As Leeds enters a local lockdown, students in Manchester have been told to isolate in halls of residence while students have been banned from pubs and bars in Scotland. Today, Labour called on the Government to allow students to return home at Christmas. Keep following our live blog below for updates (if you cannot see the blog, head to our website via your phone's internet browser instead).
Leeds News Live: Local lockdown now in force in Leeds
Last updated: Tuesday, 22 September, 2020, 12:49
- No household mixing, by law
- Face masks compulsory in schools
- Coronavirus infection rate is highest ever
- Call for students to be allowed home for Christmas
- Crash closes road in Leeds city centre
Coronavirus outbreak has reached critical point, says Whitty
Britain stands at a “critical point” in the coronavirus pandemic, Professor Chris Whitty will warn, potentially laying the ground for tough new controls in an urgent attempt to halt the surge in infections.
In a televised briefing on Monday, the chief medical officer for England will say the country faces a “very challenging winter”, with the current trend heading in “the wrong direction”.
Boris Johnson spent the weekend with senior ministers and advisers discussing what action to take as the rise in the number of new cases showed no sign of slowing.
It is thought the Prime Minister could set out new measures in a press conference as early as Tuesday.
Prof Whitty, who will appear alongside the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, will explain how the virus is spreading in the UK and the potential scenarios that could unfold as winter approaches.
They will draw on data from other countries such as Spain and France, which are experiencing a second surge, to underline how their experience could be replicated in the UK.
Prof Whitty is expected to say: “The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic.
“We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period.”
Ministers were reported to be split on how far any new restrictions should go, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak said to be resisting controls which could further damage the economy.
During a series of broadcast interviews over the weekend, however, Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out a second national lockdown in England, if people fail to follow the social distancing rules.
He said he feared cases could go “shooting through the roof” with more hospitalisations and more deaths.
Meanwhile London mayor Sadiq Khan is to meet council leaders in the city on Monday to discuss possible new restrictions in the capital, which they would then put to ministers.
“The situation is clearly worsening,” a spokesman for the mayor said.
“The mayor wants fast action as we cannot risk a delay, as happened in March. It is better for both health and business to move too early than too late.”
Another 3,899 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were announced on Sunday, while a further 18 people died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the UK total to 41,777.
The latest figures came after the Government announced anyone in England refusing to obey an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £10,000 and just days after the “rule of six” – banning social gathering of more than six people – came into force.
Mr Johnson has been desperate to avoid another nationwide lockdown amid concerns about the economic damage it will inflict just as activity was beginning to pick up again.
However, as of Tuesday, about 13.5 million people across the UK will be facing some form of local restrictions, including 10pm curfews for pubs and restaurants, as the authorities grapple with the disease.
Among the measures being considered by ministers is a temporary two-week “circuit break”, with tighter restrictions across England in an attempt to break the chain of transmission.
However, the Government is facing resistance from some senior Conservative MPs concerned that ministers are taking increasingly stringent powers with little or no parliamentary scrutiny.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said he will table an amendment which would require the Government to put any new measures to a vote of MPs.
Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would support any new measures but warned that a second national lockdown was becoming more likely because the Test and Trace programme was in a state of “near collapse”.
The briefing has begun
In a presentation of the latest coronavirus data, the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “The way that we reduce the spread is by limiting our number of contacts, by reducing contact in environments where spread is more likely – those are crowded environments, indoor environments, poor ventilation – and making sure that we reduce the probability of coming into contact with anyone who is infectious.
“And that’s the importance of self-isolation, keeping out of circulation if you have, or may have, the virus.”
Cases rising across Europe
Sir Patrick Vallance said coronavirus cases were rising across Europe – and that was leading to a mounting daily death toll.
The Government’s chief scientific adviser said in Spain and France “it started with younger people in their 20s and spread gradually to older ages as well”.
“That increasing case number has translated into an increase in hospitalisations.
“As the hospitalisations have increased… very sadly, but not unexpectedly, deaths are also increasing.”
There was a “simple message” that “as the disease spreads, as it spreads across age groups, we expect to see increasing hospitalisations and unfortunately, those increasing hospitalisations will lead to increasing deaths”.
UK could see 200 deaths a day by mid-November unless action is taken – Vallance
The UK could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October, leading to 200 deaths a day a month later if the current rate of infection is not halted, the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned.
Sir Patrick said the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching coronavirus and the current situation required swift action to bring the case numbers down.
In a televised press conference together with England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick said there was “no doubt” the UK was in a situation where the numbers were increasing among all age groups.
He said: “At the moment, we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.”
Prof Whitty said there was a need to “break unnecessary links” between households and there was a need to “change course”.
Boris Johnson to order pubs to close at 10pm as he makes address to nation
Pubs, bars and restaurants in England will be ordered to close by 10pm each night from Thursday under tough restrictions set to be announced by Boris Johnson in a bid to curb the rapid rise in coronavirus cases.
The Prime Minister will use an address to the nation on Tuesday evening to outline new measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, which will also restrict the hospitality sector to table service only.
Mr Johnson will emphasise the need for people to follow social-distancing guidance, wear face coverings and wash their hands regularly, and – according to reports – urge people to work from home where it does not hurt businesses.
According to The Daily Telegraph, other potential measures being considered include a further delay to trials of spectators returning to professional sport events and the closure of indoor concert venues.
It comes after the Government’s chief scientific and medical advisers painted a grim picture of how 200 or more people in the UK could die each day by mid-November if the current rate of infection is not halted.
Sir Patrick Vallance, speaking alongside Professor Chris Whitty on Monday, said the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching coronavirus and the current situation required swift action to bring the case numbers down.
The UK’s four chief medical officers then recommended raising the Covid alert level from three to four – the second highest – indicating the “epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially”.
Mr Johnson will chair meetings of Cabinet and the Cobra emergency committee – including the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – on Tuesday before a televised address at 8pm.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “No-one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses.
“We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”
The government announced last week that all areas of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale will be banned from socialising with each other people as of today (Tuesday, September 22).
Some parts of these areas had their lockdown restrictions lifted after a successful bid by Tory MPs for a more localised approach to the measures.
This means people are banned from socialising with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens once again.
Which West Yorkshire areas are under local lockdown - and what are the rules?
From Tuesday (September 22) all parts of Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, will now be banned from socialising with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens.
Large parts of Kirklees, Bradford and Calderdale had restrictions relaxed at the end of last month - but some areas have remained under local lockdown measures.
Bradford city and Keighley in Bradford, Halifax in Calderdale and Dewsbury and Batley in Kirklees have all remained under restrictions.
But from Tuesday, separate households will be banned from meeting each other at home or in private gardens across the whole of Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale.
Here is everything you need to know: Which West Yorkshire areas are under local lockdown - and what are the rules?
Michael Gove said government’s position will shift back to work from home
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said there was going to be a “shift in emphasis” on the Government’s advice about working from home, telling Sky News: “If it is possible for people to work from home then we would encourage them to do so.”
Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething welcomed Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove’s comments about people working from home.
“The Welsh Government has continued to advise people to work from home if you can,” Mr Gething tweeted.
“A welcome shift from the UK Government that matches our position.”
Return to sports stadium paused, according to Michael Gove
Plans for a partial return of sports fans to stadiums from October 1 have been “paused”, according to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
“It is the case that we’ve been piloting some open air venues, and we do want to be able in due course to allow people to return to watch football and other sporting events,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“But it is the case that we just need to be cautious at the moment and I think a mass reopening at this stage wouldn’t be appropriate.”
He added: “It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans.
“We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme. But what we do want to do is to make sure that as and when circumstances allow, (we) get more people back.”
“Package of measures” to be announced by the Prime Minister
Michael Gove said: “The 10pm closing time is not the only measure the Prime Minister will be announcing later.
“It’s part of a package of measures.
“But, the evidence is that social mixing can encourage the spread of the virus.”
Asked if a group of six people could leave a pub at 10pm and carry on drinking at a house, Mr Gove said: “It is the case that with the Rule Of Six you can have six people in a social gathering, yes, but the steps that we are taking here reflect some of the evidence that has been gathered from those parts of the country where these restrictions have already been put in place in order to ensure that we restrict social mixing.”
Mr Gove said the Rule Of Six would stay in place.