UK coronavirus LIVE: Tory backbenchers call for clarity over Government's coronavirus U-turns as death toll rises two

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  • August 31, 2020
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Conservative backbenchers are calling for clarity from Boris Johnson after several coronavirus U-turns.

MPs are returning to Westminster from their summer recess and many are demanding reassurances from ministers after months of what one Tory MP called a “megadisaster from one day to the next”.

It comes as diners across England make the most of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, on the final day that the Government is funding the initiative . Chancellor Rishi Sunak urged people to “maintain the momentum” and continue supporting local restaurants, pubs and cafes.

Meanwhile, the UK’s official coronavirus death toll has risen by two, bringing the total to 41,501. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,200 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

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Here’s the latest from the US: 

New Jersey and California on Monday took incremental steps toward resumption of their pre-pandemic economies by allowing restaurants to begin limited indoor dining, as new coronavirus cases abated nationwide despite some new hotspots.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state’s restaurants could open their indoor dining areas on Friday for the first time since the coronavirus prompted a shutdown in March. But they must limit the number of indoor diners to 25% of their capacity and tables must be spaced in accordance with social-distancing rules, Murphy said on Twitter.

In California, indoor dining will be allowed in San Diego and San Francisco starting on Monday, and some other restrictions will be lifted in nine counties. Gyms, houses of worship and movie theaters will also be allowed to reopen indoors with limited capacity.

Full restrictions continue in the remaining counties – where 80% of the population lives – including the state’s largest, Los Angeles County. But hair salons were allowed to reopen on Monday with modifications in all counties under a system unveiled on Friday by Governor Gavin Newsom.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio nixed the idea of a resumption of indoor dining anytime soon for the city’s thousands of restaurants.

“It would take a huge step forward to get to that point,” de Blasio told a briefing.

Indoor dining with restrictions is permitted in the rest of New York State.

Nationally, the number of new cases fell 2% last week, the sixth consecutive week of declines. But the number of new infections still averages more than 41,000 a day, and on Sunday the country reached 6 million total cases, nearly a quarter of the world’s total.

The United States also has the most coronavirus-related deaths in the world at over 183,000, and ranks 11th for deaths per capita. Brazil, Peru, Sweden, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom are among the nations with higher per capita deaths.

Coronavirus cases rose in 10 states, up from eight states a week ago, according to a Reuters analysis of the past two weeks compared with the prior two. Deaths rose in 12 states, compared with 13 states a week ago.


The virtual event is drawing to a close:


Another 53 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team said.

No further deaths were reported.


Two more people have died after testing positive: 

UK coronavirus death toll rises by two, bringing total to 41,501

A further two people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, according to the latest official figures. 

The UK’s official Covid-19 death toll across all settings, including in hospitals, care homes and the wider community total now stands at 41,501. It comes after the UK recorded just one new death on Sunday.  


58 new confirmed cases in Northern Ireland

Another 58 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said.


No new deaths were reported.


Portugal could be added back onto quarantine list after Covid-19 cases surpass UK Government threshold 


Death toll in hospitals in England rises by four

A further four people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 29,554, NHS England said on Monday.


The patients were aged between 58 and 75 and all had a known underlying condition.


The dates of the deaths ranged from June 16 to August 29.


Another three deaths have been reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.


Scotland in ‘very fragile situation’, Sturgeon warns

Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland was in a “very fragile situation”, adding that transmission of Covid-19 was increasing again.


“We can keep it under control if we all do the right thing,” she added.


“But it would not take much right now for this virus to get a grip of us again.”


A woman in costume heading to take part in the online Notting Hill Carnival after the 2020 carnival was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with events being streamed online


‘Unregulated indoor activities for young people’ resume in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon’s briefing took place as Scotland took more steps out of lockdown, with the resumption of “unregulated indoor activities for young people” – including youth groups such as Cubs and Brownies, and mother and baby groups.


In addition gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts have been allowed to open up again.


The First Minister said “many people” had been looking forward to gyms and pools reopening, adding that the move would be a “major relief for people who work in the leisure centre”.


She added: “The reopening is a further welcome step in getting back to normal, it is important for wider health and wellbeing.


“But it also obviously brings risks, there is no getting away from that, and that is why we have delayed this until now.”


Ms Sturgeon said: “The figures we are seeing just now for new cases demonstrate very clearly that this virus is still present across the country, it will spread rapidly if it gets the chance.”


She warned Covid-19 was still “immensely dangerous for some people” and urged people to “continue to make sure you are not doing anything that gives the virus the chance to spread”.


The First Minister stressed the proportion of people testing positive was still below 1 per cent.

But she added: “The number of cases we are seeing right now is a reminder to all of us the virus is still a very real risk, it is a development that concerns me and it is one we are taking very seriously.

“We mustn’t lose sight of how important it is if we are to keep schools open, build economic recovery and retain a bit more normality in our lives that we do continue to suppress the virus and push as close to elimination of it as we possibly can.”


No new coronavirus deaths recorded in Scotland

No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in Scotland in the last 24 hours, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, but 160 new cases have been recorded.

A total of 2,494 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus.

But, speaking during the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, the First Minister said 20,478 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 160 from 20,318 the day before.

She said the increase was “undoubtedly a concern” and any patterns in the cases are being examined.

Four of these new cases are in the Grampian health board area, 69 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 27 in Lanarkshire and 14 in Tayside.

There are 258 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of seven in 24 hours.

Of these patients, five were in intensive care, no change from the previous day.


Millions of motorists at risk of driving illegally this autumn as MOT demand increases

Millions of motorists in the UK could be at risk of driving illegally this autumn according to new data.

With the end of the MOT extension policy on August 1, millions of motorists will look to get their vehicles tested as their MOTs begin to expire over the coming three months. Effectively doubling the number of tests required in September, October and November, a total of 11.28 million cars will need a new MOT over the period.

Research conducted by Kwik Fit has found that 38 per cent of drivers usually book their test three days or fewer before their MOT expires. As a result of increased demand, Kwik Fit predicts that the average garage across the UK will be booked up and won’t be able to cater for these last-minute tests.

It means that if drivers follow their usual habits and look to get their cars tested three days or fewer before their MOT expires, up to 4.3 million car owners will be at risk of having to drive with an expired MOT. It’s an offence that can result in a £1,000 fine.


Scotland universities chief ‘extremely confident’ in safety measures

The director of Universities Scotland has said he is “extremely confident” that universities have enough safety measures in place to enable students to start learning.


Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on Monday morning, Alistair Sim said that US had been working extremely closely with staff, trade unions and student unions to put measures into place.


It comes after the University and College Union (UCU) said that uncapped recruitment could overwhelm some institutions, and risked “turning universities into the care homes of a second wave”.


UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Moving a million-plus students around the country is a recipe for disaster and risks leaving ill-prepared universities as the care homes of a second wave.


“Refusing to act now will only store up problems further down the line as courses are forced to move online and students forced into lockdown.”


Pupils could be sent home for ‘malicious coughing’ under back-to-school coronavirus rules 


Zante flight with coronavirus cases full of ‘covidiots’ and ‘inept crew’, passenger claims 


Zante flight with coronavirus cases full of ‘covidiots’, passenger says

A flight from the Greek island of Zante on which almost 200 passengers were told to self-isolate after coronavirus cases were confirmed was “full of selfish ‘covidiots’ and an inept crew”, a traveller has said.


There are 16 cases of Covid-19 linked to people who took Tui flight 6215 to Cardiff on August 25, and officials know that seven of those cases were infectious or potentially infectious whilst on the flight, according to Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales.


She said there have been about 30 cases in Wales in the last week that have come back from Zante, confirmed in people who were on different flights and staying in different locations.


Stephanie Whitfield was on the Tui flight to Cardiff and described how passengers were not wearing masks correctly and just seemed to “disregard the rules”.


She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Many passengers didn’t seem to know how to wear the masks correctly or they seemed to just disregard the rules really.


“Lots of the people were wearing the masks underneath their noses or even underneath their chins.


“They were taking the masks off to talk to friends and they were going up and down the aisles to talk to their friends without their masks on.”


Government paid Love Island stars and social media influencers to promote NHS Test and Trace scheme 


Rishi Sunak warned against major tax hikes to pay for coronavirus crisis