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Last updated: Monday, 10 May, 2021, 18:07
- Beeston road closed after fight between youths
- Coronavirus infections fall but concerns remain about variants
- Union leaders are stepping up calls for more safety inspections in workplaces as indoor hospitality prepares to reopen.
- Child sex offenders who are caught before they can abuse a minor could face up to 14 years in prison under a proposed shake-up of sentencing guidelines.
- HS2 will launch its first giant tunnelling machine
Whitty on the Indian variant
Professor Chris Whitty said it is not yet known whether the Indian variant could cause problems in autumn.
He said: “What we know is, with all the variants, that things can come out of a blue sky and you’re not expecting it and then something happens.”
Speaking about the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India, he said: “It has gone up very sharply and I think that’s a reason for us to be very careful about it.”
He said the current thinking is that it is “highly transmissible”, at least as transmissible as the B.1.1.7 variant (first detected in Kent) and possibly more but that is not yet known.
He added: “At this point in time our view is it is less likely to be able to escape vaccination than some of the other variants, particularly the South African one, but the data are not properly in there so I think, you know, we need to be cautious until we’ve seen clear data that give us an answer one way or the other.”
He said: “Of course we don’t know whether this is going to cause significant problems in the autumn.”
Prof Whitty said the way to deal with it is to continue the work that is already being done in terms of identifying cases, isolating those cases, carrying on with the vaccine rollout and ensuring there is the capacity to pick up variants and “revaccinate as necessary when the autumn comes”.
He added: “The way to minimise the number of variants that circulate is obviously to get on top of this as a global problem and that is something which all of us are absolutely determined to support.”
Whitty on lockdown progress
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the four tests had been met which enabled the next stage of lockdown easing to proceed.
He cautioned that it remains important to move forward “carefully and steadily”.
Of the vaccine rollout, he said it is clear the process has been “very successful” and added that there is “very clear data from real-world settings” showing the effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing hospital admissions and deaths.
Speaking about coronavirus variants, he said the variant first detected in India is one “we need to keep quite a close eye on”.
He said: “This is actually spreading from very small amounts but it is beginning to spread in certain parts of the country and we need to keep quite a close eye on this.
“So the point about this is: the threats are significantly reduced but there are still some residual issues that we need to keep a very close eye on and therefore we need to go carefully and steadily, as the Prime Minister has said.”
June 21 date will stay
Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated he would not bring forward the June 21 date for the final step of easing the restrictions.
He told the Downing Street press conference: “The secret of the success that we’ve had so far is that we’ve been guided by the data and we’ve given time to see the effect of each successive stage on the road map.”
Mr Johnson said next Monday’s easing is “a very considerable unlocking” which will bring “a lot of extra movement, a lot of extra contact”.
“We think it’s prudent, we think we can do it, but it’s got to be done in a way that’s cautious and I think that we will want to have time to see the effects,” he added.
“We must remain vigilant"
Boris Johnson has said people should continue to follow social distancing rules when not with family and friends.
He told a Downing Street news conference: “We only have to look at the very sad situation in other countries to see the lethal potential of this virus and we must continue to fight the spread of variants here in the UK.
“While we have no evidence yet to believe these variants are completely vaccine resistant, we must remain vigilant.”
PM on social distancing
Boris Johnson has said the Government will update its guidance on close contact between friends and family on Monday.
The Prime Minister told a No 10 press conference that it would set out the risks involved so people could make their own choices.
“This doesn’t mean that we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. We all know that close contacts such as hugging is a direct way of transmitting this disease,” he said.
“So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones.”
He said people should consider whether people had had the vaccine – and if so if they had had the second dose – and whether there has been time for it to take effect.
England ‘on track’ for June 21, PM tells press conference
Boris Johnson said England remains “on track” to end all legal restrictions on June 21 and said an update later this month would set out what role, “if any”, could be played by coronavirus health certificates and social distancing.
He told the Downing Street press conference: “This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road map back to normality and I am confident we will be able to go further.
“Subject to the impact of step three on the data, we remain on track to move to step four on June 21.
“And to give business more time to prepare we will be saying more later this month about exactly what the world will look like and what role there could be – if any – for certification and social distancing.”
Hugging loved ones to be ‘personal judgment’ from next week
Hugging loved ones from different households is to be allowed again from next week in England, when people will be given the choice on whether to socially distance from close friends and family.
But people are being urged to remain cautious about the risks of coronavirus transmission and close personal contact, with guidance set to suggest ways of reducing the risk, such as taking a lateral flow test beforehand.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday he has given the go-ahead to further relaxations of the lockdown rules, with household mixing permitted indoors once more from May 17.
The Government will allow people in England to use their “personal judgment” on close contact between friends and family from this date, when groups of up to six or two households can be reunited indoors.
However, people are being told to remember that some are more vulnerable to serious illness from Covid-19 than others, and that although the vaccines do reduce the risk, they do not eliminate it entirely.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “This is a matter for personal judgment.
“What the public need to understand is that we are moving away from delivering a specific instruction on this point to advising the public that, because of the success of the vaccine rollout and the public abiding by the rules, we are at the point where everyone can use their own personal judgment.
“So there is no set rule on that, it is down to personal judgment.”
Further lifting of England’s lockdown confirmed for May 17
People in England will be able to hug loved ones, dine in restaurants and go on holiday abroad from next week, Boris Johnson has confirmed.
The move to the next stage of the road map out of lockdown on May 17 came as the Covid-19 alert level in the UK was downgraded after a “consistent” fall in cases, hospital admissions and deaths.
The four chief medical officers of the UK have said the threat level should be reduced thanks to the success of the vaccination programme and social distancing restrictions.
Confirmation that England would move to step three on the road map came from Mr Johnson at a Downing Street press conference after a Cabinet meeting to sign off the change.
The biggest easing of lockdown measures so far is designed to encourage people to take more personal responsibility for managing the risks posed by the virus.
People will be given the choice on whether to remain two metres from family or friends, meaning they can once again hug and shake hands.
But officials suggested people should consider getting tested for coronavirus before hugging and wear face masks or ensure a room is well ventilated before ditching social distancing measures.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “What the public need to understand is that we are moving away from delivering a specific instruction on this point to advising the public that, because of the success of the vaccine rollout and the public abiding by the rules, we are at the point where everyone can use their own personal judgment.”
From May 17:
– People will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30.
– People will be able to meet indoors in groups of six, or two households.
– Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers indoors, although they will be limited to table service.
– Cinemas, museums, theatres and concert halls will be allowed to reopen although there will be capacity limits on large events.
– The “stay in the UK” restriction will lift and people will be able to travel to “green list” countries, such as Portugal although they are still being advised not to go to destinations on the amber list.
– Up to 30 people will be allowed at weddings, although dancing will still not be allowed, and the cap on the number of mourners attending funerals will be lifted, in line with the safe capacity of the venue.
– Secondary school pupils will no longer be told to wear face masks in class and communal areas.
The easing of restrictions came after the UK’s senior medics said the threat level should be lowered from “level 4” to “level 3”, means that the epidemic is in general circulation, but transmission of the virus is no longer deemed to be high or rising exponentially.
In a statement, the chief medical officers of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the UK chief medical officers and NHS England national medical director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 4 to level 3.
“Thanks to the efforts of the UK public in social distancing and the impact we are starting to see from the vaccination programme, case numbers, deaths and Covid hospital pressures have fallen consistently.
“However, Covid is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day so we all need to continue to be vigilant.
“This remains a major pandemic globally.
“It is very important that we all continue to follow the guidance closely and everyone gets both doses of the vaccine when they are offered it.”
The UK Covid-19 threat level has not been below level 3 since the start of the pandemic and the last time it was at this level was mid September 2020.
The threat level was raised to its highest level, level 5, on January 4 when officials raised concerns the NHS was at risk of being “overwhelmed”.
It was downgraded to level 4 in February.
Here’s what we’re expecting this afternoon:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to announce the next stages of easing lockdown in England, including the return of international travel.
Covid alert level downgraded as PM prepares to announce easing of restrictions
The Covid-19 alert level in the UK has been downgraded after a “consistent” fall in cases, hospital admissions and deaths.
The four chief medical officers of the UK have said the threat level should be lowered from “level 4” to “level 3”, thanks to the success of the vaccination programme and social distancing restrictions.
This means that the epidemic is in general circulation, but transmission of the virus is no longer deemed to be high or rising exponentially.
It comes as experts said that the nation is in a “strong position” to press ahead with the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The Prime Minister is expected to announce that people in England will be able to take a step closer to normality from next week as more indoor mixing and hugging loved ones will be permitted once more.
Boris Johnson will hold a press conference in Downing Street later on Monday to announce the next steps in England’s road map out of lockdown.
Police chief constable statement after appointed of first West Yorkshire mayor:
John Robins QPM Chief Constable
I wish to congratulate Tracy Brabin on her appointment as the first Mayor for West Yorkshire.
This is an opportunity for all of us in West Yorkshire to benefit from the devolution of powers and money to a local county wide Mayor and I wish Ms Brabin every success as the first Mayor.
I look forward to working closely with Ms Brabin and her team.
I hope we can further improve the already strong partnership approach across West Yorkshire to reduce crime, look after vulnerable people and to make our communities feel even safer. I am keen to develop and share ideas, in order to continue to provide the best possible service to everyone in West Yorkshire.
I will also be taking the time to show the Mayor the courageous work that the police officers, staff and volunteers do day in, day out across West Yorkshire, often in complex and challenging situations.
Weekend roundup: What happened in Leeds over the weekend?
It was a busy weekend in Leeds as the local election results were announced.
Our Local Democracy reporter Richard Beecham covered the count.
The full election results can be read online here:Results in full from the Leeds City Council 2021 local election
Also announced was the results for the election of the first ever West Yorkshire Mayor.
Labour Tracy Brabin took 261,170 of first preference votes out of 617,782 ballot papers in total. Her closest challenger, Conservative candidate Matt Robinson took 176,167 votes, while the Yorkshire Party’s Bob Buxton came a surprised third place with 58,851.
Our political reporter Rob Parsons has written a profile on the new mayor:Who is Tracy Brabin, Labour’s victorious West Yorkshire metro mayor?
Also in politics, it was announced on Sunday evening that Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has been promoted to shadow chancellor as part of Sir Keir’s reshuffle of his “refreshed and renewed” top team, with former incumbent Anneliese Dodds relegated to party chairman.
You can read the full story here: Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves promoted to shadow chancellor in Labour leader Keir Starmer’s cabinet reshuffle
Leeds United beat Tottenham Hotspur 3 - 1 on Saturday at Elland Road.
The YEP Sports team has all the latest reaction from the match:
- Sixteen of the best pictures of Leeds United’s fantastic victory against Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road
- Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur - as it happened: Player ratings and Marcelo Bielsa reaction
- Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur - Graham Smyth’s player ratings as Gjanni Alioski blasts back in huge win
Today’s Yorkshire Evening Post front page:
The Yorkshire Evening Post front page on Monday May 10: “Taking its toll: mental health impact of Covid described as tsunami”
Buy a copy in your local shop or read online here: https://app.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk