UK News More areas face toughest coronavirus controls as ministers set out exit strategy

15:11  26 october  2020
15:11  26 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Hundreds of thousands more people are expected to be placed under the toughest coronavirus restrictions this week as ministers opened up on how areas could exit their lockdown measures.

Matthew Hancock wearing a suit and tie: Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he expected a vaccine to be rolled out in the ‘first half’ of 2021 (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor) © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he expected a vaccine to be rolled out in the ‘first half’ of 2021 (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

Parts of Nottinghamshire look set to be the next to enter the highest Tier 3 alert level in England after discussions carried on through the weekend.

Local politicians have indicated that they expect the new measures could come into force as early as Wednesday.

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The council in Warrington in Cheshire has already said it will be joining Tier 3 on Thursday, with Downing Street saying discussions are still “ongoing”.

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said areas would have to prove that their infection rate was “coming down”, especially among those aged 60 or over, before they could be removed from the strictest measures.

He has also refused to rule out bringing in a tougher set of Tier 4 impositions following reports another level is being considered to tackle England’s rise in infections.

Going into Tier 3 means pubs and bars have to close unless they serve meals while households are banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens and beer gardens.

chart, line chart, histogram: (PA Graphics) © Provided by PA Media (PA Graphics)

Over the weekend, South Yorkshire became the latest region to come under the highest tier of controls following Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

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Face masks will be compulsory on public transport and in secondary schools when France lifts image captionFrench Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the country must take care to avoid a second The government has set a target to carry out at least 700,000 coronavirus tests per week from 11

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Asked about the criteria for an area to exit Tier 3, Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The first thing that’s most important is that the case rate has to be coming down, and in particular we look at the number of cases amongst the over-60s because that’s the number that is likely to translate into hospital admissions and sadly into deaths.”

Mr Hancock also suggested a vaccine would not provide an escape route from the social restrictions until next year.

Quizzed on Today about whether there would be some roll-out of a vaccine this year, he said: “Well, I don’t rule that out, but that is not my central expectation.

“The vaccine programme is progressing well.

“The leading candidates we’re in very close contact with.

“On my central expectation, I would expect the bulk of the roll-out to be in the first half of next year.”

The Government said a further 151 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, bringing the UK total to 44,896, and there had been a further 19,790 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number in the UK to 873,800.

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While the global coronavirus pandemic continues, no travel is risk-free, and your travel abroad may be disrupted. To find out about ‘travel corridor’ countries, territories or regions you may be able to return from without having to self-isolate, view the latest self-isolation guidance and list of travel corridors for

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Amid the talks between councils and Government about escalating the tier levels in England, the Government has faced increasing criticism that the NHS Test and Trace service, which was supposed to be the key to controlling the disease, is failing.

Senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin issued a call at the weekend for the head of the organisation – Tory peer Baroness Harding – to be sacked and replaced by a military commander.

He was backed by Labour which said that Lady Harding’s position had become “untenable” after the latest weekly figures showed fewer than 60% of the contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19 had been traced and told to self-isolate.

But Mr Hancock came to the Test and Trace tsar’s defence, telling BBC Breakfast she was “of course” the right person for the job.

Dido Harding standing in front of a sign: Executive chair of NHS Test and Trace Baroness Dido Harding (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright) © Provided by PA Media Executive chair of NHS Test and Trace Baroness Dido Harding (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright)

However, it has emerged that officials on the Covid-19 taskforce are looking at the possibility of easing the rules for people ordered to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the disease because of low levels of stay-at-home compliance.

Warrington will go into Tier 3: Council leaders say deal is agreed

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Ministers confirmed they were looking at reducing the time that people have to quarantine at home from 14 day to between 10 days and a week.

Scientists have publicly criticised the mooted change, arguing it would risk allowing infected people to mix with others.

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the Today programme: “Other things being equal, it would certainly increase the risk of transmission because the average incubation period for the disease is about five to six days, and only about 85-90% of people by seven days will have actually developed ill.

“So if you cut that incubation period what would happen is that 10, maybe 15%, of people who were infectious would ultimately (be) allowed to be back out in public.”

chart, line chart: (PA Graphics) © Provided by PA Media (PA Graphics)

But Cabinet minister Mr Hancock pointed to France as an example of where a similar measure had been introduced.

He added: “So it isn’t about the compliance issue.

“It’s about the overall clinical judgment of what time is required for isolation.

“Obviously I’d rather have isolation as short as is reasonably possible because of the impact it has on people’s lives, but it must be safe.”

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has said it will review a controversial ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items during a two-week “firebreak” lockdown which began on Friday.

Explaining the purpose of the review, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething told Sky News: “We want the clarity on the principle that if there really are exceptional circumstances when someone needs what would otherwise be a non-essential item, that can happen as well.”

MPs to vote on England's new lockdown - as PM faces Tory backlash .
Boris Johnson will today urge MPs to approve England's new lockdown - but the prime minister is continuing to face a backlash from his own Conservative MPs over the fresh shutdown. Following a 90-minute debate on the new national measures, the House of Commons will on Wednesday afternoon vote on whether to give a second lockdown the go-ahead.If approved, pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops will close across England on Thursday and stay shut until 2 December.And - for the next four weeks - people will be told to stay at home apart from when attending school, college, university, work or to go food shopping.

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