Coronavirus UK news latest – Piers Morgan BLASTS Christmas lockdown easing saying people will 'kill half their family'

PIERS Morgan has blasted Christmas lockdown easing saying it gives people a free pass "to kill half their family".

Speaking with the First Minister of Wales, the GMB host said he didn't want to be Scooge but warned that lifting coronavirus restrictions for five days over Christmas "doesn't make public health sense".

His comments come after it was announced that three households can meet indoors over the Christmas period and Boris Johnson faced a major Tory rebellion over his three-tiered system.

England is returning to a beefed up version of local lockdown restrictions once the national shutdown ends on December 2 until April, with "very few" parts of the country under the lowest tier 1 measures.

The tiered approach is seen by some Tory MPs as "lockdown by another name", with one rebel source saying almost 100 Conservatives have raised concerns about the crippling economic damage the tiers will cause.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BIONTECH, FOSUN START PHASE II TRIAL OF COVID-19 VACCINE IN CHINA

    BioNTech and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical said on Wednesday they would launch a Phase II clinical trial of BioNTech's experimental COVID-19 vaccine in China.

    The vaccine, known as BNT162b2, will be tested on volunteers at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention to assess safety and immunogenicity, eyeing future approval in China, the two companies said in a statement.

    BioNTech is also working with U.S. pharma giant Pfizer on the vaccine and the partners said last week they were hoping to win approval in the United States and Europe this year after trial results showed the compound had a 95% efficacy rate and caused no serious side effects.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Herd immunity refers to where enough people in a population have immunity to an infection to be able to effectively stop that disease from spreading.

    Sweden registered 94 new deaths, taking the total to 6,500.

    Nearly half of those have occurred in care homes and a quarter have been elderly people being cared for at home.

    Sweden's death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours but lower than some larger European countries.

    Tegnell’s admission comes as the Sweden’s healthcare watchdog issued a stinging condemnation of the way elderly people in the country have been treated in care homes during the pandemic

    The Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO) found from March to June, a fifth of all Covid patients in care homes had not been individually assessed by a doctor.

    In 40 percent of those cases the patient was not examined by a nurse either.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SWEDEN SOURS

    Sweden is seeing no signs that herd immunity is helping to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the country’s top epidemiologist has said.

    Anders Tegnell’s admission comes as the number of new infections continues to rise with 17,265 new cases since Friday – compared with 15,084 during the same period last week.

    Tegnell is the architect of Sweden’s unorthodox approach of not going into full lockdown and relying on voluntary measures as the other countries impose restrictions on their population.

    But he has said there little evidence that herd immunity is helping Sweden combat the coronavirus, Bloomberg reports.

    “The issue of herd immunity is difficult,” Anders Tegnell said at in Stockholm on Tuesday.

    “We see no signs of immunity in the population that are slowing down the infection right now.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WELSH FIRST MINISTER SAYS PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO APPROACH XMAS 'CAUTIOUS AND CAREFUL'

    Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said people have to approach Christmas “in a way that continues to be cautious and careful” and consider the risks posed to themselves and others.

    “Provided people are willing to use the five days in that way then we will have been able to offer a relaxation that doesn't lead to an exponential rise in risk,” Mr Drakeford told BBC Breakfast.

    “I know there will be many families in Wales who will choose not to use any of these freedoms because they will think that this is not the year to put themselves and others at risk.

    “But for people who do want to meet others at Christmas, please think carefully, use it responsibly, and then we will, all of us, not face consequences in the New Year that could overwhelm our NHS and lead to real consequences in the lives of people who matter the most to you.”

    Mr Drakeford said his own family would “use the freedoms in the most modest sort of way” and would see people for a “short period of time under very careful conditions”.

    “Personally I will be at the very precautionary end of this spectrum and I think there will be many, many thousands of families in Wales wo will want to do it in the same way,” he said.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SIX RULES OF CHRISTMAS

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    HERE IT IS… MINI CHRISTMAS

    Three households will be able to meet up inside for five days over Christmas in a much-needed boost for the nation after a gruelling year of Covid rules.

    Social distancing and travel rules will be scrapped from December 23 to 27 so Brits can hug their grannies and see their friends as part of a festive plan hammered out on Tuesday.

    In a boost for the nation after months of crippling restrictions, the UK nations have secured a deal for Brits to be able to see loved ones at last – but they won't be allowed to go to the pub together.

    The details of the plan include:

    • Leaders hammered out a plan to allow people to meet up for several days over the festive period from the 23rd to the 27th
    • Three households will be allowed to meet up with no limits on numbers
    • They will have to form an exclusive bubble and not meet others during that time
    • There will be a relaxation of restrictions on overnight stays, and people will be allowed to travel freely across Tiers

    People in their 'Christmas bubble' will be able to go to other people's homes, church or public spaces together – but wont be able to go to the pub or out for meals in any indoor settings

    'I AM NOT KING CANUTE'

    Mark Drakeford today defended the UK's plan to ease restrictions for families over Christmas, saying he was not “King Canute”.

    Responding to criticism from Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain, Mr Drakeford said: “I am the First Minister of Wales, not King Canute. The King Canute strategy is issuing a strategy that you know will not be obeyed.”

    The First Minister insisted that if Wales did not ease restrictions, people would have broken the rules over the festive season anyway.

    He said: “Unless we found a formula that allowed people to get together over Christmas, people would be very unlikely to stick to the restrictions we have here in Wales.”

    'PERSONAL JUDGEMENT'

    Boris Johnson has warned families they must make a “personal judgement” about the risks of coronavirus to vulnerable loved ones when forming a Christmas bubble.

    The Prime Minister urged the public to “think carefully” over the festive period after it was confirmed that three households will be able to mix from December 23 to 27.

    Mr Johnson acknowledged the measures would not add up to a “normal Christmas” and urged people to exercise caution, particularly when meeting with the elderly or the vulnerable.

    “We can't afford to throw caution to the wind. The virus doesn't know it's Christmas and we must all be careful,” he said in a video message posted on Twitter.

    “I know this doesn't equate to a normal Christmas and it won't work for everyone. And it is up to each of us to think carefully about how we use this time-limited special dispensation.

    “The virus has not gone away and families will need to make a personal judgement about the risk of forming a bubble with or visiting elderly relatives and the vulnerable.”

    SIX RULES OF CHRISTMAS

    Three households will be able to meet up inside for five days over Christmas in a much-needed boost for the nation after a gruelling year of Covid rules.

    Social distancing and travel rules will be scrapped from December 23 to 27 so Brits can hug their grannies and see their friends as part of a festive plan hammered out yesterday.

    Here's what to expect…

    'LOCKDOWN BY ANOTHER NAME'

    The whole of England could be placed into the top tiers after lockdown and leaving no one in Tier 1, it has been reported.

    It comes as Boris Johnson could be facing a “major revolt” within his party over the tier system that is seen as “lockdown by another name”.

    Whitehall sources have told The Daily Mail there are “very few” parts of the country would go into Tier 1, which is the only level that allows for indoor socialising with other households.

    One source said that at least 80 per cent of the country would be Tier 2 and 3 when they come into force on December 2.

    Another source told the paper it was “entirely possible that no one is in Tier One” by the time the latest figures are analysed by Matt Hancock and Chris Whitty tomorrow.

    Click HERE to read more.

    OVER 50s CAN GET FREE FLU JAB IN WALES

    From December 1, NHS Wales' free flu jab will be available for anyone over 50.

    The Welsh Government secured nearly 460,000 additional vaccines for 2020/21 and these are currently being made available to all GP practices and community pharmacies in Wales. 

    Those over 50 should expect to be contacted by their GP practice or can contact their local pharmacy to arrange a vaccination.

    By mid-November more than 750,000 vulnerable people, NHS staff and schoolchildren in Wales had taken up the offer of a free flu vaccine.

    Of those aged over 65, 70% had also been vaccinated – levels substantially higher than during the same period last year.

    MINISTERS SPENT £10BN ON PPE TRYING TO 'CATCH UP'

    Stockpiles of personal protective equipment were so depleted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that ministers spent £10bn more than necessary trying to catch up, a spending watchdog has revealed.

    It's reported that officials had prepared for the flu – rather than Covid-19 – which meant that the NHS had to pay 13 times over the odds for some supplies, The Metro reports.

    Buyers faced a 166 per cent mark-up on respirators and a 1,310 per cent increase in the price of body bags, the National Audit Office (NAO) found.

    Although 32billion items of PPE were bought between February and July, only 2.6billion made it to the front line in that time, leaving some areas with ‘negligible’ levels of protection.

    'AN OUTRAGE'

    A Tory MP blasted “disgraceful and un-British” police officers after they arrested an elderly woman and bundled her into a van while protesting outside Parliament.

    Sir Charles Walker told the cops their actions were “an outrage” as he walked towards Portcullis House on Tuesday afternoon.

    It is believed the 72-year-old woman was participating either in an anti-lockdown protest or an anti-vaccine demonstration.

    Sir Charles said: “I have just witnessed an elderly lady peacefully protesting with a handful of other people be arrested and carried spread-eagle to a police van just outside the precinct of the House of Commons.

    “This is a disgrace. This is un-British. It is unconstitutional and this Government, our Prime Minister needs to end these injustices now.”

    For our full report, click HERE.

    HANDS TO YOURSELF

    Premier League fans will be able to sing in stadia but not hug, according to reports.

    The Government plans to enforce a 'code of conduct' for spectators as a condition of the grounds being opened for the first time in nine months.

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed clubs will be allowed up to 4,000 fans from next Wednesday — depending on the tier level of Covid-19 in their respective area.

    The EFL plans to reschedule next week’s midweek games and ensure all clubs that can welcome fans from Wednesday are able to cash in.

    There were fears that fans would be banned from singing and have to wear masks in their seats, but face coverings only have to be worn entering or leaving the stadium and on concourses.

    Read more HERE.

    NI FACING COVID 'PAYBACK', SAYS TOP DOC

    Northern Ireland will experience an “inevitable payback” in coronavirus infections as a result of easing restrictions over Christmas, the chief medical officer has warned.

    Households across the country will be able to meet inside buildings between December 23 and December 27 in a relaxing of lockdown rules that will bring festive cheer for millions.

    Travel restrictions will also be lifted, as will rules on overnight stays.

    Dr Michael McBride said any relaxation would have an impact on hospital admissions as he stressed the need for people to have a “careful” Christmas.

    ““In January we are likely to see an increase in the number of cases in Northern Ireland and that will be the payback, I think the inevitable payback, for any relaxations that there are over the Christmas period,” he told PA.

    'PERFECT STORM'

    The UK is facing a “perfect storm” as it battles the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic combined with a potential no-deal Brexit at the end of the year, leaked Cabinet papers warn.

    A report warns that there is a “notable risk” that the country could be hit by a series of disasters including battling Covid.

    A confidential briefing, seen by the Guardian, states: “Winter 2020 could see a combination of severe flooding, pandemic influenza, a novel emerging infectious disease and coordinated industrial action, against a backdrop of the end of the [Brexit] transition period.”

    Some of the starkest descriptions are reserved for the health and social care sectors.

    “The pandemic has and will continue to limit the capacity of the health and care sector to prepare for and respond to the end of the transition period,” it warns, noting expectations of a “sustained level of system disruption from November until at least April”.

    Read more HERE.

    CASHING IN

    Handling bank notes poses a low risk of spreading Covid-19, research from the Bank of England has revealed.

    Following the first lockdown, many shops encouraged customers to make contactless payments, while some refused to accept cash.

    The Bank's research found that the risk of catching the virus from handling currency was much lower than contracting it from breathing air particles in a shop, or from touching items such as shopping baskets.

    Its study involved a very high dose of the virus – equivalent to someone coughing or sneezing directly onto the note – and the experiment was repeated on paper and polymer notes.

    The study found that the level of the virus remained stable for an hour, but declined rapidly over five hours. After 24 hours, it had dropped to less than one per cent.

    JAB 'A MUST'

    Business chiefs could refuse people services if they have not had a Covid vaccine, according to senior cabinet officials.

    The Government has not said the jab will be made mandatory.

    But officials admit there is nothing to stop private firms ensuring customers have been vaccinated.

    A senior Whitehall source told The Sun: “I do think that very quickly when the vaccine is available all sorts of organisations will come to their own conclusions that in order to, say fly or operate safely, businesses will decide it is safer to ensure people have been vaccinated.

    “But we can’t put the cart before the horse, the vaccines haven’t been approved and we haven’t had these types of discussions yet.”

    Read our exclusive report HERE.

    PUBS DISMISS XMAS RULE AS 'MOCKERY'

    Plans to relax rules on household mixing over Christmas have been branded a “mockery” after it was revealed that restrictions will remain in place for pubs and the wider hospitality sector.

    People cannot meet up in their Christmas bubbles of three households inside pubs, hotels, retail and theatres – despite being able to visit each other's homes.

    Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, told the Standard: “These plans for Christmas make a mockery of the extra restrictions being placed on pubs and the economic devastation they are facing this Christmas.

    ““How can it be that pubs cannot properly open while households can mix in private settings?”

    BRIGHTON COVID RATE PLUNGES

    The coronavirus infection rate in Brighton and Hove has plunged to the third lowest in Sussex.

    In just one week, the rate of infection has halved from 181.9 to 90.1 per 100,000 of the population.

    It's the first time that Covid rates in the area have been below 100 per 100,000 infections for some time, Sussex Live reports.

    The local authority is at risk of entering Tier 2 or Tier 3 local lockdown measures once the national restrictions expire on December 2 as Brighton and Hove was formerly a covid hotspot.

    WILL THERE BE A PUB CURFEW ON CHRISTMAS EVE?

    Brits won't be able to meet up for a festive pint with their chosen bubble under new government plans.

    Pubs will be open in Tier One and Two – but last orders will still be 11pm.

    The announcement means that Brits won't be able to enjoy pints together as the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day.

    It comes after the government scrapped the hated 10pm curfew rule for hospitality venues – with drinkers set to get an extra hour to finish up.

    Read more HERE

    COVID CASES RISE IN ESSEX

    The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Essex have increased by over 200 in the last 24 hours, according to data from Public Health England.

    Figures show that in Essex 19,005 people had tested positive for the killer bug by 9am on November 24 – a rise in 202 cases.

    This was up from 18,803 recorded on November 23.

    Cases increased by 26 over the last 24 hours in Southend as 2,291 people have now been confirmed as testing positive, the Southend Echo reports.

    Across the UK, coronavirus cases increased by 11,299 in the last 24 hours – significantly lower than this time last week when 20,051 more infections were recorded.

    RISHI VOWS TO HELP COVID GENERATION

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak is promising a multi-billion pound package to help thousands of Brits made jobless by the pandemic back into work.

    Mr Sunak said his “number one priority” was to protect jobs as a result of the economic pain caused by the pandemic.

    His statement will include £2.9bn over three years as part of a “restart” scheme designed to help more than a million unemployed people find jobs.

    The Treasury will provide regular support for those who have been out of work for more than 12 months.

    AIRPORT BOSSES WELCOMES PRIVATE COVID TESTS TO CUT QUARANTINE

    Bosses at Doncaster Sheffield airport have hailed the Government's new coronavirus strategy as a “step in the right direction”.

    The 14-day period of self isolation will be cut to five days on receipt of a negative Covid test from a private provider, according to Transport secretary Grant Shapps.

    It's hoped that this move will give travellers confidence to book international trips abroad knowing the self isolation period once they return to the UK will not be as long.

    Doncaster Sheffield airport has seen an 80 per cent reduction in passenger traffic, the Star reports.

    A spokesperson for the airport said: “Today’s announcement from the Government, both in terms of significantly relaxing the period of self-isolation for inbound passengers and business support, are a step in the right direction for what has been a punishing year for airports.”

    'I WANT MAXIMUM SUPPORT'

    Cheshire West council leader Louise Gittins has demanded the Government provides “maximum support” for residents and businesses if the region falls into Tier 3 local lockdown restrictions.

    PM Boris Johnson announced yesterday in the Commons that England would return to a three-tiered local lockdown system once national restrictions expire on December 2.

    Cheshire West and Chester was previously under Tier 2 restrictions.

    Cllr Gittins told the Chester Standard: “I understand we will not be consulted on which tier we will be in, but if Government decide to place us in a higher tier of restrictions after 2 December we want this to be for a short period as possible with the maximum support to our residents and businesses.”

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