National lockdown could be extended beyond December 2, says Michael Gove

The new four-week-long national lockdown could be extended beyond December 2, according to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove.  

The new four-week-long national lockdown could be extended beyond December 2, according to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove.  

Mr Gove told Sky’s Sophy Ridge this morning that over November the Government would review the data, adding that he hoped the reinfection rate would be “significantly reduced” by December 2.

But asked if the national lockdown could be extended, he replied: “Yes.”

He said: “We want to be in a position where we can – and I believe that this is likely to be the case – have an approach where if we bring down the rate of infection sufficiently we can reduce measures nationally and also reduce measures regionally.

Sage member Sir Jeremy Farrar has also suggested restrictions could be extended beyond the Government’s December 2 projected end date.  

Lockdown should be extended for another couple of weeks prior to the Christmas period if  infections, hospital admissions and deaths have not dropped sufficiently, Mr Farrar told BBC’s Andrew Marr. 

Follow the latest updates below.

12:17 PM

Lunchtime briefing

  • Cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted on Sky News today that lockdown could be extended beyond December 2 if coronavirus infection rates do not significantly fall. 

  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said his party would vote in favour of the latest coronavirus restrictions in Parliament ahead of measures coming into force this Thursday. 

  • Michael Gove denied briefing reporters on details of the new coronavirus restrictions before the Government intended to announce them – nor does he know who the source might be.

  • Sage member Sir Jeremy Farrar has suggested lockdown restrictions could need to be extended, saying that while December 2 was a useful target, “I just don’t think we can become fixed on it”.

  • England’s Catholic Church has strongly criticised the Government for banning communal worship within the new lockdown measures, saying such gatherings have been a great help to the nation’s wellbeing throughout the pandemic.

12:02 PM

Could schools close again if Covid-19 cases continue to rise?

For now, the Government insists it has no plans to close schools.

Downing Street announced a new national lockdown across the UK to come into place on 5 November after a  rapid rise in coronavirus cases. The new measures will see the closure of non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and more.

'Enhanced cleaning' regimes have been introduced in which surfaces students touch regularly, such as desks, door handles, books and playground apparatus are cleaned with bleach and detergents - Joe Giddens /PA
‘Enhanced cleaning’ regimes have been introduced in which surfaces students touch regularly, such as desks, door handles, books and playground apparatus are cleaned with bleach and detergents – Joe Giddens /PA

Unlike the previous lockdown, nurseries, schools, colleges and universities will remain open, although the Prime Minister is now facing a fresh battle with unions as a result.

Schools reopened in September and the Department for Education published 25,000 words of guidance explaining how schoolchildren and staff should be kept safe.

Steve Bird has the full explainer here

11:59 AM

Cycling-Tour Down Under’s 2021 race cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns

The Tour Down Under in Australia that was scheduled to take place in January has been cancelled as the Covid-19 pandemic has made logistics difficult, organisers said today. 

Traditionally the first World Tour race of the season, the race was to take place in Adelaide from January 14 -24 but the country’s quarantine measures proved to be a major hurdle in bringing teams to Australia.

Richie Porte of Australia and Team Trek-Segafredo celebrate during the 22nd Santos Tour Down Under 2020, - Velo
Richie Porte of Australia and Team Trek-Segafredo celebrate during the 22nd Santos Tour Down Under 2020, – Velo

“With over 400 people that make up the international teams, that proved to be the most difficult to overcome,” Events South Australia’s executive director Hitaf Rasheed said in a statement.

11:53 AM

Theatres group seeks ‘urgent clarification’ on whether rehearsals can continue

The Theatres Trust has called for “urgent clarification” on whether rehearsals for Christmas productions including pantomimes can go ahead.

A number of productions, including Les Misérables in the West End and a panto at the London Palladium, are due to return to the stage with socially distanced audiences over the festive period.

Pantomime dames and events industry workers march from London's West End to Parliament Square, asking Government support to mitigate the effects of lockdown - Anadolu
Pantomime dames and events industry workers march from London’s West End to Parliament Square, asking Government support to mitigate the effects of lockdown – Anadolu

However, these have been thrown into doubt following the announcement of a one-month lockdown in England from Thursday.

Jon Morgan, director of the advisory public body the Theatres Trust”While we understand the absolute necessity of protecting lives at this critical time, Theatres Trust is disappointed that theatres will have to close for a further month during the November lockdown.

“We are seeking urgent clarification whether theatre rehearsals, alongside television and film production, can continue as without this Christmas shows will not go ahead.”

11:47 AM

Vaccine could be marked safe soon, Sage scientist suggests

A coronavirus vaccine could be cleared as safe for use soon, a scientist advising the Government has suggested.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, chairman of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said a breakthrough would “enhance trust and sense of confidence in where the pandemic is going”.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Sir Jeremy told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We will know before the end of the year from the early vaccines that are now in late-stage clinical trials,” adding: “I believe that more than one of those vaccines will prove to be effective and safe.

He explained: “They may not be perfect, we’ve become used to perfect vaccines, but generally these first wave of vaccines are not perfect but they’re safe and they are effective and they will change the nature of the pandemic.” 

11:41 AM

Britain starts accelerated review for AstraZeneca’s potential Covid-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca Plc said today Britain’s health regulator had started an accelerated review of its potential coronavirus vaccine.

“We confirm the MHRA’s (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) rolling review of our potential Covid-19 vaccine,” an AstraZeneca spokesman said. 

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine is being developed along with the University of Oxford

Read more here on the race for a Covid-19 vaccine. 

11:33 AM

We face ‘greatest test of our mental health’ this winter and must learn from first wave mistakes, experts warn

We face the “greatest test of our mental health” this winter and the Government must learn from mistakes made during the first wave, scientists and charities have warned as a second national lockdown looms.

An urgent winter support package funded by the Government, including face-to-face and online appointments with specialists, is needed to ensure vulnerable people with “disabling levels of fear and panic” who feel “distressed, lonely and isolated” aren’t abandoned, experts have said.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said: “Millions of people are struggling with their mental health as a result of the pandemic.

People with existing mental health problems, people at risk and now the general public are facing the greatest test of our mental health this year.  Just last week, Mind saw the largest increase in calls to our Infoline. ” 

Phoebe Southworth has the full story here

11:27 AM

Watch: Mind calls for winter mental health support package for upcoming lockdown

11:22 AM

New coronavirus restrictions halt the European holiday home boom

New lockdown restrictions will bring the summer surge of British buyers purchasing European holiday homes to an abrupt halt.

Uncertainty over flights meant that French property within driving distance of Britain, such as in Brittany, has surged this summer - DaLiu
Uncertainty over flights meant that French property within driving distance of Britain, such as in Brittany, has surged this summer – DaLiu

France is now in a second national lockdown and restrictions are tightening fast in Italy and Spain. The looming Brexit deadline on December 31 brings further uncertainty for buyers.

Mark Harvey, of Knight Frank estate agents, said that in France “all plans for half term and any viewings over the next few weeks have been cancelled”.

Even before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England would enter a second national lockdown on November 5, British buyers had cancelled 80 per cent of half-term viewings across Knight Frank’s European offices.

Melissa Lawford has the full story here

11:17 AM

Theatres Trust demand clarity over new lockdown rules

The director of the Theatres Trust has that he is “disappointed” that theatres will now have to close under the newly announced national lockdown and has demanded more clarity on what these restrictions now entail for the industry. 

Jon Morgan said:   “While we understand the absolute necessity of protecting lives at this critical time, Theatres Trust is disappointed that theatres will have to close for a further month during the November lockdown.

“Many theatres were only just managing to reopen, or were preparing to reopen with Christmas shows, and this news will come as a further blow to an already struggling sector.

“We are seeking urgent clarification whether theatre rehearsals, alongside television and film production, can continue, as without this Christmas shows will not go ahead.” 

Theatre performers, creatives and technicians gather in Parliament Square to take part in the Survival in the Square' creative demonstration to highlight the plight of live events industry shut down due the Covid-19 pandemic - Barcroft Media
Theatre performers, creatives and technicians gather in Parliament Square to take part in the Survival in the Square’ creative demonstration to highlight the plight of live events industry shut down due the Covid-19 pandemic – Barcroft Media

11:10 AM

Catholic Church in England criticises Government over new lockdown

England’s Catholic Church has strongly criticised the Government for banning communal worship within the new lockdown measures, saying such gatherings have been a great help to the nation’s wellbeing throughout the pandemic.

Most religious services are banned under the winter lockdown restrictions announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday and expected to last throughout November.

The president and vice-president of the Catholic Church’s Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, demanded the Government explain its reasons for the ban on communal worship, saying churches had acted responsibly in enacting Covid-safe practices.

It is… a source of deep anguish now that the Government is requiring, once again, the cessation of public communal worship,” the bishops said in a statement.Whilst we understand the many difficult decisions facing the Government, we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combating the virus.We ask the Government to produce this evidence that justifies the cessation of acts of public worship.

Read more here on what the new lockdown rules mean for church services and public worship

11:03 AM

Tory MP demands children under the age of one be exempt from Covid-19 restrictions

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns is calling on the Government to make children under the age of one exempt from restrictions on how many people can meet up outdoors. 

She wrote on Twitter: “As we prepare to go into a second lockdown, it’s important that we support new mums. I remember the loneliness.

“That’s why I’m calling for under 1s to be exempted from the 2 person outdoor meeting rule, so that two new mums can meet together in lockdown.”

10:58 AM

Over 2.5 million Slovaks take part on first day of nationwide Covid-19 testing

Nearly half of Slovakia’s entire population took Covid-19 swabs on Saturday, the first day of two-day nationwide testing the government hopes will help reverse a fast rise in infections without a hard lockdown.

Slovakia began a programme to screen its entire population for coronavirus but medical professionals have warned it could lead to an increase in cases. - AFP
Slovakia began a programme to screen its entire population for coronavirus but medical professionals have warned it could lead to an increase in cases. – AFP

The scheme, a first in a country of comparable size, is being watched by other nations looking for ways to slow the virus spread and avoid overwhelming their health systems.

Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Sunday 2.58 million Slovaks took the test on Saturday, and 25,850 or 1% tested positive and must go into quarantine.

Slovaks wait in line at a coronavirus testing site during nationwide testing in Bratislava  - Shutterstock
Slovaks wait in line at a coronavirus testing site during nationwide testing in Bratislava – Shutterstock

10:52 AM

Russia’s new coronavirus cases hit record high of 18,665

Russia’s daily tally of  coronavirus cases hit a record high of 18,665 on Sunday, including 5,261 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 1,636,781.

Authorities also reported 245 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 28,235.

Coronavirus Russia Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Russia Spotlight Chart – Cases default

10:47 AM

International travel, except for work, is banned from Thursday

Michael Gove said people must not travel abroad unless it is required for work or other “critical reasons”.

He told Andrew Marr: “Sadly, we’re saying that when it comes to international travel – of course if international travel is required for work or for other critical reasons, there are legitimate exemptions – but from Wednesday night, Thursday morning, our message is that people should stay home.”

On schools, Mr Gove suggested the Government wanted to keep pupils in classrooms even if it meant extending the lockdown.

“I don’t believe it would be that case, but I do believe that we want to keep schools open and I believe that the measures that we are putting in place will enable us to do so.”

10:40 AM

Watch: National Education Union calls for schools to close during lockdown.

10:35 AM

Michael Gove denies leaking details of national lockdown before PM announcement

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said he did not leak details of the new coronavirus lockdown restrictions before the Government intended to announce them – nor did he know who he source might be. 

The Times reported on Saturday that Boris Johnson would hold a press conference on Monday after discussing alarming new data with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Mr Johnson has launched an inquiry the find the source of the leak, but Mr Gove insisted it was not him.

10:31 AM

Keir Starmer lambasts Government over decision not to implement ‘circuit breaker’ over half-term

Sir Keir said the Government could have had a 12-day shutdown of schools during half term, adding “that is the price of the Government’s incompetence”.

He said schools “must stay open but we’ve got manage the risk”.

On BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, the Labour leader said: “What I said to the Prime Minister in September was, ‘what you should do is elevate, if you like, children and staff and teachers to the status of NHS staff’ and that means having mass-targeted testing at schools on a weekly basis.

“I’m so frustrated at the incompetence of the Government. If what they announced yesterday had been announced when I said it should have been – two or three weeks ago – we could have had the lockdown and schools shut because of the natural break of half term and people will be waking up this morning and thinking ‘how on earth did it get to this?’

10:27 AM

Self-employed workers could be given additional financial support,

Self-employed workers could be given additional financial support after the furlough scheme was extended for the duration of the new national lockdown, Michael Gove has hinted.

The Cabinet Office Minister told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “The announcement about furlough that was made yesterday was about the extension of a scheme, that would have expired last night, throughout the rest of this month.

“And the Chancellor and his team are looking at every aspect of economic support and more will be said in the days ahead about how we provide it.”

10:26 AM

South Korea expands mask requirements as Covid-19 cases grow 

South Korea has said it will expand its mandatory mask policy to spas, wedding halls and other places as part of new social distancing rules aimed at preparing for a prolonged Covid-19 outbreak.

While South Korea has managed to contain the Covid-19 spread better than many western nations, which are struggling with a resurgent virus, daily new cases in the country have risen above 100 in recent days.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 124 new cases as of midnight Saturday, marking a fifth consecutive day of infections topping 100 due to small clusters emerging in places such as spas, schools and churches.

Mask-wearing Buddhist monks and nuns during an ordination ceremony at Jogye Temple in Seoul, South Korea,  - Shutterstock
Mask-wearing Buddhist monks and nuns during an ordination ceremony at Jogye Temple in Seoul, South Korea, – Shutterstock

10:21 AM

Israel starts human trials on Covid-19 vaccine as schools slowly reopen

Israel began human trials on Sunday for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate which, if successful, could be ready for the general public by the end of next summer.

Eighty volunteers will initially take part in the trial that will be expanded to 960 people in December. Should those trials succeed a third stage with 30,000 volunteers is scheduled for April/May.

“We are in the final stretch,” said Shmuel Shapira, Director General of the Israel Institute for Biological Research.

Pupils wear protective face masks to protect against Covid-19, as Israel loosens virus lockdown restrictions and schools are reopened - AP
Pupils wear protective face masks to protect against Covid-19, as Israel loosens virus lockdown restrictions and schools are reopened – AP

The institute, which is overseen by the Defense Ministry, began animal trials for its “BriLife” vaccine in March and announced a week ago it had received regulatory approval to take it to the next stage.

10:17 AM

December 2 will be ‘review date’, not end date, if Test, Trace and Isolate is not fixed, says Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has said Labour “will support the Government’s message” but called on them to fix the issues around NHS Test and Trace.

The Labour leader told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “The Government has to keep its side of the bargain here because if they don’t use this time to fix Test, Trace and Isolate, then I think December 2 will be a review date not an end date.

“Because for months and months and months they’ve promised a world-beating test, trace and isolate system which is vital… it’s been busted for months.

“Use the time to fix it because otherwise we’re going to be back in this cycle for months and months and months.”

10:10 AM

Labour will support national lockdown, Keir Starmer confirms

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party would vote in favour of the latest coronavirus restrictions but warned of the “cost to that delay” in locking down.

He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Well these measures are necessary, everybody has seen the figures, the infection rates, the admission rates and tragically the death rates, and that’s why three weeks ago we called for a circuit-break.

“Now at that stage the Government rejected it out of hand, ridiculed it, now only to do precisely the same thing – but there’s a cost to that delay.”

“The lockdown now will be longer, it’ll be harder, we’ve just missed half term and there’s a very human cost to this.”

10:07 AM

Tier 3 restrictions could be applied nationally after Dec 2, warns Sage member

Sage Member Sir Jeremy Farrar has warned that the world ‘is not going back to normal’ after December 2 and that Tier 3 restrictions could be imposed across the whole of the country. 

Asked what ongoing measures might be necessary when the new lockdown restrictions are eased, Sir Jeremy told BBC’s Andrew Marr: “I think we need to watch what happens with the data at the end of November, beginning of December, before we decide whether to lift these restrictions on December 2, or whether it will be better continuing them.”

He added: “What mustn’t happen is whenever that date comes – December 2 or a little bit later – that suddenly the world goes back to normal. It’s not going to go back to normal immediately.

“I think it will be at least what is already called Tier 3, or Tier 3-plus across the country.”

09:57 AM

SAGE member suggests lockdown could be extended beyond Dec 2

Sage member Sir Jeremy Farrar suggested restrictions could be extended beyond the Government’s December 2 projected end date. 

He told BBC’s Andrew Marr of the date target: “I think it’s useful, I just don’t think we can become fixed on it. We don’t know what the situation is going to be like in the last week of November and the first week of December, we all hope that four weeks is going to be enough.”

If infections, hospital admissions and deaths have not dropped sufficiently, he added: “It would be much better to extend this lockdown for another couple of weeks prior to the Christmas period – and then loosen the restrictions a little bit over Christmas so that people can meet up with their families.

“Much better to do that than remove these restrictions and then have to impose even more draconian restrictions over Christmas or soon into the New Year.”

09:55 AM

Labour will support national lockdown, Keir Starmer confirms

The leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, has said he will back the Government by voting for the national lockdown on Wednesday. 

Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning,  Sir Keir said the lockdown should continue until the R number falls below 1 and that he would be willing to work with the government “in the national interest”.

Questioned on proposals by the National  National Education Union to close schools  during lockdown, Sir Keir was adamant that schools should remain open. 

Teachers should be treated like NHS staff, and offered testing every week, he said. 

09:43 AM

PM should move Cabinet to ‘war footing’  to speed up Covid-19 decision-making, warns former minister

Tory former minister Tobias Ellwood said Boris Johnson should move his Cabinet to a “war footing” to speed up decision-making, as he believed Number 10 was “overwhelmed”.

Mr Ellwood told Times Radio: “Our Cabinet structure has not changed. It’s still the same peacetime tried-and-tested system, but it’s very risk averse. We should have moved onto a war footing with slicker decision-making and splitting policy creation versus operational delivery.

“I’m afraid this was treated as if it was a terrorist attack or a flooding, where there was a Cobra, a National Security Council meeting, and then we made some plans and then we’ve tried to keep it going.

“This is very different. It should be comparable to where we were in the Second World War, where you have an ongoing crisis, where the messaging is going to change quite regularly. So you need to keep the nation, the will of the nation, together by keeping them informed.

“We haven’t really ever moved to that structure, which is far more efficient in its decision making, separating the daily business of Government. The consequence of that is that the bandwidth in Number 10 is just overwhelmed.”

Three-tier Covid lockdown map
Three-tier Covid lockdown map

09:39 AM

Second lockdown ‘body blow’ for businesses, warns CBI

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) described a second lockdown for business as a “real body blow”.

She told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “It’s an incredibly difficult time for business – this is a real body blow. So many firms have worked very hard to become Covid-safe, they have been resilient through the first phase, so this is undoubtedly very tough.”

She added: “We need to do everything we can to minimise the damage of this second lockdown… We need to keep as much of the economy open as we possibly can and actually because more businesses are Covid-safe now manufacturing, construction should be able to stay open.”

09:37 AM

Transport for London secures £1.8 bn bailout 

Transport for London (TfL) has secured a bailout from the Government worth around £1.8 billion.

The capital’s transport body said the agreement will enable it to continue operating services until the end of March 2021.

The exact amount of money involved is subject to passenger revenue in the coming months.

TfL said: “Discussions on longer-term sustainable funding continue.” 

Amendments to the Congestion Charge introduced in June as part of a previous bailout – a 30% increase in the fee and longer operating hours – will remain in place due to the new deal.

09:29 AM

Michael Gove defends national lockdown after regional measures failed to control rising infection rates

Michael Gove defended the Government’s decision to introduce another national lockdown after its regional approach failed to control the spread of coronavirus. 

He told Sky that in early October it was “entirely possible” that the Government may have been able, using a regional approach, to “balance the need to combat the virus with keeping as much of the economy open as possible”.

But he said the original projections about the spread of coronavirus had underestimated it.

“At the time that our scientific and medical advisers were talking about the future spread of the virus, there were a number of people, entirely in good faith, who questioned that and well actually the situation has been worse than any of us expected, and that is why action is now required.”

09:25 AM

New national restrictions could last longer than first lockdown, says former chief scientific advisor

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport described the latest lockdown in England as “definitely” better late than never, but said it was “obviously a possibility” that these restrictions could last longer than the first lockdown.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “The lockdown is not as severe as it was first time round, so the only way to know is to see how quickly the new cases start dropping.

“As we know, there’s a lag between the case developing, hospitalisation and the horrible consequences of severe illness or death.”

“It’s unlikely this time to come down quite as fast as it did during the first lockdown because we have got schools open.”

Are Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area? All local authorities with lookup. Updates automatically
Are Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area? All local authorities with lookup. Updates automatically

09:21 AM

Government accused of ‘contempt’ for the North after furlough extensions

The Government has been accused of showing “contempt” for leaders in the North of England after announcing a national lockdown and extension of the furlough scheme.

Politicians in the North West had called for 80 per cent furlough payments for employees of businesses forced to close when areas were put into Tier 3 restrictions, but instead workers were offered 67 per cent of pay through the Government’s Job Support Scheme.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson told BBC Breakfast: 

“It’s interesting as well, isn’t it, that of course yesterday evening they announced that the furlough scheme would return at 80 pre cent, something that Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram, leaders of the North, myself included, have been calling for. That’s the point about contempt… that they dismissed the North’s call for the furlough scheme to be introduced in Tier 3 but now have all of a sudden found the 80 per cent furlough scheme for a Tier 4 or national lockdown. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who battled with the Government on funding when the area was placed into Tier 3, reacted to news of the furlough scheme extension on Twitter on Saturday.

09:14 AM

Cabinet Minister says it would be ‘foolish’ to predict infection rate over the coming weeks

Speaking on Sky News this morning, Mr Gove said it would be “foolish” to predict what would happen with the pandemic over the next four weeks.

He said: “With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks’ time, when over the course of the last two weeks its rate, its infectiousness and its malignancy have grown.

“And so therefore of course we will review what requires to be done but we have a clear plan over the next four-week (period) to support the economy and to protect the NHS.

09:09 AM

Liverpool Mayor says Government has treated advisors with ‘contempt’ 

The Mayor of Liverpool has said the Government has treated scientific advisors with “contempt” after resisting their demands to implement a ‘circuit breaker’ seven weeks ago. 

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said he received the news of a national lockdown with “a mixture of emotions”.

He said: “One, of clear confusion as to why the Prime Minister and this Government never responded to Sage on September 21 and acted then.

“So, relief that it’s finally been done but real contempt has been shown by this Government for the people who advised for it (another lockdown), Sage, and also leaders like me and others that were calling for it six, seven weeks ago.”

“It’s clear to me that the Government made the choice to put people’s health and the health concerns of the nation second and listen to Tory right-wing MPs and people arguing about the economy.”

08:40 AM

Covid-19 vaccine: When will a coronavirus jab be ready in the UK?

Since coronavirus emerged in January almost 200 vaccine candidates have been put into development, with at least 15 in human trials. 

Vaccines being developed by Oxford University and in Germany are the most likely candidates to be ready this year, experts have said, but there are also candidates being tested in the US, Russia and China. There are also some signs that China is pulling ahead in the race. 

A German vaccine backed by Pfizer could be ready to distribute before Christmas, the company’s chief executive said.

Vaccine for Coronavirus
Vaccine for Coronavirus

However, a major new study  by Imperial College of 365,000 has found that immunity to coronavirus may only last a matter of a months, which could hinder the rollout of a successful vaccine. 

The latest data in the Oxford trials shows that the vaccine produces a “strong” immune response among the elderly.  

Read our full Covid-19 vaccine explainer here 

08:34 AM

Boris Johnson let himself be bounced into national lockdown far too soon, say Tory dissenters

Conservative MPs have accused Boris Johnson of allowing himself to be “bounced” into a national lockdown before giving regional restrictions “time to work”.

Sir Robert Syms, a former Tory whip, suggested that the Government had not yet properly “audited progress” as a result of the tiering system introduced just 20 days ago. 

Desmond Swayne, another Conservative MP, described the move as “disastrous” and accused ministers of behaving like “headless chickens”. 

However, a series of senior ministers and MPs who have publicly and privately rejected calls for a second national lockdown have become persuaded by data showing that the NHS is on course to be overwhelmed on December 4, amid a resurgence of Covid-19 across the country.  

 Read the full piece here by our Sunday Political Editor Edward Malnick

07:57 AM

Charlie Hebdo trial suspended after primary suspect tests positive

The primary suspect in a trial over the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre has tested positive for coronavirus and the court has been suspended until Wednesday, lawyers said.

Ali Riza Polat is accused of having helped the killers of 12 people in the 2015 attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, a female police officer a day later and four hostages at a Jewish supermarket.

He is facing the most serious charge of the suspected accomplices on trial – complicity in terrorist crimes – and could face life in jail if convicted.

The 35-year-old vomited and was seen by a doctor, prompting the judge to suspend the court until next week.

The 10 accused accomplices must now be tested and “the resumption of the trial will depend on the results of these tests and the development of the health of the people concerned”, presiding judge Regis de Jorna said in an email to lawyers on Saturday.

He urged everyone in court to observe social distancing, and insisted all participants must wear a mask.

The suspension of the hearing will delay the conclusion of the trial, which opened on September 2.

Defence lawyers were scheduled to plead on November 6, 9, 10 and 11 with the verdict expected on November 13.

07:36 AM

Businesses fear a nightmare before Christmas

British retailers, bars and restaurants were furious on Saturday evening at being ordered to close in the run up to the crucial Christmas trading period.

Many companies fear the tightening of measures will further dampen Britons’ spending confidence and could put them off going into shops even if non-essential retailers reopen before Christmas.

In April and May, when many high-street chains were forced to close, non-essential retailers lost £1.6 billion a week.

While the return of the furlough scheme will be welcome support, losses will be much greater the second time around as companies enter the crucial festive shopping period, when they make the bulk of their profits.

Read the full story here.

06:24 AM

Church criticises communal worship ban

England’s Catholic Church has strongly criticised the Government for banning communal worship in the country’s new lockdown, saying such gatherings have been a great help to the nation’s wellbeing throughout the pandemic.

Most religious services are banned under the new restrictions and places of worship will be closed, unless used for funerals, to broadcast acts of worship, individual prayer, formal childcare, or essential services such as blood donation or food banks.

The president and vice-president of the Catholic Church’s Bishops’ Conference – Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon – demanded the Government explain its reasons for the ban on communal worship, saying churches had acted responsibly in enacting Covid-safe practices.

“It is … a source of deep anguish now that the Government is requiring, once again, the cessation of public communal worship,” the bishops said in a statement.”Whilst we understand the many difficult decisions facing the Government, we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combatting the virus.”

Read more: What will be impacted by the second national lockdown?

Staff and volunteers pack and prepare food parcels at the South London warehouse and distribution centre at St Margaret's Church - Getty
Staff and volunteers pack and prepare food parcels at the South London warehouse and distribution centre at St Margaret’s Church – Getty

05:20 AM

China reports 61 more asymptomatic cases in Xinjiang region

Chinese health authorities said Sunday they have found 61 more asymptomatic cases in an outbreak in the remote Xinjiang region, including the first outside the initially affected county.

To date, they have identified 54 people with symptoms and another 219 people who tested positive but haven’t shown any symptoms of the disease. T

he latest asymptomatic cases include 15 in Akto country, which is near Shufu county, where all the previous cases were found.

The outbreak, outside the city of Kashgar, appears to be linked to a garment factory in Shufu that employs 252 people and has been sealed off.

Coronavirus live map cases tracker
Coronavirus live map cases tracker

04:36 AM

No locally transmitted infections in Australia for first time in 5 months

Australia has recorded no new locally transmitted coronavirus infection for the first time in five months.

In Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, which had the highest number of cases in the country, residents were enjoying the first weekend of cafes, restaurants and pubs reopening to walk-in customers.

The city only has one mystery case without a known source. There are 61 active cases left across the state, down from 70 on Saturday.

State Deputy Premier James Merlino hailed Sunday’s zero figures as “another great day for Victoria,” but urged caution ahead of Australia’s most-prestigious horse race on Tuesday, the Melbourne Cup, known as the “race that stops a nation.” 

Customers sit at socially distanced tables outside a restaurant in the Fitzroy suburb of Melbourne - Bloomberg
Customers sit at socially distanced tables outside a restaurant in the Fitzroy suburb of Melbourne – Bloomberg

04:13 AM

Restaurateur who imported heated igloos faces loss

A restaurateur who invested £160,000 into making his establishment Covid-proof ahead of the winter is expecting to lose thousands of pounds as new restrictions force hospitality closures.  

When restaurants were told that they could only offer outdoor seating to those from different households while a maximum of six could dine inside, Luke Davis, boss of Rockwater in Hove, took it as an opportunity to innovate.

He set about importing 30 igloos to the UK from Germany, so ‘bubbles’ could dine safely outside, warm and enclosed and away from other families.

However, with new nationwide restrictions coming into force, the pods, which cost £160,000 could be no more than a beachside feature, left empty and crucially, not providing any income for a business already hit by the lockdown since March.

Read the full story

Read more: Businesses fear a nightmare before Christmas as they face further losses

The futuristic looking Rockwater Igloo Village with 30 pods on Hove seafront -  Brighton Pictures
The futuristic looking Rockwater Igloo Village with 30 pods on Hove seafront – Brighton Pictures

02:21 AM

Obama accuses Trump of not taking pandemic seriously

Calling Joe Biden his “brother,” Barack Obama on Saturday accused Donald Trump of failing to take the coronavirus pandemic and the presidency seriously as Democrats leaned on America’s first Black president to energise Black voters in battleground Michigan on the final weekend of the campaign.

Mr Obama, the 44th president, and Mr Biden, his vice president who wants to be the 46th, held drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit.

“Three days until the most important election of our lifetime – and that includes mine, which was pretty important,” said Mr Obama, urging Democrats to get to the polls.

The former president hammered on Mr Trump’s continued focus on the size of his campaign crowds.

“Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatised?” Mr Obama said in a mocking tone. “The country’s going through a pandemic. That’s not what you’re supposed to be worrying about.”

Read more: Divided states of America poised for historic election

Former US President Barack Obama arrives to a mobilisation event at Belle Isle Casino in Detroit - AFP
Former US President Barack Obama arrives to a mobilisation event at Belle Isle Casino in Detroit – AFP

01:30 AM

Police called to illegal rave near Bristol

Police have moved to break up an illegal rave in Yate, near Bristol, where they say members of a 500-strong crowd have been violent towards attending officers.

Avon and Somerset Police said in a statement they were called to reports of an illegal rave in a warehouse around 10.30pm on Saturday.

Police including Covid-19 restriction enforcement officers attended, and when members of the crowd began acting violently towards them, rave legislation was enacted to order the crowd to disperse or face possible arrest.

There were no immediate details of any arrests.

11:58 PM

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