World MPs overwhelmingly approve renewal of emergency COVID powers
Thousands fined for breaking 'unclear' lockdown rules, MPs warn
Britons are being fined for breaches of coronavirus lockdown regulations that are "unclear and ambiguous", a parliamentary committee has warned. The Joint Committee on Human Rights said it was "unacceptable" that "many thousands" were receiving fixed penalty notices (FPNs) despite evidence the police did not fully understand their powers.It added that the way regulations were being enforced by the police was having a "disproportionate impact" on young men from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
MPs have approved the renewal of the government's emergency coronavirus powers after ministers staged a climbdown to offer the House of Commons a greater say on new nationwide restrictions.
Powers under the Coronavirus Act, which was passed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, have to be renewed by parliament every six months.
MPs approved the motion by 330 votes to 24 - a 306 majority - after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that the measures were "still needed to keep people safe".
10pm pub curfew comes into force in England - this is how the first night went
The first night of a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants has passed largely without incident in England - but some venues are warning that the absence of late-night drinkers could put their future into jeopardy. In London, there was a small police presence on the streets of Soho last night, but no problems were reported.Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick joined a patrol in Shoreditch, a fashionable area in the capital's east, to remind the public of the measures they need to follow to stop coronavirus from spreading.
But the government had earlier been forced to offer the concession of greater consultation of MPs - and a Commons vote "wherever possible" - on new coronavirus lockdown restrictions before they come into force.
Following talks between the government and a group of Tory MPs wanting a greater say for parliament over COVID-19 measures, Mr Hancock announced the terms of a peace deal to the Commons.
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Jenny Mikakos says she will step aside from her duties as minister and will also resign from the Parliament in the wake of the hotel quarantine inquiry.There had been mounting calls for her to step aside after her appearance at an inquiry into the program.
"I can confirm to the House that for significant national measures with effect in the whole of England, or UK-wide, we will consult parliament - wherever possible we will hold votes before such regulations come into force," he said.
However, Mr Hancock warned that "responding to the virus means the government must act with speed when required and we cannot hold up urgent regulations which are needed to control the virus and save lives".
Melbourne awaits easing of restrictions
While the dust has barely settled on the blame game inside the government over hotel quarantine, Melburnians are looking ahead to the easing of restrictions.Coronavirus: Aged care watchdog investigating Melbourne party
The health secretary also announced that modifications to mental health legislation, meaning a person can be detained under the opinion of just one doctor, will be removed from the Coronavirus Act.
"These were always powers of last resort and I was not persuaded, even in the peak, that they were necessary because our mental health services have shown incredible resilience and ingenuity," he said.
Sir Graham Brady, one of the ringleaders of the group of Tory MPs wanting a greater role for parliament, thanked Mr Hancock for "being prepared to listen" and for "constructive conversations" in recent days.
"We are grateful than he and other members of the Government have understood the importance of proper scrutiny in this place and the benefits that can bring to better government as well," he said.
Labour's shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said his party would not block the renewal of the powers.
But he criticised ministers for appearing on national media with "absolutely no idea of what the rules are".
"The public is being let down on a grand scale," he said.
"The government has had virtually all the resources and brilliance of our remarkable country on demand for over six months.
"They've been able to call on the UK's remarkable frontline workers, who have shown incredible skill and bravery through this crisis.
"And yet we've ended up with one of the highest death rates in the world and on the threshold of one of the deepest recessions."
Melbourne restrictions to ease further as city 'ahead of schedule' in second wave fight
Melbourne's curfew will be lifted from 5am on Monday morning as coronavirus restrictions are eased in Victoria. Limits on shopping, outdoor gatherings and visiting patients in hospitals are among further changes to come into effect for Melbourne residents from 11.59pm tonight.However, there remains only four reasons to leave your home and that stays in place until Melbourne moves to Step three.
Earlier on Wednesday, Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle had admonished the government over their use of emergency coronavirus powers.
He told ministers that the way in which they had exercised their powers in introducing coronavirus measures was "totally unsatisfactory", as he criticised them for publishing laws only "a matter of hours before they come into force".
"Some explanations why important measures have come into effect before they can be laid before this House have been unconvincing and shows a total disregard for the House," Sir Lindsay said.
"The government must make greater efforts to prepare measures more quickly, so that this House can debate and decide upon the most significant measures at the earliest possible point."
The Speaker urged the government to "remedy a situation I regard as completely unsatisfactory," adding: "I now look to the government to rebuild trust with this House and not treat it with the contempt that it has shown."
Sir Lindsay had also ruled that he wouldn't allow Sir Graham's proposed amendment to Wednesday's motion to renew the coronavirus powers, as the Speaker expressed his fear it risked "uncertainty about the decision the House has taken".
Sir Graham had wanted to alter the motion as part of his bid to allow MPs a greater say over new coronavirus restrictions, with 80 Tory MPs - as well as MPs from other parties - said to have been ready to have supported him.
However, the fruitful talks with the government appeared to have satisfied the demands of the rebel group without them needing to push for a legislative solution.
Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading -. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and . Only if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In , call your GP.
Rise in coronavirus cases 'may be levelling off' in England, ONS data suggests .
There is "some limited evidence" that the recent sharp increase in new coronavirus cases in England is levelling off, the UK's Office for National Statistics has said. © Reuters The survey found shopping and eating out were the most commonly reported activities among people with COVID-19 in the two to seven days before symptoms began New cases of COVID-19 in England were around 8,400 per day in the latest week up to 24 September - down from around 9,600 per day during the previous week, an ONS estimate said.