UK News Travel restrictions could be used to curb coronavirus spread – No 10
Gyms and swimming pools reopen in England as tourists are welcomed back to Wales
Indoor gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres in England are allowed to reopen today for the first time in four months - but at least a third of public facilities are expected to remain shut due to financial hardship. Earlier this month, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that gyms and leisure centres would be able to reopen today, with strict hygiene and social-distancing measures.
Powers to ban movement in and out of coronavirus hotspots could be used to curb the spread of Covid-19, Downing Street said.
Officials confirmed the measures – which could include shutting down transport networks – would be considered if needed to prevent a spike in cases.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan hit out at “totally unacceptable” reports that the capital could be effectively cut off from the rest of England if there was a surge in cases there, but Downing Street insisted no specific plans for the UK’s biggest city had been drawn up.
Major incident declared in Greater Manchester over coronavirus rise
A major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester amid a rise in coronavirus infection rates. Meetings of senior figures from the police, local authorities and other agencies to discuss the city's spike in COVID-19 cases took place over the weekend.Major incidents are often declared after a terror attack or significant flood and mean a region can access extra national resources if necessary.Leader of Manchester City Council Richard Leese said: "People should not be alarmed that a major incident has been declared. This is standard practice for complex situations which require a multi-agency response.
It’s unacceptable that the Govt is making serious plans for London without consulting democratically elected leaders. We can only control this virus if we work together. Govt must include local leaders, who understand their communities, in planning and decision making.
— Mayor of London (gov.uk/coronavirus) (@MayorofLondon)
However, Number 10 acknowledged that measures to effectively ban travel around hotspots in England were part of the armoury to combat the disease.
The “Contain” framework drawn up by officials in July sets out “the possibility of putting in place restrictions on travel if there is an area that is particularly badly affected”, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
“One of the steps within that potentially includes closing down local transport networks,” the spokesman said.
What’s Behind the Global Spike In Coronavirus Outbreaks?
In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, Greece emerged as a surprising success story. The government’s swift actions to close down the country in February and March helped it avoid the high death tolls that other nations experienced and positioned it well to reopen. The country began lifting lockdown restrictions in early May and started welcoming international travellers again in mid-June, enticing tourists with the promise of a largely coronavirus-free getaway.Since then, however, the number of coronavirus cases in Greece has risen alarmingly, and scientists say the country is now officially experiencing a second wave.
“It’s there, it’s contained in the document, it’s not a new thing – we have informed the public and politicians of that being a potential action that we could take.
“But, to be clear, it’s not something that is specific to London or anywhere else.”
Measures could be brought in under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 impose restrictions on gatherings – limiting how many people can meet and whether they can travel in and out of an area to do so – or shut down local or national transport systems.
Regulations would be produced – and approved by Parliament – on a case-by-case basis.
Mr Khan wrote to the Prime Minister following a Sunday Times report that Boris Johnson held a “war game” session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to run through possible options in the event of a second wave in London, with one option effectively seeing the M25 acting as a barrier around the capital.
The Latest: UK lawmakers criticize 'reckless' policy error
LONDON -- A committee of British lawmakers says the government’s decision to advise English hospitals to discharge thousands of patients into care homes without knowing if they had the coronavirus was a “reckless” and “appalling” policy error. The Public Accounts Committee said discharging around 25,000 patients to free up beds was an example of the government’s “slow, inconsistent and at times negligent” approach to social care. In a report, itThe Public Accounts Committee said discharging around 25,000 patients to free up beds was an example of the government’s “slow, inconsistent and at times negligent” approach to social care.
The letter from the mayor and the chair of London Councils, Peter John, said: “Our surprise is that such far-reaching contingency plans have been discussed and tested without the involvement or awareness of London’s government.
“This is clearly totally unacceptable and an affront to London and Londoners.”
The row came as a senior scientist criticised the way decisions about the response to coronavirus had been “shrouded with secrecy”.
Sir Paul Nurse, the director of the Francis Crick Institute, said the Government should “treat the public as adults” in its communications over Covid-19.
He told the BBC’s Today programme: “I think we need greater openness in the decision-making. “It sometimes seems somewhat shrouded in secrecy.
“And not only that, but better communication of what’s happening. “Treat the public as adults.”
But the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We have been sharing data extensively with local authorities and local public health teams in order to help inform the decisions that they are taking on dealing with outbreaks.
The government was absolutely right to ruin my holiday says Shapps
The minister was in Spain when his own department decided to reimpose quarantine on arrivals from the popular tourist destination to 14-days' self-isolation after a surge in coronavirus cases. He and his wife and children left for Spain after the Commons rose for its summer break last week. But amid fury at the speed that quarantine had been reimposed on Saturday - at five hours-notice - and concerns that he would be unavailable for a month, he agreed to leave them there and return to his constituency home in Hertfordshire.
“More broadly there has been regular publication of documents relating to Sage’s discussions and minutes of meetings.”
In other developments:
– A major incident was declared in Greater Manchester over rising Covid-19 infections.
– The World Health Organisation there may never be a “silver bullet” in the fight against the pandemic.
– Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s meal-deal scheme aimed at encouraging people to go out more began.
– Trade unions criticised the Government’s decision to press on with measures to get people back into the office on the first weekday since the guidance changed.
– Officials blamed rising demand and “unexpected delays” for problems in providing coronavirus testing for care home staff and residents.
– Two new tests which can detect coronavirus and flu – and promise results in 90 minutes – are to be rolled out in hospitals, care homes and laboratories.
Concerns over a possible increase in cases has led to some experts warning that aspects of the national lockdown will have to be reimposed in order to allow schools to reopen in September.
Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said ministers might have to consider closing pubs in England in order for lessons to start again next month.
What does Spain being added to UK quarantine list mean for holidaymakers?
Those returning from the country, including the Balearic and Canary islands, will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return to the UK. Here is what it means for holidaymakers:Travel advice for #Spain has been further updated. The FCO now advises against all non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands. You will have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival into the UK. Find out more: https://t.co/Pk5gBRIn2w pic.twitter.
Downing Street insisted that schools would reopen in England in September “for all pupils in all year groups” but local lockdowns could force some closures.
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with Prof Medley’s assessment, the spokesman said: “Our approach is a localised one where you would assess the situation on the ground and take whatever steps were required to slow the spread of the virus.
“More broadly we are committed to supporting the hospitality industry which has had a very tough time.”
Part of that support is the Chancellor’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, an offer of half-price meals from Monday to Wednesday during August in order to entice people back into restaurants and pubs which have seen their takings badly hit by the pandemic.
The incentive will reduce bills by 50% for all eat-in meals at 72,000 participating establishments, including chains such as McDonald’s, Nando’s and Prezzo.
The discount per person will be capped at £10 and does not apply to alcohol.
Video: ‘What a way to run a country’ – Government delays Leicester lockdown decision (PA Media)
Ministers told to end ‘confusion’ over summer holiday travel plans .
Calls come after people told not to travel to Balearic and Canary islands unless it is essential.Holiday firms and the opposition urged the Government to bring more clarity to the situation as travel companies cancelled flights.