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Boris Johnson says England’s tiers could have February 3 expiry date in bid to quell Tory rebellion

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/coronavirus-tiers-february-3-sunset-boris-johnson-b94232.html

Boris Johnson says England’s tiers could have February 3 expiry date in bid to quell Tory rebellion

Under his so-called “sunset” clause, the tiers would be lifted on February 3, with MPs offered a vote to extend them.

The gesture marks a ramping up in the PM’s efforts to head off a backbench rebellion in the Commons this week amid widespread fury of the allocation of the new tiers.

Mr Johnson has angered a number of high profile members of his party with his post-lockdown plans to place 99 per cent of the country under the toughest Covid-19 alert levels.

This means he may struggle to push the measures through Parliament when they come to a vote on Tuesday.

But, in a bid to avert such challenges, the Prime Minister’s letter to Tory MPs stresses that the Government will review local areas’ tiers every fortnight.

“Regulations have a sunset of 3 February,” he wrote.

“After the fourth fortnightly review (27 January), parliament will have another vote on the tiered approach, determining whether the measures stay in place until the end of March.”

Mr Johnson also said the first such review, on December 16, would consider the views of local directors of public health, with a final decision on whether any areas should change tiers made at a Cabinet committee. The changes would come into effect on December 19.

<p>England’s national lockdown ends on December 2</p>
(

England’s national lockdown ends on December 2

/ PA )

In a further olive branch to MPs, the Prime Minister committed to publish more data and outline what circumstances need to change for an area to move down a tier, as well analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of the measures taken to suppress coronavirus.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly will be under the lightest Tier 1 controls, while large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3.

In total, 55 million people will enter Tier 2 or 3, which will see tough restrictions placed on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors.

Several senior Tories have expressed opposition to the plan, including the 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady who said he wanted to see people “treated as adults” and trusted with their own health decisions.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions on Saturday: “I find so many people have been engaged in a wholly responsible way in trying to make sure they can continue some kind of family life, some kind of social life, but being safe, being responsible throughout.

“Especially the older people, who are typically more vulnerable to Covid-19, are also the people who are likely to be most responsible.”

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, who represents South Thanet which has the second highest R-rate in the UK, said he is planning to vote against the new tiered restrictions on Tuesday.

He told BBC Breakfast that he would instead favour natural “self-regulation” which he says happens when people see the R-rate in their local area starting to rise.

But Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, urged MPs to think what the NHS might be like in January, saying: “You need to take the precautions now to ensure that the NHS doesn’t get overwhelmed at what is always its busiest time of year.”

Mr Johnson acknowledged on Friday that people felt “frustrated”, particularly in areas with low infection rates which now face tighter restrictions than before the lockdown.

He said: “The difficulty is that if you did it any other way, first of all you’d divide the country up into loads and loads of very complicated sub-divisions – there has got to be some simplicity and clarity in the way we do this.

“The second problem is that, alas, our experience is that, when a high incidence area is quite close to a low incidence area, unless you beat the problem in the high incidence area, the low incidence area, I’m afraid, starts to catch up.”

(

Anti-lockdown protesters descended on central London on Saturday

/ AFP via Getty Images )

– Mr Johnson appointed Nadhim Zahawi as a health minister responsible for the deployment of coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, Conservative former health secretary Lord (Andrew) Lansley said the Government was “wrong” to relax coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, though admitted saying so made him “feel like the Grinch”.

Asked in an interview with Times Radio whether ministers had made an error by allowing families to gather for five days over the festive period, he said: “I think the short answer is yes – I think it was wrong…

“We’ve got to protect old people. And it really is difficult, I think, to suddenly say Christmas, well, let’s not do that. Let’s allow people to mix. Why would we do that?

“We are potentially only maybe weeks, well, perhaps months, but not many months away from the point at which we may be able to vaccinate the most vulnerable and our oldest population?

“Why expose them to any risk in that period? Why allow transmission potentially to accelerate even for a short period?”

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Global coronavirus cases hit 100 million on same day UK reaches 100,000 deaths

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/global-coronavirus-cases-100-million-b901258.html

Global coronavirus cases hit 100 million on same day UK reaches 100,000 deaths

India has recorded more than 10 million cases and Brazil’s tally is over 8.8 million.

The number was reached on the same day the UK Government’s figure for Covid-19 deaths passed 100,000.

Coronavirus briefing: January 26 round-up as UK death toll exceeds 100,000

Britain is the fifth country in the world to record 100,000 virus-related deaths, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered his “deepest condolences” to the families of coronavirus victims as Government figures showed the UK death toll reached the 100,000 figure.

He said: “We did everything we could”.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street briefing that it was “hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic: the years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and for so many relatives the missed chance to even say goodbye”.

He vowed that as the country came out of the crisis “we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others”.

A further 1,631 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus within 28 days were recorded on Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 100,162.

Some 25,000 of those deaths have taken place since the start of the year, in a stark illustration of how the more infectious variant of the virus, first identified in Kent, has ripped across the country.

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UK’s Covid death toll could reach 150,000 before pandemic ‘burns out,’ Sage scientist warns after grim milestone

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/covid-death-toll-uk-pandemic-scientists-warning-b901269.html

UK’s Covid death toll could reach 150,000 before pandemic ‘burns out,’ Sage scientist warns after grim milestone
T

he UK could see another 50,000 deaths from coronavirus, a scientist advising the Government has warned after the grim milestone of 100,000 was reached.

He warned that every Covid fatality “represents probably four or five people who survive but are damaged” by the disease.

 Boris Johnson looks down at the podium during a media briefing after the UK recorded 100,000 coronavirus deaths
( Boris Johnson looks down at the podium during a media briefing after the UK recorded 100,000 coronavirus deaths / PA )

“It would really not surprise me if we’re looking at another 40-50,000 deaths before this burns out,” he told BBC’s Newsnight after the 100,000 figure was reached.

Separate data published by statistics agencies places the toll at 115,000.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the milestone was a “national tragedy” and accused the Government of being “behind the curve at every stage” in its response.

His remarks came ahead of grilling Mr Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel is widely expected to announce a limited plan for new arrivals in England to quarantine in hotels.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “I think on this day I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and of course as I was Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done.

“What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage…

“And a very, very difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that, just as every government that is affected by this crisis around the world is continuing to do the same.”

More than 100 million Covid-19 cases recorded worldwide

In March, before the Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said keeping the death toll below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”.

Referring to the 100,000 deaths now surpassed, Mr Johnson said it was “hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic”.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty braced the country for “a lot more deaths over the next few weeks before the effects of the vaccines begin to be felt” and cautioned against relaxing restrictions “too early”.

Sir Keir, who will appear at PMQs from home while self-isolating, urged the Government to make quarantining in hotels mandatory for all new arrivals as he accused the Prime Minister of having shown a “reluctance to take tough decisions” throughout the pandemic.

There was no official comment following the meeting of the Covid operations committee of senior ministers on Tuesday, but Whitehall sources ahead of the talks suggested the measures could stop short of mandatory hotel quarantines for all arrivals.

They suggested that the measure may only apply to British nationals returning to England from high-risk nations, with passengers expected to cover the price of quarantining.

The Times reported that the committee rejected calls for a full border closure and will instead limit it to those returning from 30 countries already covered by the travel ban, including those in South America, Portugal and Cape Verde, as well as South Africa and neighbouring nations.

If confirmed, Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said ministers would be “leaving gaping holes in our nation’s defences” with the “half-baked” proposal.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said a four-nations approach to the issue was being taken, while the Welsh Government said it expects to discuss the plans with Westminster.

In Scotland, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the Scottish Government would “go at least as far” as England in enhancing quarantine arrangements.

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Global coronavirus cases hit 100 million on same day UK reaches grim milestone of 100,000 deaths

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/global-coronavirus-cases-100-million-b901258.html

Global coronavirus cases hit 100 million on same day UK reaches grim milestone of 100,000 deaths

India has recorded more than 10 million cases and Brazil’s tally is over 8.8 million.

The number was reached on the same day the UK Government’s figure for Covid-19 deaths passed 100,000.

Coronavirus briefing: January 26 round-up as UK death toll exceeds 100,000

Britain is the fifth country in the world to record 100,000 virus-related deaths, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered his “deepest condolences” to the families of coronavirus victims as Government figures showed the UK death toll reached the 100,000 figure.

He said: “We did everything we could”.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street briefing that it was “hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic: the years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and for so many relatives the missed chance to even say goodbye”.

He vowed that as the country came out of the crisis “we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others”.

A further 1,631 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus within 28 days were recorded on Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 100,162.

Some 25,000 of those deaths have taken place since the start of the year, in a stark illustration of how the more infectious variant of the virus, first identified in Kent, has ripped across the country.

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Boris Johnson says ‘we did everything we could’ as UK coronavirus death toll passes 100,000

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/uk-coronavirus-deaths-latest-100000-b901230.html

Boris Johnson says ‘we did everything we could’ as UK coronavirus death toll passes 100,000
B

oris Johnson offered his “deepest condolences” to the families of coronavirus victims as Government figured showed the UK death toll has passed 100,000, saying: “We did everything we could”.

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street briefing that it was “hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic: the years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and for so many relatives the missed chance to even say goodbye”.

He vowed that as the country came out of the crisis “we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others”

A further 1,631 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus within 28 days  were recorded on Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 100,162.

Some 25,000 of those deaths have taken place since the start of the year, in a stark illustration of how the more infectious variant of the virus, first identified in Kent, has ripped across the country.

Mr Johnson said: “I think on this day I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as I was Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done.

“What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage, and a very, very difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that, just as every government that is affected by this crisis around the world is continuing to do the same.”

Following the Prime Minister’s comments, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said it was a “very sad day”.


Presenting slides of coronavirus data to the Downing Street press conference, he said the number of people testing  positive for coronavirus was “still at a very high number, but it has been coming down”.
He cautioned that Office for National Statistics data demonstrates a slower decrease, adding: “I think we need to be careful we do not relax too early”.

PM: 100,000 deaths exhausts the thesaurus of misery

There were 20,089 new lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK reported on Tuesday, representing a 26.4 drop from the same time last week.

But Prof Whitty said the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in the UK was still an “incredibly high number”.


This had “flattened off” and was not still rising overall, he said, but was “substantially above the peak in April”.
Prof Whitty said it looked like hospital figures were coming down slightly in areas such as London and the South East and the East of England, but in some areas levels were “still not convincingly reducing”.


<p>Aerial view of graves dug to cope with pandemic deaths in Sutton Coldfield</p>
(

Aerial view of graves dug to cope with pandemic deaths in Sutton Coldfield

/ Getty Images )

He said that deaths of people who had a positive coronavirus test looked as if it was flattening out at a very high level.
Prof Whitty warned that “the number of people dying per day will come down relatively slowly over the next two weeks”.


In a statement, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the grim milestone was “heart-breaking” and warned there is still “a tough period ahead”.

“My thoughts are with each and every person who has lost a loved one – behind these heart-breaking figures are friends, families and neighbours.

“I know how hard the last year has been, but I also know how strong the British public’s determination is and how much we have all pulled together to get through this.”

Mr Hancock added that the vaccine offered a way out of the pandemic.

Starmer: UK death toll is national tragedy

“We’re undertaking a huge national effort to vaccinate the most vulnerable people in our society, with over 6.5 million jabs across the UK to date, and thanks to the brilliance of our scientists and clinicians we know more today about this terrible new virus and how to beat it”, he said.

“The vaccine offers the way out, but we cannot let up now and we sadly still face a tough period ahead. The virus is still spreading and we’re seeing over 3,500 people per day being admitted into hospital.

“The single most important thing we must all do now is stay at home to save lives and protect our NHS.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Government’s measure of the coronavirus death toll passing 100,000 is a “national tragedy”.

In a statement, Sir Keir said: “This is a national tragedy and a terrible reminder of all that we have lost as a country.

“We must never become numb to these numbers or treat them as just statistics. Every death is a loved one, a friend, a neighbour, a partner or a colleague. It is an empty chair at the dinner table.

“To all those that are mourning, we must promise to learn the lessons of what went wrong and build a more resilient country. That day will come and we will get there together.

“But for now we must remember those that we have lost and be vigilant in the national effort to stay at home, protect our NHS and vaccinate Britain.”

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Why are there still flights coming into the UK and what are the rules for travelling?

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/flights-into-uk-travel-rules-restrictions-quarantine-hotels-b901157.html

Why are there still flights coming into the UK and what are the rules for travelling?

Currently anyone entering the country has to isolate for 10 days, although this policy is set to be beefed up with the introduction of mandatory hotel quarantine for those arrive from high-risk coronavirus hotspots.

What are the current rules?

It means that now arrivals from every destination  need to self-isolate for 10 days, or receive a negative result from a coronavirus test taken at least five days after they enter the UK.

Direct flights from parts of the world with new coronavirus variants, such as South Africa and Brazil, are banned.

Currently all travellers must provide contact details and their UK address. They can then travel – by public transport if necessary – to their home or to the place where they plan to self-isolate.

<p>People queue at terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues</p>
(

People queue at terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues

/ PIA JOSEPHSON via REUTERS )

How many people are flying into the UK every day?

The exact number is hard to quantify. Air traffic records stop at 2019, when a record 296,658,000 passengers passed through UK airports on arriving and departing flights. 

This number is believed to have sharply fallen but one newspaper claimed 10,000 people were still coming in a day through Heathrow Airport. These numbers are estimates and can be far lower.

There are anecdotal reports of planes arriving in the UK largely empty, and holiday companies such as TUI have now grounded all flights.

Which jobs are exempt from travel restrictions?

The protected roles include; elite sportspeople, nuclear technology workers, seasonal agricultural workers and other key infrastructure workers.

Drivers of goods need only to provide a passenger locator form and do not need to provide a negative Covid test or self-isolate.

Business directors bringing jobs and investment to the UK, journalists, advertising and performing arts proffessionals were all struck off on January 18.

Despite these rules and exemptions, it is reported there are not any specific reason-for-travel checks by officials on arrivals.

What have other countries done?

Australia and New Zealand both closed their borders to almost all visitors in March, although travellers from New Zealand have been allowed to enter most Australian states without quarantine since October.

In Ireland you must fill in a passenger locator form. Failing to do so results in a fine of £2,200 a prison term of up to six months, or both.

Passengers arriving from South Africa or the UK must have tested negative for the virus within 72 hours of their arrival in Ireland and are still required to isolate for 14 days.

Where are flights coming from?

A look at the Heathrow arrivals board shows dozens of flights arriving from countries including Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, the United States and Nigeria,  as well as a host of domestic flights.

London Stansted had only four incoming flights scheduled for January 26 from Istanbul and eastern Europe.

Are these rules likely to change soon?

The Prime Minister will discuss proposals for arrivals to quarantine in designated hotels to ensure they follow self-isolation rules with senior ministers on Tuesday.

Reports have suggested that arrivals would have to cover the price of quarantining in hotels for 10 days, potentially setting them back more than £1,000.

When can I book a summer holiday?

Asked whether his advice to people considering booking a summer holiday now was not to do so right now, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi responded: “Absolutely.

“At the moment, we have reached base camp, if I can describe it as that, with the vaccine deployment programme, over six and a half million people now with the first dose..a long way to go.

“We have had tremendous performance, the NHS family, our armed forces, the private sector, and the brilliant volunteers have come together to deliver this deployment.

“It’s far too early, there are still 37,000 people in hospital with Covid at the moment, it’s far too early for us to even speculate about the summer.”

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