Professor Mark Woolhouse

Professor Mark Woolhouse

Professor Woolhouse told MPs: ‘The problem is that a decision has to be made.

‘We do have to, at the current time, reduce levels of transmission… Something’s got to give. We’re not reducing contacts through schools, which many people would agree with, and the hospitality industry is taking the brunt.

‘I had a meeting with a representative of the Scottish hospitality industry the other day… she said ‘well the evidence isn’t crystal clear’. The evidence we’ve all seen is suggestive that hospitality is making a contribution but, more to the point, it’s almost a race to the bottom.

‘The evidence is stronger for hospitality than it is for many other non-home settings. It’s very strong for homes and household transmission.

‘You’ve got to do something and if it wasn’t hospitality it’d be something else and the evidence for that would be of very similar quality to what we have for hospitality. 

‘So, given that we have to do something, I think it’s a reasonable decision by Government to go that route, although obviously I’m aware as everyone else is of the difficulties that causes the industry.’ 

‘We are already at the point where the health service in much of the North will be under strain in the next few weeks,’ Professor Edmunds said.

‘Even if we stopped things now, cases and hospitalisations would continue to go up for the next 10 days [or] two weeks because they’re already baked into the system. They’ve already been infected but it will take some time to be hospitalised – and the same goes for deaths.

‘I think if you look where we are, there’s no way we come out of this wave now without counting our deaths in the tens of thousands.

‘If we don’t take any additional measures, if we just leave it as it is, then we’ll see peaks in the North West probably within the next four to six weeks and then the rest of the country are weeks behind. 

‘So we’ll see peaks around Christmas and the New Year of very severe numbers of cases throughout the UK. It’s slower and lower in the South West and South East than in the more urban centres…

‘That’s the sort of thing we’re looking at – very large numbers of cases, hundreds of deaths a day. I don’t think it’s going to reach the height of the epidemic in March and April – not quite – but in many parts it may already be quite similar’.

Department of Health data show that the second wave in Britain is continuing to grow, with 21,331 more positive tests announced yesterday, taking the daily average to 18,235.

The deaths of another 241 people were confirmed, a rise of more than two thirds (68.5 per cent) from the same day last week.  

The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 27,900 people are catching the virus every day in England, its highest prediction since they began in May.

All indicators – across positive cases, deaths and hospital admissions, are they highest they have been for at least four months. 

Professor Edmunds said that he fears the three-tier lockdown system – introduced this month by Boris Johnson instead of leaning towards national measures – will not squash the UK’s second surge.

‘I think we are not being as cautious as I would like us to be,’ he said.

‘I think it’s pretty clear cases have been going up quite fast. What worries me a little bit is where the strategy leads to at the moment. 

‘So the targeted strategy, the tiered strategy, if you think it through – where that leads to is a high level of incidence everywhere.

‘Because let’s say that tier three works, and keeps the reproduction number at about one – I don’t think anybody really thinks it’s going to reduce it to less than one, so let’s assume it manages to get the reproduction number to about one. 

SCOTLAND EXTENDS CIRCUIT BREAKER LOCKDOWN BY A WEEK 

Nicola Sturgeon today announced pub and restaurant closures across the central belt of Scotland will be extended by a week to November 2 after the country recorded its highest number of coronavirus deaths since May.

The First Minister imposed the closure of hospitality venues in Covid-19 hotspots as well as a 6pm indoor hospitality curfew in other areas earlier this month.

The rules were originally due to last for two weeks and end on October 26 but Ms Sturgeon said today that the measures will have to be kept in place for longer.

She said extending the shutdown to November 2 would allow for a ‘smooth’ transition to a new tiered system of restrictions, scheduled to come into effect on the same date.

The original introduction of the measures prompted hospitality chiefs to warn of a ‘death sentence’ for hundreds of Scottish venues.

Ms Sturgeon made clear she believed the extension of the measures was necessary after Scotland recorded a further 28 Covid-19 deaths and an additional 1,739 cases – the highest number of fatalities since May 21.

‘That means that in Liverpool and Manchester and the North West now, [it] will keep the incidence at this high level, which is putting hospitals under strain and causing significant numbers of deaths, and we’re going to keep it at that high level now for the foreseeable future. 

‘And then a few weeks later the Midlands goes into tier three so we then keep the Midlands at a high level of incidence for the foreseeable future, and then London is shortly after. 

‘So what means, by logical extension of this, is that we all end up at a high level of incidence where hospitals are really under stretch and we have large numbers of deaths. So that, for me, is the logical conclusion of this strategy that we’re following – I would not follow that strategy.’  

He said that without putting the entire country into the toughest lockdown rules now, the country would be left to face hospitals under strain and large numbers of infections sweeping across the country.

The incidence of the virus – the number of people who are newly catching the virus – would be unlikely to go down during Tier Three lockdowns, he said, but also unlikely to go up.

He repeated his earlier calls for a circuit breaker lockdown which could turn back the clock on the outbreak all over the UK, which could then be followed by tighter rules to stop outbreaks getting out of control again. 

Professor Edmunds explained: ‘If you put the [Tier Three] measures in place the incidence stays roughly the same so the measures are there… to hold the reproduction number, let’s say, at about one.

‘But if you go through a circuit breaker first then that would reduce the incidence for a few weeks and maybe, if you do a very stringent one, maybe you can halve the incidence. So instead of holding the incidence at this high level where hospitals are under strain you hold it at a lower level where they’re not under such strain. That’s one option.

‘Or you move to Tier Three everywhere now and so places that haven’t got to the point where hospitals are under strain, you keep them at that level now to stop them getting there.’ 

Professor Edmunds’s comments come as the Government is introducing sweeping new rules this week as it thrusts millions of people in the North of England into Tier Three.

BORIS SIDELINES ANDY BURNHAM OVER £60M LOCKDOWN BAILOUT 

Andy Burnham

A furious blame game erupted between Boris Johnson and Andy Burnham (pictured) after talks over a Tier Three lockdown bailout failed 

Boris Johnson moved to sideline Andy Burnham today after their vicious slanging match over Greater Manchester’s lockdown.

The PM insisted he would honour the £60million package of business support for the region he offered to the Labour mayor, even though it was angrily rejected with Mr Burnham accusing the government of dooming people to ‘poverty’.

But Mr Johnson said the money would now be ‘distributed to the boroughs’ instead of going through the mayor’s office.

The premier also jibed that he had a ‘great conversation’ with Sheffield City mayor Dan Jarvis, who today agreed a deal for the region to be escalated to Tier Three from Saturday.

South Yorkshire has secured a £41million deal for contact tracing, enforcement and business support, and Mr Jarvis swiped at Mr Burnham by saying he had acted ‘responsibly’ in reaching an agreement.

Alongside a ban on households mixing indoors, pubs and bars will have to shut from midnight on Saturday, as well as betting shops, casinos and soft plays.

However, gyms and leisure centres can stay open – with Liverpool also getting their rules eased after a protest at double standards between regions. Talks with Tees valley and Tyneside have been ‘paused’ because data suggests measures to cut infection rate may be working.

West Yorkshire leaders say they have been told it will not be escalated into Tier Three this week – although government sources insist discussions are still ongoing.

The latest dramatic move means 7.3million people will be under the top level of restrictions by the weekend.

The sum granted to South Yorks is in roughly in line with that handed to Merseyside and Lancashire, adjusting for population size. 

A row over compensation for councils and businesses in areas hit by the tougher restrictions erupted last week when Greater Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham, refused to accept Tier Three in negotiations with the Government after Boris Johnson refused to bow to demands for £90million for the area.

The PM insisted he would honour the £60million package of business support for the region he offered to the Labour mayor, even though it was angrily rejected with Mr Burnham accusing the government of dooming people to ‘poverty’.

But Mr Johnson said the money would now be ‘distributed to the boroughs’ instead of going through the mayor’s office.

The premier also jibed that he had a ‘great conversation’ with Sheffield City mayor Dan Jarvis, who today agreed a deal for the region to be escalated to Tier Three from Saturday.

South Yorkshire has secured a £41million deal for contact tracing, enforcement and business support, and Mr Jarvis swiped at Mr Burnham by saying he had acted ‘responsibly’ in reaching an agreement.

Alongside a ban on households mixing indoors, pubs and bars will have to shut from midnight on Saturday, as well as betting shops, casinos and soft plays.

However, gyms and leisure centres can stay open – with Liverpool also getting their rules eased after a protest at double standards between regions. Talks with Tees valley and Tyneside have been ‘paused’ because data suggests measures to cut infection rate may be working.

West Yorkshire leaders say they have been told it will not be escalated into Tier Three this week – although government sources insist discussions are still ongoing.

The latest dramatic move means 7.3million people will be under the top level of restrictions by the weekend.

The sum granted to South Yorks is in roughly in line with that handed to Merseyside and Lancashire, adjusting for population size.

But talks with Mr Burnham broke down yesterday after he demanded £65million for Greater Manchester, which would have been proportionally far more than accepted by other areas. He originally asked for £90million.

Mr Johnson offered £60million, with government sources claiming the mayor’s ‘pride’ stopped him saying yes.

In an apparent swipe at his Labour colleague today, Mr Jarvis said: ‘We all recognise the gravity of the situation and have taken the responsible route to ensure we save lives and livelihoods, and protect our NHS.’

In a round of interviews this morning, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick dismissed the idea that Mr Burnham learned news of the package during an explosive press conference last night. ‘He didn’t,’ he said, adding: ‘I phoned him and told him.’

Mr Jenrick also complained that the haggling with Mr Burnham had held up crucial action to protect the public.

WHAT ARE THE RULES IN DIFFERENT TIERS OF LOCKDOWN?

TIER ONE 

Tier one restrictions mirror those already in place across England.

These include the rule of six, a 10pm curfew, group sport to be played outdoors only and a maximum of 15 guests at wedding ceremonies.  

TIER TWO 

Tier two restrictions mean people are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting

Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden and public outdoor spaces, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.

Tradespeople – such as plumbers and electricians – can continue to go into a household for work. 

TIER THREE 

Restaurants can open, but only until 10pm. 

Pubs and bars will be ordered to close unless they also operate as a restaurant.

This definition extends to pubs which sell ‘substantial’ meals, which like restaurants will be allowed to stay open but only serve alcohol to people eating a meal.

Locals are advised only to leave their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.

Overnight stays by those from outside of these ‘high risk’ areas are also be banned. Households are not be allowed to to mix either indoors or outdoors.     

Government borrows an eye watering £208bn in just six months of coronavirus crisis 

The crippling impact of coronavirus on the public finances was laid bare today after new figures showed the government borrowed more than £208billion over six months.

Another £36.1billion was borrowed in September – the third-highest month on record and compared to just £7billion a year ago – as tax revenues slumped and the Treasury poured out bailout money.

It means that since April £208.5billion has been added to the UK’s debt pile – nearly four times as much as in the whole of last year. 

National debt hit £2.06trillion at the end of last month, equivalent to 103.5 per cent of the size of the whole economy. The ratio has not been worse since 1960, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The eye-watering figures will raise fresh concerns about a grim reckoning of tax rises and austerity when the government has to borrow the books.

‘We probably in honesty should have acted a few days ago but we hadn’t been able to reach an agreement with the mayor of Greater Manchester,’ he said. 

After more than a week of wrangling, Mr Johnson last night unilaterally shifted Greater Manchester to the highest level of curbs, saying Mr Burnham had rejected an offer of £60million business support, on top of £22million for contact tracing and enforcement.

Whitehall sources said an agreement of £55million was initially reached, but during a final telephone to rubber-stamp the arrangement Mr Burnham blindsided the Prime Minister with a demand for £65million.

The PM tried to compromise on £60million but a government source said: ‘Andy Burnham’s pride got in the way of a deal.’

Another source claimed the mayor had told the PM it was ‘important to him that he got more than Lancashire and Merseyside’, the other two areas already under Tier Three.

Last night six Conservative MPs in the region wrote to Mr Burnham asking to stand aside so other local leaders to broker a new deal with the government.

Chris Clarkson, Mark Logan, Christian Wakeford, James Grundy, Jame Daly and Mary Robinson all put their name to the note telling Mr Burnham he had ‘completely failed’. 

In a combative PMQs this afternoon, Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of a ‘corrosive and miserly’ approach sparking ‘local battles’.

He told the Commons: ‘This is a Prime Minister who can pay £7,000 a day for consultants on track and trace, which isn’t working, can find £43 million for a garden bridge that was never built but he can’t find £5 million for the people of Greater Manchester…

‘On Friday, thousands of people in Greater Manchester – taxi drivers, pub and hospitality workers, people working in betting shops, the self-employed and freelancers will either be out of work or face significant pay cuts, that’s the reality on Friday in Greater Manchester.

‘But their rent and their mortgage won’t be lower, their food and their heating bills won’t be lower, and that could last for months. Why can’t the Prime Minister and the Chancellor understand this? Stop bargaining with people’s lives, stop dividing communities and provide the support that’s needed in Manchester.’

Mr Johnson said he was ‘very proud that this Government has already given Greater Manchester £1.1billion in support for business, £200million in extra un-ringfenced funding, £50million to tackle infections in care homes, £20million for test and trace, another £22million for local response that we announced yesterday’.

‘Yesterday the Mayor of Greater Manchester was offered a further £60 million which he turned down,’ the PM said.

‘So I can tell the House today that that cash will be distributed to the boroughs of Greater Manchester.’ 

Mr Jenrick has written to council leaders in Greater Manchester asking them ‘to come forward directly’ for money.

‘The purpose of that letter is to re state the offer of business support,’ the PM’s spokesman said. ‘And what it states is that the fund of £60m is for the businesses and people of Greater Manchester.’ 

Downing Street said the recipients of the letters ‘reflects the fact that it is the council leaders who will be distributing the money’.  

The Conservative leader of Bolton Council said he had spoken to Mr Jenrick and confirmed the council is willing to look at an individual deal over the Government’s offer.

Councillor David Greenhalgh said: ‘It is clear the amount on the table, which is what has been accepted in Liverpool, Lancashire and now South Yorkshire, and I am not prepared for Bolton businesses to miss out on this extra financial help.

‘This is not the time for posturing and politics. This is about getting the best deal available for Bolton business and those who work in the sectors worst affected.

‘I hope to have further discussions later today with Government officials and ministers, and progress as a matter of priority to enable a scheme to be worked up that targets those most affected.’

Do my partner and I have to prove we live together to go to the pub? Can the landlord call the police if I refuse? Is my gym still open? Your questions answered as 7.3million Britons are put under Tier 3 lockdown

Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire are both set to join Lancashire and Liverpool in the ‘very high’ alert coronavirus category, also known as tier three.

Some 7.3million people will be under the highest lockdown level after Manchester joins at 0.01am on Friday and South Yorkshire follows at 0.01am on Saturday.

These include 1.6million people in Liverpool, 2.8million in Greater Manchester, 1.5million in Lancashire and 1.4million in South Yorkshire.

Since October 12, England has been operating under a three-tier system of local restrictions – these being tier one ‘medium’, tier two ‘high’ and tier three ‘very high’.

In tier three areas, social mixing is banned both indoors and in private gardens, while pubs and bars must close unless they can operate as a restaurant.

The rule of six applies in some outdoor settings such as parks, public gardens and sports courts. Local leaders help the Government decide whether other venues should be closed, such as gyms – with the rules varying between areas so far. 

Up to 15 guests are allowed at weddings and 30 people can attend funerals, with 15 allowed at wakes, but wedding receptions are not permitted.

Here, MailOnline looks at what life is like for those living under tier three areas:  

Can I meet my friends indoors?

No. You cannot meet people from other households indoors in any setting, including in private homes and in pubs and restaurants. The exception is if they are in your support bubble – where a household with one adult joins with another household.

Can I sit with my friends in my garden?

No. You cannot mix with other households even outside in a private garden.

Can I meet my family in the park?

Yes. You can still see friends and family from other households in a public outdoor setting such as parks, beaches, countryside, forests, allotments, playgrounds and public gardens, whether or not you pay to enter them. The maximum number of your group must be six.

Do children count in the ‘rule of six’ outdoors?

Yes. This limit of six for meeting people outdoors includes children of any age.

Can I still visit the pub?

Yes, with restrictions. You are only allowed to visit a pub or bar with someone from your household if they are serving ‘substantial meals’, which the Government defines as ‘like a main lunchtime or evening meal’. Restaurants can continue to operate.

Can I visit the pub with my friends? 

No. You cannot meet with anyone from outside your household in a pub or restaurant. There is no exception for outdoor seating areas, such as pub gardens.

Can I still have a pint at the pub by myself or with other members of my household?

Yes, with restrictions. Pubs can only still open ‘where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals’, and alcohol can only be served as part of such a meal. So you cannot just go to the pub for a pint by itself.  

Will I have to show ID to prove I’m in the same household?

No, not anymore. Scotland Yard today pulled a sudden U-turn after urging pubs and restaurants to snoop on customers to ensure they stick to lockdown rules.

The Metropolitan Police faced a backlash and even the threat of legal action from hospitality industry chiefs after sending letters asking struggling traders in London to ask for the names, addresses and photo IDs of their customers.

Officers suggested the measures so that customers prove they are not illegally mixing households. But now Scotland Yard bosses say they have withdraw the letter because ‘it does not reflect the force’s policy’. 

No similar letters are believed to have been issued in other force areas in England. 

Can a pub landlord tell police if I’m caught in a pub with another household?

Yes. This happened in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, on Sunday after Wetherspoons staff reported a group of 12 amateur footballers to police for gathering at the pub in breach of tier two Covid rules. 

They claimed they were from the same household, according to officers. The group was fined £200 each, which will be halved if it is paid within a fortnight.

Can I have a working lunch with my colleagues at the pub? 

Yes, technically, although this is still unclear. Restaurant owners have demanded clarity over whether people can go for working lunches in tier two and three areas.

Downing Street admitted there is a loophole which allows people from different households to meet in restaurants if they are holding a work meeting.

However, it said this exemption was meant for freelancers who do not have an office of their own. The guidance for those who do have office space is that they should not have business lunches in pubs and restaurants. But this is not enshrined in law. 

In tier two areas, working lunches for up to 30 people will still be allowed despite Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick claiming that the loophole ‘is being closed’.

He caused confusion this morning by claiming that working lunches would have to take place outside and that indoor meetings were a ‘loophole that is being closed’.

However, Government sources were quick to say Mr Jenrick ‘misspoke’ in making those claims – but asked people to only use the loophole if absolutely necessary.

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘There is a specific exemption which says that people from different households can gather in indoor settings that are open for work purposes.’ 

Does the 10pm curfew on pubs still apply?

Yes. Businesses selling food or drink on their premises must shut from 10pm to 5am.

Can I still get a takeaway after 10pm?

Yes. Businesses selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm but only through a delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.

Can I still go to the gym? 

Yes, although this is still a point of uncertainty. The tier three level allows councils to bring in extra measures above the base restrictions, such as closing gyms.

However it does not mean that entering tier three will definitely result in gyms closing, as has been shown over the past week.

Indoor gyms and fitness and dance studios in Liverpool were initially forced to close by law after the city became the first area to receive ‘very high’ status last week.

But they had been allowed to remain open in Lancashire, which entered tier three shortly afterwards.

Today, Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram said that gyms in Merseyside will be allowed to reopen in line with other areas.

Also today, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said he thought gyms will be asked to close in Greater Manchester.

But Mr Rotheram suggested Greater Manchester’s gyms would remain open. Meanwhile it has been confirmed that gyms will remain open in Sheffield.

Can I still take place in sports activities outdoors?

Yes. In line with guidelines from national sporting bodies, you can take part in sport and physical activity outdoors.

Can I attend an indoor exercise class? 

Yes, with restrictions. Indoor exercise classes and other activity groups can only continue provided that households or support bubbles do not mix. Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities must not go ahead. 

There are exceptions to enable disability and youth sport and physical activity indoors, in any number.

A coronavirus advice sign in Sheffield city centre is pictured today after it was announced South Yorkshire will be the latest region to be placed into tier three coronavirus restrictions

A coronavirus advice sign in Sheffield city centre is pictured today after it was announced South Yorkshire will be the latest region to be placed into tier three coronavirus restrictions

Can I still go to work in the office?

Yes, with exceptions. The Government advises that ‘office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter’. 

It adds: ‘Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.’

Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary.

The Government adds that people living inside and outside of the ‘very high’ alert level area can continue to travel in and out of the areas for work.

Those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should still work from home wherever possible.

Can I still go to church?

Yes. Places of worship remain open, but you can’t mix with other households there. 

Can I attend a wedding? 

Yes, with restrictions. Up to a maximum of 15 people can attend weddings or civil partnerships. However, receptions are not allowed to take place. 

Can I attend a funeral? 

Yes, with restrictions. Up to a maximum of 30 people can attend a funeral. Wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present, but these cannot take place in private homes. 

Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit down meal so people can keep their distance.

Does the people limit at weddings or funerals include staff?

No. Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. 

If I live outside a ‘very high’ alert level area, can I go to a funeral or wedding there? 

Yes. People living outside of a ‘very high’ alert level area can travel there to attend a wedding or funeral, but they must not meet with another household in a private home or private garden, or stay overnight.   

Can I still move home or look at a house in a ‘very high’ alert level area?

Yes. You can still move home. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can also continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings. 

Can I still go to school or college?

Yes. The Government says it has ‘prioritised ensuring all children can attend school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians’.

Can I still go to university? 

Yes. Students are now back at universities and they are allowed to move home and travel to go there.

However those in ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alert level areas must not move backward and forward between their permanent home and term time address during term time – subject to limited exemptions.

Students living at their university term time address in a very high alert level area should follow the same guidance on meeting other people and travel as others in that area. 

Shoppers wearing a face masks in Sheffield city centre are pictured this morning

Shoppers wearing a face masks in Sheffield city centre are pictured this morning

Can I commute into a ‘very high’ alert level area to go to university?

Yes. Commuter students – defined as those who live at a family home and travel to/from university each day – should be able to continue to travel to/from their university as required, for education purposes.

However, you must not meet people you do not live with in their home inside the area, unless they’re in your household, childcare or support bubble

You can also not host people you do not live with in your home, if they live in the affected area, unless they’re in your childcare or support bubble

You must also not meet people you do not live with in their student halls, whether inside or outside of the area, unless they’re in your childcare or support bubble.

If you move out of, or currently live outside of, an affected area you should not host people you do not live with in your home or student halls if they live in a high alert level area, unless they’re in your household, support bubble or childcare bubble.

Are the exceptions to the rule of six for children? 

Yes. There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. 

This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies. 

Can people provide childcare support in private homes and gardens?

Yes. Registered childcare providers including nannies, people in your support bubble or people in your childcare bubble can provide children support in these settings.

What is the definition of a childcare bubble? 

A childcare bubble is where someone in one household provides informal (unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. 

For any given childcare bubble, this must always be between the same two households.

Friends or family who do not live with you and are not part of a support or childcare bubble must not visit your home to help with childcare. 

Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purposes of different households mixing where they are otherwise not allowed to do so. 

Coronavirus warning signs are pictured in Manchester on Saturday as people wear face masks

Coronavirus warning signs are pictured in Manchester on Saturday as people wear face masks

Can I visit my grandparent in a care home?

No, with exceptions. You should not visit a care home except in exceptional circumstances, for example to visit an individual who is at the end of their life. 

Can I still use public transport?

Yes, but with restrictions. The Government says you may continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work, voluntary, charitable or youth services, or to access education, but you should ‘aim to reduce the number of journeys you make’. 

If you need to travel, the Government encourages people to walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel. 

Can I travel out of my ‘high’ alert level area?

No, with exceptions. The Government has said it is ‘advising people not to travel into or out of an area if it has been categorised as a very high alert level area’. 

However you can continue to travel into or out of very high alert level areas if you need to for work, education, youth services or because of caring responsibilities.

If I live in a lower alert area, can I travel through a ‘very high’ alert level area?

Yes. You are allowed to travel between lower risk areas when it passes through a very high alert level area, where ‘necessary as part of a longer journey’.

This could include when going to an airport, port or international rail terminal to travel abroad. 

Can I leave a ‘very high’ alert level to go on holiday?

No. If you live in a ‘very high’ alert level area, the Government asks you to ‘avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, except if you need to for work, education or caring responsibilities’. 

You are also asked not to leave the area to stay in a second home, and not to stay with anyone you do not live with elsewhere in the UK or visit their home.

If I live outside a ‘very high’ alert level area, can I visit it?

No. The Government is asking ‘everyone who lives elsewhere to avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area where possible, except for those who need to for work, education or caring responsibilities’. 

It adds that you must not stay with anyone you do not live with from a ‘very high’ alert level area or visit their home. 

If I live in a ‘very high’ alert level area, can I go on holiday within it?

Yes. If you are resident in a very high alert level area, you may travel to hotels and other guest accommodation within that area. However, you should only do this with people in your household or support bubble. 

Can I travel to Wales?

No. Those living under tiers two and three in England were already banned from travelling across the Welsh border from Friday last week. 

What businesses don’t have to close under the rules, but may still be forced to?

The Government says it will ‘seek to agree additional measures in consultation with local authorities in order to reduce the spread of the virus’. These could include the following options:

  • restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol in hospitality or closing all hospitality (but still allowing takeaway and delivery);
  • closing indoor and outdoor entertainment and tourist attractions and venues;
  • closing venues such as leisure centres and gyms (while ‘ensuring provision remains available for elite athletes, youth and disabled sport and physical activity’);
  • closing public buildings, such as libraries and community centres (while ‘ensuring provision remains available for youth clubs and childcare activity and support groups’);
  • closing personal care and close contact services or prohibiting the highest-risk activities;
  • closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences.
A man wearing a face mask walks across Merchant's Bridge today in Castlefield, Manchester

A man wearing a face mask walks across Merchant’s Bridge today in Castlefield, Manchester

Will I be fined if I am caught having a meeting in a group that is illegal? 

Yes. Meeting in larger groups is against the law, although there are certain exceptions (see final question). 

The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups, which includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fixed penalty notice fines.

You can be fined £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. 

If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

Will shops still be open?

Yes. Non-essential retail as well as essential stores will remain open for customers.

What if I am clinically vulnerable?

The Government advises that those aged 70 or over, pregnant women or those with an underlying health condition can go outside as much as they like but ‘should still try to keep your overall social interactions low’.

What are the exceptions on people from different households gathering?  

  • in a legally permitted support bubble or childcare bubble
  • for work, volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services
  • for registered childcare, education or training
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care 
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
  • for birth partners
  • to see someone who is dying
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable
  • to facilitate a house move
  • for a wedding or equivalent ceremony where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus – up to a maximum of 15 people (not to take place in private dwellings) 
  • for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people; wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present (not to take place in private dwellings) 
  • for elite sportspeople and their coaches if necessary for competition and training, as well as parents or guardians if they are a child
  • for outdoor exercise and dance classes, organised outdoor sport and licensed outdoor physical activity 
  • for indoor organised sport for disabled people, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s 
  • support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • protests – if organised in compliance with Covid-secure guidance

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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