Local lockdowns must be ‘reasonable’, Leeds council leader says, with visits to care homes allowed

A shopper wears a face mask in Leeds city centre, West Yorkshire, where tougher lockdown

A shopper wears a face mask in Leeds city centre, West Yorkshire, where tougher lockdown measures were introduced after a rise in coronavirus infections.
A shopper wears a face mask in Leeds city centre, West Yorkshire, where tougher lockdown measures were introduced after a rise in coronavirus infections.

The leader of Leeds City Council has said local lockdowns must be ‘reasonable’ and visits to care homes should be allowed. 

Labour councillor Judith Blake said messages from the Government had been confused and have left many unsure about what is now expected of them.  

This follows a recent ban on mixing of households coming into force across swathes of Northern England with warnings that the new measures may not be enough to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Leeds City Council said there had been a “steep rise” in infections, with the rate at 98.5 per 100,000 people.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, Ms Blake said: “We’re pressing very hard to allow visitors to go into care homes in a safe way with appropriate protection, we’re very conscious of the emotional toll on people and mental health issues that will follow.”

“We’re talking to Government about how they can get out a much clearer message out to people, that is consistent, so that people are not worried about whether they live on one side of the border or no.”

Follow the latest updates below.

03:03 PM

Anti-mask activists urge people to buy hidden disability badges to skirt Government rules on face coverings 

Anti-mask activists are using Facebook to encourage protesters to skirt the Government’s rule on wearing face coverings in public by buying ‘hidden disability’ badges, the Telegraph has found. 

The sunflower-themed lanyards are freely available from charities online and do not require the buyer to show any form of medical documentation proving they have a condition that exempts them from the rule.  

Protesters on the Facebook group page say ‘NO to masks’ are urging members who ask about how they can avoid wearing a mask to either purchase the badges online or fashion their own at home, despite many of them not claiming to have a condition. 

Facebook users are urging other to get the sunflower-themed lanyards, which are freely available online
Facebook users are urging other to get the sunflower-themed lanyards, which are freely available online

 Read the full story here by Max Stephens

02:56 PM

Majority of anti-lockdown protesters dispersed in Trafalgar Square 

The majority of anti-lockdown protesters in Trafalgar Square have been dispersed by police following brief clashes with officers dressed in riot gear.

Police removed sound equipment from Trafalgar Square and several protesters were led away in handcuffs.

Another demonstrator was physically carried away from the scene by officers. 

Protesters and Riot Police stand off in Trafalgar Square - Stefan Rousseau /PA
Protesters and Riot Police stand off in Trafalgar Square – Stefan Rousseau /PA
Unmasked protestors clash with riot police - Stefan Rousseau/PA
Unmasked protestors clash with riot police – Stefan Rousseau/PA

02:38 PM

Three protesters and one police officer treated by medical staff as clashes continue.

At least three protesters and one police officer were treated by medical staff as clashes continue between protesters and police continue at Trafalgar Square. 

Police and protesters clash in Trafalgar Square - Justin Tallis/AFP
Police and protesters clash in Trafalgar Square – Justin Tallis/AFP
A woman falls as police move in to disperse protesters in Trafalgar Square - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
A woman falls as police move in to disperse protesters in Trafalgar Square – JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
Conspiracy theorist David Icke enjoying a warm reception at the protests - AFP
Conspiracy theorist David Icke enjoying a warm reception at the protests – AFP

02:20 PM

Trafalgar Square protesters throw bottles at police who respond with batons

Police have donned riot helmets as clashes with anti-lockdown protesters escalated in Trafalgar Square.

Bottles were thrown and police used batons against activists, leaving some with visible injuries. 

At least three protesters and one police officer were treated by medical staff as clashes continue.

A demonstrator bleeds from a wound to his head as police move in to disperse protesters - Justin Tallis/AFP
A demonstrator bleeds from a wound to his head as police move in to disperse protesters – Justin Tallis/AFP

02:16 PM

Update: Police clash with protesters at Trafalgar Square

Police have clashed with protesters at a demonstration in central London as officers tried to shut the event down.

Metropolitan Police officers penned the crowd in Trafalgar Square and water was thrown at them by demonstrators.

Crowds also chanted “pick your side” at the officers.

02:06 PM

Metropolitan Police shutting down anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square 

The Metropolitan Police are shutting down an anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square because crowds have “not complied” with social distancing rules.

Demonstrators attend a Resist and Act for Freedom anti-mask rally at Trafalgar Square - Hollie Adams /Getty Images Europe
Demonstrators attend a Resist and Act for Freedom anti-mask rally at Trafalgar Square – Hollie Adams /Getty Images Europe

Demonstrators have been asked to leave and the force warned that anyone who stays could be subject to enforcement action.

In a statement, the Met said: “Crowds in Trafalgar Square have not complied with the conditions of their risk assessment and are putting people in danger of transmitting the virus.

“This has voided their risk assessment and we have informed the event organisers they are no longer exempt from the regulations.

“We are now asking those in Trafalgar Square to leave. Officers will be engaging with crowds and informing them of this development.

01:45 PM

Cricket: In Covid times, English cricket had two welcoming homes but now they have to brace themselves for winter months

Old Trafford and Ageas Bowl saved the English summer, but now Hampshire and Lancashire are facing a new challenge, writes Nick Hoult

Lancashire’s chief executive, Daniel Gidney, uses a Game of Thrones analogy when he surveys the immediate future for Emirates Old Trafford and Ageas Bowl. 

“The expression Winter is Coming is very relevant to the bigger Test match venues that have conferencing and banqueting space,” he says.

“The government effectively announced a closure of conferencing and exhibition spaces by limiting them to only 30 people. That is carnage for the bigger venues. It is going to be a bleak midwinter that is for certain.

How do clubs look after their businesses during the winter months? - Getty Images Europe
How do clubs look after their businesses during the winter months? – Getty Images Europe

“We can do small meetings but a Covid secure space for 30 people needs a room that can take 100-150 people so it is pretty catastrophic,” he added. 

Read the full story here by Nick Hoult

01:34 PM

Football: Covid era is not threatening American investors’ interest in Premier League clubs

If Burnley were to fall into hands of US investors, it would make club fifth in the Premier League owned outright by American money, writes Sam Wallace 

European football: the place where many American investors have come to lose lots of their money, or indeed lots of other people’s money, although that eagerness to pursue the dream of ownership and a profit too, seems to live on regardless. Burnley are about to fall into the hands, it seems, of ALK Capital, another one of those deathless names from the US sports investment scene which has lurked around the margins of other available clubs, like Sheffield United, before now.

Sean Dyche's Burnley are the latest club to attract interest from American buyers - Andrew Couldridge /Pool via Reuters
Sean Dyche’s Burnley are the latest club to attract interest from American buyers – Andrew Couldridge /Pool via Reuters

Read the full story here by Sam Wallace

01:22 PM

India: Prime Minister Modi pledges to use India vaccine-production capacity to help ‘all humanity’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the United Nations on Saturday that his country’s vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the COVID-19 crisis.

“As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” Modi said in a pre-recorded speech to the U.N. General Assembly. “India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis.”

Workers pack syringes at the Hindustan Syringes factory in Faridabad. - Sajjad Hussain/ AFP
Workers pack syringes at the Hindustan Syringes factory in Faridabad. – Sajjad Hussain/ AFP

Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials – the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy – and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.

01:13 PM

Officials working to fix issue of coronavirus test results not linking to app

Results of coronavirus tests carried out in an NHS hospital or Public Health England lab cannot be linked with the newly-launched NHS Covid-19 app, officials have admitted.

The app, which has been available for download across England and Wales since Thursday, has been hailed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock as an “important step forward” in the fight against the virus.

But officials said results from tests done in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, and those done as part of the Office for National Statistics’ national surveillance programme, cannot currently be linked with the app.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it is aware of the issue and “urgently working” to resolve it.

A tweet on the official app account said: “If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative.”

01:03 PM

Boxing: Manny Pacquiao and mixed martial arts star McGregor will fight next year for Covid-19 charity

Philippine boxing champion Manny Pacquiao will face former two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor in the ring next year, and part of proceeds from the fight will go to coronavirus victims in his country, his office said on Saturday. 

A "huge portion" of Pacquiao's earnings would go to those who were affected by the pandemic, the fighter's team said - Dave Hunt/AAP
A “huge portion” of Pacquiao’s earnings would go to those who were affected by the pandemic, the fighter’s team said – Dave Hunt/AAP

Both fighters are “getting ready for this one epic last boxing fight,” said Jayke Joson, special assistant to Pacquiao, who is also a Philippine senator.

Joson’s statement followed a tweet by Irishman McGregor in which he said that he would be “boxing Pacquiao next in the Middle East”.

“We don’t deny it,” Joson said of the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champ’s tweet.

12:52 PM

Students in halls at Glasgow University will be getting a four week rent rebate and £50 for food. 

The University of Glasgow will offer students a four week rent rebate along with £50 for food deliveries from local restaurants and takeaway outlets.  

This will be given to all students in university accommodation regardless of whether they are self-isolating or not.

Over this weekend staff at the university will also visit (within 24 hours) every student household isolating for a welfare check to see if they need additional food, medical supplies or advice on medical & well-being issues. 

The University will also provide the following for all students in flats who are isolating: 

  • Delivery of food parcels.

  • Clothes and washing materials, 

  • Fresh bedding and towels.  

12:41 PM

Tory Rebels continue bid for vote on coronavirus powers despite No 10 offer

Tory backbenchers will continue to push the Government to give MPs a chance to debate and vote on coronavirus measures before they come into force despite Downing Street’s attempt to head off a rebellion.

Conservative Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, has tabled an amendment to the Coronavirus Act trying to force greater parliamentary scrutiny of the regulations.

Sir Graham said the Government's olive branch was "not relevant" to his bid for further scrutiny. - Victoria Jones/PA
Sir Graham said the Government’s olive branch was “not relevant” to his bid for further scrutiny. – Victoria Jones/PA

He has won the backing of more than 40 of his Tory colleagues, and with Labour likely to support the measure, Boris Johnson could be defeated in the Commons in the six-month review of the powers, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

In a bid to appease the backbenches, Downing Street has offered MPs a chance to debate and vote on the ‘rule of six’ next month.

12:32 PM

Update: Thousands gather for anti-lockdown demonstration in central London

Thousands of protesters have gathered for an anti-lockdown demonstration in central London.

Crowds massed in Trafalgar Square on Saturday carrying a variety of signs, flags and placards to take part in a “we do not consent” rally, none appearing to wear face coverings or to social distance.

The demonstrators, who are protesting against Government lockdown measures, cheered and clapped, shouting “we will win”.

People take part in a 'We Do Not Consent' rally at Trafalgar Square in London, - Stefan Rousseau/ PA
People take part in a ‘We Do Not Consent’ rally at Trafalgar Square in London, – Stefan Rousseau/ PA

Earlier, police searched a man and confiscated a makeshift riot shield that he was carrying.

The protest comes a week after a separate event which saw more than a dozen officers injured when a “small minority” targeted police and more than 32 arrests were made.

12:21 PM

Anti-lockdown protests in Trafalgar Square in pictures 

A protester (R) gestures to a member of the media (L) as he complains about the wearing of a mask, - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
A protester (R) gestures to a member of the media (L) as he complains about the wearing of a mask, – JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
 JUSTIN TALLIS - AFP
JUSTIN TALLIS – AFP
Piers Corbyn, the brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, at the 'We Do Not Consent' rally in Trafalgar Square - Stefan Rousseau/PA
Piers Corbyn, the brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, at the ‘We Do Not Consent’ rally in Trafalgar Square – Stefan Rousseau/PA

12:13 PM

Takeaway service-only restrictions in Bolton unfair, council leader says

Council bosses in Bolton say continuing to force hospitality venues in the borough to offer a takeaway service only is “unfair”.

The Government decided to maintain the added Covid-19 restriction in Bolton, which currently has the highest seven-day infection rate in the country at 242 cases per 100,000 people.

Tory council leader David Greenhalgh says the above restriction was imposed on restaurants, cafes and pubs when the infection rate was just over 100 cases per 100,000.

He pointed out that many boroughs in the Greater Manchester area are now above that rate but are still being allowed to operate with table service – some just a few hundred yards away on the other side of boundaries.

Mr Greenhalgh said: “I feel incredibly frustrated and angry at this decision, and I know business owners who have had their doors close will feel the same.

“Our hospitality sector remains penalised and suffering job losses and the threat of closure, and I will continue to illustrate this unfairness when businesses can see other premises trading normally as little as a few hundred yards away across a borough boundary.

“This is unfair and the fight goes on for this sector to be allowed to reopen in a safe manner, as many did before with great innovation.

12:01 PM

Breaking: Thousands of anti-lockdown protestors gather in Trafalgar Square 

Thousands of people have gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London, and numbers continue to grow, as police warned protesters not to break social distancing rules.

People take part in a 'We Do Not Consent' rally at Trafalgar Square in London, organised by Stop New Normal, to protest against coronavirus restrictions - Stefan Rousseau /PA
People take part in a ‘We Do Not Consent’ rally at Trafalgar Square in London, organised by Stop New Normal, to protest against coronavirus restrictions – Stefan Rousseau /PA

The demonstrators, who are protesting against Government lockdown measures, cheered and clapped, shouting “we will win”.

Earlier, police searched a man and confiscated a makeshift riot shield that he was carrying.

11:55 AM

Quarantine centres built to contain surge of Covid-19 cases in Myanmar

Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon has rapidly built new quarantine centres as it scrambles to contain the commercial hub’s first significant coronavirus outbreak, with overworked medical staff fearing thousands more cases to come.

The Southeast Asian nation has one of the world’s most impoverished healthcare systems, but had until recently remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic. 

A volunteer is seen at a quarantine centre, amid the outbreak of Covid-19 in Yangon
A volunteer is seen at a quarantine centre, amid the outbreak of Covid-19 in Yangon

Last month there were fewer than 400 total confirmed cases nationwide and just six deaths from the disease.

But rising case numbers in the country’s west quickly spread elsewhere and infection numbers have doubled every week.

They are expected to pass 10,000 in the coming days with a current death toll of 174.

11:46 AM

Slovakia reports record high 552 new Covid-19 cases

Slovakia’s daily count of new coronavirus cases rose to 552, a fresh record high, the Slovak government said today. 

The country of 5.5 million has recorded one of Europe’s lowest death tolls from coronavirus at 44 as of Saturday.

In total, Slovakia has recorded 8,600 infections, with an acceleration in recent weeks.

11:34 AM

Police close down orchestral rap event over Covid-19 fears

Police broke up an outdoor orchestral performance of songs by US rapper and hip hop producer Dr Dre after several hundred concertgoers watched in “close proximity”.

The organisers of Friday’s event at the 19th century-built Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Liverpool’s Stanley Park were fined £10,000 for the Covid-19 breach.

It was billed as “a combination of a traditional orchestra merging with a modern live hip-hop music event” in which 2001, the second album of Dr Dre, who found fame with controversial rap group N.W.A, would be performed.

Organisers No Strings Attached said the ticketed event would be operating under “strict Covid government guidelines” but Merseyside Police stepped in to close it down after receiving a report of concern at about 8.40pm.

The crowd of about 250 people was dispersed and licensing inquiries are under way, said police.

11:25 AM

Madrid at ‘serious risk’ without tougher Covid-19 rules, health minister warns 

Spain’s health minister urged authorities in Madrid on Saturday to tighten restrictions in the coronavirus hotspot, warning that the capital’s residents and surrounding regions were at “serious risk” without tougher curbs.

Madrid extended a partial lockdown on Friday in several dozen districts with high infection rates, rejecting national government recommendations for a city-wide lockdown as cases continue to surge in the capital.

“Madrid is in a situation of serious risk and it’s time to act with determination,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference.

“There is a serious risk for inhabitants, for the neighbouring regions,” he said, calling on the capital’s regional authorities to “put the health of citizens first”.

11:16 AM

Two-thirds of Britons think coronavirus restrictions do not go far enough

Almost two-thirds of people believe the Government’s latest Covid-19 restrictions do not go far enough, a poll reveals.

A survey of more than 2,000 adults found that 63 per cent believed that the measures taken last week fell short of the action that should have been taken.

Some 51 per cent of respondents favoured closing gyms and beauty salons now to lower the rate of coronavirus infections.

The findings chime with internal polling that has led ministers to believe that the priority for many members of the public is to see the pandemic brought under control.

Read Sunday Political Editor Edward Malnick’s full story here 

11:08 AM

Can the game of squash survive in a Covid-19 world?

Maybe it’s not as intimate as Greco-Roman wrestling, but if you were to make a list of sports most affected by Covid-19, squash would be certain to figure.

Played in an indoor box measuring 9.75 x 6.4 metres, it drives two players to chest-heaving exertion as they squabble over a tiny black ball.  Sometimes, they even collide in their urgency to  make the winning shot. 

The traditional game of squash has had a radical makeover during the pandemic
The traditional game of squash has had a radical makeover during the pandemic

Safer, certainly.  England Squash recommends forming a bubble of up to six regular partners, who are allowed to play full-court matches as long as they sterilise the ball and their hands, and swap server at the halfway point of each game.  

Read the full story  here by our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs 

10:54 AM

China pushes emergency use of Covid-19 vaccine despite concern

After the first shot, he had no reaction. But Kan Chai felt woozy following the second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine approved for emergency use in China.

“When I was driving on the road, I suddenly felt a bit dizzy, as if I was driving drunk,” the popular writer and columnist recounted on a webinar earlier this month. 

His is a rare account from the hundreds of thousands of people who have been given Chinese vaccines, before final regulatory approval for general use.

An employee answers questions from the public near samples of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG - AP
An employee answers questions from the public near samples of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG – AP

Chinese companies earlier drew attention for giving the vaccine to their top executives and leading researchers before human trials to test their safety and efficacy had even begun.

In recent months, they have injected a far larger number under an emergency use designation approved in June, and that number appears poised to rise.

10:35 AM

Stick or twist: house prices are rising but is a Covid hangover on the cards?

The housing market seems to be thriving as buyers rush to take advantage of the Chancellor’s stamp duty tax giveaway. But with prices rocketing in some areas and stagnant in others, navigating the market is a complex task.

Telegraph Money answers some of the most common questions asked by home buyers.

  • Will my house price fall? 

  • Should I buy before the stamp duty holiday ends? 

  • Where do house prices look like they will grow the most?

  • I want to move. Should I sell now and rent, then buy later?

Read our full guide here for all your questions answered

10:24 AM

Comment: A vaccination is no silver bullet for Covid-19,

A vaccination is no silver bullet for Covid-19, writes Prof Raj Bhopal CBE, Emeritus Professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh.

Pandemics can mysteriously fizzle out but sadly Covid-19 continues to fizz instead.That leaves two solutions – either inventing a safe and effective vaccine or developing population immunity through infection.Lockdowns, social distancing, face coverings and testing are important in buying time but cannot be sustained endlessly.We desperately need a greater level of public debate, including on the vexed issue of population immunity – a better phrase than herd immunity. 

Read the full article here

10:14 AM

Welsh First Minister urges Cardiff residents  to act as if the new restrictions are in place until they come into effect on Sunday evening.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has urged people in Cardiff – the first capital city in Great Britain to be placed under a local lockdown – to behave as if the new restrictions are in place until they come into effect on Sunday evening.

People wear face masks in the town centre of Newport, Wales. - Getty Images Europe
People wear face masks in the town centre of Newport, Wales. – Getty Images Europe

He told radio broadcaster LBC that police enforcement was a last resort and added: “If there are people who clearly deliberately flout the law you have to enforce.

“Yes, with fines if necessary. But for us that’s the last resort, not the first resort.

“In Caerphilly [the first area in Wales to face local lockdown] we have had very, very good levels of co-operation.

“My experience is people are wanting to do the right thing.”

10:04 AM

Fewer than 0.1% fined for not wearing a facemask on trains

Fewer than 0.1% of people stopped by police for not wearing masks on trains received a fine, figures have revealed.

British Transport Police (BTP) said it stopped 14,726 people from 15 July to 15 August for failing to comply, resulting in 14 fixed penalty notices.

The rules, introduced in June, state anyone travelling on public transport must wear a face covering. 

MP Sammy Wilson was pictured on the London tube without a mask - James@geeums/Twitter /PA
MP Sammy Wilson was pictured on the London tube without a mask – [email protected]/Twitter /PA

BTP said enforcement in the form of fixed penalty notices was only used as a “last resort”.

It said, from 30 July to 8 September, officers recorded 50,729 “interventions” with passengers not wearing face coverings, with 3,545 – 7% – of those told to leave the train.

The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, showed 37 fines had been issued between 15 June and 14 July. BTP said it did not hold complete data for how many people were stopped during that time.

09:50 AM

Government did not consult SAGE before imposing 10pm curfew on hospitality sector

Professor Graham Medley, who attends meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), has said that the Government did not consult members on the advisory board before imposing a 10pm curfew on resturants, pubs and bars.  

 All pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England are currently forced to shut by 10pm to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

It comes as the UK’s Covid-19 alert level moved to 4, meaning transmission is “high or rising exponentially”.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning Prof  Medley told listeners that he had “never discussed it or heard it discussed”. 

09:38 AM

Business: The Great Covid Divide is making a mockery of PM’s pledge to ‘level up’

Thursday’s announcement was a total and utter assassination of my business,” says a despondent Dave Sweeney, owner of Bank Top Brewery in Bolton, the UK’s Covid “capital”.

Jobs are on the line at the brewery and pub owner, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest package has failed to move the dial. “We are seriously looking at losing all the staff and losing the business.”

The brewery’s ales and bitters, such as its flagship Flat Cap, have been a staple in the Greater Manchester town’s drinking holes for 25 years but is, like much of Bolton’s shuttered hospitality industry, facing a long winter.

Nowhere has the price of failing to control the virus been more stark. The town was forced to close its bars and restaurants again after cases rocketed. Sweeney warns: “I can’t pay someone to be in a pub when the pub is not allowed to be open. That gesture of what he is offering is no use to me whatsoever.” 

Read the full story here by  Russell Lynch and Tom Rees 

09:29 AM

Iran prepares to impose new coronavirus lockdowns as cases rise

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the country’s provinces to impose lockdowns wherever necessary to stem a rapid rise in coronavirus cases.

“We are forced to intensify regulations and supervisions,” starting in the capital Tehran, Rouhani said in televised remarks.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, - Shutterstock
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, – Shutterstock

He said government-run coronavirus task-force offices around the country would make recommendations on restrictions and whether to impose one-week lockdowns.

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 25,000 and identified cases on Friday totalled 439,882, according to the health ministry.

09:20 AM

Household mixing ban comes into force across swathes of Northern England 

Bans on households mixing have come into force across swathes of northern England amid a warning that the new measures may not be enough to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Extra restrictions were introduced at midnight in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds, with residents advised not to meet people outside their household or bubble in any setting.

Tougher rules are already in force across large swathes of north-west England, West Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands, as well as parts of west Scotland.

A ban on households mixing indoors was extended across Northern Ireland earlier this week.

Cardiff and Swansea will go into local lockdown from 6pm on Sunday. People will not be able to enter or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse. They will not be able to meet indoors with anyone they do not live with, with extended households suspended.

Read here to learn more about what these local lockdowns mean for you

09:07 AM

Hundreds of Manchester students told to self-isolate after 127 Covid cases

Hundreds of students in Manchester have been told to self-isolate after 127 of them tested positive for coronavirus.

About 1,700 students at the Birley campus and Cambridge Halls at Manchester Metropolitan University have been told to stay in their rooms for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

The rate of Covid-19 spread in Manchester was 185.6 per 100,000 people in the week up to September 22, when 1,026 positive tests were recorded, figures show.

This was almost twice the rate of the previous week when the infection rate was 93.2 per 100,000, with 515 cases.

The news comes after all students in Scotland were told to avoid pubs as part of efforts to prevent outbreaks in university campuses from spreading into the wider population.

Hundreds of students are self-isolating after outbreaks of the virus at Glasgow, Edinburgh Napier and other universities.

09:00 AM

Expert from SAGE warns there will be 100 Covid-19 deaths a day in Britain in three weeks time

Infectious disease modelling expert Professor Graham Medley warned there would be 100 coronavirus deaths a day in a few weeks’ time.

Prof Medley, who attends meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the new restrictions would not stop the deaths but would prevent the toll getting even higher.

 Professor Graham Medley from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Professor Graham Medley from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Professor Graham Medley said: “A level of 10,000 (cases) we are seeing now means that in three or four weeks we are going to see 100 deaths a day.

“In order to stop that process increasing again, then we need to make sure that that transmission comes down now because that doubling time will carry on. The things that we do now will not stop 100 people dying a day but they will stop that progressing much higher.”

He also said he had “never heard” the 10pm curfew for hospitality discussed during Sage meetings.

08:44 AM

Tougher coronavirus rules to affect 17 million people as restrictions spread

More than a quarter of the UK population will be living under extra coronavirus restrictions when new measures on socialising come into force in parts of the country.

A ban on households mixing in each other’s homes came into effect at midnight in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds.

Residents in those areas are also advised not to meet people outside their household or bubble in any other settings including bars, shops or parks.

It comes as the UK recorded its highest single-day figure of coronavirus cases, with 6,874 lab-confirmed cases.

Restrictions are already in force across large swathes of north-west England, West Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands, as well as parts of west Scotland. 

08:30 AM

Van Morrison performs for fans in lockdown-weary London

The singer Van Morrison blew away the coronavirus blues in London on Friday night with a performance of stirring and soulful music that transported fans back to happier times . 

Northern Irish musician Van Morrison
Northern Irish musician Van Morrison

Morrison, who turned 75 last month, has courted controversy in recent weeks with comments scorning scientists’ analysis of the coronavirus and complaining about government restrictions on peoples’ freedoms.

But he steered clear of the subject on stage at the London Palladium and let his music act as an antidote, pulling out songs from his early days in Belfast clubs, jazzed up versions of old favourites, R&B standards and more recent songs.

The concert, postponed from March and the third in a short run at the theatre, was one of the few shows by a major act that have taken place in London since the pandemic shut down much of the city’s nightlife.

08:18 AM

Welsh Health Minister says recent spike in Covid-19 cases driven by households mixing indoors and in pubs

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the situation was “real and very serious”, with coronavirus transmission driven by households mixing indoors and in pubs.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast today he said: “I’d say we are in a comparable place to the end of February and, of course, we ended large parts of NHS activity about two weeks later, we were in full lockdown three and a bit weeks later.

“We have seen a sharp rise in cases in all of the areas where we are taking local restrictions and it is being driven by indoor household contact, so more people than should be in that household bubble going in and mixing.”

07:45 AM

Czech Republic reports 2,946 coronavirus cases, second highest daily count

The Czech Republic’s daily count of new coronavirus cases rose to 2,946 on Friday, its second highest daily count, Health Ministry data showed on Saturday.

The total number of cases reached 61,318 in the country of 10.7 million. There had been 582 deaths as of Friday, up 15 from the previous count.

07:35 AM

Lockdown stretched the learning gap for disadvantaged pupils to a ‘gulf’, experts warn 

The learning gap between financially disadvantaged and better off pupils in England “has become a gulf”, a leading educator has warned.

Oasis Community Learning founder Steve Chalke says recent research suggests disadvantaged children fell further behind during the lockdown than more affluent pupils.

The boss of Oasis, which is responsible for 31,500 children at 52 academies across England, has called on the Government to treble the pupil premium funding used to boost the education of the nation’s most disadvantaged pupils.

Mr Chalke told the BBC: “Government should respond to the need before it causes irrevocable damage by trebling this funding, at least over the next three years, and focusing it on children living in persistent poverty and facing long-term disadvantage.

“It is vital that Government makes this move now, to ensure that a generation of children, already disadvantaged before the Covid-19 lockdown but whose situations have deteriorated even further, are not completely abandoned, doomed to spend their lives struggling for opportunities their peers will have ready access to, rather than flourishing.”

06:58 AM

Police issue warning to anti-lockdown protesters

The Metropolitan Police have warned anti-lockdown protesters to abide by coronavirus restrictions ahead of a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on Saturday.

The protest is set to start at noon and move to Hyde Park, and follows a separate event that took place last Saturday in which several officers were injured when a “small minority” turned violent.

Commander Ade Adelekan, who is leading the Met operation on Saturday, said: “Officers will, of course, continue to use the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging people to following the regulations. However, if people fail to comply, and continue to put themselves at risk, officers will take enforcement action.

“I know there is great frustration to these regulations but they have been designed to keep everyone safe from what is a lethal virus. By flagrantly gathering in large numbers and ignoring social distancing, you are putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk.”

He added: “Last weekend it was highly disappointing to see that a small minority of demonstrators targeted officers with violence. Some 15 officers were injured during this protest, with more than 32 arrests being made during the course of the day. I will not tolerate a repeat of this behaviour this weekend and officers will respond quickly to any scenes of violence.”

06:03 AM

Australian PM calls for inquiry into pandemic’s source

The world’s nations must do all they can to understand the origins of Covid-19, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday in comments that could worsen tensions with China.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Morrison said an inquiry into the roots of the virus would minimise the threat of another global pandemic.

“This virus has inflicted a calamity on our world and its peoples. We must do all we can to understand what happened for no other purpose than to prevent it from happening again,” he said via a teleconference video link.

“There is a clear mandate to identify the zoonotic source of the Covid-19 virus and how it was transmitted to humans.”

Mr Morrison’s statement came after his similar comments earlier in the year, which soured ties between Australia and China.

At that time, he led global demands for an inquiry into the origins of the virus. China strongly rebuffed that move, with Beijing’s ambassador to Canberra warning the inquiry calls could sour trade ties.

Meanwhile, Australia called on all nations to share a Covid vaccine should one be developed.

05:02 AM

South Korea urges caution ahead of festival

Two women stand next to glowing full moon installations at a park in Seoul, South Korea. The artificial full moons have been installed by local officials to increase morale during the Covid-19 outbreak and to celebrate the upcoming Chuseok holiday, the Korean version of Thanksgiving - AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
Two women stand next to glowing full moon installations at a park in Seoul, South Korea. The artificial full moons have been installed by local officials to increase morale during the Covid-19 outbreak and to celebrate the upcoming Chuseok holiday, the Korean version of Thanksgiving – AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

South Korea has reported 61 new cases of coronavirus, the first time in four days that its daily increase is below 100.

Officials have called for citizen vigilance ahead of a major holiday. 

The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 23,516 cases, including 399 deaths.

Forty-one of the new cases were reported in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where infections have been linked to churches, restaurants, nursing homes and schools. 

Twelve cases were linked to passengers arriving from abroad – mostly from the Philippines, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, India and Bangladesh. 

Health officials say the annual Chuseok harvest festival that begins on Wednesday and continues through the weekend will be a critical period in the country’s anti-virus campaign. 

While millions of South Koreans usually travel across the country during Chuseok every year to visit relatives, officials have pleaded for people to stay home this time. 

04:09 AM

Pandemic numbers from around the world…

  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 2,507 to 282,730. The reported death toll rose by nine to 9,452.

  • Mainland China has reported 15 new cases, compared with eight a day earlier, the national health authority said on Saturday. The National Health Commission said all new cases were imported infections involving travellers from abroad. The total number of confirmed infections is 85,337, while the number of deaths remains unchanged at 4,634. 

  • China’s annual production capacity of vaccines is expected to reach 610 million doses by the end of the year.

  • The World Health Organisation has warned that the global death toll could double to two million before a successful vaccine is widely used.

  • Coronavirus cases in the United States topped seven million, accounting for more than 20 per cent of the world’s total.

  • India has reported 86,052 new cases and is set to overtake the US by next month as the world’s worst-affected nation.

  • Iran has reported its highest single-day coronavirus death toll since August 1, with the total number of identified cases spiking to 439,882.

  • Japan will allow long-term foreign residents and students back into the country from October.

  • Indonesia has reported its biggest daily rise in infections for a third successive day.

03:37 AM

Positive signs for Victoria in its fight to control numbers

Police patrol Treasury Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday - WILLIAM WEST/AFP
Police patrol Treasury Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday – WILLIAM WEST/AFP

Victoria has reported just one more coronavirus death as Melbourne’s new case average continues to fall.

The death took the state toll to 782 and the national figure to 870. There were 12 new cases, while Melbourne’s 14-day average fell again on Saturday to 23.6.

Melburnians, who have been in lockdown for more than a month, are waiting for the easing of restrictions on Monday.

It’s expected to include a staged return to school for some students and outdoor gatherings of five people from two households.

03:34 AM

Health Minister resigns amid inquiry into hotel security

The health minister of Australia’s state of Victoria has resigned in the fallout from an inquiry into why security guards were used instead of police or the military at quarantine hotels.

Lapses in security at the hotels were given as the major reason for a second wave of Covid-19 cases.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Saturday issued a statement confirming her resignation, just a day after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews gave evidence to the inquiry and pointed partial blame at Ms Mikakos for her role in the bungled quarantine program.

“I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined,” she wrote in a one-page statement.

“I have never shirked my responsibility.”

She said she also plans to resign from Parliament.

Ms Mikakos appears to be taking the blame when no one else would. After six weeks of hearings into the hotel inquiry, it was still not known who made the decision to use security guards instead of police or soldiers, which were used in other Australian states.

Mr Andrews, Jobs Minister Martin Pakula and Police Minister Lisa Neville all denied being involved in the decision.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton, his predecessor Graham Ashton, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and multiple senior public servants also said it wasn’t their decision.

02:53 AM

China suspends seafood imports from Russian vessels

China will stop accepting import declarations from two Russian vessels for four weeks, after coronavirus was detected on the outer packaging and samples of Russian aquatic products.

The customs office on Saturday said the virus was detected by authorities in the eastern coastal province of Shandong.

The two vessels were named as fishing vessel Vladimir Starzhinsky LLC Roliz and transport vessel Crystal Africa.

The restrictions come as China tightens seafood imports from a number of sources due to coronavirus.

China has been tightening restrictions on seafood in recent weeks - REUTERS
China has been tightening restrictions on seafood in recent weeks – REUTERS

01:14 AM

We will save Christmas, ministers pledge

Ministers are working on plans to save Christmas and are prepared to do “whatever it takes” to ensure that families are able to meet over the festive period, The Telegraph can disclose.

Multiple sources say plans for up to three million coronavirus tests a day are in progress, and work on the roll-out of vaccines from the beginning of December is under way.

If these measures are not in place in time, families may be able to isolate two weeks before Christmas to enable them to meet safely in groups larger than six.

However, Department for Health sources urged a note of caution, saying nothing could be guaranteed at this stage.

Read more: Ministers will do ‘whatever it takes’ to save Christmas

12:57 AM

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