UK coronavirus LIVE: Cabinet 'at war' over rule of six restrictions as British holidaymakers flock home to avoid quarantine

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  • September 11, 2020
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Almost every minister a part from Matt Hancock opposed Boris Johnson‘s rule of six aimed to curb the sharp rise in coronavirus cases, according to reports.

People in England will be banned from socialising in groups of more than six from Monday as the Government claimed it had been forced to act because some people had failed to follow social distancing guidelines. But a Cabinet source told the MailOnline the new restriction was objected to by every member of Mr Johnson’s coronavirus strategy committee.

Meanwhile, Brits are racing home from Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion before 4am on Saturday as the countries are removed from the quarantine exemption list. However, Sweden has been added to the travel corridor list, allowing them to avoid self-isolating when arriving in England.

It comes as the UK recorded another 2,919 coronavirus cases overnight, as the daily infection count creeps ever closer to 3,000. A further 14 people have died from Covid-19 across all settings over the past 24 hours, the latest Department of Health figures also reveal.

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Live Updates


Launch date of Covid-19 app across England and Wales announced

The Health Secretary has announced a “defining moment” in the pandemic with the launch of the Covid-19 app across England and Wales from September 24.

The NHS Covid-19 app will be launched on September 24, the Department of Health and Social Care said. Matt Hancock described the app’s launch as “a defining moment” and said it will help to contain the virus “at a critical time”.

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Matt Hancock described the app’s launch as “a defining moment”

He said: “We need to use every tool at our disposal to control the spread of the virus including cutting-edge technology.

“The launch of the app later this month across England and Wales is a defining moment and will aid our ability to contain the virus at a critical time.

“QR codes provide an easy and simple way to collect contact details to support the NHS Test and Trace system.

“Hospitality businesses can now download posters for their premises ahead of the launch of the NHS Covid-19 app. This will allow the public to seamlessly check in to venues using the app when it launches.

“It is vital we are using the NHS Test and Trace system to reach as many people as possible to prevent outbreaks and stop this virus in its tracks. This function will make it simple and easy so we can keep this virus under control.”



The NHS Covid-19 app will be launched across England and Wales on September 24, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Ahead of the roll-out businesses including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas are being urged to ensure they have NHS QR code posters visible on entry so customers who have downloaded the new app can use their smartphones to check-in.

The department said ongoing trials in the London Borough of Newham, on the Isle of Wight and with NHS Volunteer Responders show the app is “highly effective when used alongside traditional contact tracing to identify contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus”.


The impact of coronavirus on prostitution is to be explored in a Scottish Government consultation

Ministers are asking for observations on the affect the pandemic has had on women involved in the sex industry. A paper published alongside the Government consultation said concerns have been reported that during lockdown, “women in prostitution were resorting to higher-risk practices” such as offering unprotected sex.

The consultation also asks if the Scottish Government’s current approach to tackling prostitution is sufficient to prevent violence against women and girls.

Launching the consultation, community safety minister Ash Denham said the Government “supports measures to help reduce the harms caused by prostitution”.

She added: “Men have a critical role in challenging violence, including reducing the demand for prostitution.

“It is vital that we break down gender norms, stand up to the normalisation of harmful behaviours and work together to achieve greater gender equality in our society – something which will benefit all of us, our families and communities.”

The consultation runs until December 10, and the minister added: “This is an opportunity for everyone with an interest and with insights to help inform future policy decisions about how we address this form of gendered violence, protect the human rights and dignity of women and improve their outcomes.”


 “If the brain does become infected, it could have a lethal consequence”:


Infection rates in 18 boroughs are above the Government’s threshold for imposing quarantine restrictions:

New coronavirus cases jump in 30 London boroughs, latest data shows

The rate of new confirmed coronavirus cases in London has increased in 30 boroughs, according to new figures.

The rolling seven-day rate of Covid-19 cases shows that new cases per 100,000 people is highest in Redbridge, Hounslow and Havering.

Infection rates in 18 boroughs are now above the Government’s threshold for imposing quarantine restrictions on holidaymakers returning to the UK from abroad. 


A student who knew he had tested positive for coronavirus decided to throw a house party while he was supposed to be quarantining:

Student with Covid-19 throws house party for 20 while quarantining

A student who knew he had tested positive for coronavirus decided to throw a house party while he was supposed to be quarantining.

Police body camera footage broadcast on local TV channel WOIO 19, shows the moment officers confronted the hosts of the house party in Oxford, Ohio, at 4pm on Saturday.


Police urge Londoners to behave:

Police: Don’t have ‘blowout’ weekend before ‘rule of six’ comes in

Police urged Londoners not to go on a “blowout” as temperatures soar before the “rule of six” Covid-19 restrictions are introduced.

Pubs and bars are expecting a busy three days starting tonight. Officers also fear a surge in illegal raves and parties. Groups of up to 30 people will still be allowed to socialise legally this weekend but that drops to six on Monday.


Sir Christopher Chope added: “What we are talking about is the most draconian introduction of new restrictions on our liberty with criminal sanctions and we need to be made aware of what’s happening and given the opportunity of debating it.”

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said “the country should also know what’s going on”.

He told MPs: “Can I say I share your disappointment as well. I think we should all be informed and the country should also know what’s going on,” adding the laying of the legislation was a “matter for the Government”.

He said: “What I would say is you know and I know there are other avenues which could maybe be placed down on Monday to actually tittle this little item out, if required.

“So I will leave it with you to ponder what you want to do next, the Clerk has made a note and we will come back with further information.”


Matt Hancock arriving at Downing Street this morning:


Tory former minister Sir Christopher Chope has raised concerns that the Government has yet to lay new Covid-19 regulations before Parliament.

On Monday, a new so-called “rule of six” is being introduced limiting the number of people who can socialise together indoors or outdoors in England to six people, however the statutory instrument needed to enact the rule change has yet to be laid before Parliament.

Raising a point of order in the Commons, the Christchurch MP said: “I’ve been looking at today’s Order Paper and particularly at the remaining orders and I had expected to see the statutory instrument which the Government must lay in order for the draconian new rules which it is bringing in on Monday to be lawful.

“And that doesn’t seem to have been laid despite the Prime Minister making an announcement about it on Wednesday and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care having made a statement yesterday (Thursday).

“And I’m very concerned about the lack of opportunity for people, the public first of all, to see the text of these new regulations and I’m also concerned about the continuing reluctance of the Government to give any opportunities to members to debate this.”


“Cancer must not become the forgotten ‘C’ during this pandemic” – Charity

Londoners with cancer fears least likely to be sent for checks

Londoners who fear they have cancer are less likely than patients elsewhere in the country to be sent for hospital checks, health campaigners revealed today.

About 11,000 fewer referrals than normal were made by GPs in the capital in July – 29 per cent down on the same month last year. Across England as a whole, there was a 19 per cent drop in people being sent for a 14-day check.


New research projects investigating how coronavirus spreads among schoolchildren, healthcare workers and on surfaces have been awarded more than £5 million in funding.

The eight studies will help inform policy decisions about the virus, including infection prevention strategies and containment measures, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) said.

One of the projects will focus on an Orthodox Jewish community to understand how community structures, such as household size, may contribute to transmission, including the role of children.

Altogether, the research projects have been awarded a total of £5.3 million by the NIHR and UKRI.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who heads up the NIHR, said the projects will help with an understanding of how the virus spreads among key groups and in certain settings.

He said: “Understanding which factors are important in Covid-19 transmission and therefore how the disease spreads is important for targeting measures to control the pandemic.

“These eight new research projects funded by NIHR and UKRI will help us to understand transmission in a number of key groups and settings.”


Around 9.6 million jobs have been supported by the furlough scheme since it was set up:

Boris Johnson’s new rule of six ‘opposed by almost every minister’

The Prime Minister’s new rule of six to help curb the sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the UK was opposed by every minister apart from Matt Hancock, according to reports.

People in England will be banned from socialising in groups of more than six from Monday following a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, with almost 3,000 new cases confirmed every day this week.


Charity director calls for targeted furlough scheme:

Dave Innes of the JRF said: “The Government’s furlough scheme was bold, ambitious and necessary, and has kept many working families afloat during lockdown and beyond.

“Many workers who were already at risk of being swept into poverty may be especially vulnerable over the coming months.

“The Government faces tough choices about how to best support businesses to protect jobs and create new ones, but now is not the time to be withdrawing support for businesses who are still feeling the effects of social distancing.

“By introducing a targeted, temporary scheme for workers in the most at-risk sectors, a rise in unemployment caused by the virus and recession can be prevented from becoming an overwhelming wave of hardship.

“By keeping these sectors afloat in the short-term and ensuring that good jobs are created, at-risk workers can ensure that they build on their skills and get the support they need for the new economy that must emerge after this phase of the pandemic.”


A temporary furlough scheme is needed to avoid a surge in unemployment in sectors such as hospitality, retail and beauty, a leading charity has said.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said companies which are reliant on close contact with the public are most at risk of job losses when the Job Retention Scheme ends next month.

Its research suggests around 40% of workers on the minimum wage face a high risk of losing their job because of the virus crisis, compared to less than 1% of those earning more than £41,500 a year.

The expected increase in unemployment is likely to hit groups such as young workers, women, disabled people and those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, the JRF said.

But its report said a targeted furlough scheme would prevent an “unnecessary” wave of unemployment.

The foundation called for a Covid-19 Job Support Scheme, a new temporary and targeted furlough policy, and a new deal for adult education.


PM facing open revolt from Tory MPs over new lockdown restrictions:

Boris Johnson is facing open revolt from some Tory backbenchers over new lockdown restrictions, with one former minister declaring: “It is time for us to actually start living like a free people, not subjecting ourselves to constantly shifting legal requirements.”

It comes after reports that ministers are divided over new social distancing rules in England which will limit social gatherings to groups of six people both indoors and outside from Monday.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that senior Tories also want younger children to be exempt from the so-called “rule of six” in England, while the Daily Mail claimed Health Secretary Matt Hancock was the only Cabinet minister on Boris Johnson’s coronavirus strategy committee to support the plan at a meeting on Tuesday, the day before it was announced by the Prime Minister.

Speaking on Friday, Tory former minister Steve Baker told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it is now time to say that this is not a fit legal environment for the British people.

“It’s time to move to a voluntary system – unless the Government can demonstrate otherwise.

“And it is time for us to actually start living like a free people, not subjecting ourselves to constantly shifting legal requirements, which I think now no-one can fully understand.

“It seems to me the effect of having Covid marshals will be to turn every public space in Britain into the equivalent of going through airport security where we are badgered and directed… I’m not willing to live like this.”


Tough new Covid-19 restrictions look set to be imposed across Birmingham after infections rocketed

The city of 1.14 million people is widely expected to have tighter rules imposed on Friday, following two days of discussions between Government and regional health and local authority leaders.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street, who had travelled to London to meet with officials, said earlier this week additional restrictions were “very, very likely”.

Stressing no final decisions had yet been made, he added the “simplest form of restriction would be city-wide”.

Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, told ITV’s Peston on Wednesday that lockdown-style measures were looking increasingly inevitable.

The city’s director of public health Dr Justin Varney said the uptick was “linked primarily to private household gatherings”, at the end of August and across the bank holiday weekend. An increase in testing had also turned up more positive results, he added.

Licensed premises, like pubs and bars, and restaurants flouting contact-tracing rules and social distancing, are also believed to be part of the problem behind rising rates.


Former prime minister Gordon Brown says country needs a recovery plan

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We need to avoid a cliff edge on October the 31st. The health successes have been too few for us to be able to say that the lockdown is completely over for everyone.

“And therefore we need new measures, and I don’t think the Government’s plan is up to it, and what I say is three things.

“One is, extend the furlough part-time in particular sectors, perhaps linked to some training programmes.

“Secondly, we’ve got to help young people. We face the worst labour market for young people for 50 years.

“And thirdly, we’ve got to help businesses recover. They need to invest and they can’t invest if they’re having to pay back some of the loans that have been charged upon them in the last few months.

“We need to do all these things, and we need to do it urgently to avoid what’s going to happen in October.”


Russia reports 5,504 new coronavirus cases on Friday

The new tally of infections brings the country’s total to 1,051,874, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 102 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 18,365.

A nurse inoculates volunteer Ilya Dubrovin, 36, with Russia’s new coronavirus vaccine in a post-registration trials at a clinic in Moscow (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)