What’s happening up north?
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth asked for more clarity on what is happening in Greater Manchester.
Mr Ashworth said in the Commons: “I hope he will agree that when decisions like these are made they are most effective when made in tandem with local leaders. And on that point, can he just update us, what is the current position with respect to Greater Manchester and Lancashire and should we anticipate further announcements on that front later today?”
“But also, while I don’t quibble or object to the public health interventions he is making, I am afraid they are still not backed up with the financial package that is needed to mitigate the impact on jobs and livelihoods.”
Mr Ashworth added that “more people will fall into poverty and destitution” without further economic support.
‘Things will get worse before they get better’
Matt Hancock told the Commons: “The central change is that people cannot now meet other households socially indoors. This applies in any setting at home, or in a restaurant or in any other venue. The rule of six still applies in any outdoor setting and although you may continue to travel to open venues, you should reduce the number of journeys where possible.
“Now, I know that these measures are not easy but I also know that they are vital.
“Responding to this unprecedented pandemic requires difficult choices, some of the most difficult choices any Government has to make in peacetime.
“We make these decisions with a heavy heart with the sole aim to steering our nation through troubled waters.
“Things will get worse before they get better but I know that there are brighter skies and calmer seas ahead.”
Other areas to move into Tier 2 confirmed after ‘cases doubled in two weeks’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also confirmed parts of Cumbria, Essex, Derbyshire, Surrey and Yorkshire will move to Tier 2.
He told the Commons: “Working with local leaders in Essex and Elmbridge, we’re also moving them into local alert level high and I want to pay tribute to the leadership of Essex County Council and in Elmbridge where they have been working so hard to suppress the virus.”
Mr Hancock added: “Infection rates are also rising sharply in Barrow-in-Furness, in York, in North East Derbyshire, in Erewash and Chesterfield.
“In all of these places, cases are doubling in less than a fortnight.
“For all of the areas entering the high alert level, the change will come into effect one minute past midnight on Saturday morning and this includes Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield too.”
London infection rates are on ‘steep upward path’
On London, the Health Secretary confirmed the move from Tier 1 to Tier 2.
Matt Hancock explained: “Infection rates are on a steep upward path with the number of cases doubling every 10 days.
“The seven-day average case rate stands today at 97 rising sharply. We know from the first peak, the infection can spread fast and put huge pressures on the NHS so we must act now to prevent the need for tougher measures later on.
“So working closely with the mayor, with cross-party council leadership, with local public health officials and the national team, we’ve together agreed that London needs to move to local Covid alert level high.”
Mr Hancock thanked those who work and live in the capital, adding: “We all need to play our part in getting the virus under control once again.”
Delay means death, Hancock warns
Matt Hancock said that without suppressing the virus, the UK cannot return to the economy that it had.
The Health Secretary said: “We must act now. Delayed action means more deaths from Covid, it means more non-Covid deaths and it means more economic pain later.
“Because the virus comes down slower than it goes up. So we should stop it going up in the first place and, unless we suppress the virus, we cannot return to the economy we’ve had.
“Unless we suppress the virus, we cannot keep non-Covid NHS services going and, unless we suppress the virus, we cannot keep the elderly and the vulnerable safe and secure.”
‘We can control the virus because we have done it before’
Matt Hancock said that the UK must take “firm and balanced” decisions to keep the virus under control.
He told the Commons: “When a virus is moving fast, we cannot stay still. If we act collectively, we know we can control the virus because we have done it before.
“I believe in the people of this country and I believe, in fact I know that the people of this country want to control the virus to protect their loved ones, their lives and their livelihoods.
“And I believe from the bottom of my heart that acting together, we can. We must take firm and balanced decisions to keep this virus under control.”
No decisions yet taken on Tier 3 moves
Matt Hancock said an agreement had not yet been reached on whether Greater Manchester and Lancashire should move into Tier 3.
The Health Secretary told MPs “discussions are ongoing” with local leaders on moving areas classed as high to very high, and thanked the leadership in Liverpool for their “public service and cross-party teamwork” in agreeing such an increase in the alert level.
He also told the Commons: “In other areas currently in the second tier where discussions are ongoing, no further decisions have yet been made but we need to make rapid progress.”
CONFIRMED: London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash to move into the ‘high risk’ Tier 2
The change will come into effect at one minute past midnight on Saturday, Matt Hancock said.
Health Secretary hails power of ‘local action’
Matt Hancock warned MPs that the virus is rising “exponentially” in the UK.
The Health Secretary told the Commons: “The threat remains grave and serious. In Europe, positive cases are up 40 per cent from one week ago, and in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands they’ve doubled in the last fortnight.
“And here, we sadly saw the highest figure for daily deaths since early June.
“Let us be under no illusions about the danger posed by this virus. Coronavirus is deadly and it is now spreading exponentially in the UK.”
“We must act to prevent more deaths,” he told the House of Commons.
The minister insisted that local action is at the heart of the government’s response.
Through Test and Trace we have a detailed picture of where the virus is spreading, he said, as he described local action as “one of the best weapons we have”.
Matt Hancock has begun by describing the situation as ‘grave and serious’
As circuit-breaker calls grow louder, students in England could face their own two-week lockdown:
England’s university students could face a circuit-breaker lockdown in December amid Government efforts to get them home for Christmas, it is reported.
The fortnight-long shutdown across universities would take place from December 8 to 22, according to the Guardian, which added that the plans are in their “early stages”.
The move would also see universities instructed to switch from face-to-face teaching to online-only lectures at the start of the month.
Boris Johnson previously said that measures were being put in place “to allow students home safely for Christmas”.
Matt Hancock will address MPs within the next few minutes. Remember to stay tuned.
MPs kept in dark on Tier 3 move
Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon said that Downing Street refused to tell MPs whether Greater Manchester was being placed in Tier 3.
The Labour MP tweeted: “The Covid-19 meeting with Government is over and it was absolutely pointless.
“No consultation, no evidence was shared on the likely impact of further measures, no economic analysis and no enhanced financial support.
“Wouldn’t even tell us if Greater Manchester is being placed in Tier 3 lockdown!”
Less than a third of site test results returned within 24 hours
Just 32.6 per cent of people who were tested for Covid-19 in England in the week ending October 7 at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit – a so-called “in-person” test – received their result within 24 hours.
This is up from 27.4 per cent in the previous week.
Boris Johnson had pledged that, by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.
He told the House of Commons on June 3 that he would get “all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that”.
Less than 2% of home test results returned within 24 hours
Only 1.9 per cent of people in England who used a home test kit for Covid-19 received their result within 24 hours in the week to October 7.
This is down from 2.6 per cent in the previous week, but up slightly on 1.8 per cent in the week to September 16, which was the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.
Some 16 per cent of people received the result of a home test within 48 hours, down from 30.2 per cent in the previous week.
Test and Trace reaches lowest number of contacts since system was launched
Some 62.6 per cent of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached through the Test and Trace system in the week ending October 7, according to the latest figures.
This is the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began, and is down from 69.5 per cent in the previous week.
For cases handled by local health protection teams, 97.7 per cent of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to October 7.
For cases handled either online or by call centres, 57.6 per cent of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.
‘One-size-fits-all approach’ to London is a mistake – MP
Bromley and Chislehurst MP Sir Bob Neill said the “one-size-fits-all approach” to move the whole of London into Tier 2 restrictions is a mistake.
The senior Conservative told Sky News: “I think it’s a mistake. I think it’s disproportionate for the whole of London.
“I can see some parts of London the test is met, but… there is a cluster of south-east and southern London boroughs where the rates are very much lower.
“And although they are increasing I think to move this way for the whole of London, this one-size-fits-all approach, is a mistake because of the very real harm it will do to businesses.”
Matt Hancock will address MPs in less than 10 minutes.
Stay tuned for all the live action as he announces the latest national restrictions.
Rees-Mogg admits finding face masks ‘tiresome’ but says MPs must lead by example
Jacob Rees-Mogg also revealed that he does not like wearing a face mask but that MPs should lead by example.
He told colleagues in the Commons: “I cannot pretend I like wearing a mask, I cannot pretend that I do not find it slightly tiresome that my spectacles steam up and that therefore one is slightly wandering around not able to see where one is going – but we are wearing masks because we are showing the nation what we ought to be doing and we are legislating at the same time.
“We have a personal responsibility, we have a duty to legislate, we have a duty to be here, we have to show the way.
“And to suggest that democratic accountability is not an essential service seems to be an offence to democracy.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also rebutted Valerie Vaz’s assertion that £100 billion has been spent on the Government’s ‘Project Moonshot’, test development programme adding: “I’m not sure where that comes from, figures get banded about, but £100 billion is a very, very large amount of money and I have to say, I think it might have been noticed had that much been spent.”
Record number test positive for virus in England
A total of 89,874 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to October 7, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.
This is an increase of 64 per cent in positive cases on the previous week and is the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.