Latest updates: government warned people will seek ‘one last blow out’ if new restrictions on pubs in England are delayed until next week
NHS England has released a slew of performance figures today – covering , A&E attendances and admissions and the ambulance service. They show that the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a severe impact on the service.
The backlog created by tests being cancelled means that waiting times for key diagnostic scans etc are now massively higher than they were a year ago. Waiting times for operations are also significantly higher than in 2019.
A hike in coronavirus fines and extending the places where face coverings are mandatory will be considered by Stormont ministers later. As PA Media reports, the justice minister, Naomi Long, is due to present the outcome of a rapid review into penalties and enforcement of the Covid-19 regulations at this afternoon’s executive meeting.
It is understood a proposal to increase the fine that accompanies a fixed-penalty notice for a rule breach from £60 to £200. The executive office is also due to present proposals around extending the public settings where face coverings should be mandatory. If agreed, this would see the law widened to cover places such as office spaces, banks and building societies. Coverings are already mandatory in shops and on public transport.
Steve Rotheram, the Labour mayor of Liverpool city region, has now issued this statement saying it is “deeply disappointing” that he is having to find out about new restrictions facing Merseyside from the newspapers. (See 10.14am.)
It is deeply disappointing to wake up to reports that new lockdown measures affecting our area could be in place within days.
Once again, we are finding out because ministers are choosing to brief newspapers rather than local leaders. pic.twitter.com/H9dwIMVutE
We have not had confirmation from the government yet as to what is planned for England next week, but there is a lot of reporting in the papers this morning all pointing in the same direction.
The Times today (paywall) is saying that pubs and restaurants in the north of England will be closed on Monday. It says:
The prime minister signed off on the lockdown last night alongside new financial support and a simplified system of restrictions in England.
The measures will include wage support for employees of businesses that were forced back into lockdown three months after opening. The new system of restrictions divides England into three tiers of escalating severity.
In plans signed off at a ministerial “gold command” meeting last night, Tier 1 will see current social distancing measures, the “rule of six” and a pub curfew of 10pm enforced.
Areas in Tier 2 will have the same restrictions plus a ban on households mixing.
Boris Johnson spoke to President Trump yesterday. We haven’t had a readout from No 10, but Trump has tweeted about the call.
Just spoke with Prime Minister @BorisJohnson of the United Kingdom. Very thankful for his friendship and support as I recovered from the China Virus. I am looking forward to working with him for many years to come, a great guy!
The outcry over the nationwide crackdown on indoor drinking in Scotland – where the central belt of the country now has the toughest restrictions in the whole of the UK – continues this morning, with industry bodies warning that the measures will devastate the sector.
Nick Wood of the Scottish Hospitality Group told BBC Radio Scotland: “I think we’re being used as a scapegoat. The proof isn’t there but we are the ones being blamed.”
We’ve got a massive supply chain and we can’t keep stopping and starting. The people making the decisions don’t employ our teams, they don’t have to look after the supply chains, they’re not the ones sitting on thousands of points of stock, they’re not farmers, importers, delivery drivers. It’s devastating. You can’t just tell people on a Wednesday, hey you’ve got to shut down at 6pm on Friday for a couple of weeks.
Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, was doing the morning interview round for the government this morning. As my colleague Josh Halliday reports, he admitted that so far local restrictions have only had a limited effect.
It is correct to say the number of cases in the north-west and the north-east and a number of cities, particularly in the Midlands like Nottingham, are rising fast and that is a serious situation.
We are currently considering what steps we should take, obviously taking the advice of our scientific and medical advisers, and a decision will be made shortly. But I’m not able to give you right now exactly what is going to happen.
There is support in place, but I completely understand that we may well need to go further because those businesses will be placed in a really difficult, intolerable position if they are asked to do more.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, and David Mellen, the Nottingham city council leader, are not the only local government leaders angry about lack of consultation from the government over lockdown measures. (See 9.35am.) This is from Dan Jarvis, the Labour MP and Sheffield city region mayor.
Recklessly irresponsible to brief the papers but not leaders in the North who’ll somehow have to make this work. Get a grip @BorisJohnson. https://t.co/WNUc5Xf5DI
️”What we’ve seen is an ever-widening North/South divide in measures being taken. Quite simply the North should not be a petri dish for experimentation by central government.”
From this morning’s interview on @GMB ⬇️pic.twitter.com/3oxvsM2IAc
My statement tonight on the offer of help to Government being made by the Leaders of Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. We want to fix the broken system, but need a new relationship based on cooperation and trust @cllrjudithblake @SirRichardLeese @mayor_anderson pic.twitter.com/dLJz6RfRJB
Good morning. Ministers are getting read to announce new restrictions in England, which could see pubs forced to shut in the areas with the highest rates of coronavirus, but it is being reported that the measures may not take effect until next week and this has only fuelled the anger that local leaders already feel about how the government is handling this. Nottingham, which now has the fifth highest Covid rate in England, was expecting new restrictions today. But David Mellen, the Labour council leader, told the Today programme that he now thought they would not happen until next week.
It seems like we’re victims of a government change of approach. And therefore, even though we’ve got very high numbers that we’ve known about since the beginning of the week, we’ve got til next week for government to bring in what we expect will be restrictions in Nottingham.
Absolutely. That is our concern, absolutely. This has happened very quickly. We were hampered by 660 people who were positive not knowing their results for a week because of the glitch. Obviously they might have two or three contacts each – lots of people going around the city, going about their ordinary life, without isolating when they should have been if they knew their results and their contacts had been traced.
Yes, there is a chance this weekend that people will think: ‘This might be the last chance before Christmas, so let’s go out and party.’ And we can’t have that.
No discussion. No consultation.
Millions of lives affected by Whitehall diktat.
It is proving impossible to deal with this Government. https://t.co/1lcRRNvptd
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