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Covid UK: Daily deaths HALVE in a week to 13 while cases rise 29%

Daily Covid cases have jumped by nearly a third in a week, official figures revealed today in the first sign that England’s four-day Easter weekend may have fuelled a spike in transmission.

Department of Health bosses posted another 3,568 positive tests across the UK – the highest daily toll since April 1. Deaths have halved since last Monday, with 13 more victims recorded today.

England – which took its next cautious step to freedom today by allowing pubs and restaurants to reopen to customers outdoors – saw an increase in cases but no trend was visible in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, which all have different restrictions enforced.

Number 10’s scientific advisers have always warned easing restrictions would cause coronavirus infections to rise by allowing people to mix together but because millions of people have been vaccinated, the NHS shouldn’t be overwhelmed.

But experts tracking England’s outbreak say none of the planned steps taken so far – reopening schools on March 8 and dropping strict stay at home guidance on March 29 – have caused any noticeable problems.

Today’s spike in infections can’t be blamed on hardy drinkers choosing to brave the snow and hailstones to celebrate the ‘Glorious Twelth’ in beer gardens across the country.

Instead, experts say it is ‘entirely possible’ the U-turn in the figures could be down to the Easter bank holiday. It takes up to seven days for people to show symptoms of Covid and get their test results back.

Revellers last weekend flocked to parks to bask in the sunshine and enjoy the first weekend of England’s eased restrictions to make the most of the rule of six to see family and friends.

Dr Simon Clarke, an infectious disease expert at the University of Reading, said the daily figure were an important reminder that the numbers are not ‘guaranteed to go down’ and that timing-wise the spike coincided with Easter.

The rise may also be explained by recording delays, with testing numbers known to dip on public holidays due to the way swabs are recorded and because fewer people come forward for them.

Revellers wearing umbrellas on their heads enjoy a drink outside at The Still & West pub at Spice Island in Portsmouth 

I'll drink to that! Customers enjoy glasses of white win as they sit at outside tables as at a re-opened pub in Leeds, West Yorkshire

I’ll drink to that! Customers enjoy glasses of white win as they sit at outside tables as at a re-opened pub in Leeds, West Yorkshire

A very busy Soho in west London where people are enjoying their first night out at the pubs and bars

A very busy Soho in west London where people are enjoying their first night out at the pubs and bars

Busy: People sit at outdoor tables setup today for drinks to be served in the Soho area of central London, on the day some of England's third coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased

Busy: People sit at outdoor tables setup today for drinks to be served in the Soho area of central London, on the day some of England’s third coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased

Soho: Revellers gathered to enjoy beers across London today to celebrate the easing of more lockdown rules

Soho: Revellers gathered to enjoy beers across London today to celebrate the easing of more lockdown rules 

As England basked in sunshine this afternoon, pub goers Gabriella Lucena, 24, (left) and Gabrielle West, 28, (right) enjoyed a pint and a soft drink by the Thames at Hammersmith, West London with one-year-old Cocker Spaniel Lola

As England basked in sunshine this afternoon, pub goers Gabriella Lucena, 24, (left) and Gabrielle West, 28, (right) enjoyed a pint and a soft drink by the Thames at Hammersmith, West London with one-year-old Cocker Spaniel Lola

Soho, west London: Britons are enjoying the return of some freedoms with many taking the opportunity to meet with friends

Soho, west London: Britons are enjoying the return of some freedoms with many taking the opportunity to meet with friends

The ‘Glorious Twelfth’: What can you do from today? (And what do we still have to wait for?) 

  • All non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen, as will hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms and swimming pools, with no group classes allowed.
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes can reopen for outdoor service, but will have to wait until at least May 17 to serve customers indoors.
  • Mass testing to be available, with everyone urged to take two tests per week.
  • New care home rules will allow residents to have two visitors, rather than just one.
  • Self-catering accommodation, including campsites, can reopen, but hotels and B&Bs must remain closed until at least May 17.
  • Shops will be allowed to stay open until 10pm, six days a week, in a bid to reduce crowding.
  • The maximum number of people allowed to attend weddings and wakes will rise from six to 15.
  • Public buildings can reopen, as can outdoor attractions such as theme parks and zoos.
  • Controversial hospitality rules such as the 10pm curfew and requirement to buy a ‘substantial meal’ with alcohol will be dropped.
  • Clothes shops will be allowed to reopen their changing rooms for the first time in more than a year.

Still banned – 

Until May 17 at the earliest: Gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors, with the rule of six and two-household rule indoors; pubs and restaurants will reopen indoors; and controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted. 

Outdoor events will be allowed to have a capacity of 50 per cent or 4,000 people, whichever is lower; while special provisions will be made for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be spaced out, with up to 10,000 people or 25 per cent of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.

Up to 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events, including wakes. Indoor gatherings like exercise classes will be given the go ahead. 

Until June 21 at the earliest: All legal limits on social contact will be lifted and nightclubs reopened.  

In other Covid news today:

  • Footfall analysts Springboard say they are expecting a near 50% uplift during the first week;
  • 32,010,244 Britons have received the first dose of the vaccination, with a further 6,991,310 having had their second, as the UK recorded 1,730 new Covid cases – down a quarter on last week;
  • Study by University College London (UCL) suggests that 73.4% of the population now have herd immunity either through vaccines or having had the virus;
  • People in their 40s will be invited for Covid jabs from tomorrow after the Government hit its target on vaccinations for priority groups;
  • Dr Mike Tildesley, reader in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick and government adviser, welcomed opening but warned up uptick in cases;
  • Kate Garraway revealed her children are ‘absolutely loving’ having their father Derek home after his long Covid battle;
  • England footballers James Maddison and Harvey Barnes were among five Leicester City players who ‘hid in the dark after manager Brendan Rogers caught them at a Covid lockdown-flouting party’;
  • Officers apologised to churchgoers after shutting down their Good Friday service for breaking Covid lockdown rules;
  • Students’ university comeback was delayed until mid-May amid fears mass return to lecture halls could spark a huge spike in Covid cases.

England’s lockdown was taken down another notch today, with Boris Johnson’s cautious roadmap back to freedom now allowing pubs and restaurants to finally serve customers again — albeit outdoors. Hairdressers, beauty salons and gyms were all also given the greenlight to open again. 

Hardy drinkers across the country braved snow and hailstones to celebrate the ‘Glorious Twelth’ in beer gardens, and scores dashed to the pub to enjoy their first post-work pint in months. 

Desperate shoppers were seen fighting to join queues for limited edition trainers and bargain clothes in popular stores, as they were allowed to open for the first time this year. While council killjoys forced some outdoor seating areas to close and investigated one venue over its long queue. 

Temperatures dipped to -3C overnight before a snowy morning, and although temperatures have now risen they remain a crisp 7C in London, 8C in Manchester and 5C on the south coast. 

The deepest snowfall in England today was at Little Rissington in Gloucestershire, which recorded 1.5inches (4cm).

As England basked in sunshine this afternoon more people revealed their plans for an after-work pint – if they could get a seat.

It comes amid confusion over what counts as a legitimate outdoor seating area, with some pubs ready for reopening told they would have to either close their beer gardens or reduce capacity.

Government guidance states that shelters, marquees, and other temporary structures with roofs must have half their walls open at all times to be classed as being outdoors.

However, councils are interpreting the rules differently, leading to outcry from some landlords and restaurant owners who have only just been told they supposedly breach the rules.

Elsewhere, pubs and restaurants in London’s West End enjoyed a lunch time rush, as customers made the most of the chance to sit and drink outdoors, despite the chilly weather.

One unnamed Lancashire publican has written to the Prime Minister after being told his walled bar garden is not compliant, meaning he cannot reopen despite taking bookings for 1,000 meals, the Telegraph reported.

Brett Mendoza, who runs the Caxton Arms in Brighton, installed a new roof, heaters and furniture and received 700 bookings ahead of his grand reopening – only to be told with 48 hours’ notice that his safety measures weren’t enough. 

Two hardy customers tucking into breakfast this morning at the Yangaz Bistro Grill in Cranleigh, Surrey

Two hardy customers tucking into breakfast this morning at the Yangaz Bistro Grill in Cranleigh, Surrey

Early morning shoppers run to queue outside the JD Sports store in Oxford Street, London, desperate to get inside first

Early morning shoppers run to queue outside the JD Sports store in Oxford Street, London, desperate to get inside first

A little bit of snow wasn't enough to stop this hardy customer enjoying a pint by candlelight outside the Bowes Hotel in Bardon Mill, Northumberland

A little bit of snow wasn’t enough to stop this hardy customer enjoying a pint by candlelight outside the Bowes Hotel in Bardon Mill, Northumberland

The Lynch family and friends laugh together whilst drinking beer in the garden of the The Duke of Kent pub, London which reopened at lunchtime today

The Lynch family and friends laugh together whilst drinking beer in the garden of the The Duke of Kent pub, London which reopened at lunchtime today

Dozens of areas in England have still only vaccinated HALF of their over-50s as ministers get set to offer Covid jabs to people in their 40s 

Parts of England have still only vaccinated half of citizens over the age of 50, as the NHS prepares to move onto people in their 40s.

Some areas of the country have stormed ahead and managed to reach more than 96 per cent of people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and above, exceeding Number 10’s ambitions.

But others have been sluggish for months, with large sections of their middle-aged and elderly populations still unprotected against Covid.

Official data analysed by MailOnline shows that 36 areas of the country have given a Covid jab to fewer than 60 per cent of people in the high-risk age groups.

London has had the least successful rollout so far and is home to six of the 10 lowest uptake areas.

The UK target was to offer at least one dose of a vaccine to everyone over the age of 50, those with serious health conditions, and NHS and care workers, by April 15.

This target has been met ahead of schedule and the Times now claims 49-year-olds are set to be contacted from this week, with younger people getting offers later in April.

Deliveries of a third vaccine, made by US company Moderna, will make this possible, while leftover supplies of Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s jabs are used to carry on with top-up doses for people first immunised earlier in the year.

More than 32million Brits have now received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, including 27million people in England.

NHS England data show, out of 6,791 MSOA areas in England, 36 have vaccinated fewer than 60 per cent of over-50s.

By comparison, 3,715 places have vaccinated 90 per cent or more of those at risk of dying if they catch Covid-19, according to figures up to April 4.

An MSOA is a middle layer super output area, each of which is home to around 10,000 people.

The lowest uptake has been in Tidenham and Woolaston in Gloucestershire (27 per cent), although some residents may be getting vaccines in Wales so not getting counted in the English statistics.

The landlord was told that because the garden is below street level and surrounded by four walls there is not enough ventilation to carry off molecules of the virus in air droplets.

The pub tweeted: ‘Yesterday Brighton Council decided that with or without the temporary roof, the garden is not Covid compliant and forced us to close. Reason: garden is below street level, surrounded by four walls, so air can’t flow. We will be contacting people to notify you of your cancellations.’

Mr Mendoza added: ‘Stock bought. Absolutely devastated. Appeal is in.’

However, the publican later came to an agreement with officials and will be allowed to open the outside space with a downsized capacity.

A council spokesperson said: ‘We haven’t told any of our pubs that have outdoor seating areas that they can’t reopen.

‘We have been in discussions with the Caxton Arms about what is possible and appropriate at their premises. We have confirmed to them that their rear external area can operate in accordance with current restrictions.’

Meanwhile, the Oak Inn in Coventry is being investigated by the local council after a queue of more than 100 people gathered outside to enjoy drinks in its large outdoor garden on the stroke of midnight.

While images of crowds in the venue’s heated garden appeared to show them well spaced and following the national guidance of no more than six per table, some commented that social distancing seemed not to be enforced in the queue outside.

A Coventry City Council spokeswoman said: ‘We will be investigating any venue reported to not be following these rules or having difficulties with large queues or unmanageable amounts of visitors.’

Darren Lee, owner of the Oak Inn, said he could not respond to the council as it had not yet contacted him, but said he believed the venue had worked within the rules. ‘We always do things safely and properly … we were able to get outside as per the national guidelines,’ he said.

It came as the excitement of lockdown easing got too much for some, with scuffles breaking out at Foot Locker on Oxford Street during a rush for limited-edition trainers and police called to control crowds outside the Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester.

Earlier, shoppers were seen waiting outside Arndale on camping chairs to ensure they were first in line for purchases – as an Ikea in Bristol saw 1,000 customers lining up outside.

The Met and Northumbria Police sent extra patrols into city centres to prepare for the deluge of custom. It comes after Boris Johnson last urged the public to ‘behave responsibly’ as restrictions are lifted.  

It comes after MailOnline today revealed that parts of England have still only vaccinated half of citizens over the age of 50, as the NHS prepares to move onto people in their 40s.  

Some areas of the country have stormed ahead and managed to reach more than 96 per cent of people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and above, exceeding Number 10’s ambitions.  

The Gay Village in Manchester was bustling with people eating and drinking this afternoon as people enjoyed a pub lunch for the first time in months

The Gay Village in Manchester was bustling with people eating and drinking this afternoon as people enjoyed a pub lunch for the first time in months

The Fox on the Hill's beer garden in Camberwell was full of pub goers this afternoon as weather conditions across London improved throughout the day

The Fox on the Hill’s beer garden in Camberwell was full of pub goers this afternoon as weather conditions across London improved throughout the day 

There was room for a drink and a bite to eat at The Angel on the Bridge in Henley-on-Thames in west London this afternoon

There was room for a drink and a bite to eat at The Angel on the Bridge in Henley-on-Thames in west London this afternoon 

Tables were full in Manchester's Northern Quarter this afternoon as locals enjoyed the return of the pub lunch and the easing of lockdown rules

Tables were full in Manchester’s Northern Quarter this afternoon as locals enjoyed the return of the pub lunch and the easing of lockdown rules

Official data show that 36 areas of the country have given a Covid jab to less than 60 per cent of people in the high-risk age groups. London has a large proportion of the worst-performing areas

Official data show that 36 areas of the country have given a Covid jab to less than 60 per cent of people in the high-risk age groups. London has a large proportion of the worst-performing areas

But others have been sluggish for months, with large sections of their middle-aged and elderly populations still unprotected against Covid.

Official data analysed by MailOnline shows that 36 areas of the country have given a Covid jab to fewer than 60 per cent of people in the high-risk age groups.

London has had the least successful rollout so far and is home to six of the 10 lowest uptake areas.

The UK target was to offer at least one dose of a vaccine to everyone over the age of 50, those with serious health conditions, and NHS and care workers, by April 15.

This target has been met ahead of schedule and the Times now claims 49-year-olds are set to be contacted from this week, with younger people getting offers later in April.

Deliveries of a third vaccine, made by US company Moderna, will make this possible, while leftover supplies of Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s jabs are used to carry on with top-up doses for people first immunised earlier in the year.

More than 32million Brits have now received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, including 27million people in England.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk