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Hancock warns Britain of a "turning point" in the fight against coronavirus and cannot rule out a new lockdown


Matt Hancock warned today that the UK was at a tipping point in its battle against a second devastating wave of coronavirus – and declined to rule out asking Londoners to return to work from home.

The Health Secretary also warned that a second full UK lockdown was possible as ministers fined up to £ 10,000 under tough new self-isolation laws on fears that the rules would simply be disregarded.

Mr Hancock said there was a risk that the numbers could "shoot through the roof" if effective measures are not taken to stop the virus from spreading.

The UK recorded 3,899 new Covid-19 cases and an additional 18 deaths today, slightly fewer than yesterday (4,422) but still part of a large spike.

Despite urgent warnings of the economic impact of another full shutdown, the health minister said it was still an option if the measures already taken were not effective.

Mr Hancock was delighted and told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: “This country is at a turning point.

“We have a choice, and the choice is if everyone follows the rules and does self-isolation if they have to, they follow the rule of six, which is really simple and clear, and then the basics, hands, face and space us can avoid further measures.

“But the alternative to that choice is that we need to take more action. And we don't want that, but everyone plays a role and everyone who watches has a choice: Do you follow the rules or not? And if everyone follows the rules, we can get the virus under control. & # 39;

As his ministers debated the introduction of a second lockdown this weekend that would destroy the economy, the prime minister announced that he would create a new legal obligation for people to self-isolate if they test positive for the virus or Asked to do so by Test and Trace staff

“I don't want to see any further measures, no more restrictive measures. Unfortunately, this is how the virus spreads when people don't follow the rules, ”added Hancock.

"It depends on the individual decisions of the 60 million people who live in this country, whether we can keep it there with a local lockdown approach or whether we need to take further national measures."

What could be a hammer blow for companies

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is reportedly pushing for new coronavirus restrictions on the capital on Monday, including a 10 p.m. curfew.

When asked if London office workers might be advised to work from home sometime next week, Hancock told Times Radio, "Well, I wouldn't rule it out."

The health minister also urged the British to berate their neighbors for breaking the rules – and admitted that he would do it himself.

After his ministers this weekend debated the introduction of a second lockdown that would destroy the economy, the Prime Minister (pictured today at Westminster Abbey) announced that he would create a new legal obligation for people to self-isolate when they test positive for the virus or are prompted to do so by Test and Trace staff.

After his ministers discussed the introduction of a second lockdown this weekend that would destroy the economy, the prime minister (pictured today at Westminster Abbey) announced that he would create a new legal obligation for people to self-isolate when they test positive for the virus or are prompted to do so by Test and Trace staff.

Large groups of hikers enjoy the warm sunshine as the police patrol Hyde Park, London for the first weekend after the rule of six was introduced

Large groups of hikers enjoy the warm sunshine as the police patrol Hyde Park, London for the first weekend after the rule of six was introduced

Drinkers hit the town ahead of Boris Johnson's potential plan to close pubs in England. Nottingham was packed with night owls, all of whom enjoyed an evening on Saturday 19th September.

Drinkers hit the town ahead of Boris Johnson's potential plan to close pubs in England. Nottingham was packed with night owls, all of whom enjoyed an evening on Saturday 19th September.

Sadiq Khan warns capital "should go into Covid lockdown tomorrow"

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is reportedly pushing for new coronavirus restrictions on the capital on Monday, including a 10 p.m. curfew.

Mayor Sources said the city has caught outbreaks of disease in the northwest and northeast of England that have been placed under new controls.

While data from a few days ago indicated that London was two weeks behind these areas, Mr Khan's latest modeling reportedly showed that the gap had closed in two or three days.

The mayor is now calling on ministers to extend the latest regional restrictions – including ordering bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. – to the capital.

Government and town hall officials are believed to meet this afternoon to discuss possible new restrictions on the capital.

Matt Hancock said he spoke with London Mayor Sadiq Khan over the weekend about what action is needed in the capital.

When asked if London office workers might be advised to work from home sometime next week, Hancock told Times Radio, "Well, I wouldn't rule it out."

The health minister said people should "make sure" to tell the police if they see rule violations, as he warned he could not rule out a second national lockdown if the rules continued to be violated.

But the government seems to be at six and seven on whether Britain should become a nation of the Narks, with conflicting views around the cabinet.

Mr Hancock's comments contradicted Boris Johnson's position after the Prime Minister said last week he disliked "sneak culture" and urged people as a last resort to inform about neighbors "if there is a large type of animal house -Party there. " take place … hot tubs and so on, and there is a serious public health hazard. "

However, Interior Minister Priti Patel had previously supported people who would inform about their neighbors if they broke the new rules, adding, "It's not about neighbors, it's just about us taking personal responsibility."

When asked this morning on Sky & # 39; s Ridge on Sunday if he was going to report a neighbor, Mr. Hancock said, “Yes, and everyone should. And the reason for this is that we control this virus by breaking the chains of transmission. & # 39;

He later repeated that view on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, adding, “I'm not in a popularity contest. I am there to protect the country. & # 39;

The development came as:

  • The number of daily cases reached 4,422, the highest since early May. Scientists fear the infections are increasing between two and seven percent daily, with the national R-rate between 1.1 and 1.4.
  • Sources said Mr Whitty was on the resignation watch because of fears he might quit if ministers resist his demands for tighter restrictions – but Mr Johnson is said to be in Whitty's "grip";
  • Online delivery places ran out in supermarkets as the specter of a second national lockdown sparked panic buying fears when Morrisons cut shoppers in its 500 supermarkets for the first time since the peak of the pandemic in March.
  • Hospitality leaders have warned of “economic disaster” following a second lockdown, with one in five of their venues – a third in London – still closed and 900,000 employees on the Treasury vacation program, which ends in late October.
  • No. 10 responded angrily to a "brutal and personal" report in the Times alleging that Mr Johnson was miserable and low on money;
  • Mr Sunak called for tough measures to rebalance the Treasury Department's books after the Covid crisis, including a freeze on public sector benefits and wages, as officials dubbed Mr Johnson's plan for mass testing "Operation Moonshot" as "Operation Moonf *** "mocked. ;;
  • Anti-vaccine protesters clashed with police in London; resulting in 32 arrests;
  • A third of the people reported to have died of Covid in July and August may have died of other reasons, researchers at Oxford University suggested.
  • The British Medical Association urged the government to consider further tightened rules on who can meet as the number of daily cases increases.

Sadiq Khan warns London "should go into Covid lockdown tomorrow"

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is reportedly pushing for new coronavirus restrictions on the capital on Monday, including a 10 p.m. curfew.

Mayor Sources said the city has caught outbreaks of disease in the northwest and northeast of England that have been placed under new controls.

While data from a few days ago indicated that London was two weeks behind these areas, Mr Khan's latest modeling reportedly showed that the gap had closed in two or three days.

The mayor is now calling on ministers to extend the latest regional restrictions – including ordering bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. – to the capital.

A mayoral source told HuffPost: “It is clear that the cases in London are only moving in one direction. We are only a few days behind the hotspots in the northwest and northeast. We cannot afford any more delay.

"Introducing new measures will help slow the spread of the virus and potentially prevent the need for a broader lockdown like we saw in March, which could again seriously damage the economy."

He should also consider the possibility of encouraging those who can work from home to do so.

Such a move would be in sharp contrast to the government, which until recently has urged people to return to their offices after loosening lockdown restrictions.

Mr. Hancock added, “If everyone follows the rules we can avoid further national bans, but of course we must be ready to take action if necessary. I don't rule it out, I don't wanna see it. & # 39;

With a carrot and stick approach, four million low-income people unable to work from home will receive a flat rate of £ 500 if they are forced to self-isolate.

However, the fines for those who break the rules, which go into effect for a week tomorrow, start at £ 1,000. They rise to £ 10,000 for repeat offenders and “the most egregious violations”, which includes entrepreneurs threatening self-isolating workers with dismissal if they do not come to work.

Mr Hancock told Sky & # 39; s Ridge on Sunday this morning that the nation is at a "turning point" and that there is a choice between following current rules such as the rule of six and self-isolation "or we need to take further action ".

Union leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party supported the action, which would appeal to "a small number" of people.

"There are some people who break the rules and something needs to be done about it," he told Ridge on Sunday.

"But it won't be the silver bullet … we have a test system that, when we need it to be effective, is barely serviceable."

He added that reporting by neighbors of suspected violations of the Six Rule Restrictions should be done cautiously, saying, “It depends on the circumstances. If someone breaks the rules repeatedly, we'd all love to do something about it, and I think that's where the majority of the people are.

“What I've seen in policing across the country is that it's done with consent, appeasing people, getting people to do the right thing, and I think that's how we must move forward.

"I don't disagree with the government that in the rare cases where people break the rules something needs to be done about it, that's why we support them."

He also warned the Prime Minister that he must act immediately and harshly to avoid a miserable Christmas for millions of British families.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, the opposition leader said: “He must act quickly and decisively now to bring infections under control so that Christmas is not lost.

“We were promised the world's best tests, but we don't even have a serviceable system.

"It's amazing that the government didn't expect us to have to step up the tests when the kids go back to school and people go back to work."

However, today's reports suggested the prime minister might be ready to relax tough new lockdowns over Christmas to give families the much-needed rest.

"The prime minister is keen not to be portrayed as Scrooge," a source told the Sun on Sunday.

"He is fully aware that millions of people are making great sacrifices to defeat this virus and is thinking about how they can experience the joy of Christmas for the latter part of the holiday season."

Party animals in Nottingham appeared to be shaking off concerns about the coronavirus and social distancing as they gathered for an evening on Saturday.

Party animals in Nottingham appeared to be shaking off concerns about the coronavirus and social distancing as they gathered for an evening on Saturday.

The second wave of Covid cases in Europe does not result in an increase in deaths compared to the spring peak

A second wave of coronavirus cases in Europe does not lead to an increase in deaths.

Although the number of cases in Spain has risen to almost 15,000 a day – which has resulted in a new lockdown in parts of Madrid – the number of deaths is relatively small compared to the spring peak.

There were 240 deaths in Spain on Thursday – much fewer than the 929 daily deaths at the end of March, when 9,000 cases were recorded daily.

Another 13,498 cases were reported in France yesterday. However, the latest 24-hour death toll – 154 on Friday – is much lower than in mid-April when there were 1,400 deaths but 5,500 confirmed cases.

The difference can be explained by an increase in testing across countries in recent months, but it could also be a sign that the virus is mainly infecting younger, healthier people who are surviving the disease.

Sweden, which has not imposed a lockdown, continues to have a significantly lower rate of cases and deaths from Covid-19.

On Tuesday, Sweden had the lowest number of new cases since March. In April, Covid deaths peaked at 115 in a single day in Sweden, and some days that number is zero.

Reported infections have risen steadily in most parts of Europe over the past two months, with more than half of the countries seeing increases of over ten percent in the past two weeks.

Lots of people could be seen in large crowds at Stables Market in Camden, London and Nottingham on Saturday, where people were going to the pubs before they possibly closed their doors again.

There were long lines around Nottingham and security forces had to step in and ask people to clear more space as there was no social distancing. Police and community security patrolled.

A sharp increase in the number of cases over the past few weeks has raised the alarm on Downing Street. The government's scientific advisers pushed for a second lockout – but ministers led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak warn of the devastating economic impact.

A # 10 source admitted last night, "It doesn't look good."

In a carefully choreographed move, counselors, including Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, are expected to release data showing the surge in cases at a public event tomorrow.

Mr Johnson could then appear on TV Tuesday to set out new measures.

The extent and duration of the new rules are still being debated by ministers, but are likely to include a nationwide curfew on pubs and a ban on household mixing.

Meanwhile, high-profile Tories plan to try to prevent ministers from imposing new restrictions on coronavirus lockdowns without parliament giving notice.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful Conservative Backbench Committee of 1922, said he intended to table an amendment that would oblige the government to put new measures to MP's vote.

The move comes when Boris Johnson announced that anyone in England who refuses to obey an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £ 10,000.

Sir Graham told The Sunday Telegraph that he would take the opportunity to try to change the legislation when the government comes to renew the emergency powers in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The move is likely to receive significant support from Conservative MPs who are unhappy about the wide-ranging powers of ministers with little or no parliamentary scrutiny.

Sir Graham told the Telegraph: "In March, Parliament gave the government full emergency powers at a time when Parliament was about to break and there were realistic concerns that Covid-19 could overwhelm the NHS 'supply capacity.

“We now know that the NHS has handled the challenge of the virus well and that Parliament has largely met since April. There is now no justification for ministers governing from emergency powers without reference to normal democratic processes.

"It is important that all of these very important decisions, about family life and the impact on people's jobs and businesses, be made under appropriate supervision and control."

Mr Hancock said the number of hospital admissions for coronavirus has increased and an increase in the number of deaths would follow.

"We have seen the case rate rise in other countries. The next thing that happens is the numbers going to the hospital," he told Marr.

"Unfortunately, we've seen that increase double about every eight days – people who go to the hospital – and then with a delay you see the number of people who die sadly increase."

But he added that it is still possible that there could be a coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year.

& # 39; There is still hope that we will get one of the vaccines over the line this year. The Oxford vaccine is still at the front of the line. More likely next year and probably the early part of next year.

"We have the cavalry for the next few months – the vaccine, the mass tests, and the improvements in treatments – but we all have to follow the rules until then to keep people safe."

The Prime Minister said last night: “The best way to fight this virus is for everyone to follow the rules and isolate themselves if they are at risk of passing on the coronavirus.

“And so nobody underestimates how important this is. New regulations mean you are legally required to do so if you have the virus or have been told to by NHS Test and Trace.

“People who ignore the rules are fined heavily.

Rishi is tough: The Chancellor plans to freeze benefits and state pay

Rishi Sunak is considering freezing public sector benefits and wages to help manage the rising costs of the coronavirus pandemic – and fuel his own political ambitions.

In view of the projected increase in unemployment to more than four million as a result of the crisis, the Chancellor told his ministerial colleagues that he was deeply concerned about the long-term damage to the Treasury's balance sheet.

In an attempt to regain billions of pounds in economic bailouts, Mr. Sunak has discussed the elimination of inflation-driven increases in both benefits and public sector salaries – and sought to convince Boris Johnson of the "triple lock" that protects income to tear apart from retirees.

It is therefore that Mr Sunak – whose public poll numbers have outperformed his peers, including the Prime Minister, during the pandemic – made increasingly vigorous efforts to meet Red Wall MPs who entered parliament in the 2019 elections about his political priorities to be determined.

This has led to murmurs on the Tory back seats about the growing strength – and independence – of Mr. Sunak's activity.

Treasury officials are increasingly open about Downing Street's impact on the Covid crisis. Boris Johnson's "Operation Moonshot" plan to mass-test ten million people a day by 2021 is dismissively referred to in the department as the "Moonf ***" monkey pit.

Mr Sunak has been the most hawkish minister in government on the need to reopen the economy as soon as possible, amid opposition from Secretary of Health Matt Hancock and government scientific advisers led by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

"We must do everything we can to control the spread of this virus, to prevent the most vulnerable people from becoming infected, and to protect the NHS and save lives."

Under the new rules, Test and Trace's call handlers will contact the self-isolating people on a regular basis and refer suspected violations of the rules to the local authorities and the police.

However, a government advisor, Professor Robert Dingwall, argued that it would be premature to reintroduce stricter measures, especially as existing rules have become "unenforceable" because people fail to enter the spirit of the restrictions.

"Some of the scientific advisors feel that the government might jump the gun," he said.

"It is a little premature to say that we are on this exponential growth curve when we may just be moving to a stable situation at a slightly higher level than what you would expect with the reopening of the economy." ;

Prof. Dingwall also asked if “we are approaching a situation where people are fairly satisfied with the idea that 20,000 people will die from Covid every year, as we are satisfied with the idea that 20,000 people will die every year Influenza will die. And we shrug our shoulders and move on with our lives.

"We need to have more of a national conversation based on the lives of ordinary people and what can be achieved in practice and what the cost of these measures are."

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, told Sky News the country could not afford to immediately put in place “tough measures” to curb the spread of Covid-19, adding, “What now we have to do is slow, this is a long winter. & # 39;

He said, “We see the virus act seasonally.

“When we went back to school we actually saw a 60% increase in consultations for all acute respiratory infections, and that is what caused the problems with the Test and Trace program.

& # 39; All young children who have coughs and colds and those infections, one is called a rhinovirus.

& # 39; If we look at the data, Covid works in a similar seasonal way, reflecting these respiratory infections. What we need to do now is slow down. This is a long winter.

“We cannot afford to take tough action now. The economic impact here will be significant.

“What happens is, as soon as you pause and then open up again, it tends to come back.

"We still need to be vigilant to make sure the infections remain manageable across the board."

Professor Heneghan added, "There is currently no evidence of what is known as a second wave."

When asked if Prime Minister Boris Johnson was wrong on this claim, he told Sky News, “I understand that this is an incredibly complex area for our ministers. Some of the problems we're talking about require five or six years of healthcare experience to really get your head around.

“This is about good advice to the Prime Minister, to the Minister of Health, which will allow a wider range of expertise to be brought on board, and if they do, they might look at the problem a little differently.

“I think if we see a slower, more analytical approach to the data and a different approach to the Council over the next few weeks, the Prime Minister might see a subtle change in his language that reflects the need to normalize things.

"This is now a seasonal effect. If it worsens and affects the disease, this is where we take restrictive action, but that time is not now."

Make children a priority for coronavirus testing to keep schools open, Labor says

Sir Keir Starmer urges ministers to put children at the top of the line for coronavirus testing.

The Labor chief warned of a "flood" of school closings unless students were able to get the required tests.

His call came amid reports that 350 schools in England and Wales were forced to close completely or send children home last week after positive Covid-19 tests.

Sir Keir said it was important that children whose schooling was disrupted by the lockdown did not lose more as a lack of tests prevented them from returning to the classroom.

“If the Prime Minister fails to get a grip on the testing crisis, the children will be deprived of an education. We are seeing a growing spate of school closings, ”he said.

“The testing regime is not working, nor does it recognize the unique challenges that many families face.

“So I urge the Prime Minister, like our key workers, to put children at the top of the queue for testing. By this week, give parents a cast iron guarantee that they can test their child within 24 hours and get the result back 24 hours later. & # 39;

Has the second wave of panic buying started? The Ocado and Sainsbury warning delivery spots are quickly booked out as the UK prepares for the second lockdown

By EMER SCULLY for MailOnline

Ocado and Sainsbury's have warned customers that delivery times are booked out quickly – as fears of a second wave appear to fuel the return of panic buying.

The online supermarkets have added notices to their "choose a slot" page to alert customers that the sites are in high demand.

Ocado read: “Delivery times sell out faster than usual. If you cannot find a slot now, please use the "Next 3 Days" button to continue to view the available slots in advance.

It comes as government scientist shocked Boris Johnson with warnings of hundreds of daily coronavirus deaths "within weeks" of saying "there is no alternative to a second national lockdown".

A senior receives the last pack of toilet paper at a Sainsbury & # 39; s supermarket in Northwich on March 19, 2020. Supermarket shelves were exposed in a spate of panic buying in March

A senior receives the last pack of toilet paper at a Sainsbury & # 39; s supermarket in Northwich on March 19, 2020. Supermarket shelves were exposed in a spate of panic buying in March

A note on the Sainsbury's delivery slots page states: “Slots are still in high demand. We have worked hard to expand our service. There are more slots available now, some of which we can offer to other customers.

& # 39; Customers who are vulnerable are given priority access and can book slots before anyone else. We regularly release new slots. Please try again if you can't see any available. & # 39;

In the meantime, Tesco was fully booked through Wednesday, with slots available priced at £ 5.50 – and there were no vacancies at Asda by Monday.

Tesco (pictured) was fully booked until Wednesday. The available slots cost £ 5.50

Tesco (pictured) was fully booked until Wednesday. The available slots cost £ 5.50

The Prime Minister is now threatening to "tighten" coronavirus restrictions as he blames the UK public for the rise in cases – despite repeated requests for people to go back to their desks and eat in pubs and restaurants to try the UK Revive economy.

It has raised concerns that the nation may return to the days of panic shopping at the start of the March pandemic.

On March 19, shoppers lined up in front of supermarkets across the country from 6 a.m. and pulled out the shelves at 9 a.m.

And Ocado had to close its website and app on March 18 after being overflowing with orders.

Customers could not book a new delivery or process existing orders.

It is because the Prime Minister is trying to abandon his rule of six and introduce "breakers" nationwide for six months for fourteen days after claims it was "inevitable" that a second wave would hit the country last night.

Seniors walk past empty shelves as they shop at Sainsbury's supermarket on March 19, 2020 in Northwich, UK

Seniors walk past empty shelves as they shop at Sainsbury's supermarket on March 19, 2020 in Northwich, UK

Hundreds of customers lined up in the parking lot of the Costco wholesale warehouse Sunbury-on-Thames for more than an hour on March 19 with empty cars in a zigzag

Hundreds of customers lined up in the parking lot of the Costco wholesale warehouse Sunbury-on-Thames for more than an hour on March 19 with empty cars in a zigzag

The new approach to getting the UK through the winter would lead to tougher measures, including bans on all social contact between households and closing hospitality and leisure facilities such as bars and restaurants with intervals of relaxation. Schools are being closed as a "last resort," a Whitehall source claimed.

It is believed that the new circuit shutdown could be announced via television press conference on Tuesday, reminiscent of the government's behavior during the height of the pandemic.

Speaking at the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Center construction site near Oxford, Mr. Johnson said, “What I can say about parents and schools is that we want to keep schools open, that's going to happen.

“We want to try to keep all parts of the economy open as much as possible. I don't think anyone wants to take a second ban, but when you look at what's happening, one has to wonder if we are going to have to go further than the rule of six we put in place on Monday, so we will look at local lockdowns we now have across much of the country and examine what we can do to step up the things that are helping to get that infection rate down there, but other measures as well. & # 39;

Officials, including UK chief physician Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, are likely to advocate strict restrictions as panic mounts in official circles.

Today, the original lockdown architect recommended that the government, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, sooner rather than later push back freedoms by lowering contact rates between people.

The epidemiologist, who was fired from SAGE for disregarding his own lockdown rules, told BBC Radio 4's Today program: “Right now we're about the same infection level we saw in late February if we leave it at two more For four weeks we will be back at the level that we saw in mid-March.

Customers were seen shopping when shelves stood empty in a nationwide panic on March 20

Customers were seen shopping when shelves stood empty in a nationwide panic on March 20

"That will clearly lead to deaths … I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later. The timing of a more intense policy, a temporary policy, is debatable."

However, the measures are believed to have sparked protests from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who warned of the introduction of new blanket restrictions by pointing out enormous damage that has already been done to the economy.

Government sources claim that Mr Sunak gave the Prime Minister "dire warnings" in highlighting the severity of the damage inflicted on the UK economy as a result of the March lockdown – while Mr Johnson shook off the "dire" economic forecasts, claiming that "He was confident that everything will be fine in the end. "

Business leaders reiterated the Chancellor's concerns, warning that a second lockdown would weigh on the economy. The UK Chambers of Commerce said: "Uncertainty and speculation about future national restrictions will damage business and consumer confidence at a delicate moment for the economy."

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