The forthcoming announcement of tougher tier restrictions will see millions of people in England placed under the highest levels of restrictions, while Liverpool and London are set to avoid the harshest measures.
The Health Secretary is to set out which tier each local authority in England will fall under in Parliament, after the end of the national lockdown on December 2.
The system has been toughened from the previous regime, meaning more authorities will move into the higher tiers.
Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas, however, with the first review of the allocations due to take place by December 16.
Liverpool is expected to become the first area to escape from Tier 3 restrictions.
Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region mayor, said: “The progress we’ve made since we were put in Tier 3 is remarkable – we’ve gone from having two areas with infection rates of about 750 per 100k to 180 across the city region.”
London is understood to remain under Tier 2 restrictions after MPs urged the Government to put the capital in the lowest tier or risk economic havoc.
Ahead of the announcement Sadiq Khan, London mayor, said placing the capital into Tier 3 would be “catastrophic” for London’s economy.
The vast majority of the country is expected to be placed into Tiers 2 and 3, meaning millions of people will remain under tight restrictions in the lead up to Christmas.
Follow the latest updates below.
University students ‘sold a lie’, says NUS
University students feel like they were “essentially sold a lie” about what was going to be safely possible this term during pandemic restrictions, Larissa Kennedy, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), said.
“It just feels like the Government is failing to recognise the levels of student anger and student dissatisfaction with how they’ve been treated,” she told BBC radio 4’s Today Programme.
Ms Kennedy said all teaching is online for the vast majority of students, adding that some have about two hours of contact time, which students see as universities “just trying to cover their backs”.
Merkel: Restrictions in Germany to remain until January
Restrictive measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Germany will be in place until at least the end of December and possibly longer, Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament on Thursday.
“Given the high number of infections, we assume that the restrictions which are in place before Christmas will be continue to be valid until the start of January, certainly for most parts of Germany,” said Merkel.
“We have to say, unfortunately, that we cannot promise an easing for Christmas and New Year’s,” she added.
Covid-19 now under control in Liverpool, says Mayor
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said the virus has been brought back under control in the city, adding that it is now ready for Tier 2.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there have been no conversations about what tier the city will be in, but added: “I think the figures and the data justify Liverpool being at least, at least, in Tier 2.”
Asked if he would encourage other areas that are put in Tier 3 to put up with the restrictions, Mr Anderson said: “Yes, absolutely, because it’s about saving lives.
“There’s no question that the action that we’ve taken in Liverpool has saved lives.
“That’s what national government and local government should be about. It’s protecting your people and saving lives.”
Finland’s Covid-19 situation worsening, says PM
Finland’s coronavirus situation has worsened rapidly in recent days, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday.
Finland’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 75.8 on Wednesday, Europe’s second lowest level behind Iceland, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data showed, but the Finnish government warned the number of new cases was rising at a worrying pace.
Is a tax rise on the horizon?
Rishi Sunak declined to comment on whether taxes would rise next year to pay for the fall out from the coronavirus crisis.
The Chancellor told BBC Breakfast: “It wouldn’t be appropriate for chancellors – any chancellor – to speculate about future tax policy because that has real-world implications.
“As you would find from any chancellor, they would talk about fiscal policy at a Budget, and obviously we will have one in the spring – we normally have them in the autumn.”
Mr Sunak said the scale of borrowing undertaken this year is “not sustainable” but that “now is not the time to address that”.
“But once we get through this and we have more certainty about the economic outlook we will need to look at how we can make sure we have a strong set of public finances.”
Pubs await tiers announcement with ‘trepidation’
Simon Emeny, chief executive of pub owner Fuller’s, said that like everyone in his industry he awaits the England tier announcements with “some degree of trepidation”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the really difficult pill for us to swallow this week is that the extra restrictions that have been placed in Tier 2 will render something like 73 per cent of sites in the industry in Tier 2 unprofitable and they’re unlikely to open.”
Mr Emeny said it’s a “great worry” for the entire sector, and also the Chancellor, as pubs will not be contributing “much-needed tax revenues”.
He said the attitude towards the hospitality sector “seems to have completely turned on its head”.
“Whilst we can now go to gyms, we can now have our hair cut and go to all shops in all tiers, in pubs they are being singled out for their own unique tier system, which not only is unjustified, but depriving many communities of a vital local amenity over the Christmas break,” he said.
Rishi Sunak: Tiers will feel different to lockdown
People will “see a difference” when England’s national lockdown ends next week, Rishi Sunak has said, despite an expectation that most of the country will be under Tier 2.
The Chancellor told Sky News: “Whichever tier you’re in I think people will see a tangible change.
“That said, things are obviously not normal and I can’t pretend that next week things are going to feel like they were before the spring.”
Mr Sunak also confirmed that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a press conference in Downing Street later today, with the time still to be confirmed.
Worldwide cases continue to rise
Ukraine registered a record 15,331 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Thursday, up from a previous record of 14,580 reported on Nov. 21.
He said the total number of cases had climbed to 677,189, with 11,717 deaths.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,268 to 983,588, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by 389 to 15,160, the tally showed.
And India recorded 44,489 new coronavirus infections, data from the health ministry showed, the 19th straight day that single-day cases have stayed below the 50,000 mark.
India’s coronavirus tally now stands at 9.27 million, the second-highest in the world, after the United States.
Check out the map below to track global cases and deaths.
Hancock to announce new regional tiers
Good morning from Telegraph HQ.
The Health Secretary is to set out which tier each local authority in England will fall under after the end of the national lockdown today.
Matt Hancock will make the announcement in Parliament after the Government set out its Covid-19 “winter plan” earlier this week.
Each area will be placed into one of three tiers when lockdown ends on December 2 – but the system has been toughened from the previous regime, meaning more authorities will move into the higher tiers.
Nightingale Hospital in Exeter receiving first virus patients
The Nightingale Hospital in Exeter will receive its first coronavirus patients on Thursday, officials have confirmed.
The 116-bed hospital built on the site of a former retail unit will treat people with Covid-19, taking patients transferred from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust as it is “very busy”.
A Nightingale Hospital Exeter spokeswoman said: “The Nightingale Exeter will accept patients tomorrow who will be transferred from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E), which is very busy.”We would ask that the public continue to observe the Government’s advice on observing the lockdown and social distancing so that we can keep patients safe.”
News in brief from around the world
- Ukraine registered a record 15,331 new cases in the past 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Thursday, up from a previous record of 14,580 reported on Nov. 21.
- In Russia, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Thursday extended a recommended self-isolation period for residents older than 65 and those in risk groups through New Year until Jan. 15.
- The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 22,268 to 983,588, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.
- As cases surge again nationwide, the US Supreme Court late on Wednesday temporarily barred New York from enforcing certain attendance limits at houses of worship in areas designated as hard hit by the virus.
- China on Thursday reported nine new cases in the vast Inner Mongolia region, where authorities have closed schools, suspended flights, shuttered public venues and banned banquets and other gatherings.
- India recorded 44,489 new infections, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday, the 19th straight day that single-day cases have stayed below the 50,000 mark.
How the experts are planning to have a Covid-safe Christmas
This time last year, bringing together a big room of people to sing Christmas carols and kiss under the mistletoe seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Now, however, we are looking at a strictly five-day festive ‘season’ where just three households can meet indoors between December 23 and 27.
In the run up to those dates, almost everything will be different: belting out Good King Wenceslas doesn’t seem like a good idea, those in the top tier might not be able to pick up a turkey, and children are making gift requests to Father Christmas on Zoom.
The government has also warned that even if we can get together, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should.
So how are the experts planning to navigate a pandemic Christmas?
Six of Pakistan’s cricket squad test positive in NZ
Six of Pakistan’s squad tested positive for Covid-19, hosts New Zealand Cricket said on Thursday, throwing preparations for their five-match tour into turmoil and causing a scare in a country that has largely eradicated the virus.
The squad’s “exemption to train while in managed isolation has been put on hold until investigations have been completed”, the governing body said, adding that the six positive players would be moved into strict quarantine.
New Zealand’s ministry of health said 53 team members passed a symptom check before leaving Lahore and were tested on arrival in Christchurch on November 24.
Six of those results have come back positive, although two of the six cases are believed to be “historical”.
New Zealand Health said the players will now “be tested a minimum of four times while in managed isolation” and the entire squad would be confined to their rooms.
Which tier could my area be in?
On Dec 2, England will emerge from its month-long lockdown and return to a three-tier system.
As previously, the country will be divided into tiers of “medium” (Tier 1), “high” (Tier 2) and “very high” (Tier 3) risk areas.
The Government will decide which tier each region is placed in after Dec 2 based on “the number of cases” in each area, but particularly the numbers of people aged over 60 testing positive for the virus, according to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Details of the preliminary tier allocations are expected on Nov 26. The tiers will be reassessed every fortnight.
Currently, the tiers are suspended as a national lockdown is in place. Use our postcode search for the latest on infection rates in your area.
Manufacturing error clouds Oxford vaccine study results
Oxford University and AstraZeneca on Wednesday acknowledged a manufacturing error that is raising questions about preliminary results of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine.
A statement describing the error came days after the company and the university described the shots as “highly effective” and made no mention of why some study participants didn’t receive as much vaccine in the first of two shots as expected.
In a statement on Wednesday, Oxford University said some of the vials used in the trial didn’t have the right concentration of vaccine so some volunteers got a half dose. The university said that it discussed the problem with regulators, and agreed to complete the late stage trial with two groups. The manufacturing problem has been corrected, according to the statement.
US daily death toll at six month high
The United States on Wednesday registered more than 2,400 deaths from Covid-19 in 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally – the highest daily toll in six months as the Thanksgiving holiday began.
At 8:30pm (0030 GMT Thursday), the country had recorded a total of 262,080 Covid deaths, up by 2,439 in 24 hours. It also registered nearly 200,000 new cases.
South Korea’s cases surge in third wave
South Korea is struggling to contain a third wave of Covid-19 as new infections surged over 500 on Thursday for the first time in eight months.
The country added 583 more cases, 553 of them locally-transmitted infections, raising the total caseload to 32,318, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, reported Yonhap.
The new high has surpassed the second wave peak in August which reached 441, and has been attributed to cluster infections from private gatherings, public facilities, hospitals and the military.
The failure to contain the escalation is worrying for the East Asian nation which has been credited globally for its robust response to the pandemic.
The authorities have stepped up social distancing measures ahead of a make-or-break nationwide college exam next Thursday, which is considered to be so important to students’ futures that planes have been grounded in the past to help them concentrate.
“We are now in a situation where virus outbreaks can happen at any place we live in,” Health Minister Park Neunghoo said. “With the third wave of infections bulking up its size and pace, we must strictly follow social distancing rules.”
Sudan’s former PM dies from Covid
Leading Sudanese politician and former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi died from a coronavirus infection three weeks after being hospitalised in the United Arab Emirates, according to family sources and a party statement early on Thursday.
Mr Mahdi, 84, was Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister and was overthrown in 1989 in the military coup that bought former president Omar al-Bashir to power.
Mr Mahdi headed the moderate Islamic Umma party and remained an influential figure even after Mr Bashir was toppled in April 2019.
Last month, al-Mahdi’s family said he had tested positive for Covid-19, and was transferred to the UAE for treatment a few days later following a brief hospitalisation in Sudan.
Several family members and leading party officials were infected as well.
Colombia extends health state of emergency
Colombia’s government will extend its health state of emergency by three months, President Ivan Duque said on Wednesday, as he urged people to avoid crowds and keep up safety measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Andean country has had over 1.27 million confirmed cases nearly 36,000 deaths. Active cases number 57,260.
It held a gradually-loosened national quarantine for five and a half months earlier this year, sending economic growth into negative territory and unemployment soaring.
Most economic activities are now allowed, as are international flights, but face masks are required in public. Concerts and other large events are banned.
“The sanitary emergency will extend until February 28, 2021,” Mr Duque said on his nightly television programme. “We will extend this process for 90 days and we’re doing it to maintain control (and) detailed monitoring.”
Source: The Telegraph Travels