Coronavirus UK news – Tier 3 lockdown restrictions 'worked' as rules could be strengthened to save Christmas

A TIERED system in the UK will have to be beefed up ready for the end of the national lockdown to avoid an explosion in covid infections, warn scientists.

Government scientists at SAGE say the current lockdown measures in place in England are likely to take the R number below one, but have concerns over the previous tiered system.

The so-called r-number has fallen to between 1 and 1.2 – the closest it has been to falling below the crucial 1 number since early September.

Experts warned the number still wasn't low enough to either lift the second lockdown early, or even guarantee that it would be lifted at the four-week mark on December 2nd as the government had hoped.

In order to do that, SAGE said, the r-rate would need to be "well below 1 for an extended period of time" as "significant levels of healthcare demand and mortality will persist until R is reduced."

Follow our coronavirus updates below...

  • Patrick Knox

    CHURCH LEADERS LAUNCH LEGAL ACTION OVER PUBLIC WORSHIP BAN

    A group of religious leaders has launched a legal challenge against the decision to close churches for public worship in England and Wales during the second lockdown.

    More than 100 church leaders are seeking a judicial review of the decision by the UK Government to ban people from worshipping together in England.

    They are also challenging the Welsh Government's similar ban during its 17-day firebreak which ended earlier this month.

    The church leaders claim the restrictions on public worship breach Article 9 of the Human Rights Act on freedom to express religious beliefs.

    They also suggest the Government failed to ascertain the extent to which leaving churches open for public collective worship would risk contributing to the spread of Covid-19.

  • Patrick Knox

    FIVE DIED OF COVID AFTER ILLEGAL FUNERAL PARTY

    UP to five people who attended a huge memorial “street party” wake following a funeral later died of Covid, a council has revealed.

    Council bosses said they were appalled by breaches of the law around funerals.

    Paul Lankester, Assistant Director of Regulation and Enforcement in Birmingham, said the city council had learned “anecdotally” of the deaths.

    Mr Lankester spoke at a virtual meeting with Birmingham mosque leaders this week attended by the council's Director of Public Health Justin Varney.

    He also told how, in a separate incident, mourners had tried to break into a locked cemetery to attend a burial expected to attract a crowd of 200.

  • Patrick Knox

    CZECH REPUBLIC REPORTS 7,357 NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES, DEATHS RISE BY 171

    The country of 10.7 million has faced one of Europe's highest infection rates of COVID-19. Hospitals have been under heavy strain.

    The ministry today reported 171 new deaths, including 104 on Friday and revisions to previous days, to bring the total to 5,926 — a 25 per cent increase in the last week and a tenfold rise since Sept. 25.

    In total, 454,030 people have been infected since the pandemic started, including a three-fold increase just in the past month.

    Yesterday’s daily total marked the first seven-day period since the first half of October that the country went a week with daily infections below 10,000.

  • Patrick Knox

    NEW YORK CLOSES BARS TO HEAD OFF SECOND WAVE

    The Big Apple raced to cut off a second wave of coronavirus infections and a top WHO expert warned growing public distrust risked rendering even the most effective treatments useless against the pandemic.

    Bars and clubs in the Big Apple, the epicenter of the US's spring outbreak, were ordered to close at 10pm last night and the state governor warned schools could move to online only teaching as early as Monday.

    Infections are surging throughout America and Europe, with governments forced to take more drastic action despite fears about the devastation inflicted on their economies.

    The disease has claimed almost 1.3 million lives worldwide and infected close to 53 million since it first emerged in China in December.

    Even with a vaccine expected to receive approval soon, the head of the WHO's immunisation department warned that misinformation and mistrust colouring people's acceptance of scientific advances could hamper its effectiveness.

  • Patrick Knox

    RETURN TO TIERS WILL SEE COVID INFECTIONS RISE, SCIENTISTS WARN

    Returning to the tiered system of coronavirus restrictions in England after the lockdown comes to an end will see infections rise again, scientists have warned.

    Any hopes of families gathering at Christmas will also be dependent on the reproduction rate of the disease staying below one for “some time”, according to documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

    A document from the science advisers, dated November 4, said: “If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before November 5, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today.”

    Other papers from late October suggested that in a scenario where prevalence of infections is “low and controlled”, and where NHS Test and Trace “can play a big role in containing outbreaks”, there is scope for a loosening of social distancing rules over Christmas for a “limited time”, the experts said.

    For this to happen, “rapid and decisive interventions” must push R well below one and “maintain that for some time”.

  • Hana Carter

    COVID DENIER FINED FOR KEEPING BUSINESS OPEN

    A salon owner who claims she doesn't believe coronavirus is real has been fined £3,000 for refusing to close her business during the national lockdown.

    Sinead Quinn was fined £1,000 by Kirlees Council earlier this week after she ignored restrictions and then another £2,000 on Thursday after she still took no notice.

    The council branded her behaviour “selfish and irresponsible” but Ms Quinn said she would not accept the fine until she had “proof” the virus exists.

  • Hana Carter

    GYM OWNER TAKEN TO COURT OVER BREAKING COVID RULES

    A gym was hauled before court today for “refusing to close” during the latest coronavirus lockdown.

    Cops were called to Spartans Gym in Southampton last week amid reports that the owner had vowed to stay open despite the government's rules.

    Police warned a man, believed to be the manager, that he would be taken to court if he continued to flout the rules.

    Gym “boss” Josh Gosling appeared at Southampton magistrates court charged with breaking coronavirus guidelines – but claimed he is a “passionate” member of the gym, not the owner.

    The 28-year-old explained during the hearing that the owners of the gym were not in court as the director listed had

    resigned months before the lockdown.

    The court heard that the gym had refused to shut despite the nationwide lockdown.

    Police were first called to the gym at 10.20am on November 5 following reports that it was not observing the lockdown

    guidelines.

  • Hana Carter

    QUEEN FLOGS SOUVENIRS AFTER MISERABLE FINANCIAL YEAR

    The Queen is flogging souvenirs after a miserable financial year.

    The Royal Collection has been left with thousands of time-sensitive calendars, coins and diaries expected to sell to visitors at Windsor, Buckingham Palace and Palace of Holyroodhouse.

    But the lockdown has meant her stately homes were under lock and key for months and her 2021 items have gone unsold.

    The Queen is selling them half-price on her official website to try to cover costs.

    Her £9.95 2021 The Queen’s Palaces Calendar is now 50% off and shoppers are told: “Note important dates and appointments in this splendid calendar for 2021.

  • Hana Carter

    SCOTLAND RECORDS 56 COVID DEATHS

    Scotland has recorded 56 deaths from coronavirus and 1,357 positive cases in the past 24 hours, John Swinney has announced.

    The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 3,244.

    Speaking at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing, the Deputy First Minister said the daily test positivity rate is 5.7%, down from 6.1% on Thursday.

    A total of 79,017 people have tested positive in Scotland, up from 77,660 the previous day.

    Of the new cases, 433 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 267 in Lanarkshire, and 163 in Lothian.

  • Hana Carter

    COVID RATES REMAIN HIGH IN NW ENGLAND, YORKSHIRE & HUMBER

    The highest regional Covid-19 infection rates remain in north-west England and Yorkshire and the Humber, the ONS said.

    The rates are estimated to have increased in the South East, South West, East Midlands and the North East, whereas some other regions appear to have levelled off, it added.

    The lowest rates continue to be in south-east England and eastern England.

    The ONS warned that caution should be taken in “over-interpreting any small movements” if rates are already at high levels.

    There are “early signs of a reduction” in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Wales, the country's Health Minister has said.

  • Hana Carter

    TIER SYSTEM AFTER NOVEMBER LOCKDOWN

    Going back to a tier-system will only reduce coronavirus rates to pre-lockdown levels, Government scientists have warned.

    It leaves Brits' Christmas plans hanging in the balance while ministers attempt to drive down Covid infections.

    In new documents released today, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warns that a localised lockdown approach could see transmission rise again.

    Government scientists also warned that the UK has “little to no scope” of relaxing social distancing rules for Christmas.

    Their gloomy forecast, dated November 4, warns: “If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before November 5, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today.”

    On November 4, the same day as Sage made their prediction, daily Covid infections in the UK were 25,177, while 492 people lost their lives.

    The experts say that current lockdown measures are likely to reduce the R rate to less than 1.

  • Hana Carter

    RUSSIAN AND NORTH KOREAN HACKERS TRIED TO STEAL COVID VACCINE

    Three hacking groups launched cyber attacks in a disturbing bid to steal Covid vaccine secrets, Microsoft says.

    According to the US tech giant, one of the groups is backed by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin while the other two are from North Korea.

    Microsoft said it has detected attempts by the rogue hackers to steal valuable data from leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers.

    It said in a blog post today that most of the attacks in recent months were unsuccessful, but provided no information on how many succeeded or how serious those breaches were.

    The cyber raids targeted vaccine manufacturers, a clinical research firm and one that developed a coronavirus test, Microsoft said.

    It did not name the targets but said most had vaccine candidates in various stages of clinical trials.

    The companies were located in the US, Canada, India, South Korea and France, the tech firm says.

  • Hana Carter

    STRICTLY'S MAISIE SMITH AND HRVY BREAK SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES

    Strictly Come Dancing's Maisie Smith and HRVY broke social distancing rules as they arrived for It Takes Two filming together amid the show's coronavirus crisis.

    The Sun can reveal that the stars have had a telling off from bosses to maintain at least a two metre distance at all times after being caught walking closely together in our exclusive pictures.

    The pair have been at the centre of romance rumours since the series kicked off last month, and were joined by their professional dance partners as they made their way into the BBC studio last night.

    Maisie, 19, and her partner Gorka Marquz were closely trailed by 21-year-old HRVY and Janette Manrara – with none of them wearing masks.

    A Strictly insider told The Sun: “The stars are being reminded that they must stay at least two metres apart.

    “It's hard to maintain, as everyone knows, but it's more important than ever now for Strictly that everyone stays as far apart as possible.”

    Maisie had her toned legs on display in a denim mini skirt with yellow ruffle detail and cowboy boots – keeping warm in a padded jacket.

  • Hana Carter

    FUNERAL RULES DURING LOCKDOWN

    The government's current guidance on funerals in Englandis that up to 30 people are allowed to gather for services outdoors.

    Places of worship will be closed, but will be allowed to hold funerals.

    During the gathering, you must remain socially distant from anyone that is not a part of your household or support bubble.

    Meanwhile, funerals being held inside must allow for people from different households to socially distance, with a

    maximum of 30 people.

    For breaching the rules, you could receive a fine of £100 – doubling for each subsequent offence up to £3,200.

  • Hana Carter

  • Hana Carter

    MO SALAH TESTS POSITIVE AFTER EGYPT WEDDING

    Liverpool's Mo Salah has tested positive for coronavirus just days after he attended his brother's wedding in Egypt.

    The forward, 28, is not suffering from any symptoms after returning a positive swab test while on international duty, the Egyptian FA confirmed.

    Salah attended his brother Nasr's wedding in Cairo on Tuesday and footage appeared on social media of the football star dancing among a small crowd of guests.

    He was wearing a mask pulled down below his nose and around his chin in several images taken at the ceremony which was also attended by international team-mate and Aston Villa star Mahmoud Trezeguet.

    The Egyptian FA initially announced Salah was the only member of the Egyptian side to test positive before later revealing three other players were being sent for retests.

    He is now set to miss Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at home to Togo on Saturday and the reverse fixture on Tuesday with the EFA confirming that he is isolating and would be 'subject to more checks in the coming hours'.

  • Hana Carter

    GREGGS TO AXE 820 JOBS DUE TO COVID

    Coronavirus has claimed more jobs on the high street with Greggs set to axe 820 roles.

    The drop in demand from customers as they avoid the high street has forced the bakery to make redundancies.

    Greggs boss Roger Whiteside warned of job cuts in September due to the pandemic.

    Staff were asked to reduce their contracted hours to help minimise job losses, but after a period of consultation the need to make hundreds of redundancies was confirmed with staff this week.

    The bakery chain employs 25,000 people and has over 2,000 shops.

    The cuts are equivalent to around 3% of the workforce.

    Greggs is not planning to make any store closures and is looking at opening new shops in locations which are accessible by car in future.

    Sales at Greggs in the three months to the end of September were 70% of what they were at the same time last year, with city stores and shops near public transport harder hit.

    It has rolled out click and collect and delivery services across the country to boost sales.

  • Hana Carter

  • Hana Carter

    CHRISTMAS 'CANCELLED' ACROSS EUROPE

    The coronavirus could see Christmas cancelled across Europe this year as leaders in France, Germany, and Ireland warn people not to make plans to travel home.

    It comes as full or partial lockdowns remain in place in countries across the continent and with the festive season just six weeks away.

    Numerous countries were forced to reintroduce measures as the second wave of the pandemic got underway in September and October.

    Each of France, Spain, and Italy has recorded a record daily rise in cases in recent weeks.

    England's current lockdown is set to last until at least December 2, but there have been fears it will need to be extended.

    Asked at a press conference on Thursday whether people could begin buying train tickets to travel home at Christmas, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said it was “a bit too early to say”.

    “The pressure on our hospitals has intensified enormously,” he said.

  • Hana Carter

    FIVE FUNERAL ATTENDEES DIED AFTER CATCHING COVID-19 AT THE WAKE

    Five mourners have died after they reportedly attended a funeral wake where they caught Covid-19.

    The gathering happened after a funeral in Birmingham, according to the local council.

    Council bosses said it was one of a number of breaches in the city of strict coronavirus restrictions regarding funerals.

    West Midlands Police had previously shared shocking video of a large gathering at a funeral being broken up at the Castle Bromwich Hall Hotel.

    City council assistant director of regulation and enforcement Paul Lankester told Metro: “We've heard anecdotally that there was a rather large gathering in one funeral, it was a street, almost a street party type thing to celebrate the life of someone.

    “We've heard that five people who attended that got Covid and passed away.”

  • Hana Carter

    AUSTRALIA HAS SUCCESS WITH VACCINE

    Early testing of a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed in Australia has shown it to produce an antibody response, Aussie Minister for Health Greg Hunt said.

    The vaccine candidate, developed at the University of Queensland, has been shown it to be safe and will now begin the last stage of testing, Hunt said.

    He said: “It is doing its job. That is particularly so in the elderly, and that is an especially important outcome, given the global vulnerability to elderly around the world from COVID-19.”

    Should it pass those trials, Hunt said it could be ready for distribution by the third quarter of 2021.

    Australia has already agreed to buy 51 million doses of the vaccine.

  • Jon Rogers

    UK COVID DEATH TOLL RISES BY 376

    The Government said a further 376 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 51,304.

    Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 67,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

    The Government said that, as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 27,301 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

    It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,317,496.

  • Jon Rogers

    BUS PASSENGER FINED £1,710 AFTER TWICE REFUSING TO WEAR A FACE MASK

    A man has been fined more than £1,700 after refusing to wear a face mask on a London bus for two days in a row.

    Frederick Adomako-Frimpong, 49, from Stratford, east London, was among dozens of people fined at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on Friday for failing to wear a face covering on public transport in July.

    The court heard he had provided “no reasonable excuse” for not having a suitable covering at Stratford bus station on July 15.

    Adomako-Frimpong was stopped again by Transport for London (TfL) staff the following day for the same reason.

    He was given a combined fine of £1,710 for the offences after not paying his fixed penalty notice of £100 within 28 days.

  • Jon Rogers

    LIVERPOOL'S MO SALAH TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

    Liverpool's Mo Salah has tested positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Egypt.

    The forward, 28, is not suffering from any symptoms after returning a positive swab test, the Egyptian FA confirmed.

    Salah was the only member of the Egyptian side to test positive in the African nation's round of testing.

    Read more here.

  • Jon Rogers

    WELSH COPS ISSUE MORE THAN 50 FINES TO STUDENTS FOR PARTY

    Police have handed out more than 50 fines to students who breached coronavirus rules with an illegal party.

    The incident took place at a Cardiff Metropolitan University halls of residence despite Covid-19 regulations banning large gatherings or entering another residence outside a person's “bubble”.

    On Friday, South Wales Police said officers worked closely with Cardiff Metropolitan University to retrospectively issue 52 fixed penalty notices of £60, while inquiries are continuing in relation to another four attendees.

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