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UK coronavirus live: PM would have saved thousands of lives with earlier lockdown, says Sage scientist | Politics
Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, has suggested that the Covid crisis has led to the border between England and Wales becoming the hardest it has been for centuries.
At his press conference in Cardiff, Drakeford said police forces on both sides of the border would have a role to play to make sure people did not travel from England to Wales to “escape” the month-long English lockdown.
He also said that people in Wales would not be allowed to travel to England or abroad without good reason even after his county’s “firebreak” lockdown ends next Monday. However, people will be able to travel within Wales without restrictions.
Asked if this was the “hardest” the border had ever been, the first minister said:
That may well be the case, for several centuries at least.
We do have to consider the impact the English lockdown will have on the next steps we take in Wales. We need to do this because we share a long and porous border. Every day on a non-lockdown day almost 150,000 people criss-cross this border to work, visit family, shop and to travel.
It is really important as we open up, Wales doesn’t become an escape for people seeking to circumvent the tighter restrictions imposed by the prime minister.
Drakeford said rules were being drawn up in England to stop people from travelling to Wales without good reason. He said: “Our police forces but also police forces across the border will have to play their part to ensure that is enforced.”
But he also argued the better solution was to persuade people to obey the rules rather than have to impose penalties on those who broke them.Or not. The England/Wales border is about to become the hardest it’s been for centuries, the first minister says. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images
Updated at 9.03am EST
MPs to get vote on what replaces lockdown after it ends on 2 December, No 10 says
Here are the main lines from the No 10 lobby briefing.
- The prime minister’s spokesman said MPs will get a vote on whatever restrictions replace the lockdown in England when it is due to end on 2 December. He said the government would “seek to” go back into a tiered system, but pledged a Commons vote on any replacement.
As a matter of hard legal fact the regulations will expire on 0001 2 December and MPs will get a vote on what replaces the regulations. The intention of the government is to go back into a tiered system which is based on a local and regional basis.
- The spokesman defended the decision not to allow pubs to sell takeaway alcohol during the lockdown. He said:
The way to get the R rate down and to bring the virus under control is to reduce the level of social contacts which people are having. What we’re seeking to do is to reduce the number of gatherings which might take place where there might be social contact that might lead to transmission of the virus.
- And he defended the decision not to let golf courses and tennis courts remain open. He said:
People are able to use public spaces or walk or run in the park. The purpose of the tougher regulations, which I expect are going to be difficult for very many people, are to significantly reduce social contact.
- He suggested that further announcements about the delivery of rapid coronavirus tests will be announced soon, with the army involved in distributing them. He said:
What we know from trialling them in schools as well as in hospitals is that we can use the tests not just to locate infected people but to drive down the disease.
What you will be seeing in the coming days and weeks is an expansion in the deployment of the quick-turnaround tests.
We have brought the army in to work on the logistics of distributing the tests and I would expect that programme to begin work this week.
- He said the PM expected MPs to continue travelling to parliament during the lockdown.
Updated at 8.59am EST
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will seek to agree joint rules for Christmas, Downing Street said today.
Following a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, chaired by the Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and attended by the devolved administrations, No 10 said all four governments would “work together on a joint approach to the Christmas period”.
Welsh non-essential travel ban in November to cover flights from Cardiff airport too, says Drakeford
At his news conference Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, said the ban on non-essential travel outside Wales during November, while the English lockdown is in force (see 1.16pm), would also cover flights from Cardiff airport. He explained:
Cardiff airport. Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
We decided it just doesn’t make sense to leave that possibility open to people in Wales when only Cardiff airport will be available to them, and leaving Cardiff airport open would be a magnet to draw people from other parts of the United Kingdom into Wales at a point where we don’t want that to happen.
So that is something that has changed as a result of the prime minister’s statement on Saturday, and we’ve decided that is the simplest and safest way to prevent the risk of people travelling inside of the United Kingdom.
Updated at 8.39am EST
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, has attacked over-centralisation by Westminster and called for English mayors and devolved administrations to be given seats in a reformed House of Lords.
In his first major speech since becoming Scottish Tory leader, Ross said there was mounting evidence “trust has broken down” between Boris Johnson’s government and the leaders of the UK’s nations and regions during the Covid crisis and the Brexit transition process.
That was largely driven by the prime minister’s centralisation of power and “winner takes all” attitude to Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, Ross told the Tory-leaning think tank Policy Exchange in London.
“The Covid-19 crisis has put the structures for interaction between the UK government, devolved administrations and indeed the English mayoralties to the ultimate test,” Ross said. That had fuelled widespread discontent with Johnson’s government.
Trust has broken down and when it does we see time and time again popular opinion siding with their devolved representatives.
Ross hinted heavily that he sided with the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs who have warned Johnson his recent approach has exposed “deep structural and systemic disadvantage faced by our communities”.
His warnings to Johnson follow a surge in support for both the Scottish National party and for independence during the Covid crisis, putting Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and first minister, on course for a majority in next May’s Holyrood election.
Welsh people told not to cross border into England without reasonable excuse in November
At his news conference Mark Drakeford said that when the Welsh “firebreak” lockdown ends next week, Welsh people will not be allowed to cross the border into England without a reasonable excuse while the English lockdown is in force. He said:
There will be no travel restrictions inside Wales but during the month-long lockdown in England, travel will not be permitted outside Wales without a reasonable excuse.
Drakeford said that needing to cross the border for work was clearly a reasonable excuse.
But [travel across the border] will be a restricted list of essential purposes, rather than the normal to-ing and fro-ing across the border that you would have seen in less fraught and difficult times.
After his speech to the CBI Sir Keir Starmer took questions from the audience, and in his answers he hinted at his desire to move away from some aspects of the Jeremy Corbyn policy agenda. These are from Sky’s Joe Pike and the FT’s Jim Pickard.
Joe Pike (@joepike)
.@Keir_Starmer on nationalisation:
-‘There are changes that need to take place’ e.g. rail franchises.November 2, 2020
-Privatisation in criminal justice system ‘didn’t help’.
-But not one size fits all.
-Dodges Q about 2019 Labour policy of nationalising BT.#CBIconference
Jim Pickard (@PickardJE)
“In 2019 we suffered a devastating loss in the election. It’s important you don’t look at the electorate and ask ‘what on earth were you doing’, you ask ‘what on earth were we doing'”?November 2, 2020
Chloe Smith, a minister in the Cabinet Office, has announced that she is starting treatment for breast cancer.
Chloe Smith #handsfacespace (@NorwichChloe)
I’ve learnt I have breast cancer, & start treatment soon. I aim to carry on as normally, positively & openly as possible – with a bit of support & privacy at times.November 2, 2020
T-cell immunity against Covid-19 is likely to be present within most adults six months after primary infection, according to a study.
As PA Media reports, the research from Public Health England (PHE) and the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) demonstrated robust T-cell responses to Covid-19 peptides at six months in all participants following asymptomatic, mild or moderate infection.
Prof Paul Moss, UK-CIC lead and professor of haematology at the University of Birmingham, described the new data as “reassuring, potentially even encouraging” but said it does not mean people cannot get re-infected.
The research was an observational study and has not yet been peer-reviewed.
Sturgeon says Scotland could tighten restrictions soon if Treasury does not offer furlough flexibility
Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland could quickly move to a full lockdown to “stamp down harder” on the spread of Covid-19 by exploiting the opportunity offered by the new 80% furlough funding from the Treasury.
The first minister said that during a Cobra meeting hosted on Monday morning by Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, she and the Welsh and Northern Irish governments had pressed for much greater flexibility in the availability of furlough payments outside England.
She said she hoped the Treasury would confirm later today that the devolved administrations would be allowed to offer 80% furlough payments to employers even if they were not used in England.
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, confirmed in a speech to the Tory-leaning Policy Exchange on Monday morning, he had also been lobbying the chancellor to offer that option to devolved governments.
If the Treasury did not do that, Sturgeon said, her government could decide to move very fast to impose level 4 restrictions across Scotland this week to use the time-limited opportunity to offer furlough over the next four weeks. She said:
We can’t rule out and should not rule out going to level 4 for all or parts of the country. We can’t put off vital decisions while we have a debate with the Treasury.
Sturgeon said stricter Scottish rules introduced from September appeared to be working with the surge in new cases starting to subside.
There were no new deaths overnight but the number of new cases fell overnight to 951. The numbers in hospital rose by 32 to 1,225 and by 12 in intensive care, up to 93.
Drakeford says rules for pubs reopening in Wales not yet finalised because of clash with English lockdown
At his press conference Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, says he wanted to be able to say today that pubs and restaurants would be able to reopen next week on the same terms as before.
But he says the announcement of the England-wide lockdown has made that difficult, because it creates a risk of English people crossing the border to drink in pubs in Wales. He does not want to create a situation where the police cannot enforce the ban on people visiting from high-Covid areas outside Wales, he says.
We will be coming out of our firebreak just as England begins a month-long lockdown and it is really important that as we open up, Wales doesn’t become an escape for people seeking to circumvent the new tighter restrictions imposed by the prime minister.
We want to keep Wales safe, and we want to keep the United Kingdom safe as well.
He says that is why there will be further talks before the exact arrangements for the reopening of pubs in Wales are announced.
Updated at 7.52am EST
Starmer’s speech to CBI – Summary
Here is the full text of Sir Keir Starmer’s speech to the CBI conference. And here are the main points.
- Starmer said that the government’s decision to delay the lockdown had cost lives. (See 11.58am.) Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, had failed to show leadership, Starmer said.
Even more unforgivable, the central lesson of the first wave was ignored: That if you are to control this virus you have to act early and decisively and that if you don’t the cost to people’s health and to the health of the economy is much, much worse.
One of the things I’ve learnt from this crisis is that it exposes leadership like nothing else. On that count the prime minister and the chancellor have failed. They failed to learn. They failed to listen. And they failed to lead. The result is tragic – but all too predictable.
- Starmer singled out Sunak for particular blame, accusing the chancellor of being the person who blocked an earlier lockdown. He said:
And the impact on business – and jobs – will be severe. Make no mistake, the chancellor’s name is all over this. His decision to block a circuit breaker, to dismiss it as a “blunt instrument” and to pretend that you can protect the economy without controlling the virus will now mean that businesses have to close for longer, more people will lose their jobs, and the public finances will be worse than they needed to be.
Labour has been increasingly critical of Sunak in its public campaigning recently. With speculation still bubbling away at Westminster about the prospect of Johnson being replaced at some point before the next general election by Sunak, who is far more popular with the public, Starmer has a clear incentive to tarnish his reputation. But blaming Sunak for being responsible for the lockdown delay also implies that Johnson’s own leadership is weak.
- Starmer said he said he thought “the essential bargain of postwar Britain” had broken down. He explained:
In the last decade something profound has happened in our economy. For years, the essential bargain of postwar Britain was that for every boost in prosperity that reward found its way to the factory floor. But that bargain has broken down.
Earnings have stagnated since 2010. The cost of living – the price of food, housing, utility bills – has gone up and the returns to shareholders have carried on rising. That bargain is no longer being honoured. It’s fuelling resentment, anger and injustice.
- He said he wanted to restore Labour’s relationship with the business community. He said:
I’m under no illusion about the work we have to do if we’re to win back your trust. We have bridges to build. And today I want to set out the new partnership I want to build between British business and the Labour party.
He said his goal was for “every community and every town [to have] world-class local businesses”. But Labour also expect businesses to contribute something in return, he said.
We’ll expect every business to play its part in delivering the transition to a net zero economy as soon as possible. We’ll expect businesses to work with trade unions, to treat their workers with fairness and dignity, to invest in their skills and their futures, and to provide the kind of secure foundations that a life and future can be built upon.
We’ll expect businesses to compete fairly, and to play by the rules, in spirit and in letter. We’ll expect businesses to leave a lasting footprint in local towns and communities – working with local schools and colleges to upskill and empower young people. And we’ll expect every business to consider the role it can play in promoting greater social justice and tackling the deep-seated inequalities that exist in our society.
- He said improving skills would be a priority for Labour under his leadership “like never before”.
Updated at 8.02am EST
Drakeford announces Covid rules for Wales once its lockdown ends next week
Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, is giving a briefing now. The new national measures for Wales when the country’s “firebreak” lockdown ends next Monday include:
- The need to maintain 2 metre social distancing and wear face masks in enclosed public places, including on public transport and taxis, will continue.
- The requirement to work from home whenever possible will remain.
- People should only meet with their ‘bubble’ in their own home and only two households will be able to form a ‘bubble’. If one person from either household develops symptoms, everyone should immediately self-isolate.
- Up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoors activity and up to 30 in an organised activity outdoors, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other Covid safety measures are followed.
- All premises, such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and gyms, closed during the firebreak, will be able to reopen. Following the announcement about the English lockdown, ministers are having ongoing discussions with the hospitality sector about the detailed rules for reopening. This includes about meeting in public indoor spaces.
- As part of keeping our risks to a minimum, people should avoid non-essential travel as much as possible. There will be no legal restrictions on travel within Wales for residents, but international travel should be for essential reasons only.
- Churches and places of worship will resume services.
- Local authority services will resume but based on local circumstances.
- Community centres will be available for small groups to meet safely indoors in the winter months.
Updated at 8.00am EST
Starmer says PM’s decision to delay lockdown has cost lives
In his speech to the CBI Sir Keir Starmer said that the PM’s decision to delay the lockdown had cost lives. He said:
On 21 September, the government’s own scientists – Sage – recommended an “urgent” two-to-three week circuit breaker in order to prevent the virus getting out of control.
On that day there were 11 deaths from Covid-19 and there were just over 4,000 Covid infections. The prime minister failed to heed that warning.
Forty days later. when he finally decided to announce a longer four-week national lockdown –those figures had increased to 326 deaths a day, and 22,000 Covid cases. That is the human cost of the government’s inaction.
Updated at 7.02am EST
Starmer condemns Johnson and Sunak’s leadership over Covid
Sir Keir Starmer is addressing the CBI conference now.
He says he will be using his speech to set out his plan for “a new partnership between British business and the Labour party”.
But he starts by speaking about coronavirus, and he says the government has ignored the central lesson from the first wave of the virus: that governments have to act early and decisively.
He says Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, failed to learn this lesson. They failed to listen and they failed to lead, he says.
I will post a full summary of the speech once I’ve read the whole text.
Updated at 6.57am EST
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