National lockdown next week: Boris Johnson bows to scientific advisers and is set to order new nationwide coronavirus restrictions ‘closing all but essential shops and schools from Wednesday until December 1’
- Scientists from the Sage committee presented No 10 with bleak figures showing pace of Covid-19’s spread
- Cabinet source told Mail that the move to place country back in lockdown will be announced next week
- Government now faces a critical weekend to determine the shape of the measures before an announcement
- The Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are said to have agonised over the decision
- Scientists – backed by Matt Hancock and Michael Gove – said virus was on track to kill 85,000 this winter
Published: 17:59 EDT, 30 October 2020 | Updated: 00:17 EDT, 31 October 2020
Scientists from the Sage committee yesterday presented No 10 with bleak figures showing that Covid is spreading ‘significantly’ faster than even their original ‘worst-case scenario’ prediction.
Last night a Cabinet source told the Mail that the dramatic move will be announced next week. It was not clear exactly what form the new lockdown would take, or what would be ordered to close or how long it would last.
However, another source claimed to The Times that all but essential shops and ‘educational settings’ including, nurseries, schools and universities would shut.
The Prime Minister is planning to hold a press conference, possibly on Monday with the new restrictions to begin Wednesday.
The Government now faces a critical weekend to determine the shape of the measures before an announcement.
The Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are said to have agonised over the decision because of fears it would leave the economy in tatters.
But the scientists – backed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and senior minister Michael Gove – told them the virus was on track to kill 85,000 this winter, and that it was too late for a so-called ‘circuit break’.
They called for a longer national lockdown – similar to the month-long shutdown in France – saying it was the only way to stop hospitals from running out of beds.
In a clear signal of the deep Government split on the issue, a Cabinet source said those opposed to a lockdown were ‘not prepared to surrender’. +36
Boris Johnson is expected to announce a national lockdown next week after his scientific advisers told him it was the only way to save Christmas+36
The Mail has been told that Mr Johnson’s No 10 team is also split, with an influential adviser understood to have warned him this week that a national lockdown was ‘inevitable’ – and delaying it could backfire on him. It came as:
- Mr Johnson is to meet the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to thrash out a ‘common approach to Christmas’;
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds praise ‘utterly brilliant’ NHS staff for saving his life and the maternity team that delivered son Wilfred
In their first joint television appearance, a recording for the Pride of Britain awards, they will thank frontline workers for their ‘courage and dedication’ during the pandemic in a broadcast on Sunday.
- The number of virus patients in hospital has doubled in the past fortnight, with 10,708 patients being treated by the NHS.
- The ONS said 50,000 people were becoming infected with coronavirus each day, with a further 274 fatalities reported yesterday;
- A poll by anti-lockdown group Recovery found that more than 70 per cent of people were more worried about the effect of lockdown than they were of catching Covid.
A senior Government source told The Times that no final decision had been made over the new lockdown measures.
They added: ‘The data is really bad.
‘We’re seeing coronavirus rising all over the country and hospitals are struggling to cope. There has been a shift in our position.’
Details of the lockdown row emerged after the Mail disclosed how the Prime Minister has been warned by scientists – led by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance – that all hospitals in England will be full by December 17 unless he took more action.
Andy Street, the Conservative West Midlands mayor, said it was clear more action was needed. He added: ‘Whether it be a national four-week lockdown, I do not know, but what I do know is that the message is very clear: we have to take further action to turn this tide.’
Professor Dominic Harrison, director of public health at Blackburn with Darwen council, called for a circuit-breaker because Tier Three households were ‘not complying completely’ with the guidance.
But Jon Dobinson, of Recovery, said: ‘The concept of a four-week lockdown to save Christmas is yet more cruel and inhumane policy which will further fuel the growing mental health crisis – all justified by holding out a false hope.
‘People are dying in their thousands from lockdown and restrictions: it’s time to focus on that.’
A scientific source working for the Government also told The Times that it is now ‘too late’ for a circuit-breaker lockdown.
They said: ‘It’s definitely too late to think that [a] two-week circuit breaker on its own would sort us out . . . It almost certainly would need to go on for longer.’
Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said of the prospect of a new lockdown: ‘To bring Covid-19 under control, we have to act now. The virus will not wait for us.’
The infectious disease expert wrote on Twitter: ‘Nobody ‘wants’ a lockdown, myself very much included. Full & generous support for people & businesses is a crucial part of making it work.
‘But we have quickly breached the reasonable worst-case scenario, we are further ahead in this phase of the epidemic than many have assumed.
Belgium announces new restrictions
Belgium last night announced tighter restrictions including a six-week closure of non-essential business, including hairdressers. It also extended November school holidays by an extra week.
Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the country of 11 million people otherwise faced a breakdown of its health system.
‘We are moving in the direction of reinforced confinement with a single objective: to prevent health care from creaking under pressure that is already immense today,’ he said.
‘These are the last-chance measures.’
‘The best time to act was a month ago but these are very tough decisions which we would all like to avoid. The second-best time is now.’
Professor Gabriel Scally, a Sage member and president of the epidemiology and public health section at the Royal Society of Medicine, said on Twitter: ‘It is possible to be very concerned about the impact of the pandemic on mental health and the treatment of non-Covid conditions, and still believe that stricter measures are the best and most necessary course of action. The more the virus spreads the less capacity the NHS has.
Sage member Professor Christina Pagel, from UCL, added that another national lockdown is ‘inevitable’. The director of clinical operational research told Sky News: ‘Broadly speaking, Covid is spreading, particularly in England and Wales.
‘I suspect Wales’ cases will come down next week as their firebreak starts to take effect. ‘But basically it’s spreading everywhere and at the moment it’s spreading mainly in Tier 1 areas.’
Asked if a second national lockdown is worth damaging the economy and people’s mental health, she said: ‘I think it’s inevitable, and given that it’s inevitable I think the sooner you do it the quicker it’s over and the more lives you save.’
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Government was ‘striving to avoid’ a national lockdown.
He added: ‘We’re always ready for further measures that we can take. But I think the most important thing about further measures is that we continue on the track we’re on of targeting the virus.’
There were also reports of more Tory infighting, with claims by older MPs that the lockdown revolt by Conservative MPs in northern ‘Red Wall’ seats was led by ‘selfish young MPs who have nothing to fear personally’ from Covid because of their age.+36
The move comes after M Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds praised NHS medics for saving the Prime Minister’s life as he fought coronavirus and for delivering their son+36
Percentage change in coronavirus cases across England in the week to October 25: The five local authorities where the infection rate grew the most are: Kingston upon Hull City, 92.81 per cent; Derby, 91.84 per cent; North Somerset, 82.99 per cent; Medway, 77.17 per cent; and Bath and North East Somerset 69.72 per cent+36
Above are the Covid-19 infection rates in London boroughs for the week ending October 24, according to official data+36
Almost 20 NHS trusts in England are already treating more coronavirus patients than at the peak of the first wave, according to official statistics that come amid warnings hospitals across the country could run out of beds before Christmas +36
SAGE’s presentation of the estimates of the median R rate in the four nations of the UK. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place+36
SAGE’s presentation of the median R rate in different NHS regions of England. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place+36
SAGE’s presentation of the growth rate of Covid-19 in the NHS England regions. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place+36
SAGE’s presentation of the median R rate in the UK, with bars representing different independent estimates
One Conservative elder statesman said: ‘Many of our MPs who won Red Wall seats last year and are making the most fuss about lockdowns are young and are not at risk personally.
‘They should think about their constituents in their 60s and over who are at much greater risk.’
The senior Tory, who is over 60, singled out four MPs who have been most outspoken – William Wragg, who represents Hazel Grove, Manchester, aged 32; Jake Berry, Rossendale and Darwen, 41; Chris Green, Bolton West, 47; and Dehenna Davison, Bishop Auckland, 27.
Act now to save Christmas, urge Government scientists as they warn Britain will exceed the worst-case scenario unless country goes into lockdown
By Eleanor Hayward, Xantha Leatham and Victoria Allen for the Daily Mail
The national lockdown announcement is expected after government scientists said it was needed to save Christmas.
The experts believe soaring cases mean the UK could face 1,000 deaths a day within a month. Yesterday a further 274 fatalities were reported, compared with 136 a fortnight ago.
There is a lag of around three weeks between infections and deaths. The scientists told ministers that without further restrictions, the death toll will keep rising exponentially, and hospitals will be overwhelmed.
The number of virus patients in hospital has doubled in the past fortnight, with 10,708 currently being treated by the NHS. +36
The national lockdown announcement is expected after government scientists said it was needed to save Christmas+36
Data for the week between October 12 and October 15 suggests the rate of infection has increased significantly in some parts of the country
Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme caused coronavirus cases to rise
Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme caused a significant rise in coronavirus cases, a study claims.
Up to 17 per cent of cases over the summer have been linked to the deal as diners crowded into restaurants for a 50 per cent discount on their bill in August.
A study by Warwick University looked at footfall in the restaurants which took part in the scheme across more than 6,000 areas in England. It then analysed the number of clusters where three or more got infected.
In areas where large numbers of meals were claimed through the deal, more people tested positive.
The study, which suggests the scheme led to crowds of people being too close to each other, concluded that it accounted for an extra 8 to 17 per cent of infections during August and into early September.
Cases apparently rose within a week of Eat Out to Help Out starting and began to decline a fortnight after it ended.
Dr Thiemo Fetzer, who contributed to the study which has not yet been published in a journal, blamed the deal for speeding up the second wave. The Treasury said: ‘Many European counterparts have experienced an uptick in cases – irrespective of whether similar measures have been introduced.’ https://183083aff5773564a65806e65c56d674.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
If this trajectory of doubling every fortnight continues, there will be more than 20,000 patients in hospital by mid-November, higher than at the peak of the first wave.
The number of coronavirus infections is currently four times higher than was anticipated under the Government’s ‘worst-case scenario’ plan, which estimated that daily infections would be around 12,000 throughout October.
It leaves the country on track to exceed the previous worst-case scenario of 85,000 Covid-19 deaths this winter.
The new national lockdown comes after the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) called for urgent national action including the closure of all bars and restaurants and other venues where households mix indoors.
They believe ministers have left it ‘too late’ for a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown – which they had called for in September – to work.
Instead, they demanded a longer national lockdown, similar to the month-long shutdown imposed yesterday in France.
They argued that this is the best option to bring the R rate below 1 and prevent hospital capacity being overwhelmed.
If new measures were introduced quickly, restrictions could potentially be lifted in time for Christmas, allowing people to reunite with their loved ones over the festive season.
A senior official said: ‘Time is marching on, we are two months to Christmas… the more the numbers increase, the more difficult it is to turn it around.’
On Tuesday, it emerged that ministers had been told to prepare for 85,000 deaths this winter, with 500 deaths a day for at least three months and more than 300,000 hospitalised.
But Government scientists said yesterday that this ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ has already been breached.
The planning document had estimated there would be 100 deaths a day by the end of October, but Britain has already recorded three times that amount on some days this week.
In a newly released document from a Sage meeting on October 7, scientists said: ‘In England, we are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the reasonable worst-case planning scenario
‘The number of deaths is also highly likely to exceed reasonable worst-case levels within the next two weeks.
‘Were the number of infections to fall in the very near future, this exceedance of the reasonable worst-case scenario could be modest and short-lived, but if R remains above 1 then the epidemic will further diverge from the planning scenario.’
Another newly revealed Sage statement, from October 14, said: ‘The number of daily deaths is now in line with the levels in the reasonable worst case and is almost certain to exceed this within the next two weeks.’
The documents also show that for weeks, scientists have been calling for the closure of bars and restaurants to ‘anything but takeaway service’. A document from October 7 – produced by SPI-M-O, a sub-group that reports to Sage – said there was ‘clear evidence’ for shutting them to slow the growth of the epidemic.
What’s the infection rate in YOUR town? Interactive module reveals how quickly Covid-19 outbreaks are growing across England as official data shows cases are rising quickest in Hull, Derby and Somerset
By Vanessa Chalmers, Health Reporter for MailOnline
Covid-19 outbreaks are growing fastest in Hull, Derby, and Bath, according to official data that MailOnline has converted into an interactive tool to show how quickly cases are rising in your town.
Hull and Derby saw their coronavirus epidemics almost double in the seven-day spell ending October 25, with seven-day infection rates jumping to 279 and 329 cases per 100,000 people, respectively.
Both cities, along with the rest of Staffordshire and Derbyshire, will be moved from Tier One into Tier Two from Saturday to try and stem the rise in infections, it was announced yesterday as England crept another step closer towards a full national lockdown.
But most of the authorities where epidemics have grown the most remain in Tier One, where only the rule of six and 10pm curfew apply. Scientists have argued these rules are not stringent enough to shrink the outbreak, with top Government advisers warning the current growth is ‘very bleak’.
For example, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, where cases jumped up 83 per cent and 70 per cent in one week, have yet to be hit by any tougher virus-controlling restrictions. It comes despite warnings that the coronavirus crisis is ‘speeding up’ in the south of the country.
Public Health England’s weekly surveillance report revealed only 20 of all 150 authorities in England saw a drop in infections last week, including Nottingham where cases dropped by 30 per cent. Despite the city’s outbreak shrinking, it will be thrown under the toughest Tier Three restrictions from tomorrow, along with the rest of the county.
And the data offered more proof that the tightest lockdown measures do work, with Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton and St Helens all seeing their weekly coronavirus infection rates drop. All of the Merseyside area has been under Tier Three lockdown since October 14.
It suggests the brutal restrictions — which ban people from socialising with anyone outside their own household and mean many pubs, bars, and in some cases gyms, have to close — are beginning to work. However, scientists say the true effect of measure won’t be clear until a few weeks have passed.
It comes as Boris Johnson is facing renewed pressure from his medical officers to impose a nation-wide shutdown before and after Christmas in a bid to allow families to gather over the holidays. Dominic Raab today hinted No10 could introduce a new Tier Four set of even stricter restrictions and refused to rule out a national lockdown