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The U.S. is conducting millions more rapid coronavirus tests, but are results reported? – National


After struggling to ramp up coronavirus testing, the U.S. can now screen several million people daily, thanks to a growing supply of rapid tests. But the boom comes with a new challenge: keeping track of the results.

All U.S. testing sites are legally required to report their results, positive and negative, to public health agencies. But state health officials say many rapid tests are going unreported, which means some new COVID-19 infections may not be counted.

And the situation could get worse, experts say. The federal government is shipping more than 100 million of the newest rapid tests to states for use in public schools, assisted living centres and other new testing sites.

Read more:
U.S. to ship millions of coronavirus tests in effort to reopen schools through 12th grade

“Schools certainly don’t have the capacity to report these tests,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. “If it’s done at all it’s likely going to be paper-based, very slow and incomplete.”

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Early in the outbreak, nearly all U.S. testing relied on genetic tests that could only be developed at high-tech laboratories. Even under the best circumstances, people had to wait about two to three days to get results. Experts pushed for more “point-of-care” rapid testing that could be done in doctors offices, clinics and other sites to quickly find people who are infected, get them into quarantine and stop the spread.

Beginning in the summer, cheaper, 15-minute tests — which detect viral proteins called antigens on a nasal swab — became available. The first versions still needed to be processed using portable readers. The millions of new tests from Abbott Laboratories now going out to states are even easier to use: they’re about the size of a credit card and can be developed with a few drops of chemical solution.

Federal health officials say about half of the nation’s daily testing capacity now consists of rapid tests.


Click to play video 'Is rapid testing the solution to Canada’s 2nd wave?'



Is rapid testing the solution to Canada’s 2nd wave?


Is rapid testing the solution to Canada’s 2nd wave?

Large hospitals and laboratories electronically feed their results to state health departments, but there is no standardized way to report the rapid tests that are often done elsewhere. And state officials have often been unable to track where these tests are being shipped and whether results are being reported.

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In Minnesota, officials created a special team to try and get more testing data from nursing homes, schools and other newer testing sites, only to be deluged by faxes and paper files.

“It’s definitely a challenge because now we have to do many more things manually than we were with electronic reporting,” said Kristen Ehresmann, of the Minnesota Department of Health.

Even before Abbott’s newest rapid tests hit the market last month, undercounting was a concern.

Read more:
Health Canada approves rapid coronavirus test after feds put 7.9M on order

Competitors Quidel and Becton Dickinson have together shipped well over 35 million of their own quick tests since June. But that massive influx of tests hasn’t showed up in national testing numbers, which have mostly ranged between 750,000 and 950,000 daily tests for months.

Besides tallying new cases, COVID-19 testing numbers are used to calculate a key metric on the outbreak: percentage of tests positive for COVID-19. The World Health Organization recommends countries test enough people to drive their per cent of positives below 5 per cent. And the U.S. has mostly been hovering around or below that rate since mid-September, a point that President Donald Trump and his top aides have touted to argue that the nation has turned the corner on the outbreak. The figure is down from a peak of 22 per cent in April.

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But some disease-tracking specialists are skeptical. Engel said his group’s members think they aren’t getting all the results.

“So it may be a false conclusion,” he said.


Click to play video 'Canada signs deal to buy 7.9 million rapid COVID-19 tests'



Canada signs deal to buy 7.9 million rapid COVID-19 tests


Canada signs deal to buy 7.9 million rapid COVID-19 tests

One of the challenges to an accurate count: States have wildly different approaches. Some states lump all types of tests together in one report, some don’t tabulate the quick antigen tests at all and others don’t publicize their system. Because antigen tests are more prone to false negatives and sometimes require retesting, most health experts say they should be recorded and analyzed separately. Currently only 10 states do that and post the results online, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The federal government is allocating the tests to states based on their population, rather than helping them develop a strategy based on the size and severity of their outbreaks.

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“That’s just lazy” said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard University. “Most states won’t have the expertise to figure out how to use these most appropriately.”

Read more:
Millions of coronavirus rapid tests won’t arrive for months: Health Canada

Instead, Mina said the federal government should direct the limited supplies to key hot spots around the country, driving down infections in the hardest-hit communities. Keeping tighter control would also ensure test results are quickly reported.

Johns Hopkins University researcher Gigi Gronvall agrees health officials need to carefully consider where and when to deploy the tests. Eventually, methods for tracking the tests will catch up, she said.

“I think having the tools to determine if someone is infectious is a higher priority,” she said.

___

AP data journalist Nicky Forster contributed to this story




© 2020 The Canadian Press





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Coronavirus UK: Police warn Londoners against boozy ‘blow out’


Metropolitan Police officers have broken up crowds of drinkers in Soho and made arrests after pubs kicked rowdy revellers out at 10pm – two hours before the city is plunged into a Tier 2 lockdown.

Officers were pictured squaring off against revellers who were refusing to go home, with few wearing masks or socially distancing. 

Among the crowd was Piers Crobyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy and a staunch anti-lockdown campaigner.

London is now in a Tier 2 lockdown, meaning that meetings indoors between two households are no longer permitted, unless they are in a bubble, while the rules of six applies outside including in pub gardens.

Lancashire was also plunged into a Tier 3 lockdown, meaning all pubs and restaurants were closed at midnight and cannot reopen until curbs are eased. 

In other developments in the country’s coronavirus battle: 

  • Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was at ‘anarchists’ carnival’ with 100 others a week after he apologised for dining with eight friends; 
  • Motorists were seen driving freely into Wales despite 6pm travel ban as First Minister Mark Drakeford says he is considering a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown within days;
  • Britain could be carrying out a million coronavirus tests a day by Christmas as it develops the capacity to manufacture tests that take just 15 minutes; 
  • Almost a third of England’s councils saw a drop in coronavirus infection rates last week amid calls for a circuit-breaker lockdown, data shows; 
  • Sir Patrick Vallance says Tier Three restrictions will have to get tougher to bring R-rate below one as Boris Johnson warns Manchester time is running out if mayor Andy Burnham doesn’t accept new lockdown and daily cases hit 15,000;
  • Analysis of 19 countries shows Belgium has highest per-population count while UK and US sit 3rd and 4th… but data reveals San Marino is top of the table;
  • Schoolchildren are being left outside in the rain and sitting in freezing classrooms because of unclear Covid advice from Government, parents say.   
More officers took to the streets to put a stop to boozy gatherings that break the rule of six as well as to enforce the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants. Pictured, crowds in Soho as pubs closed at 10pm

More officers took to the streets to put a stop to boozy gatherings that break the rule of six as well as to enforce the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants. Pictured, crowds in Soho as pubs closed at 10pm

A man was handcuffed and bundled into the back of a police van in Soho by police officers after the night descended into chaos when revellers were asked to go home

A man was handcuffed and bundled into the back of a police van in Soho by police officers after the night descended into chaos when revellers were asked to go home

At it reached 10pm protesters held up signs and gathered together to protest the curfew and increasing restrictions

At it reached 10pm protesters held up signs and gathered together to protest the curfew and increasing restrictions

One man laughed as he was dragged away by police officers after joining a protest in Soho, London, against lockdown measures this evening

One man laughed as he was dragged away by police officers after joining a protest in Soho, London, against lockdown measures this evening

Police officers marched through Soho as they tried to break up illegal gatherings of more than six people in central London

Police officers marched through Soho as they tried to break up illegal gatherings of more than six people in central London

Piers Corbyn held up a finger as he spoke to police officers in Soho. The conversation appeared to be animated as the police officer held out a hand

Piers Corbyn held up a finger as he spoke to police officers in Soho. The conversation appeared to be animated as the police officer held out a hand 

London’s transport network could grind to a halt this weekend after mayor Sadiq Khan demanded a cash injection to keep it running. Khan was accused of ‘playing games’ today after claiming ministers are demanding he extends the congestion zone to get a £1billion bailout.

He faced fury over suggestions the government made the move a condition of the latest extraordinary cash injection to keep Transport for London from grinding to a halt, amid fears that could happen as early as this weekend.

Further anger has stemmed from data revealing Devon, Oxford and Coventry all have higher coronavirus infection rates than London but will face no lockdown rules when the capital moves into Tier Two tomorrow. 

Mayor Khan was accused of egging the Government on to toughen its stance in the capital. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Khan yesterday confirmed a ban on people meeting in indoor spaces will begin at midnight tonight in the city. 

The tough social distancing rule mirrors what is in place in Covid hotspots in the North of England, where the country’s second wave is running rampant. 

But London’s infection rate is significantly lower than in those areas, and is below the average for the country as a whole, which is approximately 160 cases per 100,000. 

It is lower even than other areas that don’t have any extra rules at all, abiding only by social distancing and the rule of six, according to Department of Health statistics. 

While the 32 boroughs of London recorded an average of 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to October 10, the figure was 159 in Coventry and 154 in Oxford during the same period.

Not a single borough of London currently has an infection rate that high, with the 147 in Ealing the city’s highest. 

It stood at 146 per 100,000 in Bristol, in Bournemouth there were 139 cases per 100,000, in Bath 115 and in Devon – driven by an outbreak in the university city of Exeter, where the rate is nearly 400 – the average was 106. 

All those areas are in the South of England which is not facing any regional restrictions like the Midlands, North West and North East are, where some areas with lower infection rates are locked down to protect them from nearby outbreaks.

A woman appears to shout and raises her fist into the air while police officers stand waiting for the crowds to disperse in Soho on Friday night

A woman appears to shout and raises her fist into the air while police officers stand waiting for the crowds to disperse in Soho on Friday night

Crowds jeered and shouted at police officers in Soho as pubs closed on Friday night. One teenager was pictured filming an officer with the camera light turned on on his phone

Crowds jeered and shouted at police officers in Soho as pubs closed on Friday night. One teenager was pictured filming an officer with the camera light turned on on his phone

Two police officers wore disposable masks as they led one man away after revelers started shouting and jeering at the police

Two police officers wore disposable masks as they led one man away after revelers started shouting and jeering at the police

Protestors held up signs, with one man singing and playing the guitar while a friend showed him the lyrics on his phone

Protestors held up signs, with one man singing and playing the guitar while a friend showed him the lyrics on his phone

One person help up a sign that read: 'Shut up you fascist tories. No one tells me what time to go to bed'. Another was pictured holding what looked like a guitar

One person help up a sign that read: ‘Shut up you fascist tories. No one tells me what time to go to bed’. Another was pictured holding what looked like a guitar

The entire of London may be heading into lockdown earlier than other areas – most of which have had significantly higher infection rates before facing new rules – because outbreaks can spread faster between boroughs because the population moves around so much.

The decision to place London into a Tier Two lockdown today sparked fears around 200,000 people in the city’s centre could lose their jobs in hospitality this weekend. An industry spokesman warned the drastic restrictions would see a ‘maximum squeeze on revenue and no support’. 

It comes as Lancashire heads into Tier 3 – meaning pubs and bars will be required to close with restaurants only allowed to serve customers who also order ‘substanial’ meals. The county has its last night of freedom before the rules are put in place at midnight.

Lancashire joins Liverpool as the only areas in the top bracket, which means a ban on household mixing indoors and in gardens. Thousands of venues are expected to be closed from midnight tonight, with casinos, betting shops and car boot sales given another 48 hours’ grace. 

The Department of Health said there would be a £12million support package in Lancashire as well as more money for an economic recovery ‘task force’ over the next six months. Local sources claimed in total it could be worth £30million. 

Meanwhile, sources close to Mr Khan said he was bravely resisting spreading the congestion zone to the North and South circulars, which would force up to three million citizens to pay £15 to use their cars. 

But senior Tories raged that actually the mayor went to the Treasury with a ‘begging bowl’. 

They said he was told he needed to find some savings to help balance the books after years of mismanagement. They insisted it was up to him how the money was found. 

A man appeared to shout as he was grabbed by two police officers and taken away during an outburst in Soho, London

A man appeared to shout as he was grabbed by two police officers and taken away during an outburst in Soho, London

A man was put into the back of a police van after he was arrested and handcuffed as the pubs closed in Soho on Friday

A man was put into the back of a police van after he was arrested and handcuffed as the pubs closed in Soho on Friday

Some revellers took their drinks with them into the street. One man was pictured holding a wine glass as demonstrators complained about the harsh restrictions behind him

Some revellers took their drinks with them into the street. One man was pictured holding a wine glass as demonstrators complained about the harsh restrictions behind him

A group ignored social distancing and joined in on what looks like a can-can dance in the middle of Soho as pubs closed

A group ignored social distancing and joined in on what looks like a can-can dance in the middle of Soho as pubs closed

As the sun set drinkers bought rounds of pints to ensure they had enough to drink before the clock struck 10pm and they were told to leave

As the sun set drinkers bought rounds of pints to ensure they had enough to drink before the clock struck 10pm and they were told to leave

Social distancing measures were completely ignored by these revellers who danced in the street in Soho on Friday

Social distancing measures were completely ignored by these revellers who danced in the street in Soho on Friday

Revellers continued the party outside of the pubs as police desperately tried to break up the crowds in Soho on Friday

Revellers continued the party outside of the pubs as police desperately tried to break up the crowds in Soho on Friday

A man and women were pictured sitting on the floor as two police officers spoke to them in Soho as pubs closed on Friday

A man and women were pictured sitting on the floor as two police officers spoke to them in Soho as pubs closed on Friday

A senior Conservative source said: ‘The fact of the matter is that he has been presented with a list of options. He is welcome to come up with his own.

‘But he needs to say how he is going to make savings. Instead he is playing games in the media.’

They added: ‘We have said how are you going to do it, these are some of the things you can do. He needs to find some ways of saving some money.’

The government has extended its emergency funding of TfL by two weeks to give more time to resolve the bitter wrangling over the huge sums needed to keep the transport system afloat.  

The squabbling has been going on for months, with London Tory MPs increasingly frustrated about Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ refusal to take on the mayor’s dire threats in public. 

In May Mr Khan accepted a £1.6billion funding agreement with Government, which came with the condition of a hike in the congestion charge to £15. But he branded the injection a ‘sticking plaster’ and is calling for a £5.7billion long-term solution for the next 18 months. 

However, government sources say they are determined that Mr Khan will not get a free pass after ‘bankrupting’ TfL with mismanagement during his tenure. 

Tube and bus drivers have been warned that crucial transport services may stop running if the impasse is not broken over the coming days.  

TfL staff have been given a Section 114 warning, meaning that London’s transport system could cease to function as early as this weekend, according to LBC.

A City Hall source told MailOnline TfL cannot simply ‘turn London’s transport system off overnight’.

But former head of buses and surface transport at TfL Leon Daniels disagreed and warned services could be stopped in a worst-case scenario.

He told LBC: ‘As it would be with any business if you can’t pay your obligations, can’t pay for staff or contracts, can’t pay your energy bill then you have to bring it to a halt, and that’s the situation we’re in now.’ 

Both Government and the Mayor say they are working urgently to thrash out a solution, but are at loggerheads over the conditions.

Crowds of revellers teamed out of restaurants and bars at 10pm as the night ended. The crowds did not appear to be abiding by social distancing measures

Crowds of revellers teamed out of restaurants and bars at 10pm as the night ended. The crowds did not appear to be abiding by social distancing measures

Police officers stood in the middle of the street to monitor the situation and ensure it didn't escalate

Police officers stood in the middle of the street to monitor the situation and ensure it didn’t escalate 

Police officers tried to manage the crowds as revellers left the pubs and restaurants in Soho at 10pm this evening

Police officers tried to manage the crowds as revellers left the pubs and restaurants in Soho at 10pm this evening

People sit outside Comptons pub in Soho as they enjoy drinks with friends before the level of restrictions increase in the capital at midnight

People sit outside Comptons pub in Soho as they enjoy drinks with friends before the level of restrictions increase in the capital at midnight

Soho was packed with revellers making the most of the capital's final night in Tier 1 restrictions. Roads were covered in tables and chairs as customers were seated outside

Soho was packed with revellers making the most of the capital’s final night in Tier 1 restrictions. Roads were covered in tables and chairs as customers were seated outside

Revellers wore coats and jackets to keep warm as they enjoyed drinks outside Bar Soho in the centre of the capital tonight

Revellers wore coats and jackets to keep warm as they enjoyed drinks outside Bar Soho in the centre of the capital tonight

A group of six women all hold blow-up microphones and don sombreros for a night out in Newcastle on Friday night

A group of six women all hold blow-up microphones and don sombreros for a night out in Newcastle on Friday night

Women posed for the camera after a night of drinking in Newcastle on Friday evening. Tier 3 restrictions hang over the city

Women posed for the camera after a night of drinking in Newcastle on Friday evening. Tier 3 restrictions hang over the city

During the peak of the crisis TfL's revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell. It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

During the peak of the crisis TfL’s revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell. It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

A source close to Mr Khan told MailOnline: ‘Conditions such as extending a £15 congestion charge to the North and South Circular and taking free travel away from children and older people would be totally unacceptable to the Mayor and he would not ask Londoners to accept them in these exceptionally difficult times.’

Extending the congestion zone to the North and South Circular would hit the pockets of millions of Londoners, and has also come under fire from Conservatives. 

Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said the only reason such revenue raising measures were being floated was because of financial mismanagement by City Hall.

Mr Bailey said: ‘Khan has near bankrupted TfL and hung a closed sign over London.’ 

What are ministers’ conditions for a £1bn TfL bailout? 

A source close to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has suggested the Government has set strict conditions in the event of any TfL bailout:

1. Expanding the congestion zone to the North and South circular. 

The current congestion zone is marked by the inner London ring road and covers central London, including the City and West End.

If expanded to the North and South Circular, it will affect millions more people. The North Circular between Chiswick and Woolwich, stretching as North as Barnet. The South Circular stretches almost as far South as Streatham. 

2. Taking away free travel for children and older people.

Currently children get free travel on London buses, while there is also a Freedom Pass for older people to get around the capital. 

 

He added: ‘Under no circumstances would I back an extension of the congestion charge zone, regardless of who proposes it… 

‘Any extension would hit hard working Londoners in the pocket and be a death knell for small businesses.’ 

Tory MP Bob Blackman told MailOnline: ‘He’s going with a begging bowl to the Treasury. He’s wanting £5.6billion to keep TfL running over the next months.

‘At which point, what? Is there a magic money tree? It is just ridiculous what he is asking for.’

TfL’s finances have long been of concern, with the DfT reportedly drafting in KPMG to audit their accounts. 

Mr Khan maintains that TfL’s financial woes are down to plummeting passenger numbers during the pandemic.

During the peak of the crisis TfL’s revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell.

It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future.

He told LBC: ‘I said back in May the deal we had for six months will be a sticking plaster, we need a sustainable deal.

‘For the foreseeable future there will not be five million journeys on our Tube, five-and-a-half million on our buses.’ 

The Mayor added that the Government should not punish Londoners for ‘doing the right thing’ and avoiding public transport – especially when such conditions have not been imposed on private rail providers.

He said: ‘The facts are that the Government gave the privatised rail operators 18 months funding with no strings attached, but is saying to TfL we’ll give you a six-month deal with strings attached.’ 

Mr Khan’s spokesman urged ministers to recognise that ‘singling out Londoners for punishment is unacceptable and makes no economic sense’.

He added: ‘We continue to discuss the next emergency funding package with Government and fight for a fair deal for London.’ 

His opposition was echoed by head of roads policy for the RAC Nicolas Lyes, who said: ‘Expanding the Congestion Charge zone to the north and south circular areas would encompass a huge geographical area and would hit drivers and businesses hard in the pocket at the very worst time, with the pandemic severely impacting travel habits and finances. 

‘Drivers in London have already faced hikes in the existing Congestion Charge zone this year, as well as an increase in its hours of operation, so the introduction of further charges is totally unreasonable.’ 

Edmund King, AA president, said the furore over the congestion charge ‘blows away once and for all any pretence that the charge is related to environmental improvement or reducing congestion’. ‘It is simply a tax,’ he added.

‘It is highly ironic that this comes as many people are avoiding public transport due to Covid and some London boroughs have increased congestion with badly thought out road restrictions which are now causing a residents’ revolt.

‘Pushing through this excessive and socially regressive congestion tax which hits the poorest hardest will be a poll tax on wheels.’

Commuters wear face-masks during morning rush hour on the Victoria Line of the London Underground in central London today

Commuters wear face-masks during morning rush hour on the Victoria Line of the London Underground in central London today

Tube and bus passengers are rising, but Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

Tube and bus passengers are rising, but Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

Coronavirus positive tests in London have increased dramatically since the beginning of September but changes in recent weeks suggest the rate of rise is slowing down, with a 37 per cent increase in the seven days to October 7, compared to the almost double 84 per cent in the third week of September

Coronavirus positive tests in London have increased dramatically since the beginning of September but changes in recent weeks suggest the rate of rise is slowing down, with a 37 per cent increase in the seven days to October 7, compared to the almost double 84 per cent in the third week of September

A TfL spokesman said: ‘We continue to discuss our immediate funding requirements with the Government and hope these discussions can be concluded successfully soon, so we can help London through this next phase of the pandemic.

‘We are doing what we can to minimise costs and aim to continue operating a full service across our network while our funding discussions continue.’

The Department for Transport refused to disclose the details of its funding offer but stressed that negotiations with the Mayor are underway. 

A DfT spokesperson said: ‘The Government continues to engage with Transport for London and the Mayor on the impacts of Covid-19 on TfL’s finances. 

‘These discussions are ongoing and will ensure London has a safe, reliable network while delivering a fair deal to UK taxpayers.

‘Discussions are underway, and it would be inappropriate to disclose further details at this stage.’ 

It comes as Department of Health statistics, released yesterday afternoon, show huge variations in infection rates within the capital, but all will face the same ‘high’ lockdown rules from midnight tonight.

Liverpool City Region is still the only part of the country in the toughest Tier Three restrictions, after cases surged

Liverpool City Region is still the only part of the country in the toughest Tier Three restrictions, after cases surged 

In Ealing and Richmond upon Thames, for example, there were more than 140 cases per 100,000 people in the most recent week where data is available for – this is the standard way of measuring a place’s infection rate – while in Bexley the rate is just 69 per 100,000.

A third of English councils saw a FALL in coronavirus cases last week 

Almost a third of England’s councils saw a drop in coronavirus infections last week amid calls for a second circuit-breaker lockdown and tightening restrictions across the country.

As many as 41 out of 149 councils recorded a fall in their Covid-19 infection rates in the week ending October 11, according to Public Health England’s weekly surveillance report. For comparison, only two saw a dip last week.

And only eight registered a surge in cases of more than 50 per cent – more than 13 times less than the week before when 109 local authorities saw major spikes, suggesting the second wave may be slowing down.

The biggest dip was recorded in the city of Manchester – which the Government is threatening with a tier three lockdown – with a 22 per cent fall in infections from 557.8 to 433.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Southend-on-sea saw the second largest fall, with a 20.5 per cent dip from 42.6 to 33.9 cases per 100,000 people. Slough, outside London, came third with a 19 per cent drop in infections from 86.9 to 70.2 per 100,000.

But many areas still recorded rises in infections – although none saw rates double compared to the 52 areas that recorded this surge last week.

Matt Hancock’s department yesterday claimed cases in the city are ‘rising sharply’ but local politicians have hit out at the decision to tar the whole city with the same brush.

Bob Blackman, the Tory MP for Harrow in west London – where cases are at around 121 per 100,000 people and where 304 people were diagnosed in the week to October 10 – said yesterday: ‘[Sadiq Khan] is going to be standing for re-election saying I am the mayor who closed London and threw the jobs under the train.

‘I don’t see that as a great approach. He’s going to the Treasury with a begging bowl… It is ridiculous what he is asking for.

‘Andy Burnham [Mayor of Manchester] is trying to protect and preserve Manchester, and understandably so. Sadiq Khan seems to want to take London into Tier Three. I don’t know what the mad rush is to do it.’  

Bromley and Chislehurst MP Sir Bob Neill said the ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ for the capital was a mistake.

The senior Conservative told Sky News: ‘I think it’s a mistake. I think it’s disproportionate for the whole of London.

‘I can see some parts of London the test is met, but… there is a cluster of south-east and southern London boroughs where the rates are very much lower.’

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond said he was surprised that the Tier 2 measures were being imposed across the capital.

‘Yes, London infections are rising but they are rising at different rates in different parts of London, different levels of hospitalisation,’ the senior Tory told BBC Radio 4’s World At One.

‘You are taking a very, very broad sweep and it’s not clear that the Government has actually made the case that there should be a complete London-wide lockdown.’

One expert told MailOnline that the reason the whole city was lumped together may be because people are so interconnected it is impossible to separate the boroughs.  

‘We face such huge challenges for fairness and equity when considering lockdown,’ Dr Ilan Kelman, an expert in health disasters at University College London said.

‘London is especially hard due to its size and large rate of mobility via public transport. We also now have university students moving between their dorms and universities, even though university-related infections have been occurring around the country. 

Hospital admissions in London increased 51 per cent in the fortnight between September 25 and October 9 – from an average 33 per day to 50 – which was half the rate of increase of the national measure for England

Hospital admissions in London increased 51 per cent in the fortnight between September 25 and October 9 – from an average 33 per day to 50 – which was half the rate of increase of the national measure for England

Deaths in London remain low at an average of four per day, compared to 60 daily across England as a whole. The measures, however, is always the last to rise and lags around a month behind infections

Deaths in London remain low at an average of four per day, compared to 60 daily across England as a whole. The measures, however, is always the last to rise and lags around a month behind infections

There are currently 77 patients on ventilators in intensive care in London, up from a low of 10 on August 7. For comparison, there are 135 ventilated patients in the North West, 116 in the North East and 468 across England as a whole

There are currently 77 patients on ventilators in intensive care in London, up from a low of 10 on August 7. For comparison, there are 135 ventilated patients in the North West, 116 in the North East and 468 across England as a whole

‘We are in a no-win situation with too many losing so much. What we can do is to be fair to each other and act to help as many as possible, no matter what the tiers or the local variations.’

It comes as motorists were seen driving freely into Wales from England as the 6pm coronavirus travel ban came into force this evening.

The ban – which was described as ‘unenforceable’ by the Police Federation earlier this week – makes it an offence to travel to Wales from coronavirus hotspots in the UK.

But there was no sign of any high visibility patrols to deter travel from Merseyside.

Only a handful of mobile homes were seen on the main A55 dual carriageway coming into North Wales as the movement restriction went into force.

Meanwhile Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said he was ‘looking very carefully’ at whether to bring in a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

If he goes ahead with the proposals to shut bars and restaurants temporarily, it would leave England as the only UK nation not to have such blanket measures in place.

Despite the latest travel rules, it has been confirmed that people from areas with high levels of coronavirus will still be allowed to enter Wales for work, education and medical care, according to legislation published by the Welsh Government.

Wales’s ban will also grant exemptions for people seeking food or medical supplies, items for essential home maintenance, moving home, and attending weddings or funerals.

Obtaining or depositing money with a business, accessing care for children or vulnerable adults, carrying out voluntary or charity work, and training as an elite athlete will also allow a person to cross into the country.

The full list of 18 exemptions, published on Friday, can be found on the Welsh Government’s website.

Sadiq Khan had suggested earlier in the week that a case rate of 100 positive tests per 100,000 people per week would be a ‘trigger’ point for sending an area into a Tier Two lockdown.

But numerous areas of the country have a rate higher than this and remain in Tier One, while London has been thrust into Tier Two as a precautionary measure despite the rate not yet hitting that level.  

London Tube, train and bus staff are told to prepare for total shutdown of network THIS WEEKEND 

Londoners are braced for the capital’s transport system to grind to a halt this weekend as cash-strapped TfL burns through the last of its funding.

Eleventh-hour talks for a £1billion bailout between ministers and Sadiq Khan have stalled because of sticking points involving the Government’s conditions for a deal.

The Mayor is understood to be refusing to sign up to an expansion of the congestion zone to the North and South Circular in particular.

But rivals say he has been backed into a corner after ‘bankrupting’ TfL with mismanagement during his tenure in City Hall.

In May, Mr Khan was forced to hike the congestion charge to £15 as part of a £1.6billion funding agreement with Government.

As that money prepares to dry up tomorrow, Tube and bus drivers have been warned that crucial transport services may stop running if negotiations remain deadlocked.

It appears to be the first place in the country where a lockdown has been brought in before a local crisis rather than as a reaction to one, and is the first time an entire region has been swept up in one move.

Places with rates higher than 100 but no local lockdowns, according to the most recent Department of Health data, include: Exeter (397); Coventry (159) and surrounding parts of Warwickshire including Rugby, Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon; Oxford (154); North Lincolnshire (150); Bristol (146); Bath (115); Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (139); Windsor and Maidenhead (114) and East Hertfordshire (102).

Many of the areas are in the South West which has been the least affected part of the country so far during the epidemic, likely because it has so few cities and the population is spread more thinly over rural areas.

Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash are also being placed into the same Tier Two category from Saturday. All have higher infection rates than London, with rates above 100.

Under the new rules, household mixing will be strictly limited but offices and public transport can remain open, although the government’s general advice to work from home where possible stands. 

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith yesterday demanded to know whether London was being sacrificed to demonstrate the South was not being treated more leniently amid complaints from those in the North. 

Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham yesterday bemoaned that his city and the surrounding region were being treated like ‘canaries in the coalmine’ for the tougher local lockdown rules.

‘London is huge,’ Iain Duncan Smith said. ‘Whether people like it or not it is very diverse and each of the boroughs, many of them are bigger than most of the towns in the rest of the UK,’ he said in the Commons.

‘Surely we need to look again at the nature of this London-wide Tier Two position because there could even be regional areas that could be taken out, there are big disparities.

‘Please think again, otherwise, as one constituent has literally rang me today has said – is this in fact a London-wide Tier Two to stop the North/South divide argument running?’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock replied: ‘No, just on the last point, absolutely not. The decision has been taken on the basis of the data across London.

‘And we did consider the borough-by-borough approach that he understandably advocates, but the decision that we came to is because the cases are rising throughout the capital therefore it was right for the capital to move as a whole – and that was supported by the cross-party team who are working on this at a London level.’ 

London’s Tory Mayoral Candidate Shaun Bailey said: ‘Sadiq Khan’s constant calls for lockdowns are hugely irresponsible. It’s as if he wants people to focus on anything except his poor record as Mayor.

‘I back the government’s decision to put London into Tier 2. It’s a sensible move that may help us avoid a lockdown while keeping Londoners safe.

‘In the meantime, Sadiq Khan needs to stop governing by press release and start doing his job. That means reversing his congestion charge hike, sorting out his LTN schemes, and getting people safely back into central London.’

WHAT ARE THE THREE TIERS? 

TIER 1/MEDIUM

  • you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors 
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am 
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is a take-out service 
  • places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of 6
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees 
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors with the rule of 6

TIER 2/HIGH

  • you must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting
  • you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport 
  • you can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible 

TIER 3/VERY HIGH:  

  • you must not socialise with anybody you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden
  • you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park 
  • pubs and bars must close and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals 
  • places of worship remain open, but household mixing is not permitted  
  • weddings (but not receptions) and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees 
  • you should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if you are resident in a very-high alert level area

Can I still meet friends in a pub garden? Should I cancel half-term trip to Cornwall? Your questions answered as Londoners are plunged into Tier 2 lockdown with parts of Essex, Surrey, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Derbyshire

By Mark Duell for MailOnline

Nine million people in London are set to face tougher coronavirus restrictions banning households mixing indoors – including in pubs – from 0.01am on Saturday.

And London is not the only area which will be hit with the Government’s second-harshest lockdown level at midnight tomorrow. 

Residents in Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash will also have the new restrictions imposed on them. 

Tier 2 rules includes a ban on meeting socially with friends and family indoors and weddings will be limited to 15 and funerals to 30. 

Gyms, shops, schools, universities and churches will stay open.

You can find out the current alert level in your area with the Government’s postcode checker by clicking here, but note it may change this weekend.

Here, MailOnline looks at what it will mean for all regions under Tier 2 lockdown from Saturday:

Can I still go to my friends’ house on Thursday or Friday night?

Yes. Friday will be the last day when you can visit a friend’s house for now, but you must ensure no more than six people gather – and you leave before midnight.

Can I have my friends over from Saturday?

No. People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.

Can I see my friends inside a pub or a restaurant?

No. You must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them. 

This includes private homes, and any other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants. 

Can I meet my friends in a pub garden?

Yes. You can gather in groups of six outside at venues which are following Covid-secure guidance, including pubs, restaurants, shops, leisure and entertainment venues and places of worship.

At least one person in the group should give their contact details to the venue or check in using the official NHS Covid-19 app so NHS Test and Trace can contact you if needed.

Drinkers outside a pub in Westminster last month. You will only be allowed to have a drink with friends from a different household at the pub outdoors from Saturday - and not indoors

Drinkers outside a pub in Westminster last month. You will only be allowed to have a drink with friends from a different household at the pub outdoors from Saturday – and not indoors

Can I see friends outside?

Yes. You may continue to see friends and family you do not live with (or have not formed a support bubble with) outside, including in a garden or other outdoor space. 

When you do so, you must not meet in a group of more than six. 

Do children count in the ‘rule of six’ outdoors?

Yes. This limit of six for meeting people outdoors includes children of any age.

Can I still meet inside with people from my support bubble?

Yes. You will still count as one household who can meet together indoors or outdoors.

A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. 

Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together. 

Informal childcare can also be provided via childcare bubbles (see below).

Is the support bubble affected by London changing tier?

No. Your support bubble is still valid despite London going into a higher tier, so you can continue to function as one household. 

Can my friends visit if they are from outside London?

No. If you live in a ‘tier two’ area you also cannot meet indoors with people from outside of the area, unless exceptions apply (see final question below). 

Can I go to stay at a hotel or Airbnb home within London? 

Yes. You can still travel within high alert level areas to hotels and other guest accommodation, but you should only do this with people in your household or support bubble.

You can only stay in a private home – which includes self-catered accommodation such as holiday cottages, apartments or boats – with members of your own household or support bubble.

You can stay in a hotel or similar accommodation (for example, a hostel or bed and breakfast) with another household.

However you should avoid sharing rooms with people you do not live with or otherwise socialising indoors, for example in each other’s rooms, in reception areas, or in restaurants and bars.

Can I still go on holiday outside London?

Yes, with exceptions. You can still go on holiday outside of high alert level areas, but you must only do this with people in your household or support bubble.

Can I still go on holiday to Wales? 

Probably not. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is proposing a travel ban on visits to Wales by people living in areas of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with high levels of Covid-19 from Friday. 

He said police in Wales could use number plate technology to catch people from UK coronavirus hotspots who illegally enter the country. 

Can I still go on holiday to a tier three area like Liverpool?

No. You should avoid travelling to any part of the country subject to very high local Covid alert levels.

Can I still move home or look at a house in London?

Yes. You can still move home. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can also continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings. 

Do I have to end my current holiday outside London if it’s with another household?

No. At the time that the new local restrictions are brought in, if you are currently on holiday with another household outside London, but are from London, and are staying in a private home and it is not reasonable for you to curtail your stay, you should finish your holiday as planned. 

The Government advises that until the end of this holiday you should ‘make every effort to reduce socialising indoors outside of your household and follow local regulations and guidance’.

Can I still use public transport?

Yes, but with restrictions. The Government says you may continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work, voluntary, charitable or youth services, or to access education, but you should ‘aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible’. 

If you need to travel, the Government encourages people to walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel. 

People wearing face masks pass by market stalls at Covent Garden in Central London today

People wearing face masks pass by market stalls at Covent Garden in Central London today

Do the tier two rules follow me if I travel outside my area? 

Yes. The rules are based on the highest tier level out of a) where you live and b) where you are visiting. 

Therefore, if you live in London, you must abide by London’s rules wherever you go.

But if you are from a tier one area and are visiting London, you must abide by the rules for London.

Can I visit my parents in an area outside of London?

Yes. However you must follow the rules applying to where you live, so you would have to meet them outside and ensure there is not a group of more than six people.

Can I still commute into London if I live in a tier one region outside the capital? 

Yes. The Government says people can continue to travel into a high alert area for work, but should ‘aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible’.

Are the exceptions to the rule of six for children? 

Yes. There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. 

This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies. 

Who can provide childcare support in private homes and gardens?

Registered childcare providers including nannies, people in your support bubble or people in your childcare bubble.

What is the definition of a childcare bubble? 

A childcare bubble is where someone in one household provides informal (unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. 

For any given childcare bubble, this must always be between the same two households.

Friends or family who do not live with you and are not part of a support or childcare bubble must not visit your home to help with childcare. 

Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purposes of different households mixing where they are otherwise not allowed to do so. 

Can I meet with a household from another flat inside the property where I live? 

No. The Government’s definition of a household is one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room, sitting room or dining area. 

A household can consist of a single family, more than one family or no families in the case of a group of unrelated people. 

Therefore people who live in different self-contained flats cannot meet with each other.

Can I visit my grandparent in a care home?

No, with exceptions. You should not visit a care home except in exceptional circumstances, for example to visit an individual who is at the end of their life. 

Will shops still be open?

Yes. Non-essential retail as well as essential stores will remain open for customers.

Will I be fined if I am caught having a meeting in a group that is illegal? 

Yes. Meeting in larger groups is against the law, although there are certain exceptions (see final question). 

The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups, which includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fixed penalty notice fines.

You can be fined £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. 

If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

The newly married Lucy and James Bone after their wedding at St Michael and all Angels Church in Ingram, Northumberland, on July 4 - the day that weddings were once again permitted

The newly married Lucy and James Bone after their wedding at St Michael and all Angels Church in Ingram, Northumberland, on July 4 – the day that weddings were once again permitted

Can I attend a wedding? 

Yes, with restrictions. Up to a maximum of 15 people can attend weddings or equivalent ceremonies and receptions where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and ‘taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus’. 

But receptions should be sit down meals to ensure people can keep their distance from each other, and must not take place in private homes. 

Can I attend a funeral? 

Yes, with restrictions. Up to a maximum of 30 people can attend a funeral. Wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present, but these cannot take place in private dwellings. 

Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit down meal. 

Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. 

People living outside of London in a tier one area can travel to the capital to attend an event, but they must not meet with another household indoors. 

Can I still go to church?

Yes. You can still attend places of worship for a service in London. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.   

Can I attend an indoor exercise class? 

Yes, with restrictions. Indoor exercise classes and other activity groups can only continue provided that households or support bubbles do not mix. Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities must not go ahead. 

There are exceptions to enable disability and youth sport and physical activity indoors, in any number.

Can I still take place in sports activities outdoors?

Yes. In line with guidelines from national sporting bodies, you can take part in sport and physical activity outdoors.

Can I still have a street party?

Yes, but as long as it is outside and no more six people gather, following Covid restrictions. 

Can a tradesperson come into my house? 

Yes. A tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the rules if they are there for work.  

What if I am clinically vulnerable?

The Government advises that those aged 70 or over, pregnant women or those with an underlying health condition can go outside as much as they like but ‘should still try to keep your overall social interactions low’.

Should I share a car with someone from outside my household?

No, in most cases. The Government says it is difficult to socially distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can occur in this context. 

So you should avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing. 

Does the 10pm curfew still apply to pubs and restaurants?

Yes. Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are still required to close between 10pm and 5am. 

Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through. Orders must be made via phone, online or by post. 

A group of women carry their drinks in London's Soho after the 10pm curfew began last month

A group of women carry their drinks in London’s Soho after the 10pm curfew began last month

Are hospitality venues at motorway services still exempt from the curfew? 

Yes. Hospitality venues in ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas do not need to close at 10pm, but must not serve alcohol after that time.  

Can I still go to work in the office?

Yes, with exceptions. The Government advises that ‘office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter’. 

It adds: ‘Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.’

Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary.

The Government also says that ‘anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work’. 

Those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should still work from home wherever possible.

Can I still go to school or college?

Yes. The Government says it has ‘prioritised ensuring all children can attend school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians’.

Can I still go to university? 

Yes. Universities have welcomed students back and students are allowed to move home and travel to go there.

However those in tier two areas must not move backward and forward between their permanent home and term time address during term time – subject to limited exemptions.

Students living at their university term time address in a high alert level area should follow the same guidance on meeting other people and travel as others in that area. 

Pupils wear protective face masks on the first day back to school at Outwood Academy Adwick in Doncaster on September 2 as schools in England reopened to pupils following the lockdown

Pupils wear protective face masks on the first day back to school at Outwood Academy Adwick in Doncaster on September 2 as schools in England reopened to pupils following the lockdown

Can I commute into London or another high alert level area to go to university?

Yes. Commuter students – defined as those who live at a family home and travel to/from university each day – should be able to continue to travel to/from their university as required, for education purposes.

However, you must not meet people you do not live with in their home inside the area, unless they’re in your household, childcare or support bubble

You can also not host people you do not live with in your home, if they live in the affected area, unless they’re in your childcare or support bubble

You must also not meet people you do not live with in their student halls, whether inside or outside of the area, unless they’re in your childcare or support bubble.

If you move out of, or currently live outside of, an affected area you should not host people you do not live with in your home or student halls if they live in a high alert level area, unless they’re in your household, support bubble or childcare bubble.

Will Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph go ahead?

Yes, with restrictions. Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph on November 8 will take place but will be closed to the public.

Crowds will not be allowed to go to the service and will be asked to mark the day at home. The usual Royal British Legion march past has also been cancelled.

It is expected that members of the Royal Family and dignitaries will still attend to lay wreaths to remember the fallen. 

What are the exceptions on people from different households gathering?  

  • in a legally permitted support bubble or childcare bubble
  • for work, volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services
  • for registered childcare, education or training
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
  • for birth partners
  • to see someone who is dying
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable
  • to facilitate a house move
  • for elite sportspeople and their coaches if necessary for competition and training, as well as parents or guardians if they are a child
  • for outdoor exercise and dance classes, organised outdoor sport, and licensed outdoor physical activity
  • indoor organised team sports for disabled people, and youth sport
  • support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • protests – if organised in compliance with Covid-secure guidance

How long will the rules be in place?

The Government must review which areas are subjected to the rules at least once every 14 days, with the first due to be carried out by October 28.

The restrictions themselves must be reviewed every 28 days, with the first due to be carried out by November 11. The rules themselves expire in six months. 



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Sturgeon blasted for ‘lack of foresight’ as coronavirus measures cause chaos for hotels | Politics | News


In a letter to the Scottish First Minister, 100 hotels said a ban on serving alcohol to guests in public areas could lead to cancellations. Under current rules announced last week, hotels can serve alcohol to guests in their rooms through room service.

The letter, started by Jill Chalmers, managing director of Glenapp Castle in South Ayrshire, said: “Not being able to sell alcohol in public areas to hotel residents in Scotland negatively impacts their stay and future guests are already starting to cancel their bookings.

“This measure in particular is threatening the small thread of revenue – a lifeline for many – which still exists for hotel businesses in Scotland at this difficult time.

“We urge you to reconsider this and allow hotel guests, staying a minimum of one night, to consume alcohol in all settings, not simply room service alone.

“In addition, we believe that we should be able to serve non-residents until 6pm, as a café is allowed to do.

“If there is no change, we have no doubt that we will suffer deeper losses.

“We are talking about trying to survive, not about profitability.

“Without this small change in your policy, there will be thousands more job losses in the coming month.”

Scotland’s leading hotels including One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, The Fairmont in St Andrews, the Marcliffe in Aberdeen and the Prestonfield in Edinburgh are all signatories.

READ MORE: House of Lords shamed: Peer breaks cover to admit he’s embarrassed

As of this week, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes outside central Scotland will only be allowed to operate indoors between 6am and 6pm and not serve alcohol, though drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.

But all pubs and licensed restaurants in five areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – will be forced to close for all but takeaway service for 16 days from 6pm on Friday.

However, Nicola Sturgeon revealed on Thursday that cafes can be exempt from the central belt shut down during the day if they do not sell alcohol, triggering confusion about how a cafe is defined.

Dr Liz Cameron, Scottish Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “These measures will sound the death knell for businesses across the hospitality sector, especially pubs and bars. Restaurants and hotels, whilst remaining open, will also be constrained on what they can provide and this will place a large dent in their already reduced income.

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“Hospitality businesses in the central belt face collapse if these current restrictions are extended beyond the initial two week period.

“We understand that tackling the spread of COVID-19 must be a top priority for government, but return to trading is essential to prevent the economy unravelling.”

Jackie Baillie MSP, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, added: “It does seem obvious that the First Minister did not take businesses and workers into account when drawing up these latest restrictions.

“We cannot have businesses, the workers they employ, and the public suffering due to the Scottish Government’s lack of foresight.”

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson, said: “We know that protecting lives and jobs is a difficult balance and we do not underestimate the challenge that these new measures present for businesses – particularly those in the hospitality sector.

“That is why we have committed £40million to our new COVID-19 Restrictions Fund to help affected businesses and protect jobs.”





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UK at ‘critical’ moment as coronavirus infections double in a week in England


MPs have been warned that the coronavirus crisis is at a “critical” moment, as figures suggested the number of infections had doubled in a week.

Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, is understood to have warned that the situation in the UK was now similar to that in early March, before the national lockdown was introduced.      

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, also predicted further restrictions in the city were inevitable as pubs and restaurants in coronavirus hotspots braced themselves for new restrictions. 

Boris Johnson is expected to make a statement to MPs on Monday during which he will outline a three-tier local lockdown system designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And more details on the possibility of further restrictions emerged last night in a letter written to MPs by Mr Johnson’s chief strategic adviser, Sir Edward Lister. 

In the letter, written following a meeting with northern leaders, Sir Edward stated that the “rising incidence” of coronavirus in parts of the country meant it was “very likely” that certain areas will face “further restrictions”. 

The letter also said that the prime minister believed local leaders should “help shape the package of measures in the most concerning areas” and that the government will discuss “difficult choices” with them. 

In preparation, the chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a rescue package for businesses expected to be ordered to shut their doors.  

Ministers will cover two-thirds of the wages of all staff in workplaces legally required to close, Mr Sunak announced, in what will be seen as an effective extension of his furlough scheme for some.  

During a briefing with Matt Hancock and Mr Van-Tam, MPs are understood to have been warned the situation was “critical” and could be compared to early March, just weeks before Boris Johnson ordered an unprecedented nationwide lockdown.

The latest infection numbers from the Office for National Statistics revealed cases may be doubling with 224,400 people in England thought to have caught coronavirus between 25 September and 1 October, equating to about one in 240 people. A week earlier, the numbers infected were nearer 116,000.

According to the daily data from Public Health England and the NHS 13,864 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were reported on Friday with 87 more people dying within 28 days of a positive test.

Almost 600 people were admitted to hospital in the last day, with a total of 3,660 now on wards and 436 on ventilators to help them breathe.

The latest analysis from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned the growth in infections was between 4 and 9 per cent a day with the R rate of transmission at between 1.2 and 1.5.

In a statement, the committee said: “Sage is almost certain that the epidemic continues to grow exponentially across the country, and is confident that the transmission is not slowing.

“While the R value remains above 1.0, infections will continue to grow at an exponential rate. This is currently the case for every region of England and all have positive growth rates, reflecting increases in the number of new infections across the country.”

The worsening picture across the country was further underlined by the government’s mass testing project involving 175,000 volunteers.

It found between 18 September and 5 October that 1 in 170 people in England had the virus with as many as 45,000 new infections every day.

Infections are increasing across all age groups and regions in England, with the highest rates seen in young people aged between 18 and 24 years old.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React programme at Imperial College London, said: “Our robust findings paint a concerning picture of the growing epidemic across England.

“While certain areas are worse affected, if left unabated then infection trends will follow nationwide and could lead to high levels of unnecessary death and illness from the disease.”

Experts behind the React study said the rate of growth of the epidemic across England has slowed in the past month, but the country was now at a “critical point in the second wave”.

One of those who led the study, Professor Steven Riley from Imperial College London, warned: “Prevalence is going to continue to go up unless either compliance with the messaging improves, or additional measures are introduced that are supported by the general public.

“There is a very strong epidemiological case for trying to reduce the transmission right now.”

The chancellor said the expansion of his job support scheme would provide “reassurance and a safety net” for people and businesses across the UK in advance of a potentially “difficult winter”.

The support will see the government pay two-thirds of each employee’s salary – up to a maximum of £2,100 a month – if their employer is legally required to close their premises because of restrictions.

It will launch on 1 November and last for six months.

But mayors from the north of England said the new measures appeared not to go “far enough” to prevent “genuine hardship, job losses and business failure this winter”.



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What we know — and don’t know — about Trump’s coronavirus treatment



Though Conley said Trump is not currently receiving supplemental oxygen, he didn’t directly answer whether Trump has been on oxygen since his diagnosis. Multiple news reports afterwards indicated Trump received oxygen Friday morning before being admitted to Walter Reed. Conley also didn’t answer a question about whether Trump received steroids, which have been used in more severe Covid-19 cases.

Conley’s comments on when Trump was diagnosed immediately threw into question when Trump knew he was infected. He said Trump was “72 hours” into his diagnosis, which suggested Trump received a positive coronavirus well over a day before he publicly disclosed it early Friday morning. But almost two hours after the press conference, Conley in a new memo said he had misspoke, and that Trump was diagnosed Thursday night.

It was previously disclosed that Trump received 8 grams of the drug developed by Regeneron, the highest dose being tested in the company’s ongoing late-stage clinical trials. That could signal an aggressive treatment plan, out of an abundance of caution, or worsening symptoms. Conley’s Saturday afternoon memo said that Trump first received an experimental antibody treatment Friday morning – and not Thursday morning, as another doctor involved in Trump’s treatment indicated during the press conference.

It was previously disclosed that Trump also received an infusion of remdesivir on Friday, one of the few treatments that have been shown to help patients. The drug can reduce the length of hospitalization by a few days, and recent data suggests that it might have a slight benefit in mortality. The FDA authorized emergency use of remdesivir in hospitalized patients in May, and evidence has shown it’s more effective the earlier it’s given in the course of a patient’s infection. Conley said Trump is set to receive a five-day course of the treatment, which is standard.

Conley said the mix of experimental drugs was part of his decision not to “hold back” and to pursue treatments that could expedite Trump’s return to work.

“Remdesivir works a little bit differently than the antibodies,” Conley said Saturday. “We’re maximizing all aspects of his care, attacking this virus with a multi-pronged approach.”

The White House, which has been less than forthcoming about Trump’s health throughout his presidency, said Trump’s visit to Walter Reed was a precautionary measure to monitor him over the next few days. Though Conley said that Trump on Saturday wasn’t having trouble breathing or walking around, someone in Trump’s orbit immediately afterwards raised concerns about the president’s condition.

“The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” according to a White House pool report that cites a source “familiar with the president’s condition.”

What else do we know about Trump’s drug regimen?

Regeneron said Trump received its antibody drug through a “compassionate use” program, which allows patients early access to experimental drugs with the FDA’s approval. The treatment, known as a monoclonal antibody, is a lab-made version of the antibodies that the immune system makes to ward off the virus. Regeneron said Tuesday that its antibody reduced the amount of virus in patients’ bodies in its ongoing trial, and may speed recovery.

Monoclonal antibodies like Regeneron’s are thought to work best when given early in the course of infection. This appears to be the situation with Trump, who tested positive Thursday and is showing fatigue, according to a Friday afternoon memo from Conley that was released before Trump left for Walter Reed. The president notably canceled his only scheduled appearance on Friday and has been relatively quiet on Twitter since his diagnosis was announced.

Other drugs and supplements the president is taking include a daily aspirin — often prescribed to bolster heart health — along with zinc, Vitamin D, famotidine and melatonin, each of which has been proposed as a potential Covid-19 treatment. Taken together, the cocktail suggests that Trump’s symptoms are mild to moderate, although that could change as his disease progresses.

Famotidine, a heartburn medicine also sold under the brand name Pepcid, is being tested as a coronavirus treatment on the basis of observational studies in China that suggested patients who took the drug for heartburn had a slight survival edge. But there is no direct evidence from randomized, controlled clinical trials — the gold standard for medical research — that the drug benefits people with coronavirus.

Zinc is thought to improve overall body function and protect against infection, and Vitamin D to bolster the immune system, but there is no evidence that either helps prevent or ease Covid-19 infection. Melatonin is often used as a sleep aid, and some clinical trials are investigating whether it can help reduce inflammation in coronavirus patients.

Notably, the president is not taking hydroxychloroquine, despite championing the anti-malarial drug as a Covid-19 treatment and taking it for two weeks in May after a possible virus exposure. Multiple trials have shown it to have no clinical benefit for Covid-19. Trump was closely monitored when he took the drug in spring in case he developed an irregular heart condition, a known side effect, his physician said at the time.

There’s no way to know how long Trump will be sick, or how vigorously he will be able to campaign in final days or weeks before the election. Covid-19 is notorious for its ability to attack multiple parts of the body, which can make the disease look very different from one patient to the next. It sometimes causes long-term health effects that can take months to recover from, and in some cases, can leave lasting damage to vital organs.

Here are some of the big unanswered questions about Trump’s case:

When was the president exposed?
It may be impossible to know. The National Institutes of Health says it can take up to two weeks for Covid-19 to be detected, with a median incubation period of four or five days. Speculation has focused on senior adviser Hope Hicks, who was diagnosed with the virus and traveled with Trump to the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday and accompanied him to a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday night. It’s possible the exposure could have happened earlier this week, when he campaigned in Pennsylvania, or even before then.

Did the White House have effective safety measures?
The White House hasn’t said how it screens staff and visitors, and Trump’s campaign has hosted large rallies with packed crowds of largely unmasked people. The rallies have mostly been held outdoors, where the risk of virus spread is lower, but his campaign held an indoor rally in Nevada about three weeks ago in defiance of state restrictions, and another in Duluth, Minn., on Wednesday.

The administration has in the past relied on a rapid test from Abbott Laboratories that can produce results in as soon as 15 minutes. But the test has been shown to have high error rates, and it’s likely that the White House confirmed the president and first lady’s infections with additional lab-based testing. The White House declined to comment on testing procedures.

Even the best tests don’t catch every case, though. Public health experts say there’s no substitute for wearing face coverings and observing social distancing — precautions Trump has frequently flouted.

What other drugs might he take?
The Trump administration has also aggressively promoted the use of antibody-rich blood plasma from coronavirus survivors. It’s been used in the past to treat diseases ranging from Ebola to diphtheria, with mixed results. There’s no clear evidence it helps those ill with Covid-19, and an expert panel advising the government says it should not be considered standard of care. The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the treatment in late August over the objections of top federal scientists.

A decades-old steroid called dexamethason is another treatment doctors have deployed. U.K. scientists reported in June that it reduced the risk of death for severely ill patients. But the drug, which quiets the immune system, could backfire in mild or moderately ill patients.

Could there be long-term effects?
There’s a growing population of patients who haven’t fully recovered from the coronavirus months after first experiencing symptoms. Many of these “long haulers” had mild or moderate symptoms that sometimes didn’t require hospitalization.

Common symptoms that linger over time include fatigue, a cough, shortness of breath, headaches, joint pain and in some cases, damage to the heart, lungs or brain. The difficulty of predicting outcomes has led scientists to study patients who had related viruses like SARS. The Mayo Clinic notes many who recovered went on to develop chronic fatigue syndrome, a disorder that worsens with physical or mental activity but doesn’t improve with rest.



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Coronavirus live updates: Quebec reports 933 new cases, 16 deaths and 13 hospitalizations


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11:10 a.m.

Quebec reports 933 new cases, 16 deaths and 13 hospitalizations

Quebec has recorded 933 new cases of COVID-19, the provincial government announced this morning.

That’s the biggest one-day caseload increase since early May.

Montreal reported the most cases: 319.

The province has now passed the 75,000 mark, with a total of 75,221 cases confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Sixteen new deaths were reported – two over the past 24 hours, 12 between Sept. 24 and 29, and two more before Sept. 24

That’s the highest number of deaths reported in one day since July 3.

The number of hospitalizations increased by 13 to reach 275.

Among those in hospital, 46 are in intensive care, an increase of three.

“Community transmission has an impact on people of all backgrounds, ages and regions,” Health Minister Christian Dubé said via Twitter. “We must stay at home to protect the most vulnerable.”





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Dr Hilary Jones brands coronavirus pregnancy style test ‘unachievable’


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Dr Hilary Jones has branded Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new pregnancy style coronavirus test ‘unachievable’.

Just last night, the PM held a virtual conference where he explained the government are working on a new Covid-19 test which will deliver results in less that 20 minutes.

He told the nation that the government is hoping to increase the testing capacity in the UK to 500,000 a day by the end of October.

However, when appearing on Good Morning Britain today, Dr Hilary opened up on how he is wary about the new plans.

‘What all governments around the world are hoping for is a rapid test that gives you a reliable answer in 20 minutes or less that is the holy grail,’ he stated.

‘We need to know that these tests are as reliable as the ones we are using in the Test and Trace.’

Dr Hilary Jones brands Boris Johnson’s new pregnancy style test ‘unachievable’ (Picture: ITV)

The expert went on: ‘We have got problems with that system already, it would be great if we had a rapid test so people will know if they’re infectious in 20 minutes or not, but the technology is not yet there.

‘We need to know that it can be that reliable otherwise it could be misleading and potentially harmful.

‘If we’re going to be doing 10million tests a day, where are all these people going to come from carrying out these tests and processing them in the labs?

Boris Johnson plans to get out 500,000 tests by October (Picture: PA)

‘It is such a huge ask and I don’t think the experts believe it is achievable even by next spring, it’s a massive undertaking.’

Susanna Reid, who was hosting the show alongside Adil Ray, questioned Dr Hilary on the pregnancy style testing kits and Mr Johnson’s ‘Operation Moonshoot’, which would not need to go through labs.

He said: ‘We haven’t yet got the technology that proves it works and even if we did and had these tests available at sporting events where people are screened before going into the event who is going to…

‘The logistics of that are so immense and so mind-blowing that it would cost an estimated £100 billion to do this a year, the same we spend almost on the NHS, £130 billion.

‘It is actually unachievable.’

Good Morning Britain continues weekdays at 6am on ITV.

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MORE: Even Dr Hilary Jones is confused by Boris Johnson’s rule of six as he tries to explain change in restrictions

MORE: Kate Garraway won’t see husband Derek Draper on 15th wedding anniversary: ‘It’s a tough day’





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UK coronavirus LIVE: Boris Johnson clarifies new ‘rule of six’ social gathering law as Covid cases jump by 2,659



Boris Johnson is announcing a tightening of social distancing rules by banning social gatherings of more than six people in England.

The Prime Minister is revealing more details of the new restrictions at a press conference, after the number of daily cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000. The new measures will come into force on Monday, applying to gatherings indoors and outdoors – including private homes – as well as parks, pubs and restaurants.

It comes after Mr Johnson was grilled by Keir Starmer on the “frankly ridiculous” test and trace system during PMQs, with the Prime Minister saying the Government “will do more” to ensure people have access to coronavirus tests.


Meanwhile, Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine trails have been halted after a British patient fell ill, and the number of cases has risen by 2,659 over night, with deaths up by 12 in hospitals, as the worrying surge in infections continues.

Follow here for live updates…

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Coronavirus restrictions: What are the new rules for seeing friends and family?


From Monday, it will be illegal for people in England to meet socially in groups of more than six people, with a few exemptions.

For example, the new law will not apply to those meeting in schools and workplaces.

The legislation has been brought into place to combat the rising number of coronavirus cases in the last week.

Boris Johnson is expected to offer further details about the new rules in a Downing Street conference on Wednesday.

Here’s everything we know so far about the new rules for social gatherings.

What are the new rules for meeting up with friends and family?

As of Monday 14 September, the number of people permitted to meet socially will be reduced from 30 to six in England.

This new rule applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings and to people of all ages.

It means that people will no longer be able to socialise in homes, parks, pubs, and restaurants in groups of more than six.

Currently, it is permitted for up to 30 people from two households to meet socially, or six from various households.

In Wales, you can still meet in a group of up to 30 people outdoors with no limit to the number of households. Additionally, up to four households can form an “extended household” for indoor socialising.

In Scotland, you can meet up to eight people from three other households indoors, so long as you maintain social distancing.

And in Northern Ireland, it’s permitted for six people from two households to meet indoors and up to 15 to meet outdoors with no limit on households.

What are the exemptions?

There are several forms of meetings that will be unaffected by the new rules in England, such as weddings and funerals.

Schools and workplaces will also be unaffected, as will organised team sports.

A full list of exemptions will be published by the government ahead of Monday.

How will the new rules be enforced?

Anyone caught socialising in groups larger than six in England will be fined.

For the first offence, the fine will be £100 and this will double for every additional offence up to the value of £3,200.

Will pubs and restaurants be affected?

Yes, people will not be able to meet in groups larger than six in pubs and restaurants in England.

Anyone who is caught breaking the rules will be fined.



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Coronavirus: Virgin Atlantic to cut 1,150 more jobs


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Virgin Atlantic is to cut 1,150 more jobs after completing a £1.2bn rescue plan that will secure its future for at least 18 months.

The airline had already cut more than 3,500 jobs out of the 10,000 employees it had at the beginning of the year.

The airline said it had to cut costs in order to survive.

“Until travel returns in greater numbers, survival is predicated on reducing costs further and continuing to preserve cash,” it said.

“The outlook for transatlantic flying, which is core to Virgin Atlantic’s business, remains uncertain with US-UK travel curtailed,” the airline said.

It said the past six months had been “the most challenging in Virgin Atlantic’s history”, and that “regrettably the airline must go further one last time with changes at scale, to ensure it emerges from this crisis”.

The carrier added that a 45-day consultation period would begin on Friday with unions.

To try to cut down on crew redundancies, it said it would introduce a voluntary, company-financed furlough scheme for 600 crew members when the government-backed scheme ends in October.

‘A tragedy’

Pilots union Balpa said that it hoped to avoid pilot redundancies.

“Every single job lost to this crisis is a tragedy and we are doing everything we can to mitigate job losses across the board,” said Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton.

“Despite no help from government, their financing is now secure,” he added.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a dreadful toll on employment in the aviation industry.

Airlines around the world have been haemorrhaging jobs, as they face a future in which fewer people travel, and fewer planes are able to fly.

And it isn’t just airlines. Aerospace firms, airports and groundhandling companies are also being forced to cut back.

Virgin finds itself more exposed than many of its rivals, because it relies heavily on transatlantic traffic – and restrictions on travel to the US remain in force.

The company is hoping its £1.2bn rescue plan will enable it to ride out the storm. But to succeed, it still needs to turn itself into a much smaller business than it was just a few months ago.

US carrier Delta Air Lines, which owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, said the rescue plan was “an important part of protecting Delta’s position in the UK, particularly in the critical London Heathrow market,” as it vies against American Airlines and British Airways.

The pandemic has had a severe impact on the aviation industry as lockdowns and quarantines hit air travel. Airlines, airports and tour firms have collectively shed thousands of jobs.

Virgin gained approval for its rescue plan from UK and US courts this week.

The £1.2bn deal involves £400m in new cash, half of which will come from its main shareholder, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said: “Together, we have achieved what many thought impossible and that is down to the efforts and sacrifices of so many across the company.”

He called for “urgent government action” to introduce passenger testing to help remove travel restrictions.

Since the 16 March it has not been possible for many travellers from the UK to get into the US if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil, or China within the past two weeks.



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