Warrington borough council has agreed a deal with the UK government to move into tier 3 of lockdown restrictions as rates of infection remain high, the Warrington Guardian reports.
Last night, the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said the government was “formally beginning discussions with Warrington” about moving into the highest Covid-19 alert level “due to the very high number of cases”.
Earlier this week, the Warrington Guardian revealed that talks between the council and the government had been underway all week and concluded this morning.
As in neighbouring Manchester and Liverpool, pubs which don’t serve “substantial meals” will close, along with betting shops and bookies.
The rules could come in as early as the latter end of next week and would last for 28 days, after which they will be reviewed.
It is thought a financial support package of £4million will be allocated for affected businesses and around £1million given to the council to aid public health and enforcement.
Levels of anxiety, loneliness and worry over the impact of coronavirus has been on the rise since early September while life satisfaction has fallen, a survey by the Office for National Statistics suggests.
Anxiety levels remain at the highest recorded since April, while almost half (49%) of adults said their wellbeing is being affected by the virus – the highest since mid-April.
More than three quarters of adults (76%) are very or somewhat worried about the impact of Covid-19 on their lives – the highest proportion since April, the ONS said.
And more than a quarter (27%) of adults said they feel lonely often, always or some of the time – the highest proportion since May.
The survey also showed that life satisfaction has fallen to the lowest level since the survey began, which could be explained in part by seasonal variation.
The ONS analysed responses from 1,653 adults in Great Britain to its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, examining the social impact of coronavirus. Of these, 280 were adults with dependent children.
Some 64% said they are very or somewhat worried about their child going to school or college this term, mainly due to fears that they will catch or spread the virus and the impact on their mental health due to virus-related changes.
The ONS also asked the general population about university students, finding more than half (55%) were concerned about students returning to universities. This was mainly due to fears about students catching Covid-19, the quality of education they will receive, and how prepared the university is for keeping students safe.
The Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi has been discharged from hospital where she was treated for pneumonia after testing positive for Covid-19. She was admitted to the Royal Bolton Hospital on Saturday after 10 days of feeling unwell.
The Bolton South East MP praised NHS staff for their “excellent care” as she announced she had been discharged, writing on Twitter:
The death rate for patients with coronavirus has increased in England for the first time since the peak of the outbreak in April, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS figures, published today, showed that the age-standardised mortality rate in September due to Covid-19 was 12.6 per 100,000 people in England. This is up from 7.2 per 100,000 in August and is the first increase since April, the ONS said.
The figure is still significantly lower than the peak of the virus in April when it was 623.2 deaths per 100,000 people, the data showed. The ONS said:
In September 2020, the number of deaths and mortality rate due to Covid-19 remained significantly below levels seen in March 2020 – the first month a Covid-19 death was registered in England and Wales.
However, the mortality rate due to Covid-19 was significantly higher in England in September 2020 compared with the previous month, August 2020.
The mortality rate due to Covid-19 also increased in Wales, but this was not significant.
This is the first increase in the mortality rate for deaths due to Covid-19 from one month to the next since April 2020.
In Wales, the age-standardised mortality rate in September due to Covid-19 was 10.8 per 100,000 people – 97.8% lower than the rate of 495.1 in April, the ONS said.
Covid-19 did not feature in the 10 leading causes of death in September in England or Wales. In England, it was the 19th most common cause of death, and in Wales it was 24th.
Of the 39,827 deaths registered in September in England, 1.7% (690) involved coronavirus, and in Wales the figure was 1.3% of the 2,610 deaths (35).
The ONS analysis included only deaths with an underlying cause of Covid-19, referred to as “due to Covid-19”, which is different from “involving Covid-19”, which includes those where the virus is mentioned anywhere on a death certificate.
Most people should expect Christmas this year to be different from previous ones due to the coronavirus outbreak, a cabinet minister has said.
The chief secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, speaking as sweeping new restrictions were imposed on millions more people in different parts of Britain, said he hoped families could be together over the festive season.
Asked how he would describe the chances of people having a “normal Christmas” despite Covid-19 restrictions, Barclay told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I would describe it as a shared endeavour for all of us. All of us want to be able to enjoy Christmas with our families. And that’s why there is a common purpose here to get the virus down.
I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time. And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.
But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together – that is something we all hope to be in a position to do.
Greater Manchester moved into the highest alert level, tier 3, this morning, and Wales is introducing its two-week “firebreak” lockdown at 6pm.
Coventry, Stoke and Slough will enter tier 2 on Saturday, while talks between Westminster and civic leaders in Nottingham over possible tier 3 restrictions are ongoing.
And here is our story on Rashford’s campaign and the businesses stepping in after the UK government voted down a Labour motion to provide 1.4 million disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during holidays until Easter 2021.
His steady stream of posts, mostly screenshots from local sites on Facebook, mark where help can be found, with a tidal wave of kindness pouring in from across the country, from Blyth to Falmouth.
We can do nothing to change that decision, so instead we need to help! We work in an industry that is being decimated by this virus, but cannot use that as an excuse.
Councils including Redbridge and Southwark also said they would step into the breach. The Redbridge councillor Khayer Chowdhury wrote:
Cafes, pubs and restaurants across the country have stepped up to offer free school meals for local children during the October half-term, after MPs rejected a campaign started by Marcus Rashford.
A vote on the measures was backed by Labour and made its way to parliament this week, but it was defeated by 322 votes to 261. Now dozens of hospitality businesses have shown they “stand with Rashford, not the 322”, by supporting families during the school holidays.
In the last twelve hours, the footballer, recently awarded an MBE after forcing a government U-turn on free school meal vouchers over the summer holidays, has been retweeting a string of companies who contacted him offering to plug the gaps left by what the Labour leader Keir Starmer called the government’s failure to “do the right thing”.
The acts of generosity come amid a difficult time for the hospitality industry, with many business owners struggling to cope with the effects of coronavirus restrictions on their trade.
A number of councils, including Liverpool, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Southwark, have also said they will offer free school meals for children.
Rashford said he was “blown away” by the offers of support, tweeting:
A ban on public events is the single best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus, researchers have found, although a combination of measures is even better.
The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, involved analysing data relating to non-pharmaceutical interventions in 131 countries, together with changes in their R figure – the average number of people each infected person goes on to infect.
While experts have cautioned that it is unwise to focus on just one metric when it comes to looking at an epidemic, R is an important figure as it gives a sense of whether an epidemic is growing or shrinking.
The new study examined the impact of applying and then relaxing various different interventions, from closing schools to working from home, on the R figure up to 28 days after the rule change was made.
The results reveal that banning public events reduced the R figure by 24% by day 28, with the team suggesting that could be down to it preventing super-spreading events.
Prof Harish Nair, co-author of the study from the University of Edinburgh, said:
Although no single measure is sufficient, [a] ban on public events is perhaps the single intervention that has maximum impact on spread of SARS CoV-2.
However, measures such as telling people to stay at home or only gather in groups of less than 10 had little impact by day 28 – something the team suggests might be down, at least in part, to people not sticking to the rules, or such measures being imposed later.
When looking at which measures led to an uptick in R, the team found reopening schools and relaxing bans on gatherings of more than ten people had the biggest effect, increasing R by 24% and 25% respectively by day 28.
More than 1,000 businesses in Blackpool have called on Boris Johnson to save the seaside town from “catastrophic” damage caused by tier 3 restrictions, LancsLive reports.
After one week of the strictest level of coronavirus curbs, hard-hit businesses in the town, which depend heavily on tourism, now face a “perfect storm” with dramatic levels of cancellations at hotels, BnBs and attractions.
Without immediate intervention from the prime minister, they warn that there is a real prospect that large numbers of businesses, many of them independent hotels and guest houses, will “not survive beyond the year-end” leading to hundreds of job losses.
In an open letter, signed by representatives of local tourism businesses and delivered to Downing Street, they state that the tier 3 financial settlement for Lancashire, including Blackpool, is “nowhere near sufficient” to support those that have been forced to close, in addition to those who are expected to continue to trade against a backdrop of cancellations and shattered consumer confidence.
They argue that a comprehensive package of aid for businesses large and small in Blackpool is urgently needed to support the tourism economy, worth £1.6bn and in excess of 25,000 jobs.
Here is a thread from Blackpool Council:
And here is the open letter:
Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, has urged the government to approach lockdown talks “straightforwardly” and to end “unedifying” public battles with regional leaders, Josh Halliday reports.
Following a week of fury from leaders across the north of England, Street said public rows with mayors such as Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham would not give “anyone any confidence or certainty” ahead of a winter of social restrictions.
He said ministers should be clearer about the formula used to allocate funding to each region entering tier 3, the strictest level of coronavirus restrictions, and ensure that talks with local politicians were held swiftly and in private.
With Nottingham set to head into tier 3 imminently, and other regions close behind, scrutiny has turned to the formula used by ministers to decide the level of funding given to each area.
Street said he would expect the West Midlands, if it was to enter tier 3, to get a similar government offer as Greater Manchester – £82m in total – given that they both had 2.8 million residents. He refused to say whether he would accept it.
Here is the full story:
On several front pages this morning is the new performance low reached by England’s £12bn testing and contact tracing system.
At last night’s press conference, Boris Johnson and his chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, admitted failings in the system, which new figures suggest is reaching less than 60% of close contacts, way below the 80% that Sage said was needed to make it viable, while waiting times for test results have almost doubled the target (100% 24-hour turnaround – which it has never reached) to nearly 48 hours.
In the system’s worst week on record, in the week ending 14 October, 59.6% of close contacts were reached, down from the previous week’s figure of 62.6%, which was the lowest since the test-and-trace operation was launched at the end of May.
Meanwhile, the median time taken to receive a test result at regional sites rose to 45 hours, from 28 the previous week. Local test site result times increased to 47 hours from 29, and mobile test units rose to 41 hours from 26.
Several of the papers make it that this means just one in seven people are getting their test results within 24 hours.
Here is my colleague Haroon Siddique’s report:
Good morning. Greater Manchester has moved into the strictest coronavirus alert level of tier 3, joining Lancashire and the Liverpool city region. Pubs and restaurants will be shut for 28 days unless they serve “substantial meals”, and social mixing will be banned indoors and in private gardens, with the rule of six applying in outdoor settings. Casinos, bookies and bingo halls will also close.
Later, Wales will enter a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown at 6pm in an effort to curb the spread of the virus and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. The Welsh government has said the “sharp and deep” lockdown, brought in to coincide with the half-term school holiday, could be enough to avoid a longer and “much more damaging national lockdown” in the months ahead.
Under the measures, which will last 17 days until 9 November, people will be asked to stay at home and to leave only for a limited number of reasons, including exercise, buying essential supplies, or to seek or provide care. The first minister Mark Drakeford said supermarkets would only be able to sell “essential” items during the firebreak to ensure a “level playing field” for retailers forced to shut.
I’ll be bringing you all the latest coronavirus developments from the UK throughout the day, so please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a tip, story or personal experience you would like to share. Your thoughts are always welcome!