More than half of England enters lockdown as government advisor calls for circuit breaker – follow live – The Independent

More than half of England – 28 million people – has been placed under heightened coronavirus restrictions.

It comes as Sir John Bell, a member of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, called for a circuit breaker and said the situation in the country was “pretty grave”.

Pubs in Lancashire that are not restaurants were closed on Saturday, as it joined the Liverpool region in the tier 3 restrictions.

Meanwhile, people in London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield are no longer allowed to mix inside with those from other households, including in pubs and restaurants.

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Austrian foreign minister tests positive for Covid-19 after EU meeting

Austria’s foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg, has tested positive for the coronavirus and might have caught it at a meeting with his European Union counterparts on Monday, a spokesperson for his ministry has said.

“As a precautionary measure all members of the government will be tested on Saturday. It is suspected that Schallenberg might have been infected at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Monday,” the spokesperson said, adding that Mr Schallenberg was symptom-free and had a routine test.

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 10:43

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Czech Republic reports record number of infections

The Czech Republic has reported 11,105 Covid-19 cases on Friday, a record number of infections so far during the pandemic, according to Health Ministry data.

The total number of cases the country has detected since March has risen to 160,112, double the number seen on 2 October and more than six times the amount overall before September.

In the two weeks to Friday, the Czech Republic recorded more than 74,000 cases, 10,000 more than Italy which has almost six times the population, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Czech hospitals are racing to free up capacity with patient numbers tripling this month to 3,120, more than seven times the peak seen in the first wave of the disease.

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 10:24

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Government needs to demonstrate how restrictions are working to win over ‘spoonful of scepticism’, Tory MP says

The government needs to demonstrate how coronavirus restrictions are working to win over the “spoonful of scepticism”, a Tory Lancashire MP has said

Jake Berry told the BBC: “I do think the British public would react extremely well to having the data shared with them in a simple and meaningful way.

“My preference would be through the NHS Test and Trace app to try and bring the people with us.

“Because I think the point that’s made by Greater Manchester is that people are very sceptical about whether this new tiering system will work.

“I think that spoonful of scepticism is because we’ve been in very similar measures since August and no one has really demonstrated to us the way out or how these measures are working.”

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 10:08

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Further restrictions could cause ‘irreparable damage’ to Greater Manchester’s economy, council leader says

Further coronavirus restrictions would cause “irreparable damage” to Greater Manchester’s economy without financial support from Westminster, the leader of Oldham Council has said.

Sean Fielding told the BBC: “We’re quite clear in Greater Manchester that our evidence doesn’t show that the closure of hospitality venues would bring down the infection rate and so that’s a sticking point for us.

“But of course if the government is insistent on imposing closures of businesses then we need money to mitigate the impact of that.

“This would lead to job losses, it would lead to business failures and it would lead to irreparable damage to the economy.

“We already have quite a fragile economy in Greater Manchester, and if the government isn’t willing to put up the money to do that, to support those economies and to support those businesses then it’s very difficult to agree to businesses’ closures.”

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 09:52

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Former health secretary indicates support for circuit breaker

The former Conservative health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has indicated his support for a national circuit-breaker lockdown and called for an end to the public war of words over local restrictions.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’ve always thought that it’s better to do things quickly and decisively than to wait until the virus has grown so I have a lot of sympathy with that.

“But I think more important right now is we stop this public war of words between local leaders and national leaders because in a pandemic the most important thing is a consistent message because you really have to have compliance with the very, very important public health messages about social distancing.

“And if local leaders and national leaders are saying different things, it’s incredibly damaging.

“I really do urge Andy Burnham and other local leaders to have these arguments, and I’m sure they’re very fierce arguments and I’m sure there’s some justification for some of their concerns, but have those arguments in private not in public because that’s so damaging to the national fight against the virus.”

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 09:34

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Reaching one million tests a day by Christmas is ‘possible’, government adviser says

Sir John also said it is “possible” to get to one million coronavirus tests a day by Christmas, but said there would be significant logistical challenges.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Setting these targets is sometimes not that helpful but I do think that it’s possible with the technology that’s coming online.

“The problem is, how do you get the swabs out of people’s mouths to the centres, the big labs, how do you get them out of the packaging, how do you get them into the workflow and how do you capture the data at the end?

“As always, it’s not the bit in the middle, it’s the front end and the backend that’s really the limiting factor and people are working on – the logistics.”

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 09:21

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Government adviser calls for circuit breaker

Government adviser Sir John Bell has said a short national circuit-breaker may be necessary as he described other measures as “biting around the edges”.

The regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I can see very little way of getting on top of this without some kind of a circuit-breaker because the numbers are actually pretty eye-watering in some bits of the country and I think it’s going to be very hard to get on top of this just biting around the edges.

“I think there will be every effort to keep schools open.

“If in the end we have to take kids out for two weeks, calm it all down, and then start ideally embedded in a much more rigorous testing regime then that’s maybe what we may have to do.”

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 09:09

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Half of England enters new lockdown

More than half of England has entered heightened coronavirus restrictions.

Pubs in Lancashire that cannot function as restaurants were closed on Saturday, as it joined the Liverpool region in tier 3 restrictions.

People in London, Essex, York, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield can no longer mix inside with those from other households, including in pubs and restaurants.

The new measures placed more than 28 million people in England into the top two tiers of restrictions.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester continues to resist the highest controls as the region’s political leaders fight to secure more financial support for workers and businesses.

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 09:01

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Good morning and welcome to latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic from The Independent.

Samuel Osborne17 October 2020 08:55