PM unveils 'traffic light' coronavirus lockdown TODAY

PM unveils ‘traffic light’ lockdown TODAY: Ministers warn tough new rules could last till CHRISTMAS as Liverpool faces ‘Tier Three’ curbs with pubs SHUT, ban on households mixing and locals ordered not to leave – but Manchester fights to stay open

  • From 5pm Wednesday, pubs in the North West expected to be shut under new ‘traffic light’ lockdown system
  • Households will be banned from mixing in areas that are subject to the toughest ‘Tier Three’ restrictions  
  • The rules will be applied for a month before they are reviewed but ministers warn they could last till Christmas
  •  Local leaders in Liverpool and Manchester and many Tory MPs have railed against the Government’s decision 

Boris Johnson is facing fury today as he finally unveils the government’s ‘traffic light’ coronavirus lockdown today – with ministers warning it could last till Christmas.

The PM is defying the wrath of local leaders and Tory MPs to plough ahead with the new system as he desperately struggles to get a grip on surging cases.

Mr Johnson is holding a Cobra emergency meeting this morning to finalise the plan, after a weekend of frantic talks with politicians and scientists. He will then confirm the crackdown in a statement to the Commons, before facing questions at a No10 press conference tonight.

It is understood that Liverpool will feature in ‘Tier Three’, subject to the most draconian restrictions, including shutting pubs and banning households from mixing indoors from 5pm on Wednesday.

Locals will only be allowed out of their areas for essential travel such as for work, education or health, but they must return before the end of the day. Where businesses are forced to shut, the Government will pay two thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

However, the details are still being thrashed out as mayors demand more financial support from the government, with confusion over whether gastropubs will be spared from total closure along with restaurants, and areas such as Manchester are still fighting to be kept out of the toughest category. 

The measures will initially be in place for four weeks before a review, but Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden suggested this morning that they are likely to stay in place until Christmas. One angry Tory MP for a northern seat told MailOnline: ‘I won’t be going round his house on December 25.’ 

They added: ‘It will be very frustrating if pubs get closed with 48 hours’ notice. Will they get compensated for beer and food thrown away? Why not focus on the elderly and vulnerable and save jobs and lives?’ 

Another MP for an affected region complained that the government was ‘running around like headless chickens’.

As mayors in the North battle to extract more cash and threaten legal action:

  • The UK is still well below the grim projection of 50,000 cases a day warned of by Sir Patrick Vallance by this stage. However, 12,872 new infections were reported yesterday – up 9 per cent on last Sunday’s adjusted total;
  • London could be place into Tier Two, meaning more restrictions on households mixing, rather than the highest level amid claims that one in eight people in the capital already have antibodies; 
  • Researchers found Covid-19 can survive for a month on surfaces including banknotes and phone screens; 
  • Town hall bosses will be given powers to deploy volunteers to knock on doors and ask people to self-isolate;
  • Labour leaders in the North demanded more cash handouts from the government to support lockdown and called the new furlough scheme ‘insufficient’; 
  • Doctors have warned face masks should be mandatory inside and outside to curb the spread of infections; 
  • BCG vaccine was given to 1,000 people in Exeter University trial to test claims that it helps fight Covid by stimulating the immune system; 
  • ‘Rule of Six’ restriction may be lifted temporarily by Chancellor Rishi Sunak over the festive period.

    Revellers leave the pubs after closing time in Liverpool city centre this evening enjoying the last weekend before COVID restrictions are expected to force pubs and bars close in the area


    TIER ONE  

    Tier one restrictions are believed to 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 restrictions are expected to be similar to rules currently in place in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, where indoor mixing of households is prohibited.

    Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden, as long as the Rule of Six and social distancing are followed.


    Locals will only be allowed out of their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.

    Households are expected to be told not to mix either indoors or outdoors.  

    From 5pm on Wednesday, hundreds of pubs in the northwest will be closed. 

    Restaurants will be limited to takeaway services only, the BBC says, and bookies, casinos, gyms, beauty salons and hairdressers could all be shut.

    It is believed that these measures will be imposed for four weeks before they are reviewed.

    If a business is closed due to third tier restrictions, the Government will pay two thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. 

    For tier two, households will not be allowed to mix indoors, similar to restrictions already in place in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, while tier one will be similar to the rules currently in place across the country. 

    In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Dowden said that tough new coronavirus restrictions may be needed until after Christmas.

    Mr Dowden told Sky News: ‘If those measures are successful we hope to be able to take areas out of those high levels of restrictions.

    ‘The purpose of doing this is to ensure we get the virus under control so by the time that we get through to after Christmas we are in that position where it is under control.

    ‘Indeed I hope it will be sooner than that.’

    The upcoming clampdown is seen as a ‘gamble’ to avoid having to implement a ‘circuit-breaker’ national lockdown over the October half-term.  

    Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said discussions on new measures expected to be announced today had been going on ‘all night’.

    He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We’re still continuing to try and find the fine detail that will give us some comfort that, one, we can go to our nearly two million residents in the Liverpool City Region and explain to them what it is that we’ve negotiated on their behalf, but also we wanted some surety from national government that if we hit some of the milestones we can come out of Tier 3 very quickly.’

    He said test and trace with ‘much more local control’, issues around enforcement and ‘one or two other packages of support’ around capacity for local authorities are already ‘in the bag’ but that other details are being worked out.

    He said there is a ‘sunset clause’ after four weeks of restrictions, measuring progress, but the meaning of that is not yet known.

    He said: ‘We want to know what are those measures, how can we ensure that we measure progress against them and how quickly can we come out the other side?’

    He added: ‘I think that they (the Government) haven’t yet bottomed out all of the detail.’

    Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson tweeted to say he had been told ‘no buts’ over what would be imposed on his city.

    ‘Let’s be clear that having ignored my pleas for over a month, the Government now blame us, and impose ‘lockdown by diktat’ without a full financial package and support for businesses we are levelling down not levelling up,’ he said.

    ‘We will continue to stand up for our local businesses.’

    Politicians from Manchester have launched a last-ditch appeal to ministers not to shut all pubs and restaurants in the city and instead hand them the power to only close those which are not meeting coronavirus safety restrictions.  

    Shadow business minister and Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell called on the Government to publish proof that hospitality venues such as pubs were associated with high risk of coronavirus transmissions.

    She tweeted: ‘Government and scientists still haven’t produced this evidence. The big problem for them is local leaders have all the same data (in fact better data for their areas) and they know hospitality settings make up a very small proportion of infection transmission.’  

    Liverpool recorded the second-highest infection rate in England in the 14 days before October 4, with 4,593 confirmed cases (928.2 per 100,000 people). The neighbouring borough of Knowsley had the worst rate, with 1,412 cases and an infection rate of 944.

    Government Sources told MailOnline that Liverpool is ‘basically there’ to be included in Tier Three. 

    A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘Our primary focus has always been to protect lives and livelihoods while controlling the spread of the virus and these measures will help achieve that aim.

    ‘We must do everything we can to protect the NHS and make sure it can continue to deliver the essential services that so many people rely on.

    ‘This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus.’ 

    Manchester is also understood to be on the verge of Tier Three, with five of the city’s MPs warning Mr Johnson of the ‘devastating impact’ of closing businesses.

    Not only would ‘jobs, livelihoods and businesses,’ be put on the line, but more illegal gatherings would result, they said.

    The letter was sent by Labour’s Lucy Powell, Jeff Smith, Mike Kane, Afzal Khan and Graham Stringer.  

    Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has also blasted a lack of communication from the Government, while the leader of Bolton Council David Greenhalgh warned the squeeze would  destroy the economy of the north of England.

    Some 65 more people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 – nearly double the 33 deaths recorded last week

    A further 12,872 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as the country’s daily case total stays above the 10,000 mark for an entire week

    Rise in Britons being treated with Covid in hospital is partly driven by them catching it on wards, figures show 

    The rise in Britons being treated with coronavirus in hospital is being driven in part by them catching it on the wards, the latest available figures indicate. 

    The number of hospital cases rose from 2,396 to 3,660 – an increase of 52 per cent – between September 30 and October 7. 

    But separate statistics show almost one in five with the virus in hospital tested positive seven days or more after admission – implying they caught it there. 

    The findings suggest Covid-19 hospitalisations caused by community outbreaks may not be growing as fast as some fear. 

    Rises in admissions have been greatest in North West England, say health officials. 

    But the total number of virus patients in UK hospitals is still a fraction of the peak figure of 19,849 in April. 


    Meanwhile, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord has started legal proceedings to challenge the Government’s impending lockdown of hospitality and entertainment venues.

    Mr Lord said leaders had not seen ‘any tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure’ of hospitality in the area and said lawyers had been engaged for a Judicial Review into the emergency restrictions due to be imposed on the sectors.

    MPs will be asked to debate and vote on the measures later this week.

    The Prime Minister will hold a press conference in Downing Street with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty later on Monday.

    A Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘Our primary focus has always been to protect lives and livelihoods while controlling the spread of the virus and these measures will help achieve that aim.

    ‘We must do everything we can to protect the NHS and make sure it can continue to deliver the essential services that so many people rely on.

    ‘This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus.’

    Number 10 stressed the extent of discussions with local leaders over the weekend following criticism from some Northern authorities and mayors that not enough consultation had taken place since the Covid crisis began.

    Downing Street said senior Number 10 advisers and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick held discussions local authority chiefs and mayors from ‘the highest areas of concern’.

    The local authorities have also expressed concern about the impact of harsher restrictions on their own finances, with the statement saying they are existing ‘hand to mouth’.

    It said: ‘(We) are currently unable to plan for the medium or long-term.

    ‘A clearer funding settlement must be achieved that enables us to forward plan, continue to deliver essential public services, avoid large scale redundancies for Local Authority key workers and set a budget for next year with confidence.

    ‘Therefore, we are seeking assurance from Treasury that, in coming to that national position, no local authorities placed on Tier 3 measures will be put in a position where they are unable to balance their budget this year or cannot set a legal budget next year.

    ‘In this respect we have agreed that a further discussion with Treasury will take place on this matter.’

    Prime Minister is set to detail a new three-tier system of restrictions with measures expected to force pubs and restaurants to shut across the North of England and see millions of people banned from mixing indoors and outdoors

    The UK recorded another 12,872 coronavirus cases yesterday, marking a nine per cent increase on last Sunday’s adjusted total which followed the Government’s extraordinary figures blunder.

    The figures mark a 2,294-case drop from Saturday’s daily total of 15,166. Saturday’s death toll was 81 – 16 more deaths than the 65 recorded today. 

    Over the weekend Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer said ‘the seasons are against us’ and the country is running into a ‘headwind’ ahead of the winter months.

    In a statement, Prof Van-Tam said that while the epidemic ‘re-started’ again among younger people over the past few weeks, there is ‘clear evidence of a gradual spread into older age groups’ in the worst-hit areas.

    But he also said the UK has ‘much improved testing capabilities’ and ‘better treatments’ available, meaning that ‘we know where it is and how to tackle it’.

    He stressed the importance of following public health guidance and minimising contact with others, adding: ‘I know this is very hard, but it is an unfortunate scientific fact that the virus thrives on humans making social contact with one another.’  

    One in eight Londoners is immune to coronavirus: Up to 13% of capital’s residents now have Covid antibodies – while other regions are as low as 1% 

    By William Cole For Mailonline 

    London could be shielded from the worst of a second wave of coronavirus because one in eight people in the capital have developed antibodies.

    There is growing optimism that the UK’s largest city is not seeing a rapid rise in case numbers because a higher percentage of residents have become immune to the virus than in any other region.

    Recent data from Public Health England shows a prevalence of SARS-Cov-2 antibodies among blood donors as high as 13.4 per cent.

    The figures from London stand in contrast to the rest of the country, with the North East and Yorkshire showing a 3.9 per cent prevalence, and the South West region at 3.5 per cent. 

    And in the north west, which has been largely placed under local lockdown for the past month, had a prevalence of 6.8 per cent in the latest figures, suggesting high infection rates in the region had meant more people produced antibodies.

    The rate of antibodies in the population does vary over time, and government advisers are believed to have suggested up to 20 per cent of the capital’s residents could be immune to the virus, according to the Sunday Times.

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