International travellers returning to England from “red list” countries will have to quarantine in Government-designated hotels from today.
Anyone who has visited a country on the UK’s travel ban list in the last 10 days will have to quarantine in hotels from today.
From today, if you have been in a high risk destination on the UK’s ‘red list’ – comprised of 33 hotspots with Covid variants in circulation – you will have to enter England through a designated port and have pre-booked a quarantine package to stay at one of the government’s Managed Quarantine Facilities.
Those arriving from today onwards that have not visited a red list country must still quarantine for ten days at home and complete two mandatory COVID-19 tests on the second and eighth day after arriving.
The government has tough measures already in place requiring all travellers into the UK, from any location, to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before departure and non-UK residents from the 33 red list countries are already banned from entering Britain.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “As this deadly virus evolves, so must our defences. We have already taken tough action to limit the spread, protect people and save lives.
“With the emergence of new variants, we must go further. The rules coming into force today will bolster the quarantine system and provide another layer of security against new variants at the border.
“These new measures are important to protect our vaccination programme, which has now seen 15 million people vaccinated, we all work towards restoring normal life.”
The new measures that have come in to force today will further strengthen the UK’s borders, limit the spread of new COVID-19 variants and potentially save lives.
The tougher quarantine restrictions also carry heavier fines and penalties with potential prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Scroll down for more information and the latest Leeds news.
Leeds news LIVE: City hits Covid vaccine milestone as cases continue to fall
Last updated: Sunday, 21 February, 2021, 08:12
Vaccines for everyone by July says PM
Boris Johnson has pledged to offer all adults in the UK a coronavirus vaccine by the end of July as he prepares to set out his road map to relax lockdown restrictions in England.
The Prime Minister said the accelerated rollout of jabs would enable the easing of some of the stringent measures – but insisted that the unlocking would be “cautious and phased”.
Mr Johnson has spent the past week considering data on deaths, cases, hospital admissions and the effect of the vaccine rollout, and will unveil his blueprint to Parliament on Monday.
The road map is expected to include target dates for the relaxation of restrictions, but a Government source stressed that they would be guided by the data at each stage.
It will include an expedited target to vaccinate all adults aged over 50 – as well as those with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk – by April 15.
By July 31, the Government hopes to have offered all adults in the UK a jab – though the order of priority for those under 50 has yet to be outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Ministers had set a target to offer vaccines to all adults by September, with an aim to reach all those aged 50 and over in the first nine JCVI priority groups by May.
The new targets will be seen as a sign of increasing confidence within the Government that the vaccine supply will remain steady over the coming months.
An ambition to offer jabs to all those in the top four priority groups – adults aged 70 and over, frontline health and social care workers and the most clinically vulnerable – was met by February 15.
Mr Johnson said there would be “no let up” in the vaccine rollout, saying he wanted to see it go “further and faster in the coming weeks”.
“We will now aim to offer a jab to every adult by the end of July, helping us protect the most vulnerable sooner, and take further steps to ease some of the restrictions in place.
“But there should be no doubt – the route out of lockdown will be cautious and phased, as we all continue to protect ourselves and those around us.”
The PM will chair a meeting of senior ministers on Sunday, known as the “Covid S” committee, to finalise his road map before it is signed off by the Cabinet on Monday.
He will then unveil the plans to MPs in the Commons later that afternoon and is expected to lead a Downing Street press conference on Monday evening.
In other developments:
– A further 445 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, while there were another 10,406 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
– More than 17.2 million people have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while more than 600,000 people have received their second, the Government said.
– A 16-year-old with no known underlying health conditions was among the latest reported deaths of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in England.
– NHS England said that more than two thirds of people aged between 65 and 69 have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine just a week after invitations went out.
– Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that care home residents will be allowed to hold hands with a regular indoor visitor from March 8.
Labour welcomed the accelerated vaccine target, but called on the Government to “urgently” set out how they will prioritise those aged under 50.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “It’s perfectly reasonable for teachers, police officers and other key workers who haven’t been able to stay at home in the lockdown to ask when their turn will be.
“If Government aren’t going to prioritise by occupation in the next phase they need to set out why.
“Vaccination must go hand-in-hand with measures to break transmission chains. That means paying people decent financial support to isolate, updating face coverings guidance and insisting in ventilation standards to ensure all workplaces are Covid secure.”
Downing Street said the JCVI would publish its priority list for the second phase of the vaccine programme in due course.
Care home residents to be allowed to hold hands with visitors
Care home residents will be allowed to hold hands with a loved one again from March 8 under the Government’s roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions.
The resident’s nominated visitor will be allowed to see them indoors, but will be required to take a lateral flow test before entry and wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
They will be allowed to hold hands with their friend or relative, but will be asked not to hug or kiss them to reduce the chance of spreading Covid-19.
Outdoor visits – as well as those inside pods or behind screens – will be able to continue, giving residents the chance to see more than just their nominated visitor.
Meanwhile families and friends look set to be allowed to gather in parks and gardens by Easter with rules relaxed to allow two different households to meet outside.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “pleased” that it would soon be possible for people to be “carefully and safely reunited with loved ones who live in care homes”.
Reopening schools could cause infections spike
Reopening schools to all pupils in England at the same time could risk another spike in Covid-19 infections, a coalition of education unions and professional bodies has warned.
The Prime Minister should opt for a “phased return” of students to classrooms over a period of time, a statement from organisations representing school and college staff, leaders and governors has urged.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to set out his “road map” for easing the lockdown in England on Monday, with the aim of first reopening schools.
The joint statement – from the nine education organisations – says they are “increasingly concerned” that the Government could go ahead with a full return of all pupils on March 8.
“This would seem a reckless course of action. It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown,” it warns.
The unions and professional bodies are calling on the Prime Minister to only commit to reopening schools on March 8 if the scientific evidence is “absolutely clear that it is safe” to admit more pupils.
They warn that the science around the role schools play in the overall rate of transmission is “uncertain”.
The joint statement is from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the NAHT school leaders’ union, the National Education Union (NEU), the NASUWT teachers’ union, the National Governance Association (NGA), the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA), Unison, Unite and GMB.
It says: “What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one-fifth of the population. This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step.
“These factors necessitate a cautious approach with wider school and college opening phased over a period of time.”
The plea comes after an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report called for a full return to school to be prioritised as they said a phased return could widen the gaps between children in different year groups.
On Monday, Mr Johnson said no decisions had been made on whether year groups across schools in England will return together, or whether primaries and secondaries could be staggered.
A Department for Education (DfE) spokeswoman said: “We know schools, parents and pupils need clarity on plans as soon as possible, which is why we have committed to providing two weeks’ notice for them to prepare.
“Schools are the best place for young people’s education, development and well-being, and we are committed to fully reopening them as soon as the public health picture allows.
“The Prime Minister is due to set out plans for schools reopening on February 22, and pupils will return from March 8 at the earliest.”
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The city has hit a milestone with its Covid vaccine rollout:
The CEO of Leeds Council, Tom Riordan, announced on Twitter that 175,000 people in Leeds have now had their first Covid vaccine jab.
This is equal to one in five Leeds residents.
Mr Riordan said "we can do this" as he pleaded with people to "take the vaccine if called".
The CEO announced the news on Twitter in his daily announcement of case rates.
The daily Covid case rate has also fallen - as it has been doing consecutively for nearly two weeks.
The latest recorded infection rate on February 18 was 161.6 per 100,000 people with a positivity rate of 7.9 per cent.
This is a decrease from the rate on February 17 which was 166.4 cases per 100,000 people with a positivity rate of 8.1 per cent.
Mr Riordan tweeted: "Leeds case rate down to 161.6 per 100k (from 166.4) with positivity down to 7.9% (from 8.1%).
"Please stay in unless essential, keep your distance when out and take the vaccine if called.
"175,000 people in Leeds have now had their 1st jab: over 1 in 5 residents.
"We can do this."
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West Yorkshire Police has given an update on the attack in Seacroft last night:
Police have confirmed that a man was taken to hospital with serious injuries following a stabbing in Seacroft last night (Wednesday).