Highlights from the UK government’s press briefings
5th April 2021
This evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a press conference to determine whether England would be proceeding with its roadmap out of lockdown.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that, from Monday 12 April, the government will move to Step Two of its roadmap in England
- Moving to Step Two will allow for the opening of non-essential retail, gyms, zoos, personal care services (such as hairdressers), campsites, beer gardens and all kinds of hospitality
- Johnson noted that the ‘early thinking’ on the government’s four Roadmap Reviews is now published on Gov.uk.
- The Social Distancing Review is exploring whether existing rules, designed to limit virus transmission, could be relaxed in different settings
- The review is looking at key baseline measures, including how and when to safely limit or amend the 1m+ rule, as well as guidance on working from home
- The UK Government has noted that the conclusion of this review will depend on the latest data and evidence on the state of the pandemic and the impact of vaccine effectiveness, as the country progresses through the roadmap
- Johnson stated that he was “hopeful” that international travel could go ahead from 17 May and that the Global Travel Taskforce will report later this week
- Prime Minister Johnson noted that the government sees nothing in the present data that makes it think that it will have to deviate from the current roadmap out of lockdown restrictions
- As of 5 April 2021, 60% of the adult population have had their first dose of the vaccine
- Today, the UK recorded 26 new deaths and 2,762 new cases of COVID-19
- As of 5 April, 31,581,623 people have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 5,432,126 having received a second dose
23rd March 2021
This evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a press conference to mark the first anniversary since the UK entered into its first national lockdown.
Below are the highlights from the UK Government’s press briefing:
- Prime Minister Johnson announced plans to build a permanent memorial for the victims of COVID-19
- Johnson thanked all those involved in the vaccination rollout and added that the UK remains on track to meet its vaccination targets
- Johnson noted that the UK would have offered a first vaccine dose to every adult by the end of July 2021
- Johnson said that he hopes to announce more on global travel rules on 5 April
- Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, announced that the decline in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 had flattened, and the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 continued to fall
- Today, the UK recorded 112 new deaths and 5,379 new cases of COVID-19
- As of 22 March, 28,327,873 people have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 2,363,684 having received a second dose
22nd February 2021
Today, in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England. You can read the full roadmap here.
Below are the key highlights from this announcement:
- Johnson outlined four steps for easing the lockdown restrictions. Before proceeding to the next ‘Step’ of the plan, the government will examine data to assess the previous ‘Step’s’ impact. This assessment will be subject to four tests:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
- The government’s assessment of the risks is not “fundamentally changed” by new variants of COVID-19
- Johnson noted that there would be a minimum of five weeks between each ‘Step’:
- Step 1, part 1: From 8 March: As before, people can leave home for work if they cannot work from home and to escape illness, injury or risk of harm, including domestic abuse.
- Step 1, part 2: From 29 March
- Step 2: At least five weeks after Step 1, and no earlier than 12 April: People should continue to work from home where they can, minimise domestic travel where they can.
- Step 3: No earlier than 17 May: The government will continue to advise the public to work from home where they can
- Ahead of Step 4, as more is understood about the impact of vaccines on transmission and a far greater proportion of the population has been vaccinated, the government will complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission. The results of the review will help inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which rules on 1m+, face masks and other measures may be lifted. The review will also inform guidance on working from home - people should continue to work from home where they can until this review is complete.
- Step 4: No earlier than 21 June
- Johnson added that four reviews would be set up:
- Assessment of how long social distancing would need to be retained and how long working from home would have to remain in place
- An assessment looking at the resumption of international travel
- A review looking at COVID-status certification. Johnson stated that this would be mindful of concerns regarding exclusion, discrimination, and privacy
- A review looking at the potential for a safe return of major events
- The government’s offer of free test kits to workplaces for staff who cannot work at home will be extended to until the end of June. Organisations, including those yet to open, will need to register interest before 31 March. The government will keep this under review as vaccine deployment continues and will investigate how testing could be used to support the recovery.
- The government’s roadmap mentions that businesses must also continue to take necessary precautions as restrictions ease. The overwhelming majority of the businesses that remained open during the pandemic did so in a COVID-Secure way. The government will update COVID Secure guidance to provide further advice on how businesses can improve fresh air flow in indoor workplaces and introduce regular testing to reduce risk. Local authorities will also continue to offer advice.
- On vaccines:
- Across the UK, over 17.5 million people have been vaccinated
- In England, everyone in the top four priority groups was offered a vaccine by the middle of February
- Johnson added that the Government will aim to offer a first dose of vaccines to all those in groups 5 to 9 by 15 April
- Johnson also announced a target of offering the first dose to every adult by the end of July
- Due to infection rates being relatively similar across England, the government is planning to ease restrictions at the same time across the country.
8th February 2021
In this government press conference, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that the government is expanding its offer of regular workplace testing to all businesses with over 50 employees in currently open sectors. Hancock urged all eligible employers to take up this offer. Below are the highlights from the rest of the press conference.
- Hancock added that over 12.2 million people had now been vaccinated
- He stated that the government had offered a vaccine to every eligible care home and that take-up of the vaccine stood at 93%
- On the vaccination rollout, Hancock said that the government was on track to offer everyone in priority groups 1-4 a vaccine by 15 February
- Today, the UK recorded 333 new deaths and 14,104 new cases since yesterday
15th January 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this evening that the UK would close all travel corridors from 04:00 GMT on Monday, 18 January, to avoid the spread of new and unidentified strains of the coronavirus in the UK.
Below are the highlights from the UK Government’s press conference:
- Johnson mentioned that all arrivals to the UK must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before leaving, a filled passenger locator form and the airline will ask for both before take-off. Those entering the UK will also be required to quarantine for ten days and take another test on day five and wait for proof of another negative result.
- The UK R-number is between 1.2 and 1.3.
- On vaccines, Johnson stated that 3.2 million first vaccines have been administered in the UK so far, and almost 45% of over-80s and 45% of care home residents have been vaccinated. Vaccine administration is helping to “steadily protecting those at risk”. The government hopes to have all care homes vaccinated by the end of January.
- Prof. Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Adviser, cited ONS data suggesting that one in 50 people had COVID-19. He added that the number of COVID-19 infection rates were dropping but emphasised that the number of people entering hospitals and COVID deaths lagged behind the infection rate. He further stated that the vaccine rollout would firstly decrease death rates and then would help to reduce hospitalizations
- The UK has recorded 1,280 new deaths and 55,761 cases since yesterday.
4th January 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation this evening and announced a seven-week national lockdown in England. Earlier today, the Scottish government announced a nationwide lockdown too. Below are the highlights from tonight’s address. The guidance issued by the government, and which applies only in England, can be read in full here.
- Government guidance details that one must not leave or be outside of one’s home except where one has a ‘reasonable excuse’. A ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave home includes:
- For work purposes where it is unreasonable to do the job from home – this includes people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that requires in-person attendance
- Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working
- Volunteer: To provide voluntary or charitable services
- Essential activities: To buy things at shops or obtain services or to do these on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or for someone who is self-isolating
- Education and childcare: For education, childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend.
- Meeting others and care: Visit people in your support bubble, provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble, to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, attend a support group, for respite care
- Exercise: Continue to exercise alone, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day while maintaining social distancing
- Medical reasons: For medical reasons including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies
- Harm and compassionate visits: To be with someone who is giving birth: avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse), to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home or to accompany them to a medical appointment
- Animal welfare reasons: To attend veterinary services
- Communal worship and life events: To attend a place of worship: a funeral, a burial ground, remembrance garden, wedding ceremony
- Breaking the rules:
- Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400
- If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000
- The UK COVID-19 Alert Level will move from Level 4 to Level 5, meaning that there is a risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed
24th December 2020
Today, the UK and the EU struck a post-Brexit, free trade deal. This deal, which will apply from 1 January 2021, will be provisional until it is ratified by the UK Parliament (MPs to vote on 30 December 2020) and the EU member states.
Below are the highlights from the UK Government’s press conference:
- Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that this “Canada-style” deal, which is worth more than £660billion a year, will “protect jobs across this country” by allowing goods to be sold “without tariffs and without quotas” in the EU market.
- He added that from 1 January 2021,, the UK would be outside EU customs union and single market. The UK laws would be made solely by the British parliament, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will come to an end.
- On fisheries, he said that the UK’s share of fish in its waters “will rise substantially, from roughly half today to closer to two-thirds in the next 5.5 years”.
- Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s President, said that the competition would be “fair” and the “EU standards will be respected”. She added that the UK and the EU would continue cooperating in areas of mutual interest – climate change, energy, security and transport.
- On being asked where the UK and EU compromised the most, Johnson said that Britain wanted “complete control” of fisheries from the get-go and the EU wanted a longer transition period. But the two sides eventually agreed to a “reasonable” compromise on these issues.
- Johnson mentioned that there is a clause in the deal that says that if either country feels that they are being undercut by the other, they can, subject to independent arbitration, impose tariffs to protect their consumers and businesses.
- As the UK won’t be a part of the Erasmus scheme anymore, Johnson said that a new initiative called the Turing scheme was put into place for UK students to go to best universities around the world.
- On security, Johnson said that the deal protects the ability to share information across the continent.
19th December 2020
This evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tougher restrictions for large parts of South East England with a new Tier 4: ‘Stay at Home’ alert level. This decision follows a rapid rise in infections attributed to the rapid spread of a new variant of COVID-19.
Below are the highlights from the rest of the government’s briefing.
- Based on preliminary modelling data, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain can spread significantly more quickly and could increase R by 0.4 or more.
- New and existing data will continue to be analysed as the UK Government learns more about the variant.
- As a result of this announcement, the following areas will move from Tier 3 to Tier 4:
- Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings;
- London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London); and
- the East of England (Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
- People should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home.
- Where people cannot work from home, they should still travel to work, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
- In Tier 4, non-essential retail, indoor leisure, indoor entertainment, and personal care sectors must all close.
- Tighter social contact restrictions will also be introduced, meaning one person can meet with one other person in an outside public space.
- Rules on support bubbles and childcare bubbles will remain as currently, and communal worship can continue to take place.
- Johnson said that there is no current evidence to suggest the new variant causes a higher mortality rate, that it affects vaccines and treatments, or that testing will not detect cases.
- Johnson added that given the risk the new variant poses, the Christmas bubble policy will no longer apply in Tier 4.
- For Tiers 1, 2 and 3, Christmas bubbles can continue with up to three households able to meet, but for one day only on Christmas Day.
- People under Tier 1, 2, and 3 restrictions should stay local. People should not travel into or out of Tier 4 areas and those in Tier 4 areas will not be permitted to travel abroad, apart from limited exceptions including work and education.
- Tier 4 rules will be reviewed on 30 December, as part of the wider review of all restrictions.
3rd December 2020
Please find below highlights from the Prime Minister’s statement on coronavirus. The Prime Minister’s statement can be read in full here.
- Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK Government accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for distribution across the UK
- Johnson added that the UK purchased more than 350 million doses of seven different vaccine candidates
- Johnson said the UK was the first country in the world to pre-order supplies of this Pfizer vaccine, securing 40 million doses
- The NHS has been preparing for the “biggest programme of mass vaccination” in the UK’s history and it will begin next week
- In line with the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the first phase will include care home residents, health and care staff as well as the elderly and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- Johnson added that there are logistical challenges to distributing the vaccine:
- The vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees and can only be moved in batches of 975 doses
- Each person needs two injections, three weeks apart
- As a result of these challenges, Johnson stated that it would take some months before all of the most vulnerable are protected
26th November 2020
Please find below highlights from Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s statement to the House of Commons on the English tier system this morning. The government has also published a full list of which parts of England will be in which tier from 2 December, the list can be viewed here.
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock begun his statement by mentioning how the Prime Minister, on 23 November, set out his COVID-19 Winter Plan to suppress the COVID-19 virus and protect the NHS and the vulnerable
- Hancock announced that on 2 December the government will lift the national restrictions across all of England and the following restrictions will be eased:
- The stay-at-home requirement will end
- Non-essential retail, gyms, and personal care will reopen. The wider leisure and entertainment sectors will also reopen, although to varying degrees
- Communal worship, weddings, and outdoor sports can resume
- People will no longer be limited to seeing one other person in outdoor public spaces, where the rule of six will now apply
- The tier system will have three levels ranging from Medium Alert (Tier 1), High Alert (Tier 2), and Very High Alert (Tier 3). The different restrictions within each tier level are explained here.
- London has been placed into the tier 2 category of restrictions, and the full list of local restrictions by tier area can be viewed here
- Hancock emphasised that the regulations will require the government to review the allocations every 14 days, with the first review complete by the end of 16 December
- Hancock reaffirmed the UK-wide arrangements for Christmas, allowing friends and loves ones to reunite and form a Christmas bubble of three households for five days over the Christmas period
- Hancock added that a postcode tracker will be available for the public to check what rules apply in their local area
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated that with 16,570 people in hospital across the UK and 696 deaths reported yesterday we cannot “flick a switch” and have life back to normal as this would see the NHS overwhelmed.
25th November 2020
Today, the UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, outlined the government’s Spending Review, covering FY 2021-2022 and the economic response by the government to COVID-19. Below are the highlights from his statement in Parliament. You can read the full review here.
- The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects the economy to shrink by 11.3% in 2020, before growing by 5.5% in 2021 and 6.6% in 2022. The economy is not expected to reach the pre-crisis level until the end of 2022.
- A new National Infrastructure Strategy that sets out the government’s plans to transform the UK’s economic infrastructure. It is based around three central objectives: economic recovery; levelling up and unleashing the potential of the Union; and meeting the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050.
- A new £2.9bn Restart programme to provide intensive support over 3 years to help people find work, with £0.4bn allocated to 2021-22
- 2.2% increase in the National Living Wage for those aged 23 or over, to £8.90 per hour
- £100bn of capital spending next year – £27 billion more in real terms than 2019-20
- An additional £38bn for public services to continue to fight the pandemic this year, bringing total support for public services to £113bn in 2020-21, and total spending on the COVID-19 response this year to over £280bn.
- A new £4bn Levelling Up fund, where localities can apply to have local projects funded
- A £6.3bn increase in NHS spending in 2021-22 compared to 2020-21
- Nearly £20bn invested into building new housing, with the launch of the National Home Building Fund (£7.1bn) and the Affordable Homes Programme (£1bn)
- £572m for DEFRA to take advantage of opportunities resulting from regulatory independence
Economic Forecast by the OBR
- Economy expected to shrink by 11.3% in 2020, before growing by 5.5% in 2021 and 6.6% in 2022
- UK expected to borrow a total of £394bn in 2020-21
- Unemployment expected to peak in Q2 2021 at 2.6m (7.5%), falling to 4.4% by Q4 2024
- The Spending Review confirmed that the government is undertaking a fundamental review of the business rates system and is currently considering responses to the call for evidence, with a final report outlining the conclusions of the review in spring 2021.
- The government has decided to freeze the business rates multiplier in 2021-22, with local authorities fully compensated for said decision.
- The government has decided not to proceed with a reset of business rates baselines in 2021-22 and will maintain the existing 100% business rates pilots for a further year. The Government will consult on reforms to the New Homes Bonus shortly, with a view to implementing reform in 2022-23.
Support for businesses
- £519m of funding in 2021-22 to support the continued delivery of COVID-19 loans, including paying for the 12-month interest free period on the BBLS and the CBILS .
- The British Business Bank received £557.5m capital funding on top of the money it received to support businesses through COVID, this includes:
- £442m for SME access to finance support
- £56.5m for the expansion of the Start-Up Loans scheme
- Money to support innovation and growth finance, regional finance, and the National Security Strategic Investment Fund
- On SMEs, the government provided £50.7m to improve ‘productivity’
- £1.4bn of new funding to increase the capacity of the Job Centre Plus network and double the number of work coaches
- A new £2.9bn Restart programme to provide intensive support over 3 years to help people find work
- 2.2% increase in the National Living Wage for those aged 23 or over, to £8.90 per hour
- £1.6bn of funding in 2021-22 for the Kickstart scheme for young people, ensuring funding for over 250,000 jobs
- Pay freeze for public sector workers working outside of the NHS or earning above £24,000 per year
- Funding for the new National Infrastructure Strategy, aiming to create jobs, strengthen the Union and achieve net zero emissions by 2050
- The launch of a £4bn Levelling Up fund, where localities can apply for funding for local infrastructure projects
- £19bn to be invested in transport infrastructure in 2021-22
- Over £22bn allocated to the High Speed 2 high-speed railway project
- £2.5bn to be invested in intra-city transportation throughout 8 city regions
- The launch of a new infrastructure bank headquartered in the north of England to finance new investment projects across the UK
- £572m for DEFRA to take advantage of opportunities resulting from regulatory independence
- £1bn allocated to HMRC to reform and enhance the UK customs system following the end of the transition period
- £363m to recruit 1,100 additional customs agents
- £217m to deliver the Future Borders and Immigration system
- £60m for the FCDO to support the UK’s new relationship with the EU and its member states following the end of the transition period
Housing and local government
- Nearly £20bn invested into building new housing, with the launch of the National Home Building Fund (£7.1bn) and the Affordable Homes Programme (£12.2bn)
- An additional £51bn (4.5%) in total core spending power for local authorities in 2021-22
- Over £3bn for local authorities in coronavirus financial support for 2021-22
- £621m for the Towns Fund
- £254m in extra funding to combat rough sleeping and homelessness
- £5bn to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband to rural areas of the UK
- £250m to support the construction of the UK’s 5G network, including £50m in 2021-22
- Over £200m for flagship digital infrastructure programmes, including the Shared Rural Network for 4G coverage, Local Full Fibre Networks and the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme
- £22m to drive growth throughout the digital economy
Energy and Climate
- £1bn increase in budget for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- £1.9bn for electric vehicle charging points
- £240m Net Zero Hydrogen Fund
- £1bn for a Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund
- £500m in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries and associated EV supply chain
- £950 million to support the rollout of rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs at every service station on England’s motorways and major A-roads
- £582 million for the Plug-in Car, Van, Taxi, and Motorcycle Grant until 2022-23, reducing the sticker price of zero and ultra-low emission vehicles for the consumer
- £275 million to extend support for charge point installation at homes, workplaces and on-street locations
- A cash increase of £33.9 billion a year by 2023-24, taking the core NHS England budget from £114.6 billion in 2018-19 to £148.5 billion in 2023-24. This includes an increase in core funding of £6.3 billion in 2021-22.
- Over £325m to fund new equipment and £260m on training the NHS workforce
- £15bn to support NHS Test and Trace next year
- An extra £24bn in cash term over four years, creating 40,000 jobs – the largest increase in defence funding for 30 years
- Defence budget will grow at an average of 1.8% per year in real terms from 2019-20 to 2024-25
- A £9.8bn (8.0%) increase in the budget of the Ministry of Justice
- Over £4bn in capital funding over 4 years to deliver 18,000 new prison places across England and Wales
- Additional £64 million resource and £153 million capital funding to deliver the new points-based migration system.
- The additional £30 million resource funding provided in the 2019 Spending Review to tackle child sexual exploitation to continue
- An additional £400m to support the government’s pledge to deliver 20,000 new officers by 2023, with 6,000 new police officers to be in place by 2021-2022.
- £2.9bn (3.4%) increase in the budget for the Department for Education
- £2.5bn to support and improve apprenticeships
- £2.2bn increase in core school budget
- £1.8bn to maintain and improve school buildings
- Cut in the international development budget from 0.7% of GNI to 0.5%, saving £4bn
23rd November 2020
Today, in an address to the House of Commons, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced the government’s COVID Winter Plan which is a stricter version of the three-tier system of rules that were in place across England before the current lockdown. The Prime Minister’s full statement can be read here. Below are the highlights from his statement:
- The Prime Minister emphasised that the country must get through winter without the virus spreading out of control and argued that the COVID Winter Plan would “help us get to spring safely”.
- Johnson announced that the national restrictions ending on 2 December will not be renewed but that the government will introduce a “new, stronger, and more sustainable” tiers framework on 2 December.
- The tier system will have three levels ranging from Medium Alert (Tier 1), High Alert (Tier 2), and Very High Alert (Tier 3). The different restrictions within each tier level are explained here.
- The tier system will be in place until March 2021, and individual regional restrictions will be reviewed every 14 days.
- Johnson stated that with NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces, the government will launch a major community testing programme that will offer all local authorities in tier 3 areas in England a six-week surge of testing.
- On vaccines, Johnson said that the government has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and over 350 million in total, more than enough for everyone in the UK, the Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Territories adding that the NHS is preparing a nationwide immunisation programme, to be ready next month
20th November 2020
Below are the highlights from the government’s briefing this evening on coronavirus. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Prof Stephen Powis, National Medical Director, NHS England and Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England delivered this briefing.
- The main takeaway is that the UK Government has formally asked the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to assess whether to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. MHRA will submit their full data in the coming days. If approved, the vaccine will be available via the NHS for free, and the roll-out to all of the UK will begin in December.
- Hancock said the approval process was “another important step forward in tackling this pandemic”. He said the speed of the roll-out of a vaccine would depend on the speed at which it could be manufactured. He added that “If the regulator approves a vaccine, we will be ready to start the vaccination next month with the bulk of roll-out in the new year. We are heading in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.”
- When asked if there will be enough supply to vaccinate everyone by April, Hancock says there are “uncertainties” but the task for the NHS is to make sure it can deploy the vaccine as quickly as it can be manufactured. Hancock added he cannot give a figure on the take-up percentage required yet.
- On restrictions in England after 2 December and over Christmas, Hancock admits “it is still too early to tell” and cites the ONS study published today shows that the peak is flattening. He added the government is trying to have a “consistent set of rules” across the UK so people can visit their loved ones.
- Free flu jabs will be available in England for the over-50s from 1 December.
- In the UK, the average number of cases per day stands at 22,287 In the last 24-hours, 511 people died of COVID-19.
12th October 2020
Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed MPs in the House of Commons and introduced a three-tiered system of local COVID alert levels to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Here is the detailed information for the three local COVID alert levels.
Below are the highlights from the Prime Minister’s speech in the Commons and the evening press conference:
- The levels of the three-tiered system will be set at medium, high, and very high.
- The Prime Minister confirmed that non-essential retail, schools, and universities will remain open regardless of the alert level that their local area falls under.
- Johnson emphasised that these measures will be kept under constant review and will have a four-week sunset clause for interventions in those areas deemed as ‘very high’.
- At this evening’s press conference, Johnson stated that the majority of the country will for now be at the ‘medium’ level with most areas currently under local intervention being at ‘high’.
- From Wednesday, local authorities in the Liverpool city region will move to ‘very high’.
- Johnson added that for areas on ‘very high’ alert, there would be additional financial support for improved contact tracing and more funding for local enforcement.
- Nightingale Hospitals in the North of England have been ordered to prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients.
- The UK recorded 13,972 new cases and 50 deaths.
30th September 2020
- Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that “billions” of PPE items had been stockpiled and ordered, with a high proportion of these items being manufactured within the UK
- Johnson added that there were now a “large number of tests and hospital beds available” and announced that he would give regular updates to the public through press conferences
- Prof Chris Whitty, UK’s Chief Medical Adviser, detailed how the R rate was increasing across the country, but that there is a particularly high incidence rate in the North East, North West, and West Midlands
- Prof Whitty noted that the rise in cases had mostly been amongst younger people and added that school-age pupils were not experiencing increasing rates of the virus in any part of the UK. He stated that the NHS is “absolutely open for business” for all medical complaints
- In the UK, 453,264 people (7,108 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,143 have died, an increase of 71 deaths.
24th September 2020
The UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, outlined a ‘Winter Economy Plan’ today and set out the next stage of the economic response. Below are the highlights from his statement in Parliament. You can read the full plan here.
- The UK Government has now spent £12billion on test and trace
- Sunak said that the economy will need “more permanent adjustment” as COVID-19 is expected to be here for at least six months.
- Chancellor Sunak announced a new Job Support Scheme to protect viable jobs and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
- Job Support Scheme
- From 1 November 2020, for the next six months, the Job Support Scheme will protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to COVID-19
- To be eligible, employees work a minimum of 33% of their hours
- The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.
- For remaining hours not worked, the government and employer pay 1/3 wages each
- So employees working 33% of their hours will receive at least 77% of their pay
- This scheme will apply to all small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). For larger businesses, it will only be covered if their turnover has gone down.
- All UK businesses will be allowed to apply, even if they did not use the furlough scheme
- Firms can use it alongside the Job Retention Bonus (for retaining employees currently on furlough)
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS):
- An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus.
- The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.
- An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April 2021.
- Bounce Back Loan Scheme
- Businesses that borrowed under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme will be offered more time and greater flexibility for their repayments under the new Pay as You Grow Scheme – this includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses
- Other loans:
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders have the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it helps businesses to repay the loan.
- The application deadline for all coronavirus loan schemes – including the future fund – has been extended to 30 November
- VAT Deferral:
- Businesses who deferred their VAT will no longer have to pay a lump sum at the end of March next year.
- They will have the option of splitting it into smaller, interest-free payments over the course of 11 months
- For any self-assessed income taxpayers who need extra help, can also now extend their outstanding tax bill over 12 months from January (those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022).
- VAT rate for Tourism and Hospitality
- Government has extended the cut in the VAT rate to 5% until 31 March 2021
21st September 2020
Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer - England and Sir Patrick Vallance, UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, delivered the below briefing:
- From July, cases have increased across all age groups – in addition to increased testing, the testing positivity (percentage of people tested who’s results come back as positive) has also gone up.
- According to the ONS, 70,000 currently have coronavirus; around 6,000 a day are becoming infected.
- Sir Patrick said that “speed and action needed” as the epidemic doubles about every 7 days. He added that if the current trend of increased cases continues, by mid-October, we could have 49,000 cases a day. He added that “we need to cut the doubling time and reduce exponential growth”.
- Sir Patrick said that the antibodies to the virus may “fade over time” and as a result, “vast majority” are still at risk; about 8% of the population – three million – “may be infected and have antibodies” but there are doubts about how long any immunity may last.
- Prof Whitty said that the high rates of transmission are “highly concentrated”, but there are significant rates of transmission in many parts of the UK, and anywhere where the rate of transmission was falling, is now rising.
- On vaccines, Sir Patrick said that the UK is making “good progress” and is in a “good position” as it has access to a number of different vaccines going through trials. "Many vaccines have shown that they produce an immune response of a type that ought to be protective. But we don't yet know they will work.” He added that “small groups may have access to them by the end of the year, but wide accessibility is much more likely towards the start of next year”.
- In the UK, in the last 24 hours, 3,899 have people tested positive for COVID-19, and 18 died. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the UK stands at 394,257. The total number of deaths stands at 41,777.
17th July 2020
- Today, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced the ‘next chapter’ of the COVID-19 recovery strategy
- From 1 August, if the prevalence of the virus remains around or below current levels, the government will take the listed steps:
- Employers and the workforce:
- Employers will be given more discretion on how they ensure employees can work safely – this could mean continuing to work from home or returning to COVID-19 workplaces
- Employers should be encouraging people to get back to work where it is right for that employee
- Government advice is now to use public transport while encouraging the public to consider alternative means of transport where possible
- Local Government:
- Government published the CONTAIN framework which is a guide for local decision-makers
- From tomorrow, local authorities will have new powers to enable them to react to outbreaks more quickly
- Councils will be able to intervene to shut down outdoor spaces and premises at short notice
- Stay at home orders could also be imposed
- Reopen most remaining leisure settings such as bowling, skating rinks and casinos, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines
- High-risk activities and settings such as nightclubs will not reopen and will be kept under review
- Restart indoor performances to a live audience, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines, subject to the success of pilots that are taking place as soon as possible
- Enable wedding receptions; sit-down meals for no more than 30 people, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines
- Schools, nurseries and colleges to reopen from September 2020
- The number of daily deaths is continuing to fall
- The R is between 0.7 and 0.9
- Johnson said that the “blanket national lockdown” imposed between the middle of March and the end of May was the right thing to do, but now the UK is focused on localised lockdowns.
- NHS will be granted additional funding of £3 billion to help it prepare for a potential second wave of infections as well as to cope with its usual winter pressure
- Johnson also declared that the government would increase its testing capacity to 500,000 a day by the end of October 2020
- DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced that outdoor pools and performances can resume from Saturday with social distancing in place.
- Dowden stated that beauticians, nail salons, and tattooists will also be able to open on Monday.
- Dowden added that indoor gyms, sports facilities, and pools will be able to reopen from 25 July and that guidance will be published for team sports to return from Saturday.
- Dowden explained that scientific studies were being conducted to assess the specific risks in the culture industry.
- In the UK, 287,621 people (642 new cases) tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 44,602 people have died, an increase of 85 fatalities.
3rd July 2020
- The Prime Minister confirmed that there will be a timetable announced next week for the reopening of other businesses which remained closed this weekend.
- Johnson announced that the number of new COVID-19 infections was reducing, with the R rate between 0.7-0.9 across the country.
- Johnson added that areas such as Leicester saw greater coronavirus prevalence, resulting in local ‘lockdowns’.
- The Prime Minister acknowledged the “devastating impact” that quarantine measures had on society and the economy.
- Johnson stated that “good progress” was being made by workstreams looking into further easing for the fitness and hospitality sectors and highlighted how, generally, there would be a move away from sectoral restrictions and towards geographical measures.
- On Saturday, Johnson said there will be a “moment of remembrance” to mark those who have lost their lives and that there will be a clap to mark the NHS’s birthday on Sunday.
- In the UK, 284,276 people (544 new cases) tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 44,131 have died, an increase of 137 fatalities.
23rd June 2020
- Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that the ‘five tests’ continue to be met, in relation to sustained and consistent fall in deaths and infections, increased PPE supply, resulting in the continued loosening of lockdown measures.
- From 4th July 2020 (in England only):
- Johnson confirmed that the two-metre social distancing rule would be modified, moving to “one metre plus”. He added that with extra measures such as installing screens, making sure people way from each other, and washing hands, this could be done safely.
- Johnson announced that hotels, B&Bs, self-contained accommodation, campsites, caravan sites, bars, pubs, social clubs, hair salons, outdoor playgrounds, and outdoor gyms, among other premises, could open providing that they are 'COVID-19 secure'.
- Households can meet with one other household at a time and could stay overnight.
- Johnson stated that if there were local outbreaks or if the virus was to run out of control, the government would “not hesitate” to reverse some of the changes that have been made at either a local or national level.
- Today’s briefing was the last daily COVID press conference. Here on, there will only be a COVID-related press conference when there is a significant announcement to be made regarding COVID-19.
- The information that is usually presented in the slides during the daily briefings will be available on the government's website.
- In the UK, 306,210 people (874 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,927 have died, an increase of 171 fatalities.
22nd June 2020
- The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, began the briefing by thanking all those who have adhered to the shielding rules and stated that those affected have helped to save lives.
- Hancock added that the shielding guidance was only supposed to remain in force “as long as clinically necessary”.
- Dr. Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, stated that now community transmission of the virus is down, the shielding measures can begin to be relaxed.
- From 6 July, those who have been shielding can meet groups of up to six people outdoors or form a support bubble.
- From 1 August England will “pause shielding”, meaning people can go out to places and see others – and go to shops and individuals can also return to work as long as their business is COVID safe.
- Hancock added that he will write to all those in the shielded group to update them and mentioned that online guidance will also be updated.
- In the UK, 305,289 people (958 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,647 have died, an increase of 15 fatalities.
19th June 2020
- Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson began the briefing by stating that the government now has a “hugely ambitious catch-up plan” to get children “back to where they should be”.
- Williamson confirmed plans for a £1bn fund to help England’s children with catch-up lessons and to get tutoring.
- Williamson added that school is “vital” and that “all children, in all year groups, will go back to school in September”.
- In the UK, 301,815 people (1,346 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings 42,461 have died, an increase of 173 fatalities.
18th June 2020
- The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, began the briefing by recognising the “sad loss” of Dame Vera Lynn and said that “We will all remember her warmly”.
- Hancock urged parents to ensure that their children are getting their regular vaccinations including the MMR jab.
- Hancock added that AstraZeneca has struck a deal to produce the Oxford vaccine so that it can be manufactured should “the science come off”.
- Adults over 50 and those with heart and kidney disease will be prioritised if and when a vaccine is ready.
- Hancock stated that the government will continue to take into account those who are most vulnerable including those from BAME backgrounds.
- On the test and trace app, Hancock says that while the UK’s app worked well on Android, Apple software “prevents iPhones from effectively using contact tracing”. Hancock stated how the government will be joining forces with Apple and Google to bring the “best bits of both systems together”.
- Concerning the NHS test and trace system, Hancock added that it is “working well”.
- In the UK 300,469 people (1,218 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,288 have died, an increase of 135 fatalities.
17th June 2020
- DMCS Secretary, Oliver Dowden announced that Premier League matches are resuming tonight and stated that this is an important moment.
- Dowden, however, urged fans to do their part – by watching from home and said that football fans should not congregate outside stadiums.
- Dowden added that he wants to get community sport back up and running and that this will begin from the start of July at the earliest.
- On live arts venues, Dowden said that he has been looking hard at how they can start to operate again and said the taskforce he set up to examine this will take evidence from experts on what might be done.
- In the UK, 299,251 people (1,015 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,153 have died, an increase of 184 fatalities.
16th June 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson began the briefing by saying that he hears the calls to reduce the 2m social distancing recommendation and said that he will do “everything in my power to get us back to normal as soon as possible.”
- Johnson added that he is hopeful that the government will be able to announce a further easing of restrictions by July 4.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, spoke about the drug dexamethasone – a steroid – and thanked those who have helped during the global trials.
- Johnson highlighted how dexamethasone can now be “made available across the NHS”. The Prime Minister also stated that “we have taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak.”
- Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford, said that 75% of patients in hospital will receive a benefit from dexamethasone.
- Horby added that a study of the drug found “remarkable results” – and added that it could reduce the chance of death by about 35% for patients on ventilators, for those who require oxygen it was about 20%.
- Horby emphasised that the dexamethasone is “not a drug that you would use in the community” at large.
- Horby added that further trials of the drug are continuing and Vallance pointed out that this is the first drug that’s proven to reduce the risk of death from COVID-19.
- In the UK, 298,136 people (1,279 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,969 have died, an increase of 233 fatalities.
15th June 2020
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that the government is closely watching the impact of all the changes to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.
- Raab mentioned the easing of restrictions on private prayer at places of worship and the new “support bubbles” for single adults in England.
- Raab highlighted that the experience other countries face in fighting COVID-19 shows that there is a risk of a second spike in infections and emphasised the need for a cautious approach.
- On hospital admissions, Raab stated that there has been a 19% reduction in the number of patients with COVID-19 compared with a week previously.
- In the UK, 296,857 people (1,056 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,736 have died, an increase of 38 fatalities.
12th June 2020
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated that the government is determined to promote green economic growth after the COVID-19 crisis.
- Shapps highlighted how ministers are launching a new “jet zero” council to promote net-zero flights and he also added that the council hopes to demonstrate a net-zero flight across the Atlantic “within a generation”.
- Transport use presents a challenge when it comes to keeping virus infections down and Shapps added that people should be “vigilant”.
- Shapps reiterated that the wearing of face coverings will be compulsory on public transport in England from Monday.
- Shapps stated that people should continue to work from home where possible and that employers should do “everything in your power” to stop people from going into work.
- In the UK, 292,950 (1,541 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,481 have died, an increase of 202 fatalities.
11th June 2020
- The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, began the briefing by stating that today’s figures on the test and trace system “paint a positive picture” of the system in operation so far.
- Hancock added that ministers are confident that the test and trace system will be “world-class”.
- Baroness Dido Harding, who runs the government’s test and trace scheme in England, began by going through the system’s first statistics:
- In the first week of the programme, 8,117 people testing positive for coronavirus had their case transferred to the contact tracing system.
- Of those, 5,407 people (67%) provided their recent contacts, and most offered their information within 24 hours.
- 31,794 recent contacts were identified through the Test and Trace Service and of these 26,985 (85%) were reached and agreed to self-isolate.
- Baroness Harding reiterated that those with COVID-19 symptoms should book a test and that if the NHS test and trace contacts you then you should go online or call the NHS and provide the service with accurate information about close contacts.
- In the UK, 291,409 people (1,266 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,279 have died, an increase of 151 fatalities.
10th June 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson began the daily briefing by outlining the government’s five tests and stated that they are designed to ensure any changes to lockdown are “careful, proportionate and safe”.
- The Prime Minister added that the death rate and the number of positive cases are both continuing to fall.
- Johnson added that the UK has met all the government’s five tests.
- The Prime Minister announced that from this weekend, the government will allow single adult households to form one “support bubble” with one other household of any size.
- Johnson confirmed that “single adult households” refers to “adults living alone or single parents with children under 18”.
- The “support bubble allows” people to act as if they live in the same household, with those in the bubble being able to go to each other’s houses, stay the night and not have to maintain social distancing measures.
- The Prime Minister highlighted that those who are shielding cannot take part in “support bubbles”.
- Johnson also confirmed that zoos will be allowed to open from Monday and that places of worship will be allowed to open for prayer from this weekend.
- In Parliament today Johnson announced a further £63 million of local welfare assistance to be used by local authorities at their discretion to help the most vulnerable families.
- In the UK, 290,143 people have (1,003 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,128 have died, an increase of 245 fatalities since yesterday.
9th June 2020
- Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced that the government is opening parts of the economy carefully and stated that non-essential shops will be allowed to open from Monday 15 June.
- Sharma said that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has provided guidance that will allow shops to open safely.
- Shops will have to follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines and complete a coronavirus risk assessment before opening.
- Sharma stated that shops should display a notice stating that they have completed a risk assessment and if shops open without taking these measures they could be subjected to enforcement measures.
- Sharma added that pubs, restaurants, barbers, and hairdressers will get further guidance on when they can open in due course.
- Sharma announced that the government is still meeting its five tests and that the reproduction number is below 1.
- After the COVID-19 crisis the government aims to build an economy that is “greener, fairer and more dynamic”. Sharma stated that he will chair five roundtables that will look at this project.
- As of 9 am 9 June, there have been 5,870,506 tests, with 102,930 tests on 8 June. 289,140 people have tested positive. As of 5 pm on 8 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 40,883 have sadly died, an increase of 286 fatalities.
8th June 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced today that all adult care homes can now order COVID-19 testing. He insisted that it is safe for people to send their loved ones into care homes as it is “clear the epidemic in care homes is coming under control”.
- Hancock also announced a new National COVID-19 Social Care Support Taskforce that will be chaired by David Pearson. He said that this task force would align the actions of central and local government with care providers. The task force will also focus on stopping infection while ensuring the well-being of all those who receive care and support.
- On being asked if there was a required mortality rate for the government to reopen the economy, Hancock said that though it was “simplistic” to say that there was “trade-off” between the economy and health, it wasn’t the case. He added that if the spread of the virus wasn’t controlled, the economy would further suffer.
- Hancock stated that looking at all the models, though the “scientists’ conclusion is that the R rate is below one in all parts of the country”, it is kept under “constant review”.
- In the UK, 287,399 people (1,205 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 40,597 died, an increase of 55 fatalities.
5th June 2020
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated that as the NHS reopens across the country, it’s critical to stop the spread among staff, patients, and visitors.
- Hancock announced that all hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings from 15 June.
- The Health Secretary stated that all hospital staff will be required to wear Type 1 or 2 surgical masks at all times, except in areas of hospitals designated as covid-secure.
- Hancock urged people to avoid large gatherings, including demonstrations, of more than six people this weekend.
- As of 9 am on 5 June, there have been 5,214,277 tests, with 207,231 tests on 4 June. 283,311 people have tested positive. As of 5 PM on 4 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 40,261 have sadly died, an increase of 357 fatalities.
4th June 2020
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that as of Monday 15 June face coverings will become mandatory on public transport in England.
- Shapps confirmed that the next easing of restrictions will occur in England on Monday 15 June.
- The Transport Secretary gave more details on plans to make non-medical face coverings on public transport mandatory, stating that there will be exemptions for young children and that those who do not comply can be stopped from travelling and passengers can be fined.
- Shapps confirmed that the next easing of restrictions will occur in England on Monday 15 June.
- On cycling, Shapps said that the government has seen an 100% increase in weekday cycling and outlined the £50 “fix your bike” voucher that will be introduced later this month.
- As of 9 AM on 4 June, there have been 5,005,565 tests, with 220,057 tests as of 4 June. 281,161 have tested positive. As of 5PM on 4 June of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, across all settings, 39,904 have now died, an increase of 176 fatalities.
3rd June 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about the test and trace system adding that it is “vital” to efforts to control the virus now that the pandemic is past its peak.
- Johnson spoke of the plans to ask anyone arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days, saying that the measures are tough and necessary and will be reviewed.
- The Prime Minister added that “air bridges” will be considered with countries that have low transmission rates, but stressed that this would only be done when it is safe to do so.
- Johnson spoke of global efforts to find a vaccine for COVID-19 and highlighted that he is chairing a summit of the Gavi international vaccine alliance on Thursday, alongside Bill Gates.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, said that there is a steady downward detection of new cases.
- As of 9 AM on 3 June, there have been 4,786,219 tests, with 171,829 tests on 2 June. 279,856 people have tested positive. As of 5 PM on 2 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, across all settings, 39,728 people have now died, an increase of 359 fatalities.
2nd June 2020
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke about today’s report on coronavirus risk factors, which confirmed that those from the black, asian and minority ethnic communities have been hit harder.
- Hancock made reference to the current situation in the US and stated that “Black lives matter” before paying tribute to health workers that are from ethnic minorities.
- The Health Secretary said that the government is determined to find out why some groups are more at risk from coronavirus and stated that Kemi Badenoch, the junior equalities minister will be in charge of the review into this specific issue.
- On coronavirus cases, Hancock stated that “The trend is broadly down but there is still some way to go.”
- As of 9am on 2 June, there have been 4,615,146 tests, with 135,643 tests on 1 June. 277,985 people have tested positive for coronavirus. As of 5pm on 1 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, 39,369 have died. This new figure includes deaths in all settings, not just in hospitals.
1st June 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that the government can now carry out 206,444 COVID-19 tests per day. Since the start of the pandemic, 4,484,340 tests have been carried out in the UK.
- Since the beginning of the test-and-trace programme last week, Hancock said that a “high number” of those who tested positive had been contacted. Prof. John Newton, the national coordinator of the testing effort, said that the programme has been working well and the figures will be available soon. He added that some people do not need contact tracing, e.g., they might be in a care home.
- Hancock announced that dentistry services would resume next week.
- Hancock said that the joint Biosecurity Centre is being set up at the moment.
- On being asked on the likeliness of the government imposing blanket lockdown measures if the R (reproduction rate) goes up, Hancock said that the government is moving to a targeted approach. However, if needed, they will impose blanket measures.
- On being asked about the possibility of a local lockdown, Hancock said that local action is “an incredibly important part of the tool kit” to try and prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. He added that local public health officials would be working closely with the government, Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to decide on further measures.
- In the UK, 276,332 people (1,570 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 39,045 died, an increase of 111 fatalities since yesterday.
31st May 2020
- Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, gave an update today on the clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable and on rough sleeping.
- Update on the clinically vulnerable:
- At the start of the pandemic, clinically vulnerable people were asked to shield until 30 June. These people are not only older people; half of these are under 70, including 90,000 children.
- The government has delivered 2.5 million free food (including medicine) boxes.
- Over 350,000 who are shielding have registered for some support from the government
- The next review of shielding measures in England will be in the week commencing 15 June; Officials will be considering the next steps “more generally” on 30 June
- NHS will be writing to those shielding with further updates
- Those shielding in England could take “initial steps to safely spend time outdoors.”
- Rough sleeping:
- 90% of the rough sleepers were offered accommodation during COVID-19; Councils in England were provided funding by the government to provide this accommodation
- The government will make 6,000 new homes available for rough sleepers, and 3,300 of these will be available in the next 12 months.
- The government has also allocated £433million to fast track this accommodation and £160million of this will be spent this year
- Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said that car use is “picking up” and reminded people to travel in cars only with those from their household. She added that the number of COVID-19 cases is coming down and that only 9% of ventilator beds are currently being occupied across the UK.
- On being asked about how does one know if a track and trace call is genuine, Dr Harries said that there is a lot of confidentiality and so, it will be unlikely that someone will ulterior motives will contact individuals. She added that as the callers are professionally trained individuals, it will be apparent that they are genuine.
- Jenrick said that though we are still at level 4, we are transitioning to level 3 and the eased lockdown measures are “modest” and “entirely consistent” with the guidance
- In the UK, 274,762 people (1,936 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 38,489 died, an increase of 113 fatalities since yesterday.
30th May 2020
- DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden announced that the government has published guidance allowing competitive sport to resume behind closed doors from 1 June at the earliest.
- Dowden added that Football, tennis, horse racing, Formula One, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are all set to return to TV screens in the near future. Dowden confirmed that live Premier League football will be on the BBC for the first time in its history.
- Dowden stated that the guidance outlines measures that need to be in place for a sporting event to go ahead safely.
- In regard to exercise, Dowden announced that from Monday, people will be able to exercise with up to five others from different households, so long as they remain two metres apart.
- Prof Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, stated that despite the increase in positive cases in the last few days, the seven-day rolling average still displays a clear downward trend.
- Prof Van Tam added that there is a continued decline in deaths following a COVID-19 positive test.
- In the 24-hour period up to 9 am on Saturday, 127,722 tests were carried out or dispatched with 2,445 positive results. Of those tested positive, across all settings, 38,376 people have now died, an increase of 215 fatalities since yesterday. Overall, a total of 4,171,408 tests have been carried out and 272,826 cases have been confirmed positive.
29th May 2020
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the listed changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughing scheme) from August to October 2020 and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS. More information available here.
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughing scheme):
- 1 million businesses have availed the scheme, and 8 million jobs were supported by it
- June and July: No changes to the scheme, i.e. the government will pay 80% of the wages up to £2,500 with no employer contribution
- July: Starting 1 July, Flexible Furlough commences, i.e. employers will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time. Employers will have maximum flexibility with no central definition of part-time hours
- August: The government would still pay 80% of the wages up to £2,500, but employers will have to pay the National Insurance and Pension contributions
- September: Of the 80% of the employee wages up to £2,500, the government would pay 70% (up to £2,187.50) and employers 10% along with NI and pension contributions
- October: Of the 80% of the employee wages up to £2,500, the government would pay 60% (up to £1,875) and employers 20% along with NI and pension contributions.
- The scheme will end on 31 October 2020
- The scheme will close to new entrants by 30 June and employers wanting to place new employees on the scheme will need to do so by 10 June
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS):
- This scheme will be extended with applications opening in August for a second and final grant
- It will be paid in a one-off instalment covering the average of three months of trading profits
- The second final grant would be 70% up to £6,570
- 2.6 million people have availed this scheme, and £6.8billion has been paid out in claims
- Further guidance on the second grant will be published on 12 June 2020
- Prof Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, said that according to an Office for National Statistics survey, 39% of working adults are working from home. The survey further stated that 98% of adults said they have tried to stay at least two metres away from others while outside and 29% of adults are using a face covering when outside their home.
- In the UK, 271,222 people (2,095 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 38,161 died, an increase of 324 fatalities since yesterday.
28th May 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that as the five tests laid out by the government have been met, the lockdown measures will be eased further in England. These include:
- From 1 June, reopening nurseries, early years, reception, year 1 and year 6
- From 15 June, year 10 and 12 will get some face time with teachers
- From 1 June, outdoor retail and car showrooms will reopen
- From 15 June, reopening of other non-essential retail only if the five tests are being continued to be met and shops have been made ‘COVID-19 secure’
- Social contact:
- From 1 June, up to six people from different households can meet outside and in private outdoor settings/gardens subject to following social distancing rules, i.e., staying 2-metres apart.
- People should not be inside the homes of their friends and families unless it is to access the garden.
- People should also not stay overnight at any other household.
- Johnson said that different parts of the UK at moving at different speeds. Due to these “local outbreaks”, “where necessary” in the future, the government could impose local lockdowns.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said that the R (reproduction rate) is now between 0.7 and 0.9. He added that the number of new infections is estimated to be roughly 1 in 1,000 per week and that there is still a significant burden of infection. This means that things still need to be “done cautiously and monitored, and the test and trace system needs to be effective to manage it.” He added that an estimated 6.78% of people had COVID-19 in the country.
- Sir Vallance said that the number of new cases appears to be closer to 8,000 per day, but that’s not the full number. The NHS app and test-and-track programme would help close this gap and get people to isolate faster.
- On being asked about the reason for the UK listing only three symptoms instead of others, Prof Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said that there are several symptoms of COVID-19 but these three symptoms – “fever, new cough and a loss of smell / taste” – are the most specific and almost 95% of people with symptoms mentioned that they experienced at least one of these three.
- In the UK, 269,127 people (1,887 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 37,837 died, an increase of 377 fatalities since yesterday.
27th May 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, launched the NHS test-and-trace system. It will start tomorrow at 9 AM in England. He further announced that “we have passed the peak and the curve has flattened”.
NHS test-and-track programme:
- The first people to be contacted will be those who tested positive today
- If one receive a call from a contact tracer saying that they need to isolate, whether they have symptoms or not, they need to do so.
- If one is a contact of somebody who’s tested positive and they are instructed to isolate, their household members do not have to isolate – they can carry on under the normal guidelines. The contacted individual can isolate at home.
- It is voluntary for now but will be made mandatory if needed.
- Baroness Harding, Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace outlined the programme further:
- If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, then you must self-isolate immediately for 14 days
- You should then book a test on nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 and in the meanwhile, not leave home for any reason
- If you test positive, the test-and-trace team will contact you within 24 hours
- NHS test-and-trace would help you establish who you might have infected and gather their contact details,. This could be someone you’ve been in contact with for more than 15 minutes or in your own household.
- If you’ve been in contact with an infected person, NHS test-and-trace will instruct you to self-isolate, even if you don’t show any symptoms.
- Hancock announced the government will focus on local action to tackle flare-ups as the country gradually moves away from a blanket lockdown. On being asked about the authorities that will identify areas that need to be locked down locally, Baroness Harding said that local authorities will be responsible for local flare-ups. She added that these efforts need to be “locally led and nationally supported”.
- Hancock announced that the testing eligibility has been extended to under-fives from tomorrow.
- In the UK, 267,240 people (2,013 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 37,460 died, an increase of 412 fatalities since yesterday.
26th May 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced today that the government had signed contracts with domestic suppliers to manufacture 2 billion of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The government has also signed global contracts with 100 new suppliers to procure 3.7 billion gloves.
- Hancock announced a new trial, for select NHS patients, of Remdesivir, a drug that is known to shorten recovery from COVID-19 by four days.
- Hancock announced that the government would review penalty fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes.
- Prof John Newton, the coordinator of the national testing effort, said that the Office of National Statistics reported that up to 15 May, a total of 45,231 deaths registered in the UK mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate (includes suspected cases and those without a positive test). Until 15 May, according to the Department of Health and Social Care, the number of COVID-19 deaths stood at 33,998 (albeit confirmed with a positive test).
- On being asked about a fear of a second wave of COVID-19 deaths as tourists start visiting areas such as the Lake District, Hancock confirmed that in the future, the government would impose “local lockdowns where there are flare-ups”. Prof Newton said that “different areas will have different considerations”.
- On being asked about the importance of obeying contact tracers, Hancock said the test-and-trace programme is “incredibly important”, and those with symptoms have a “civil duty” to self-isolate. Prof Newton added that the test-and-trace programme would “allow us to control the virus”, but it needs to be followed along with social distancing measures and basic hygiene.
- The government continued to defend Dominic Cummings’ travel from London to Durham during the lockdown.
- In the UK, 265, 227 people (2,004 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 37,048 died, an increase of 134 (lowest since six weeks) fatalities since yesterday. Yesterday, in Northern Ireland, there were no deaths from COVID-19.
25th May 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson begun this evening’s briefing by stating that he is giving people notice of the changes he plans to make as we move into the next phase of lifting the lockdown.
- From 1 June the government intends for outdoor markets and car showrooms to open.
- From 15 June the government intends to allow all other non-essential retail to open.
- Johnson added that this will only be permitted for premises that are “COVID-secure.”
- Alongside this announcement, Johnson stated that the government is today publishing new guidance for the retail sector detailing measures they should take regarding social distancing and hygiene standards.
- Prof Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director of Public Health England, said that the R value is between 0.7 and 1.
- Prof Doyle added that daily hospital admissions are now down considerably and the number of people on ventilators in ICUs is also in decline.
- Earlier today, in a statement, the Prime Minister’s chief aide, Dominic Cummings gave a statement in response to accusations that he broke the lockdown.
- Cummings defended his journey to stay at his family’s property near Durham.
- Cummings said that he took the journey with his wife, who was showing COVID-19 symptoms and his son to allow his wider family to help with childcare.
- During the conference, Cummings admitted that he had not consulted with Johnson on his decision to make the journey and said it was “up to the prime minister” whether he should stay in his job.
- As of 9 AM on 25 May, there have been 3,532,634 tests, with 73,726 tests on 24 May. 261,184 people have tested positive. As of 5 PM on 24 May, of those tested positive 36,914 have died in all settings, an increase of 121 fatalities.
24th May 2020
- Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that schools (early years, reception, year 1 and year 6) would open on 1 June. From 15 June, years 10 and 12 will also reopen. He added that the government acknowledged that “full social distancing” might not be possible at all times, especially when teaching young kids. The government’s guidelines for schools include staggered breaks, reducing class sizes, increasing the frequency of cleaning and reducing the use of shared items. Testing will be available for all with symptoms and above the age of five.
- The government will set out guidelines later this week for moving to Step 2 for other areas of the economy, such as non-essential retail.
- Prof Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for NHS England, said that the number of COVID-19 related deaths saw “a steady but sustained decline” and this suggested that the transmission of the virus is successfully reducing in the community.
- Johnson said that his chief aide, Dominic Cummings, followed the “instincts of every father and every parent and that he does not “mark him down for that”. Johnson added that Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity” by travelling from London to Durham to ensure that his child got the right childcare as “both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated”. He stated that and that “some” of the accusations made against Cummings were “palpably false”.
- In the UK, 259,559 people (2,409 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,793 died, an increase of 118 fatalities since yesterday.
23rd May 2020
- Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced new funding of £283million to get public transport “moving back to a full timetable”.
- Shapps announced that plans to reverse the Beeching cuts are underway.
- England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries said that the number of COVID-19-related deaths across the UK is falling.
- On being asked by the media about Dominic Cummings’ 260-mile trip to Durham, Shapps said that the important thing is that “everyone remains in the same place while they are in lockdown”. However, as the welfare of Cummings’ four-year-old child was the “important thing”, Shapps added that Cummings “went to where the family was” and “didn’t move around”. Dr Harries said that the “key public health message is if you have symptoms, self-isolate immediately and stay in your homes”. She added that it was important those who are unwell “take themselves out of society immediately”.
- On being asked about the steps taken by the government to protect front line transport workers especially from the BAME communities, Shapps said that he has written to transport operators to ensure they are aware of the correct equipment and procedures required for the next phase of response to COVID-19. Shapps also confirmed that 53 transport workers died due to COVID-19.
- In the UK, 257, 154 people (2,959 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,675 died, an increase of 282 fatalities since yesterday.
22nd May 2020
- Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced that new measures will be introduced at the UK border to guard against a second wave of infections.
- Patel highlighted that anyone entering the UK, from 8th June, will have to self-isolate for 14 days, stating that with the infection rate in the UK falling, imported cases could pose a “larger threat” going forward.
- Arrivals from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt from the above measures. Medical professionals helping to treat the virus are also excluded.
- Patel stated that anyone breaching the rules will be liable for a £1,000 fine or face potential prosecution.
- Public health authorities will conduct random checks to ensure compliance with the rules, with individuals potentially being contacted on a regular basis.
- Paul Lincoln, director general of the Border Force highlighted his organisations efforts to tackle criminal activity during COVID-19.
- Lincoln highlighted how Border Force officers have intercepted counterfeit face masks and COVID-19 tests, as well as seizing drug shipments.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, stated how the R rate is currently between 0.7 and 1. Vallance added that the epidemic is either “flat or declining”.
- Vallance added that the number of new infections is about 61,000 per week, roughly one in 1,000 people.
- As of 9 AM on 22nd May, there have been 3,231,921 tests, with 140,497 tests on 21 May. 2,144,626 people have been tested of which 254,195 tested positive. As of 5 PM on 21 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus across all settings, 36,393 have sadly died an increase of 351 new fatalities since yesterday.
21st May 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced additional funding of £4.2 million for mental health charities.
- Hancock announced two new COVID-19-related tests:
- Swab tests: New swab tests which inform an individual if they have COVID-19 are being trialled on a smaller scale. Hancock said that the scale of the trial will help “monitor its effectiveness” and if it works, the government will roll it out as soon as they can. This test will give results in as quickly as 20 minutes, rather than 24 to 48 hours.
- Anti-body tests: The UK Government has signed contracts with Roche and Abbott to procure 10 million tests that will be available gradually starting next week and extending in the coming months. These tests inform an individual if they have had coronavirus. Hancock cautioned that the government is “not yet” in a position to confirm that those who test positive in these tests are “immune from coronavirus”. He added that a sample survey result suggests that around 17% of people in London and 5% or higher across the rest of the country may have had COVID-19.
- Prof. Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said that an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey monitoring people that have had COVID-19 estimated that around 137,000 people (0.25% of the population) in the community had COVID-19 between 4-17 May. He added that deaths in the UK are “steadily decreasing”.
- On being asked if, between August and October, the government could consider the extension of fully paying for the furlough scheme as social distancing rules will impact businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, Hancock said that this scheme was “one of the most generous in the world”, but he understands the concern and would talk to the Chancellor about it.
- In the UK, 250,908 people (2,615 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,042 died, an increase of 338 fatalities since yesterday.
20th May 2020
- DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced that he is setting up a new taskforce to help sports, arts and tech “bounce back”. He said that television units are safely returning to work.
- Dowden said that through the government’s commitment to match the funds raised from the BBC’s Big Night In, £70million would be distributed by Comic Relief, Children in Need and the National Emergencies Trust to front line charities. He added that the applications for financial support for small-and-medium-sized charities would open this week.
- He also announced that £150million from dormant bank accounts would be used to support social enterprises affected by the pandemic.
- Dowden announced that Her Majesty’s birthday honours list would be delayed to autumn to recognise pandemic heroes. He also congratulated Capt. Tom Moore on being awarded a knighthood.
- Prof. Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, said that for the “first time since March” fewer than 10,000 people were in hospitals with coronavirus.
- Dowden said that the UK is “standing by our commitments” by spending 0.7% of the country’s income on aid to developing countries through the pandemic.
- The DCMS Secretary said the BBC’s decision to extend free TV licenses to over-75s until August was the right one. He added that he hopes that the BBC will rethink of extending it further if we were in the same situation post-August.
- Prof. Powis said SAGE has always kept the 2-metre social distancing rule under review, and would continue to do so.
- On being asked if the government will be asking the 3 PM Saturday football matches to be available free-to-air for all channels, Dowden said that the existing rights of broadcasters would have to be respected. He added that there could be “flexibility” as these are not broadcast on Saturday afternoons when people, in normal circumstances, would be watching it in the stadium. So there could be an “opportunity” for some Premier League matches to be “free-to-air”.
- In the UK, 248,293 people (2,472 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 35,704 died, an increase of 363 fatalities since yesterday.
19th May 2020
- Environment Secretary, George Eustice, announced a new ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign. He encouraged Britons, especially those who have been furloughed, to register their interest in picking jobs via the campaign’s website. He said that only a third of migrant workers could be here for the picking season.
- Prof Dame Angela McLean, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, said that the UK would like to emulate South Korea’s use of contract tracing to bring down the numbers and also learn from Germany’s record on testing.
- On being asked if the government will extend the payment holidays on mortgages and loans for people who lose work, especially from the aviation and hospitality industries, Eustice said that the government has laid out “unprecedented” measures for businesses including grants and the furlough scheme. He added that the Chancellor is “thinking very carefully” about how these schemes could evolve.
- On being asked if in the Brexit talks, what would the government prioritise higher – the financial sector or the fishing industry – Eustice said that the government’s priority is to become an “independent, self-governing country again with our own laws, control of our waters, setting our own fishing policies” and that best serve the economic interests by “taking back control”. He highlights that the “sticking points” in the negotiations – EU seem to be insisting that the UK abide by its law despite having left the union and that the UK should give the EU unlimited access to its waters – are both wrong. As a result, the UK has had to take its current stance.
- On being asked if the government will cover the costs for councils due to loss of earnings, Eustice said that the government recognises the “new burdens” on local authorities due to the pandemic and has pledged £3.2billion to help them cope along with £600million specifically to support care homes. He added that councils should have emergency funds set aside for “events of this sort”.
- In the UK, 248, 818 people (2,412 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 35,341 died, an increase of 545 fatalities since yesterday.
18th May 2020
- Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, confirmed that the alert level remains at four and the government wants to push it down to three.
- On being asked for the government’s timeline to publish a plan to restore the economic “wellbeing” of the country “beyond the pandemic”, Raab said that a “conditional roadmap” has already been published. He added that this “conditional roadmap” includes reopening of schools on 1 June and some shops from 4 July but it will only happen “based on the scientific advice”.
- Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said that there is a “definite and sustained decline in new confirmed cases”. He added that according to data from Apple Maps direction requests, there had been a “gradual upward trend in searches” for walking and driving directions, but public transport search levels are “flat”.
- Prof Van-Tam said that health officials thought very carefully about adding anosmia (the loss of smell) to the official list of coronavirus symptoms. He said that it does not often occur early in the illness, and it “very rarely” the sole symptom. Public Health England found that 0.44% of people reported anosmia, on its own, as a symptom. The updated list of coronavirus-related symptoms is here.
- On being asked if China was being “let off the hook” from the WHO’s review (it does not mention any country specifically) into the International Committee’s response to the pandemic and if the UK, like Australia, wanted an independent inquiry, Raab said that he wants this review to “command the strongest support” and for it to be “credible, impartial and independent”. He added that he wanted this review to get to the “bottom of how the outbreak happened and spread” and to learn lessons for future pandemics.
- Raab asked people travelling between the four UK nations to be 'very mindful' of different rules.
- As of 9 AM on 18 May, in the UK, 246, 406 people (2,684 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19. As of 5 PM on 17 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 34, 796 died, an increase of 160 fatalities. The number of people in hospitals has fallen 13% from last week to 9,408.
- Earlier today in Parliament, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that anyone over the age of five with COVID-19 symptoms is now eligible to be tested.
17th May 2020
- 91,206 tests for coronavirus were carried out yesterday. 243,303 have tested positive, an increase of 3,142 since yesterday. 34,636 have died after contracting COVID-19, an increase of 170 fatalities since yesterday. 10,035 people are in hospital with COVID-19, down 15% from 11,817 from this time last week. Due to technical issues today’s numbers do not include Northern Ireland cases.
- Business Secretary Alok Sharma started the press conference by going through the alert system, as set out by the Prime Minister last Sunday.
- Sharma provided an update on the vaccine task force that was announced last month, stating that the first clinical trial of the Oxford vaccine is progressing well with all phase one participants receiving their vaccine dose on schedule earlier this week.
- The government has already invested £47m in the Oxford University and Imperial College London vaccine trials, but today Sharma announced a further £84m of funding to help accelerate their work. This money would be used to mass-produce the Oxford vaccine if the trials are successful so that it can be distributed to the UK population straight away.
- Sharma added how the £84m of funding will also help Imperial College London to launch phase three of its vaccine trial later in the year.
- Sharma added that Oxford University has confirmed a global licensing agreement with AstraZeneca, which will make 30 million vaccine doses available to the UK by September if the trials are successful.
- A further £93m will be invested in the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Harwell in Oxfordshire.
- Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director for England, stated that the number of daily confirmed cases is stable, showing that the rate of infection is slowing, but this is reliant on people continuing to abide by the social distancing measures.
- Prof Powis added that the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals throughout all parts of the UK continues to fall. The reduction has been the greatest in London, but the fall is also occurring nationwide.
16th May 2020
- Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that a lower R (reproduction rate) is a ‘green light’ for some pupils to return to school on 1 June 2020. Though the government will start planning for this return, he added that schools would reopen only when the five tests are met.
- He added that those in Reception, year 1 and year 6 would be allowed to return with smaller class sizes, along with students in years 10 and 12 on a limited basis.
- When schools reopen, he added that strict measures, such as reduced class sizes, keeping children in small groups and ensuring that they stay together in them, ensuring highest levels of hygiene, cleaning and handwashing, will be put in place.
- Williamson said that school staff could already be tested for coronavirus, but from 1 June, testing will be extended to cover school children and their families if any of them develop symptoms. He added that ‘track and trace methods’ would then be used to prevent further spread.
- Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer said that transport use is “consistently low” though there is a slight rise in care use and light goods vehicles use as people begin to go back to work. She added that there is a “slow and steady” downward trend in hospital admissions with COVID-19 across the UK and that the seven-day rolling average for daily deaths is also coming down.
- Though the latest estimated R-value has risen from between 0.5 and 0.9 to between 0.7 and 1.0, Dr Harries said that it might not hinder reopening schools as the R is derived across various settings. She added that “we know now that children rarely get as ill as the older population with COVID-19. Evidence is still growing, but there is some to show that there they’re less likely to pass it on”.
- Williamson said that “a key element” to reopening schools is “minimising contact” – therefore the maximum class size of 15. He cited the success of schools reopening in Denmark. Dr Harries said that the aim is to increase the level of interaction but have it contained. She added that desks could be distanced apart instead of being placed ‘face-to-face’ and that it was unlikely that a child would catch coronavirus off another just by running past them.
- In the UK, 78, 537 tested positive for COVID-19 and 34, 466 died, an increase of 468 fatalities since yesterday across all settings.
15th May 2020
- As of 9 AM on 15th May, there have been 2,353,078 tests, with 133,784 tests on 14 May. 1,663,492 people have been tested, of which 236,711 tested positive. As of 5 PM on 14 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, 33,998 have died, an increase of 384.
- The Health Secretary Matt Hancock began the conference by recapping the government’s new COVID-19 alert system, as set out by the Prime Minister on Sunday.
- Hancock says there has been a “huge need to protect people in care homes” and that all residents and staff, with and without symptoms, will have been tested in England by early June.
- Hancock added that £600m has been made available this week to care homes to help control the infection. The Health Secretary added that as a result of the effort on helping care homes, two-thirds of care homes in England now have no outbreak at all.
- The Health Secretary added that we have now passed the peak of the virus.
- Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for primary care in England, said that the current R rate is between 0.7 and 1.0. If R is above 1.0 the number of people infected will grow. However, Harries added that a reduction in the number of cases is important adding that “That is our focus, not R”.
- Harries stated that 10,731 people are in hospital with COVID-19, down from 12,298 this time last week.
14th May 2020
- As of 9 AM on 14 May, there have been 2,219,281 tests, with 126,064 tests on 13 May. 1,593,902 people have been tested, of which 233,151 tested positive. As of 5 PM on 13 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, 33,614 have died, an increase of 428 fatalities.
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps began the conference by going through the new COVID-19 alert system, as announced by the PM on Sunday.
- Shapps emphasised that it is the public’s “civic duty” to avoid public transport. In order to help reduce crowding, Shapps stated that the government has announced £2bn in funding to encourage cycling and walking and he also urged the public to use a car where possible.
- Regarding infrastructure, Shapps mentioned how Highways England has completed £200m worth of upgrades and Network Rail has completed £550m of work in April alone.
- Shapps announced that the government is announcing £2bn to upgrade roads and railways “to get the economy growing again”.
- Regarding the government’s contact tracing app, Shapps stated that more than half of people on the Isle of Wight have downloaded the app and that people coming into the UK will also be asked to download this.
- Prof. Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, announced that between 24th April to 3 May 91 per cent of adults avoided contact with vulnerable people, and 80 per cent of adults only left their home for the permitted reasons, if at all.
- On hospital admissions and critical care bed use by coronavirus patients, Prof. Van Tam announced that there has been a steady and consistent decline.
- Prof Van Tam stated that 20% of critical care beds in the UK are currently occupied with COVID-19 patients in the UK, down from 26% on 6th May.
13th May 2020
- As of 9 AM on 13th May, there have been 2,094,209 tests, with 87,063 tests on 12 May. 1,522,258 people have been tested, of which 229,705 tested positive. As of 5 PM on 12th May, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, 33,186 have died, an increase of 494 fatalities since yesterday.
- Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick began the conference by going through the government’s new “COVID alert levels” as set out by the Prime Minister on Sunday.
- Jenrick went on to set out the plan to restart the housing market.
- Jenrick stated that from today, anyone in England can move house if they follow the government guidance published on the government website.
- Estate agents can open, viewings are also permitted and other essential parts of sales and the lettings process is restarted with immediate effect. According to the guidance Jenrick stated that viewings should take place virtually in the first instance.
- Jenrick added that the government is planning a “first homes programme” later this year which will offer a 30% discount for key workers.
- Jenrick stated that he wants construction of homes to be “up and running” and that the government will allow “more flexible working hours where appropriate”. Sites can apply to extend their working hours to 9 PM BST Monday to Saturday in residential areas.
- Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Jerry Harries, highlighted that transport usage is down by 50% across all models.
- Harries added that the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 is 15% lower than a week ago and that this “positive trend” is a testament to the public’s support for social distancing.
12th May 2020
- As of 9 AM on 12 May, there have been 2,007,146 tests, with 85,293 tests on 11 May. 1,460,517 people have been tested, of which 226,463 tested positive. As of 5 PM on 11 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, 32,692 have died, an increase of 627.
- Business Secretary Alok Sharma started the press conference by going through the new government alert system that will determine the social distancing measures in place in England.
- Sharma added that businesses will need to operate in new ways to stay safe and that the government has published new guidance on this topic.
- Sharma highlighted how the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the UK government’s furlough scheme a further four months until October.
- The Business Secretary stated how until the end of July there will be no changes to the scheme. “Then from August till October, the scheme will continue for all sectors and regions in the UK but with more flexibility to support the transition back to work”.
- Sharma said that more information on the furlough scheme will be confirmed by the end of May and that 80 per cent of wages will continue to be met by a shared effort between employers and the government.
- The government has made available up to an extra £14 million for the health and security executive, equivalent to an increase of up to 10 per cent of their budget.
- Director of NHS England Prof. Stephen Powis stressed the importance of continuing to comply with social distancing rules.
- Powis mentioned that 22% of critical care beds are occupied with COVID-19 patients in the UK, as of the 11th May.
- Powis also highlighted that 11,605 people are in hospital with COVID-19, down from 13,606 this time last week.
11th May 2020
- 1,921,770 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out in the UK, including 100,490 tests carried out yesterday. 223,060 people have tested positive, an increase of 3,877 cases since yesterday. Of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 across all settings, 32,065 have now died, an increase of 210 fatalities since yesterday.
- 11,401 people are currently in hospital with coronavirus, down from 11,768 yesterday.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson began the conference by reiterating how the government is establishing a new COVID Alert Level System. The COVID Alert Level has five levels, each relating to the threat posed by COVID-19.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, said that data shows that in London, around 10 per cent of people tested positive for coronavirus antibodies from tests, showing they have had the virus. Outside of London and across the country, he said that amount was around 4 per cent.
- Johnson added that throughout the lockdown period we have been at Level 4 and thanks to the lockdown measures that have been implemented, we are now in a position to begin moving to Level 3 in steps.
- The PM stated how the government has set out the first of three steps that they will take to carefully modify the measures and gradually ease the lockdown. However, Johnson added that the government will only take each next step once it is satisfied that it is safe to do so.
- Step one – From this week:
- Those who cannot work from home should now speak to their employer about going back to work.
- You can now spend time outdoors and exercise as often as you like.
- You can meet one person outside of your household outside (outdoors), provided you stay 2 metres apart.
- Step two – from June 1:
- Primary schools to reopen for some pupils, in smaller class sizes.
- Non-essential retail to start to reopen.
- Cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors.
- Step three – No earlier than July 4:
- More businesses to open, including potentially those offering personal care such as leisure facilities, public places, and places of worship.
- The Prime Minister emphasised the people should stay alert by:
- Working from home if you can and limiting contact with other people.
- Washing hands regularly.
- Wearing a face covering when you are in enclosed spaces.
10th May 2020
- The Prime Minister began the address by highlighting how it has been two months since the people of the UK began to put up with restrictions on their freedoms.
- Johnson thanked the public and added that “thanks to you we have protected our NHS and saved many thousands of lives”.
- The Prime Minister said that this week is not the time to end the lockdown.
- Johnson stated that he will set out the government’s plans that he is announcing in greater detail in Parliament tomorrow and take questions from the public on Monday evening.
- A new COVID alert system will be put in place in England to track the virus and the system will use a scale from one to five. The COVID alert level will be determined primarily by R as well as by the number of coronavirus cases.
- Level one of the alert level system would mean that COVID-19 is no longer present in the UK. Level Five would indicate the most critical situation – “the kind of situation we could have had if the NHS had been overwhelmed”.
- The Prime Minister stated that throughout the lockdown we have been in Level Four and added that we are now in apposition to move, in steps, to Level Three.
- Prime Minister Johnson announced that instead of lifting the lockdown, the government is taking “the first careful steps to modify our measures:
- First step – A change of emphasis: Anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work. “So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”
- Step two – At the earliest by June 1 – “We believe we may be in a position to begin the phases reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools”. “Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays”.
- Step three – At the earliest by July – By this date, the government hopes to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing measures.
- Prime Minister Johnson stressed that all of the above is conditional and depends on the level to which social distancing is observed and the extent to which the UK keeps the R rate down.
9th May 2020
- Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced a new £2 billion package to put walking and cycling “at the heart of the UK Government’s transport policy”:
- In the first stage, as a part of a £250 million emergency active travel fund, pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England.
- Shapps urged office goers to avail the Cycle to Work scheme; vouchers will also be issued for cycle repairs.
- A national cycling plan will be published in June to help double cycling and increase walking by 2025.
- E-scooter trials will also be brought forward from next year to next month; Originally set to take place in four Future Transport Zones, these trials will now be offered to all local areas across the country.
- Shapps announced additional funding of £10million for car charging points on streets and to accelerate the filling of potholes.
- With public transport reverting to a full service, after accounting for the two-metre social distancing rule, Shapps said that there would still be capacity for only one in 10 passengers in many parts of the network.
- Shapps said that he met with Google, Microsoft and Citymapper to develop data and apps to help the public view crowding across the travel network in real-time.
- On speculation by media that those flying into UK airports would be quarantined for 14 days from June, Shapps said that people travelling from Wuhan, Iran and South Korea were quarantined in January and February. He added that the Prime Minister would say more on it in his address tomorrow.
- England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said that there was “a solid decline” in the number of people in hospitals across regions and that there is “plenty of capacity” for critical care patients.
- In the UK, 215, 260 tested positive for COVID-19 and 31, 587 died, an increase of 346 fatalities since yesterday across all settings.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be addressing the nation at 7 PM tomorrow.
8th May 2020
- As of 9 AM 8th May, there have been 1,631,561 tests in total. In the 24 hours up to 9 AM on 8th May, there were 97,029 tests in the UK. A total of 31,241 people have now died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus, an increase of 626 people since yesterday.
- Over the last week the number of people with COVID-19 in UK hospitals has fallen from 14,346 to 11,788, a decrease of 18%.
- Environment Secretary George Eustice began the government’s daily briefing by highlighting that today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
- Eustice today announced that the government will provide up to £16m to provide food to those who are struggling due to COVID-19. The programme will provide millions of meals over the next three months and will be delivered through charities including FareShare and WRAP.
- NHS England medical director Prof Stephen Powis outlined how people are spending less time in public places. Powis highlighted how trips to shops, workplaces, and public transport are all down by over 30%, with some almost by 80%.
- Eustice highlighted how the PM would set out a “road map” on Sunday about how the country can evolve from current restrictions. However, Eustice added that there will be “no dramatic overnight change” and said that the four nations of the UK are working together to have a broadly similar approach.
- Prof Powis reiterated today that the R rate is somewhere between 0.5 and 0.9 and emphasised the importance of keeping the R rate below one.
7th May 2020
- As of 9 AM on 7th May, there have been 1,534,533 tests in total. In the 24 hours up to 9 AM on 7th May, there were 86,583 tests in the UK. There were an additional 539 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus, meaning that the UK coronavirus death toll has now reached 30,615.
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the death toll in the UK has been “sobering for all of us” and that the R level – the rate of infection – is now between 0.5 and 0.9.
- Raab added that because we “held firm” on restrictions, the UK can start to think about the next phase.
- However, Raab stated that if people abandon the current social distancing rules the virus will grow once again at an “exponential rate” and that this would trigger another lockdown.
- The Prime Minister will set out the roadmap for the next phase on Sunday.
- Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said that 44% of people worked from home in the last week and that 82% of people only left home for the permitted reasons.
- Over the last week the number of people with COVID-19 in UK hospitals has fallen from 15,100 to 12,692, a decrease of 16%.
- On potential upcoming changes to the lockdown measures, Raab said that any changes will be “modest, small, incremental and very carefully monitored”.
6th May 2020
- As of 9 AM 6th May, there have been 1,448,010 tests in total. In the 24 hours up to 9 AM on 6th May, there were 69,463 tests in the UK. There were an additional 649 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus, taking the UK total to 30,076.
- Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out on Sunday the second phase of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
- Prof Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, says the UK is “controlling” the transmission of the COVID-19 epidemic and that the UK death rate is “slowly coming down”.
- Prof Doyle reminded the public to stay at home and not “interact too much” in response to the recent increase in motor vehicle use.
- On assisting the most vulnerable, Jenrick announced that to date a million boxes of food and essentials have now been delivered to those people identified by the NHS as extremely clinically vulnerable to coronavirus.
- Jenrick added that the Government will stand behind local councils and he pointed to the £3.2bn in funding that has been committed to councils so far.
- On business rates, Jenrick said that “businesses are also receiving discounts of almost £10 billion on their rates bills in response to COVID-19”. Together with existing reliefs, Jenrick added that this means 1.1 million ratepayers are no longer paying business rates this year.
- Jenrick reiterated that this week himself and the Chancellor announced a 5% uplift – up to £617 million – available to local councils to fund small businesses that rent space in shared offices, industrial units, or innovation centres, as well as regular market traders.
5th May 2020
- As of 9 AM 5th May, there have been 1,383,842 tests in total. In the 24 hours up to 9 AM on 5th May, there were 84,806 tests in the UK. Today 4,406 new cases were recorded and there were an additional 693 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus taking the UK total to 29,427.
- Over the last week the number of people with COVID-19 in GB hospitals has fallen from 15,408 to 13,208, a decrease of 14%.
- Less than a third of critical care beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. This has been decreasing for most of the UK over the last 2 weeks.
- The Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor, Angela McLean, commented on the issue of comparing the UK’s death toll with other countries and said that making international comparisons in such statistics “can be difficult and this may take some time”.
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the UK has been able to flatten the peak because of public cooperation with the lockdown and added that the test, track, and trace should help the government move to the second phase.
- Raab today said that cybercriminals, aided by hostile states, are seeking to exploit the coronavirus crisis.
- Raab added that cyber-experts in the UK and the US have published a joint statement today warning of the threat.
- On easing the current lockdown, Raab said that “later on this week the PM will update the country” concerning the current lockdown measures.
4th May 2020
- As of 9 AM 4th May, there have been 1,291,591 tests in total across the UK. In the 24 hours up to 9 AM on 4th May, there were 85,186 tests in the UK. There were 3,985 new cases of COVID-19 recorded today. The number of people who have died with confirmed coronavirus across all settings in the UK has risen by 288 to 28,374.
- Over the last week, the number of people with COVID-19 in GB hospitals has fallen from 15,322 to 13,258, a decrease of 13%.
- Professor Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, said that there are “steady but absolutely consistent declines” in hospital admissions in England. Van Tam also mentioned that NHS capacity is in a “good position” and that it is “clear we are past the peak”.
- Van Tam added that less than a third of critical care beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
- Hancock stated that the UK is now in a position to carry out a “test, track and trace” programme to identify and then track those with symptoms. A trial of the scheme will start on the Isle of Wight on Tuesday.
- Hancock said that an NHS app used in the scheme is being trialled on the island and that all Isle of Wight residents will be asked to download it. The elderly population on the island and the projected lower number of smartphone users was a factor in choosing the Isle of Wight for the trial.
- The test track and trace app will help the UK keep the “R number” or rate of infection down.
- Hancock added that the government hopes to roll its contact tracing programme out across the UK by the middle of May.
3rd May 2020
- Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, announced today that there have been a total of 1,206,405 tests carried out across the UK. The latest figures show that there were 76,496 tests carried out up to 9 AM today. Gove added that a total of 28,446 people have now died with coronavirus across the UK, an increase of 315 on Saturday’s figure and that 14,282 are currently being treated in hospital for coronavirus.
- Gove added that, so far, 200,000 key workers have been tested for COVID-19.
- Professor Stephen Powis added that the peak of hospital admissions has now passed, particularly in London.
- Gove stated that the Prime Minister will next week set out a plan on how the UK may be able to gradually ease the current lockdown restrictions. However, before restrictions can be eased Gove added that “we must ensure the government’s five tests are met”.
- Prof Powis spoke of how less than a third of critical care beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients and that this has been decreasing for most of the UK over the last 2 weeks.
- Gove suggested that lockdown restrictions will be eased in a localised manner and that the government this week will be piloting new ‘Test, Track, Trace’ measures on the Isle of Wight.
- On PPE, Gove said that the government is increasing the spread of distribution and supply.
- Gove added that the government will have delivered 1 million food parcels to vulnerable people by next week.
2nd May 2020
- Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said that 105, 937 tests were carried out yesterday.
- England’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, said that in the last week, the number of people in hospital decreased by 13%. She added that London had come back down to the levels of other regions across the UK.
- Jenrick announced that through the Domestic Abuse Bill that finished the second reading in parliament, the government would ensure that victims of domestic abuse will receive ‘priority need status’ to access local housing services. It will be a fully-funded programme so that no victim has to choose between staying in an unsafe place or becoming homeless.
- Jenrick announced a new funding package of over £76million to support the most vulnerable during COVID-19. This funding will go toward charities supporting victims of domestic and sexual abuse, vulnerable children and their families and victims of modern slavery. It will help provide accommodation and safe spaces to the vulnerable, recruitment of counsellors and toward virtual or phone-based services.
- Jenrick said that the count for the shielded group, i.e. those who are clinically vulnerable and have been asked by the government to stay at home without any external contact for 12 weeks, now stands at 1.8million people in England. The government has been providing them with weekly necessities, and the one-millionth such package is expected to be delivered in the next few days. He added that the government is also thinking about the next steps if those in the shielded group are asked to stay at home for a longer period.
- Rough sleeping:
- Jenrick announced that 5, 400 rough sleepers (90% of those known to councils) were given temporary accommodation since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dame Louise Casey, the government's homelessness adviser, has been appointed to lead a specialist task force that has been created to lead the next phase of the government’s support for rough sleepers during the pandemic.
- On being asked about the possibility of catching COVID-19 twice and if a vaccine might change this, Dr Harries said that the UK government’s position is similar to that of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which is that they don’t have enough information yet to be clear on the immune status. She added that though one would normally show signs of immunity for about 10-12 days after an infection and then a consistent pattern for about 28 days, there could be a delay in some individuals. She cautioned that the medical experts would need to study this carefully and that the testing policy coupled with the development of new antibody tests would help them do so.
- On being asked if the government is prepared to do more to help the aviation sector through the pandemic, Jenrick said that this industry was "an extremely important one strategically" and one that employs "a great deal of people". He added that "If there's more we can do, we will do so."
- On being asked about the sources through which people are now catching the coronavirus, Dr Harries said that there is a focus on hospitals and care homes. She added that with increased testing, there will be better understanding of the prevalence of the virus and also the opportunity to interrupt its transmission.
- Last week, the medical experts mentioned in the daily that the public are more likely to catch COVID-19 in an indoor setting such as a pub than at a mass gathering. On being asked if mass gatherings will resume before pubs can reopen, Jenrick confirmed that it is more likely for someone to catch the disease indoors than outdoors and that "will be a factor” that the government will take into consideration as it plans for the next phase. Dr Harries explained that "it depends how you go to your outdoor environment and what you do. If you go out with friends that you haven't seen since before the lockdown, sit in a pub, stay there for hours face-to-face then that's not a good thing to do". She further advised, "Don't go to the pub on the way."
- On being asked about the UK government’s reaction to claims that China held back full information about this pandemic, Jenrick said that though this is not the time, at a later date, the government would want to analyse the origins of the virus in detail and consider the actions of other countries.
- In the UK, 182, 260 tested positive for COVID-19, and 28, 131 died, an increase of 621 fatalities since yesterday across all settings.
1st May 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that 122, 347 tests were conducted yesterday, thus, achieving the government’s target of 100,000 a day by the end of April.
- Hancock announced that as the UK is past the COVID-19 peak, fertility services at the NHS will be restored.
- Hancock said the government’s next goal would be to scale up ‘track and trace’ system to get the R down and hold it at a lower level. Prof Newton, the national testing coordinator, said that the decision to enter lockdown was not based on the availability of testing, but it would help us come out of it.
- On being asked if going forward, the Nightingale hospitals would be used to reduce the NHS waiting list, Hancock said that they were designed specifically for COVID-19 patients. Prof. Stephen Powis, NHS England’s National Director, said that these hospitals were created to provide extra capacity for patients that needed ventilators. He added that they are designed for a specific purpose, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to use it for others.
- On being asked about the further development and extension of the testing network, Hancock said that soon the government would receive results showing how many people have COVID-19 across the country. A new lab will be going live next week in Cambridge. Prof. John Newton, the national testing coordinator, said that the work of the new labs must integrate with the existing mechanisms for maximum benefit to the new capacity.
- On being asked about the weight that the experts would put on a South Korean study that suggests that you cannot contract coronavirus a second time, Prof Newton said that while it is “surely promising” and encouraging, the “science on immunity is still emerging” and that one wouldn’t make a decision based on a single study. He added that these results would also need to be replicated elsewhere.
- On being asked about a report that stated that one is twice as likely to die from COVID-19 if they live in a deprived part of the country, Hancock said that this is something that the government is worried by and is looking at it.
- On being asked about the long-term measures by the government on COVID-19 impact of the mental health of nurses, Hancock said that the government has put additional measures in place and that they have been in place for some time now.
- On being asked if BAME NHS staff have been put at higher risk, Prof. Powis said that they are aware that the virus has been impacting this community disproportionately and Public Health England are working to understand the reasons. Prof. Newton stated that data isn’t needed to provide support and the local healthcare leaders have been told to do the needed to protect BAME staff.
- On being asked if there is any merit in eventually easing restrictions at a different pace as COVID-19’s impact in Northern Ireland has been lower the rest of the UK, Hancock acknowledged that though the virus has affected regions differently, the fall has been the same throughout the country. He emphasised that moving together was the “right approach”.
- On being asked if late summer is a realistic timeline for people to meet friends and family or make holiday plans, Hancock said that though it is tempting to speculate, it is too early to say anything. He reiterated that the five tests laid out by the government were to give people a sense of when the government can make those next decisions. He added that the government would only lift lockdown measures when it is safe to do so.
- In the UK, 177, 454 tested positive for COVID-19, and 27, 510 died, an increase of 739 fatalities since yesterday across all settings (hospitals, care homes and the community).
30th April 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who held the daily briefing after five weeks, said that the UK is now “past the peak” of COVID-19.
- Johnson said that the government publish a comprehensive plan next week on lockdown measures. This plan will cover three aspects: how can we restart and get the economy moving; how can we get back children back to school; and how we can get people to travel and get to work.
- A video explaining the five tests and the reproduction number (R), mentioned that in March, at its peak, the R was around 3. Since the lockdown and social distancing measures, it is now below 1 (between 0.6 and 0.9) across the country. The number of new cases has also gone down.
- On being asked about the level at which R has to be before easing lockdown measures, the government’s chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty said that there is no “obvious answer”, but it must be below 1. If it is above 1 then the disease will grow significantly.
- On being on the lesson learned as the UK may have the worst death toll in Europe, Johnson said that collation of data internationally is “bedevilled with difficulties” and the only real comparison will be possible at the end of the pandemic. He added that broadly speaking, the UK did the “right thing at the right time.
- On being asked about a risk of a new era of austerity measures due to national debt rising daily, Johnson said that he thinks that the economy will bounce back strongly and the government will support that in a number of ways. He said that he never liked the term “austerity” and it won’t be a part of his government’s approach.
- On being asked if we can expect clarity on face masks next week, Johnson said that as a part of coming out of the lockdown, face coverings would be “useful”, both for epidemiological reasons and also to “give people confidence” to go back to work.
- On being asked if Remdesivir will be useful to cure COVID-19, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser said that there had been two studies – in China and the US – and though the results are promising as it seems to have an effect, it is not a “magic bullet”. Prof Whitty added that the drug being a prospective cure is an oral report and he recommended waiting for the final version to be peer-reviewed. However, he mentioned that treatments are developed in stages, and this is a “promising first step”.
- In the UK, 171, 253 tested positive for COVID-19, and 26, 711 died, an increase of 674 fatalities since yesterday across all settings (hospitals, care homes and the community).
29th April 2020
- Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab said that since the outbreak in Wuhan, 1.3 million British nationals were repatriated:
- Through commercial flights: more than 200,000 from Spain, 50, 000 from Australia and 11, 000 from Pakistan
- Over 20, 000 were repatriated on 21 chartered flights: 9, 000 from India, 2, 000 from South Africa and 1, 200 from Peru.
- All of the 19, 000 British nationals on cruises were repatriated.
- Raab said that the lockdown would not be eased until ministers know a “second peak” can be avoided. He added that this is a "real risk", which could result in “many more deaths” and further "economic pain" with a second lockdown. He urged patience as the government is working on plans for a "second phase". He said ministers would wait for scientific advice in early May before making a decision. Raab referred to Germany’s bounce in infection rates and said that it shows why the UK must “proceed carefully”, and the “UK must not gamble away the sacrifices we have made”.
- On testing, Raab said that 52,429 tests took place yesterday.
- Raab announced that the government had committed £330 million for the next five years to Gavi, an international vaccine alliance.
- Prof Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said that there had been an “uptick” in the use of motor vehicles – the highest on a working day since 23 March. She described this trend as "worrying".
- On being asked about on how many out of the five tests had we passed, Raab said that there are some “encouraging signs”, but he is going to wait until he gets advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on this in early May.
- On being asked about if one is less likely to catch coronavirus outside, Prof Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England said that there is a "definite truism" that ventilation is a most critical part of reducing transmission from respiratory viruses. He added that being outside is a "less problematic environment" for catching viruses. On being further probed whether garden centres, group runs and beer gardens might then be reopened first, he said that these are "complex" settings and might at points lead to a "congregation" of people, adding the government will need to be "extremely surefooted" before making any moves to ease the lockdown.
- On being asked had been more testing earlier, could some of these deaths have been avoided, Raab said there are always things to learn in a situation like this, but the government has acted on the basis of the best medical advice. Prof Doyle said that there have always been interventions where there have been outbreaks in care homes. She added that as COVID-19 predominantly affects the over-75-year-olds, some older people might have died before they could even be tested. She said that they are now looking at how the virus moves in a home and genomics are providing useful insights. She added though that it impossible to tell if testing would have made a significant difference.
- On being asked if the government will consider pausing the NRPF (no recourse to public funds) status for those migrants to whom it applies during the crisis, Raab said this matter is being kept "under constant review" by the Home Office and the Home Secretary.
- On being asked about how social distancing work in a school setting and if home education will have to continue into next year, Prof Jonathan Van Tam said that closing schools was the right thing to do. He added that there are multiple combinations about what one could do next, but as the science is yet to be settled on these, he refused to comment further. He added that it would be tough for groups of young people in schools to stay two metres apart.
- Earlier today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, announced the birth of a son.
- In the UK, 165, 221 tested positive for COVID-19 and 26, 097 died, an increase of 3, 811 deaths more than yesterday’s figures as care homes and community numbers were also included. These deaths occurred between 2 March and 28 April 2020.
28th April 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said there are 3260 spare critical care beds at NHS hospitals.
- Hancock announced that the government would not be changing the social distancing rules until the five tests had been met.
- On testing:
- 43,453 tests were conducted yesterday
- Hancock mentioned that the daily testing capacity currently stands at 73, 400
- The government is “on track” to meet its target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month.
- Currently, there are 41 drive-through centres, and 48 more will be going live this week
- 25,000 home kits are expected to be despatched by the end of this week
- 17 mobile testing units are being operated the army, end of the week over 70 to be deployed
- In England, testing is now available to asymptomatic patients and staff of the NHS, and residents and staff of care homes
- Testing is now also available to those over 65 and anyone who needs to leave home to go to work, as well as members of their family.
- On Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Hancock said that currently, there are sufficient PPE supplies for those on the frontline and the government is “moving heaven and Earth” to procure more PPE.
- On facemasks, Hancock says that the UK government is guided by the science and its position has not changed.
- On being asked if British ventilators production is being scaled back, Hancock said NHS had not been overwhelmed as expected by people and that the UK continues to produce ventilators. He thanked those who participated in the ventilator challenge.
- Hancock announced that the NHS contact tracing app would be ready to download by mid-May.
- In the UK, 161, 145 tested positive for COVID-19 and 21, 678 died, an increase of 586 fatalities since yesterday. From tomorrow, the government will publish daily figures for care home and community deaths, in addition to deaths in hospitals. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) data, there were 4343 notified deaths in care homes since Easter and 1/6th of the total were COVID-19 related.
27th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- In Parliament this afternoon, Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a new Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses. Through this scheme, small businesses can borrow from £2,000 up to a maximum of £50,000 or 25% of their turnover. These loans will have a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders. They will be interest-free for the first 12 months with no repayments due during this period. You can read more here.
- On being asked about increasing the threshold for the £25,000 retail, hospitality and leisure grant from a rateable value of £51,000 to £150,000, Hancock said that though he is “tempted” to agree, he would raise it with the Chancellor.
- On being asked about the suspension of beer duty for the six months, Hancock said that he would raise that too with the Chancellor.
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced a life assurance scheme for frontline NHS and social care staff. The family of the staff member who dies due to COVOD-19 will receive a payment of £60,000. Foreign workers and those who returned to the NHS from retirement will also be able to avail this scheme.
- As a part of the daily briefing, from today onward, a member of the public will be able to ask a question to the government. The question will be selected by a polling organisation.
- Hancock announced that as the admissions for COVID-19 begin to fall around the country, from tomorrow, the NHS will start restoring other services such as cancer care and mental health support that have been on hold.
- On testing, Hancock said the UK is "on track" to hit its target of 100,000 tests by the end of the month. In the last 24 hours, more than 37,024 tests were carried out. He added that there is a huge demand for home testing kits ordered online (more than 5000 have been despatched).
- On being asked if people arriving into the UK from abroad could be quarantined for 14 days, Hancock said given the levels of COVID-19 in the UK and the low level of international travel, the impact of people arriving is very low. But as the number of cases begins to fall, the government will have “more to say” on potential border controls.
- On antibody testing, the government’s chief medical adviser, Prof. Chris Whitty, said that he does not expect a breakthrough in the coming months, but it will be a series of “small, incremental steps”.
- On being asked about a condition affecting a small number of children with a coronavirus-type, Hancock said that he is “very worried”. The medical director for NHS England, Stephen Powis, said that only a small number of cases have appeared. But the NHS and Public Health England are looking into this urgently. He added that it is too early to say whether there is a link to the coronavirus. But he said that this sort of a disease is very rare. If parents are worried about their children, they should ring 111, or 999. Prof. Whitty noted that this is a “very rare situation”. However, he added that it is “entirely plausible” that there is a link with coronavirus.
- In the UK, 157, 149 tested positive for COVID-19 and 21, 092 died, an increase of 360 fatalities since yesterday.
26th April 2020
- Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said that food availability is now back to “normal levels”. He asked shoppers to respect the social distancing measures at supermarkets. He added that 500,000 food parcels were delivered to the shielded group (those who cannot leave their homes); supermarkets carried out 300,00 priority deliveries to this group.
- Eustice repeated that it is too early to talk about easing the lockdown measures, stressing that the government would need to see progress on its five tests before making any changes.
- On being asked on the date for schools to open, Eustice did not commit on the timeline and said that social distancing would need to take place when schools open. NHS England's national medical director, Prof Stephen Powis, said the R (reproduction number) would need to be below one before schools could be open.
- On being asked about the timeline for a lockdown exit strategy, Eustice said the lockdown measures would be reviewed in two weeks and emphasised that it is crucial that we do not risk a second peak. He added that we would be hearing from the Prime Minister over the next week. Powis said that the information needed to lift the lockdown was not available. He mentioned that though research is being conducted, the duration of the immunity to the virus is unknown.
- On food shortages, Eustice said there isn’t a serious interruption to international food supplies. He acknowledged the problem with stacking shelves but added that there had been a “dramatic improvement” in supermarket supplies. He also mentioned that the British season of soft fruit is about to commence and only a third of the usual workforce is available for picking it. He encouraged furloughed staff to help with picking this fruit.
- On testing, Eustice said that the capacity has risen to 50,000 tests a day. He added that "significant numbers" of people in care homes are obtaining tests.
- On being asked the way the government would enforce quarantine measures for those going on holiday, Eustice said that international travel could become more of a significant risk that needs to be managed, but no decisions have been taken on this yet.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to return to work tomorrow.
- In the UK, 152, 840 tested positive for COVID-19 and 20, 732 died, an increase of 413 fatalities since yesterday.
25th April 2020
- As of 9 am today, 640,792 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out in the UK, including 28,760 tests yesterday. 148,377 people have tested positive an increase of 4,913 cases since yesterday. 16,411 people are currently in hospital and 20,319 people in total have died from COVID-19 in the UK, an increase of 813 since yesterday.
- Priti Patel highlighted that the government's ‘You Are Not Alone’ campaign to signpost the help available to victims of domestic abuse has received 98 million online impressions.
- Reported losses for Coronavirus fraud now stands at £2.4 million.
- Patel reiterated that five tests must be met before lifting the current restrictions: 1. We must be sure that we can continue to protect the NHS. 2. There must be a sustained and consistent fall in the daily rates of death. 3. The data must show the rate of infection decreasing. 4. Operational challenges must be met. 5. There must be no risk of a second peak of infections.
- Professor Stephen Powis said the NHS has not been overwhelmed and has the capacity to cope.
- Powis reminded viewers that the NHS is still available for the treatment of conditions that are not related to coronavirus, including sick children, pregnant women, and those who fear they may be suffering from heart conditions.
- Regarding care homes, Professor Powis stated that they have tried to avoid predicting when a peak will occur. Powis added that Public Health England is assisting when outbreaks occur and that the government is increasing testing.
- Lynne Owens, Director General of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said more than 2,000 scams in relation to coronavirus have been taken down online, including fake shops, phishing scams, and the selling of bogus PPE.
- Lynne Owens added that thinkyouknow.co.uk has materials and details to help protect children online during this time.
24th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The latest round of Brexit negotiations concluded today. On being asked if the transition period for Brexit would be extended, Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said the negotiation talks made “very good progress in some areas such as energy, transport and nuclear” and the government will not entertain an extension to the transition period. He added that “the best way of providing certainty to businesses is for them to know we won't keep changing.”
- Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced a new transport package:
- To safeguard the flow of essential goods and medicines into the country and to keep the freight routes open, the UK has secured a tri-lateral agreement with France and Ireland. This agreement ensures that 26 different freight routes and support is available for ferries.
- Ferry routes between Britain and Northern Ireland will be protected with funding from the government of up to £17million
- To ensure critical freight can continue to reach the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly, £10.5million will be granted to the connecting links
- Air links to Belfast, Derry and Londonderry will continue
- Shapps has approved to fast-track the launch of a new trial to use drones to deliver medical supplies, beginning next week on the Isle of Wight.
- Shapps said that the government has made funding (exact amount not specified) available to keep England’s trams running. This will help light rail networks in Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, the West Midlands, and Tyne and Wear to continue operating.
- He also announced the launch of a transport support unit launched. This unit will use spare capacity (generated due to fewer transport users) for logistical tasks.
- Shapps said that there are no more British holidaymakers stranded on cruise ships around the world.
- Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said that the curve is flattening, which indicates a reduction in transmissions. She added, however, that cases will increase with a rise in testing.
- On the first day of the scheme for free testing for essential workers and their families, 16,000 tests were booked.
- On being asked about the lack of screening for COVID-19 for passengers entering the country via airports, Shapps said that air travel is “down massively” and the requirements for incoming passengers are to stay in one place and not leave for any reason. Dr Harries added that “screening” can be reassuring and helpful to the public. She added that early in the pandemic, the UK quarantined people coming back from high-risk areas. She further stated that as the disease becomes more prevalent, it is a less effective mechanism.
- On being asked if they had a message for President Donald Trump on his comment about injecting disinfectants to cure COVID-19, Dr Harries said she didn’t have a specific message to him but to anybody who suggested they should be injecting anything into their bodies. From a medical profession perspective, “nobody should be injecting anything, and we should be using evidence-based and properly trialled treatment treatments that we know will be safe”.
- In the UK, 143,464 tested positive for COVID-19 and 19, 506 died, an increase of 684 fatalities since yesterday.
23rd April 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that the UK government would be using ‘test, track and trace’ programme to decide on easing lockdown measures.
- On testing:
- Hancock announced that from tomorrow, all essential workers and their households would be able to book tests on gov.uk. The employers of essential works will also be able to book it for those without access to gov.uk. The results of the test will be sent out by text.
- As of today, testing capacity has increased from 40,000 to over 51,000. Prof John Newton, the government’s national testing efforts coordinator, mentioned that the government is “currently on track” to reach the 100,000 tests per day figure by the end of the month. He added that 31 new drive-through test centres had been opened so far, with a further 48 planned.
- Hancock also said that home test kits are also being introduced.
- On tracking:
- Hancock mentioned that the government would be using the NHS contact tracing app along with manual tracing
- He added that 18,000 people, including 3,000 clinicians, are being hired to work on contact tracing. They will be trained over the coming weeks.
- On being asked if the test, track and trace system has to be up and running before the lockdown can be eased and if that could happen before 7 May, Hancock said that "there is no automatic link" between the scale of the test, track and trace programme and any changes to the social distancing measures. He adds that the test, track and trace programme can help to suppress the number of infections which then allows the government to have lesser social distancing rules.
- Hancock announced that a virus infection and antibody study would soon be launched. It is a joint project with the Office for National Statistics and the University of Oxford. For this study, 25,000 people will be invited via letters to take part with plans to expand to 300,000 and asked to provide regular samples.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, confirmed that the UK is “still at that period coming through the peak", but the country is "heading very much in the right direction".
- On being asked why the UK government has not produced an exit strategy like the Scottish government, Hancock says the UK has set out the five tests needed to be fulfilled before any restrictions can be lifted. He added that the country has “essentially moved together”.
- Hancock thanked Muslims for staying at home over Ramadan, which begins today.
- In the UK, 138,078 tested positive for COVID-19 and 18, 738 died, an increase of 616 fatalities since yesterday.
22nd April 2020
- Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, paid tribute to the contribution of the armed forces in managing COVID-19 related efforts of the government. He cites an example of the seven Nightingale hospitals that were built with the help of the army.
- On PPE, Raab said that though there have been challenges, he has been on the phone every day pursuing PPE deliveries from abroad.
- On repatriation of Britons stranded abroad, Raab said that over 13,000 people had been brought home on charter flights and the government continues to get more back.
- General Sir Nick Carter, the chief of the defence staff, gave an update on the work done by the armed forces to help the government’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
- Logistical challenges: He said in his 40 years of service, the COVID-19 mitigation efforts are the single biggest logistical challenge the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has faced.
- Testing: The armed forces have been involved in designing the tests, operating the test centres and providing innovative initiatives, such as mobile testing.
- Repatriation: The armed forces have worked closely with local missions to repatriate Britons stranded abroad.
- Tackling disinformation: The 77 Brigade (the cyber warfare component) has been involved in tackling disinformation
- General Carter added that the armed forces continue to defend the UK and are still involved in operations abroad.
- On being asked if foreign workers will have to pay a surcharge to use the NHS, Raab mentioned that the Home Secretary has already outlined these measures to ensure that the interests of these workers are protected.
- Prof. Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical advisor, said that the UK is yet to have an antibody test that is as good as the medical advisers want.
- On being asked if the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) Sage have looked again at masks, Raab said that SAGE is always looking at evolving evidence but is yet to come back with new advice on this issue.
- On being asked about the timeline for a vaccine, Prof Whitty said that he is “very hopeful” that they will get vaccines with “proof of concept” well within a year. He added that, however, there is a long way to go between having a vaccine, or a drug, and widespread immunity and therefore, social distancing measures are vital. Until a vaccine is available, he stated that the government would have to rely on social distancing measures.
- On being asked if the government will depend on the new NHS app for contact tracing or if it plans to use other techniques too, Raab mentioned that two things would help the government as it moves to the next phase: getting the infection level down and testing with contact tracing. Whitty said that they would be doing more population testing, to find out at the earliest if the R (reproduction number) is heading above 1 in any part of the country.
- On being asked if reports related to an increase in railway services for mid-May indicate the end of the lockdown measures, Raab said that these reports are “not something I recognise”.
- In the UK, 133, 495 tested positive for COVID-19 and 18, 100 died, an increase of 759 fatalities since yesterday.
21st April 2020
- The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said PPE delivery is now happening on an “unprecedented scale” and highlighted how the government has delivered more than a billion items.
- Hancock added that the government has had 8,331 offers to make PPE and that they are investigating all of these, but “the reality is not everyone who approaches us can deliver on their offers in scale”. The government is working with 159 UK manufacturers.
- Hancock has promised £42.5m to fund two research groups, one being at Imperial College London and the other situated at Oxford University. The Oxford University team is to begin testing its vaccine in human volunteers this week.
- Hancock stated how the government is investing in manufacturing capability so, if the vaccine works, it can be produced at scale.
- Dr Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, says there are clearly day-to-day variations in the number of new recorded cases. He added that the numbers “remain high” and that there has not been an “enormous downturn” in the rate.
- On testing, Hancock said that it is “terrific” that total testing capacity has risen to over 39,000 which he says is ahead of target.
- Hancock aid that there are nearly 3,000 intensive care beds available. This is compared to at the start of March when there were just 900 available.
- As of 9am on 21 April, 535,342 tests have concluded, with 18,206 tests carried out on April 20. 397,670 people have been tested of which 129,044 tested positive. A total of 17,337 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, an increase of 828 from the same point yesterday.
20th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a new £1.25billion package launching in May 2020 that includes:
- A new £500million loan scheme, the Future Fund, for high-growth firms
- £750million of support for small-and-medium-sized businesses focused on R&D
- On being asked if the government taking equity in start-ups was a new approach and something that it will want to maintain long-term, Sunak said this is an unprecedented approach as in the past the government has not needed to do something like this. He added the government would keep this policy under review.
- You can read more here about the package.
- The HMRC opened the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme this morning; As of 4 PM this evening, 140,000 firms had applied to avail it, and the grants will benefit one million people. The firms that have applied today will receive their cash in six working days.
- In response to a question about the business loan scheme, Sunak says he is not persuaded by arguments saying he should provide a 100% loan guarantee, instead of an 80% loan guarantee.
- On being asked about self-employed not getting help, Sunak responded that the UK’s scheme to the self-employed is more generous than comparable schemes in other countries
- On being asked if universal credit can be more generous, Sunak said that people could get advance payments from day one.
- On being asked to promise that councils will get a fair funding settlement, Sunak commended the work done by local councils and said that he wants to support local government.
- On Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
- Sunak said that procuring PPE is an “international challenge”.
- He added that “a billion pieces of PPE” have been delivered in the UK but the government is still improving its sourcing of it domestically and internationally. He said, “People on the front line can rest assured that we are doing everything we can.”
- The UK received a shipment of 140,000 gowns from Myanmar, and the government is working to resolve the delivery from Turkey.
- The government has appointed Paul Deighton, former Chief Executive of London 2012 Olympics, to lead on the UK’s domestic efforts to increase PPE supply
- In the UK, 124, 743 tested positive for COVID-19 and 16, 509 died, an increase of 449 fatalities since yesterday.
19th April 2020
- Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said that before reopening schools, the government needs to meet the five tests guiding it on lockdown measures. He said, “I can’t give you a date” when schools will reopen fully and added there are “currently no plans to have schools open over the summer period”. This response comes on the back of media reports from earlier today that suggested that schools could reopen in three weeks.
- He praised those making resources available to teach at home, including the BBC and the Oak National Academy – a collaboration between leading state schools to provide online resources and video lessons available for teachers in the country.
- He confirmed that the government had given further funding of £1.6m to Childline and the NSPCC to help children and adults who are seeking help.
- Williamson said that the government is ordering laptops to help children sitting key exams; free laptops and tablets will also be provided to vulnerable young people across England as well as devices for those who need to keep in touch with social workers and caregivers.
- He added that the government would provide free 4G routers to schools without an internet connection and for disadvantaged secondary school pupils and care leavers who are preparing for exams.
- Williamson confirmed that the government is "working with major telecommunications providers to exempt certain educational resources from data charges, so this does not add to household expenses."
- On being asked about media reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed five COBR meetings on COVID-19 in March, Williamson said that “Many COBR meetings take place where it is actually led by a departmental minister.” He added that this was a “whole government effort” to protect the NHS and the Prime Minister had been leading from the front.
- Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries, said that since February 2020, there has been a 60% drop across all transport types, and rail and tube travel was down by 95%. She added that there was a "little blip" over Easter, but we now resumed “normal pandemic status.”
- On Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
- On reports that stocks of PPE were run down ahead of the outbreak of COVID-19, Williamson responded the government has working hard “from the first moment”. Dr Jenny Harries said there needs to be “an adult conversation” about PPE. She said that the “UK has been an intentional exemplar in preparedness,” and that there has been a “huge demand on our supply”. She added that “Rather than lumping all of the PPE together, we just need to think carefully through what has been achieved and the challenges.”
- Williamson added that the government “recognises the enormous strain being placed on the system”. He said the RAF is on standby to deliver 400,000 PPE gowns from Turkey that has been delayed and he hopes that it will come through tomorrow.
- On being asked about claims that front line NHS workers are being asked to reuse single-use PPE items, Dr Harries said that the guidance on it is “detailed” and “complex”, and that some items are suitable for being used more than once.
- For the care sector, Dr Harries confirmed that that two further "drops" of PPE equipment are planned for the next week.
- Dr Harries declined to comment on whether the UK had “passed the peak” of coronavirus. She identified that the drop in the number of deaths recorded today was “positive” but cautioned against reading too much into the figures, which are often retrospectively revised. She said that “I do think it is fair to say that we do know from the hospital data that we are starting to plateau across.” She cautioned, however, that though things seem to be heading in the right direction, “If we don’t keep doing the social distancing, we will create a second peak, and we definitely won’t be past it, so this is no reason to consider that we have managed this.
- In the UK, 120, 067 tested positive for COVID-19 and 16, 060 died, an increase of 596 fatalities since yesterday.
- Earlier in the day, Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, said that it is too early to lift restrictions on movement.
18th April 2020
- In the UK, 460,437 tests have now been carried out, with 114,217 people having tested positive. 15,464 have now died from COVID-19 an increase of 888 since yesterday.
- Prof Stephen Powis stated that the number of new infections is “stabilising” and that we are beginning to see a reduction in the numbers of people hospitalised with COVID-19.
- Powis also announced that the number of deaths will be the last figure to change, but emphasised that it will change if social distancing continues.
- Robert Jenrick declared that a consignment of PPE will arrive from Turkey tomorrow, containing 400,000 gowns.
- As of today, Jenrick said that there are 10,606 ventilators within the NHS, of which 190 came from new suppliers in the UK.
- Regarding the Prime Minister’s health, Jenrick stated that the PM continues to recuperate in chequers and that he has had some contact with ministers, but mainly contacts his office at Downing Street.
- A further £1.6bn of additional funding for Councils across England to help them respond to the pandemic was announced.
- Government is deferring £2.6bn in business rates payments to central government and paying them £850m in social care grants up front this month.
- 250,000 packages of essential items have been delivered “to the most clinically vulnerable people” in the past three weeks, with 300,000 more boxes expected to be delivered to those who are shielding this week.
- Jenrick paid tribute to Captain Tom Moore who raised £23m for the NHS and announced that he will be a guest of honour at the opening of the NHS Nightingale in Harrogate next week.
17th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The government announced an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until 30 June 2020. More here.
- Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, announced a Vaccines Task Force that will be led by him and the Health Secretary and will comprise of officials from the government, industry and the academia. This task force will help accelerate the development and manufacturing of vaccines in the UK to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
- Sharma also announced that 21 new coronavirus research projects would benefit from government funding worth around £14m. This figure will add to the existing pledge of £250m from the government to develop a vaccine for coronavirus.
- Sharma said that producing a vaccine will take any months with no guarantee of success. But he is confident that the UK will step up to the challenge.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, the government Chief Scientific Adviser, said that the number of new cases reported in hospitals has “become flat” over the last few days. He added that we would expect this to start decreasing in the coming days.
- On being asked about the reason for the government continuing the HS2, Sharma responded that it is important to “support the construction sector” and that the government should “keep the economy going where it can.”
- In the UK, 108, 692 tested positive for COVID-19 and 14, 576 died.
16th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, announced that lockdown measures will continue to stay in place “for at least the next three weeks”. He listed five principles that will guide the government’s decision on relaxing lockdown measures:
- Protecting the capability of the NHS to cope
- Evidence showing a sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates
- Reliable data from SAGE showing the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels
- Being confident in the range of operational challenges, such as sufficient testing and PPE are in hand
- Being confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not result in a second peak, resulting in pressure on the NHS
- Raab added that if the lockdown measures were lifted too early, it would be damaging for public health and the economy. He said that there might have to be a “transition” out of the lockdown.
- Earlier today, a Downing Street official said the UK would refuse any EU request for an extension to the Brexit transition period. More here.
- Sir Patrick Valance said that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) considered the evidence and concluded that the reproduction number (R) was below 1 in the community (though it may be above 1 in some settings such as care homes). This means that, for every one person with the virus, there is less than one new person who is being infected. He added that, however, even small changes could lead to the R to rise above 1, leading to the growth of the spread of the coronavirus and risking a second peak.
- On being asked about the risk of contracting the coronavirus being higher for those from the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) background, England’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty said that three risk factors are “very clear”: age, people with diseases such as cardiovascular, and being male. He added that, however, being a member of an ethnic minority group is less clear as a risk factor. He confirmed that Public Health England is looking into it.
- In the UK, 103, 093 tested positive for COVID-19 and 13, 729 died.
15th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The UK and EU negotiation team announced three weeks of negotiating rounds between April and June 2020
- The UK government again insisted that the Brexit transition period will not be extended beyond 31st December 2020
- Following a backlash, the government is injecting a further £1.6 billion into the social care sector. Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said that though the government first issued guidance to care homes in February, today, it has updated that guidance, and set out a new plan for social care:
- All residents released from a hospital will be tested before returning to their care home
- All social care colleagues and members of their households will be eligible for tests; as of now, 4,100 social care staff have been “referred for tests”
- Further, “priority drops” of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the social care will continue over the next three weeks while a new online system is developed
- The government will fund a social care recruitment campaign including paying for initial training
- The UK will introduce a "single brand" for social care, to replicate the "famous" blue and white logo for the NHS
- Supermarkets will be asked to give care staff the same priority as NHS workers
- Under new guidelines, wherever possible, “closest loved ones” of people dying of COVID-19 will have a chance to “say goodbye”
- Hancock said that the NHS has increased its spare beds capacity and it now stands at 2,657
- England’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof. Chris Whitty, noted that the death toll is probably reaching its peak, but the figures will rise tomorrow as the numbers from the Easter-weekend are factored.
- Hancock added that the lockdown would not be lifted "until safe to do so"; the COBR will be meeting tomorrow to decide on the extension of the lockdown
- Yesterday, the hospital admissions dropped by 5% in London and by 1% in the rest of the country
- In the UK, 98, 476 tested positive for COVID-19 and 12, 868 died.
14th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), an independent UK tax watchdog, released a COVID-19 scenario that illustrates the impact on the UK economy and public finances of a 3-month shutdown and the UK Government’s possible policy responses to it. Read more here.
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the OBR report states that the policies followed by the government will allow the economy to “bounce back”. He emphasised that protecting public health is the government's priority, as the economic recovery cannot happen without a healthy population, but warned that the government would have to "take stock of public finance and take steps to right the ship" following the crisis.
- Sunak stated that post-COVID-19, the government remains committed to its levelling up agenda, and investments in infrastructure will only become more important.
- Sunak adds that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to open on 20 April and those availing it should be able to get money from it before the end of this month.
- On being asked about a proposal from former Chancellor George Osborne for the Treasury to offer 100% loan guarantees in some circumstances, Sunak said that he will consider making some of the coronavirus business loans not just 80% but 100% guaranteed by the government.
- On Brexit, as mentioned last week, Sunak reiterated that the government remains committed to the scheduled timeline to get a trade deal with the EU. He added that David Frost and EU’s Michel Barnier have spoken this week about the process of continuing the talks.
- On being asked about the media reports on companies being told to not supply PPE to Scotland, Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director of Public Health England, said that the chief medical officers of the UK’s four nations work closely to make sure that each country gets what it needs. She added that Public Health England has not directed any of the nations to be at a disadvantage.
- There is increasing evidence that hospital admissions are stabilising across the UK, though deaths will, unfortunately, continue to rise.
- On being asked about the inclusion of care home deaths in the daily figures, Dr Doyle said that government is working with the ONS to expedite the reporting of these deaths.
- In the UK, 93, 873 tested positive for COVID-19 and 12, 107 died.
13th April 2020
- The UK's COVID-19 death toll has risen by 717 to 11,329, down from a high of 938 on Thursday (though today's figure will have been artificially minimised by the bank holiday weekend).
- The Chief Scientific Officer warned that the daily death toll will increase further this week before beginning to plateau in the next week or so, however new hospitalisations appear to be stabilising.
- The UK's lockdown is expected to be extended this week in accordance with the government's obligation to review the measures at the three week mark.
- The economy remains a top priority for the government:
- The Chancellor announced £14 billion will be spent on public services in order to tackle Coronavirus, up from the £5 billion originally set aside for the crisis response.
- However, only 4,200 firms out of 300,000 applicants have received business loan bailouts, suggesting something has gone wrong with the government's scheme.
- Health chiefs are concerned that a non-COVID health crisis may be brewing, after attendance to Accident and Emergency fell by over 30% on previous years.
- The Prime Minister has been discharged from hospital and will continue his recovery at Chequers, in the English countryside. Dominic Raab will continue to deputise for him in the PM's absence.
12th April 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that currently, across Great Britain, there are 2, 295 spare critical care beds and 9775 ventilators available
- Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, said that the number of people in hospital beds in London is stabilising but it is rising in the North West, Yorkshire and North East. She added that the use of all transport has “reduced greatly, particularly rail and Tube”.
- 5000 former NHS staff have come back to join the frontline and 36,000 have enlisted to return
- Hancock announced a new NHS app to trace those who potentially have contracted coronavirus.
- 42, 812 NHS staff and families have been tested for COVID-19
- On being asked about regular testing in care homes, Hancock said that “it is coming”.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
- Over the past week, 121,000 PPE gowns have been delivered across the country
- The average time for dealing with queries gone down from six days in March to 2.5 days over the past week
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital and will continue his recovery at Chequers.
- In the UK, 84, 279 tested positive for COVID-19 and 10, 612 died.
11th April 2020
- In the UK, as of 9 am today, 78,991 people have tested positive for COVID-19, excluding Northern Ireland. 9,875 people have now died across the country, an increase of 917 on yesterday’s figures.
- The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said that Fraudsters have caused losses of £1.8m to victims and children are being exploited online.
- Last week, the national domestic abuse helpline had reported a 120% increase in the number of calls it received in one 24-hour period.
- In response, Patel has launched a national communications campaign to reach out to those at risk of abuse and has announced £2m to enhance online support services and helplines for domestic abuse. This will be launched under the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone
- Patel said during the conference that it would be wrong to speculate about when government restrictions will be lifted and Patel did not give any specific timings in regard to the Prime Minister returning to work.
- Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director has said that there has been a stabilisation in the number of new cases and that “by and large” this has levelled off.
- Powis added that the UK is still seeing high numbers of deaths and said that this will be the final thing that will start to decrease.
- Powis stated that vaccine development is underway but that drugs are more likely to come before a vaccine.
- In relation to PPE, Powis said it is difficult to give a precise number on how much PPE is needed in comparison to the amount being delivered as this will vary daily. Patel did not give a date on when the right quantities of PPE will reach the right people.
- Martin Hewitt, Chief of the National Police Chief’s Council, said that data from 37 forces shows that 1,087 fines were issued for breaches of the rules up to 8th April. This, he stated, indicated that the vast majority of the public are adhering to the rules.
10th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- On being asked about reports of a sharp economic downturn being forecast, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that he and Chancellor are working to ensure decisions on social distancing look at the impact on “the whole country”. He added that, however, it's too early to judge this, and urged people to continue to stay at home this weekend.
- Hancock, said that there is now testing capacity for all social care and NHS staff, and 15 drive-in testing centres are now open across the country.
- The first mega-lab has opened in Milton Keynes with two more are expected to open in Cheshire and Glasgow. AstraZeneca and GSK are opening another in Cambridge.
- PPE: In the UK, in normal times, suppliers deliver to 233 hospital trusts, but Hancock said that right now 58,000 separate health care providers need PPE. NHS hospitals will receive a supply of PPE daily next week. He has announced the listed three-strand PPE plan:
- Guidance: who needs PPE, when they need it, and who does not.
- Distribution: how to distribute PPE kits. Hancock said 742 million pieces of PPE have been delivered to the front line, but over the next three weeks, an online portal will launch so primary care and social care can request what they need.
- Future supply: New supply lines are being established from across the world, buying directly from manufacturers according to standards. Domestic production will also be ramped up. Hancock appealed to British companies to help create PPE "on an unprecedented scale".
- Two new NHS Nightingale hospitals will be established in Sunderland and Exeter.
- The Prime Minister was moved from the intensive care unit back to the ward at St Thomas’ hospital. He condition continues to improve.
- In the UK, 8, 958 died of COVID-19.
9th April 2020
- Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said that the lockdown measures will have to “stay in place until the evidence shows we have moved beyond the peak”. The government will make further announcements related to these measure at the end of next week.
- The Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that physical distancing is breaking the transmission of the virus, stopping hospital admissions, the curve is beginning to flatten, it’s preventing more people going into intensive care – and it will prevent deaths. He expects the number of deaths to be going up for about two weeks after the intensive care picture improves.
- The Office of National Statistics will be releasing additional data related to COVID-19 deaths next week.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care but he “continues to make positive steps forwards” and is “in good spirits”.
- In the UK, 65, 077 tested positive for COVID-19 and 7, 978 died.
8th April 2020
- On being asked about Brexit negotiations, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the government remains committed to the timeline for concluding talks, albeit over video conference rather than in person. He added that David Frost spoke to his EU counterpart earlier this week and will be speaking again later this week or next week and continue to do so in April and May.
- Economic support announced by the government for the charity sector:
- £750m of funding for the charity sector, £370m of which will support small, local charities working with vulnerable people.
- In England, this support will be provided through the National Lottery communities fund. The government will allocate £60m of this funding to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland via the Barnett Formula
- £360m funding directly to frontline charities providing essential services and supporting vulnerable people; up to £200m of those grants will support hospices, with the rest going to organisations such as St John Ambulance and the Citizens Advice Bureau, as well as charities supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse or disabled people.
- The government will also match pound-for-pound whatever the public donates to the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal (on 23rd April 2020), starting with at least £20m to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.
- Angela McLean, the deputy chief government scientific adviser said that the number of new cases day-by-day is “not accelerating out of control”. She added that the rate at which new infections are rising is “definitely getting slower” and we’re “beginning to get towards a flat curve”.
- Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, will be chairing tomorrow's COBR meeting, with the devolved administrations, to review the lockdown measures. The review will be based on the evidence and data from SAGE which will be available from next week.
- The Prime Minister remains in intensive care but his condition is “improving”.
- In the UK, 60, 734 tested positive for COVID-19 and 7, 097 died.
7th April 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care at St Thomas’ hospital but is “stable”. He is receiving “standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance” and his condition is being monitored closely.
- Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is deputising for the PM “as long as necessary”. The normal cabinet collective responsibility will continue to apply.
- Raab says there are signs of "progress" in the testing figures and nine drive-through centres will help further.
- Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s Chief Medical Officer, said that care and nursing homes will present some of the biggest challenges and he expects the number of deaths in these places to go up.
- Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, is self-isolating after a family member showed COVID-19 symptoms
- In the UK, 55, 242 tested positive for COVID-19 and 6, 159 died.
6th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- On being asked what the government can do to make sure banks continue to lend to businesses, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set out further details on the government's support for businesses "as soon as practical". He added that the government is in "regular contact" with the banks and is keen to ensure otherwise viable firms are supported.
- On being asked how long the current restrictions will have to continue, chief medical officer, Prof Witty, said that there are several elements to consider when deciding on an exit strategy for the UK’s coronavirus lockdown:
- Direct effects of people dying from coronavirus
- Indirect effects of the NHS being overwhelmed by patients
- Effects of other healthcare being postponed during the outbreak
- Long-term health effects of the socioeconomic impact
- Prof Angela McLean, the chief scientific adviser for the Ministry of Defence, says national rail usage has fallen to less than 20% of the levels in February. She added that the efforts people are making to stay at home "are working”.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to the hospital last night as a “precautionary measure”. He remains in hospital under observation and continues to be in charge of the government.
- In the UK, 51, 608 tested positive for COVID-19 and 5, 373 died.
5th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- On being asked if the government is going to take equity stakes in any companies hit by the outbreak, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that this is an area for Chancellor Rishi Sunak and deferred it to him to answer.
- Other information:
Hancock confirmed that there are adequate supplies of oxygen in hospitals following reports to the contrary.
- Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Officer for England said that after hospitals, testing is priority in care homes and prisons.
- Hancock urged anyone with coronavirus symptoms to use the new NHS status checker tool –Click here to access it.
- Hancock also said that as of now, there will be no 'imminent' changes to exercise rules
- In the UK, 47, 806 tested positive for COVID-19 and 4, 934 died.
4th April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said that there is “no fixed point” at which the lockdown will end – it will depend on compliance from the citizens. The Prime Minister will review the measures next week.
- Gove said that today 300 new ventilators arrived from China. He added that invasive ventilators have been purchased from partners abroad including Germany and Switzerland.
- He added that new non-invasive ventilator capacity has been secured with the help of UK manufacturers.
- NHS England’s National Medical Director, Stephen Powis, said that the number of new cases has stabilised in the last few days. However, it will be a week or two before the measures in place translate into lower hospitalisation rates.
- While hospital admissions had fallen in London, they remained steady in Wales but had gone up particularly in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East.
- In the UK, 41, 903 tested positive for COVID-19 and 4, 313 died.
In other news, Sir Keir Starmer won the Labour Party leadership race. He got 56.2% of the first-preference votes, beating Rebecca Long-Bailey (27.6%) and Lisa Nandy (16.2%). Angela Rayner was elected as the deputy leader with 41.7% of the first-preference votes, beating Rosena Allin-Khan (16.8%).
3rd April 2020
- £5m has been put in to support Mind to help people dealing with mental health struggles
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that 17.5m antibody tests have been provisionally ordered but can only be used if they work. He adds that no G7 country has yet found one that works and the search continues for it.
- New clinical trials:
- Three national clinical trials have been established covering each of the major stages of COVID-19: primary care, hospital care and critical care for the most seriously ill
- Three weeks after the Recovery trial launched, 926 patients have enrolled; Hancock called for more volunteers to register
- An expert therapeutics taskforce has been set up to search for and shortlist other candidate medicines for trials.
- It could be a few months before results from clinical trials come in.
- Two new NHS Nightingale hospitals will be built in Bristol and Harrogate
- In the UK, 38, 168 tested positive for COVID-19 and 3, 605 died
- Her Majesty will address the nation in a broadcast on Sunday, 5th April at 8:00 PM
2nd April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The government has written off £13.4bn of historic debt held by NHS trusts; Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that the government had already made £300 million available for community pharmacies
- Testing will be available for, in order of priority, patients who need it, critical NHS staff and their families, critical key workers and then the community
- 5000 NHS workers have been tested thus far
- Hancock set a goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April and laid out a five-pillar strategy:
- Pillar 1: Accelerating swab testing in Public Health England labs and NHS hospitals to hit the 25,000 target
- Pillar 2: Leveraging partnerships with the private sector to buy up commercial swab tests; priority to frontline NHS workers and their families
- Pillar 3: Anti-body blood tests to test for immunity
- Pillar 4: Surveillance: Conduct ultra-high anti-body testing of population samples
- Pillar 5: Increase UK’s diagnostic capability: A call to manufacturers, inventors and commercial developers to assist in scaling up the UK's diagnostic capability
- The government is “currently confident” that the UK has the supply of medicines needed
- In the UK, 33, 718 tested positive for COVID-19 and 2, 921 died
1st April 2020
Pertinent to business:
- Following reports that British businesses have been struggling to receive government financial support, the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, has urged UK banks to work with, and provide funds to, businesses. Sharma added that it would be “completely unacceptable” for banks to refuse financial support to firms which need it, referencing the support they got from the taxpayer following the 2008 financial crisis.
- Further economic interventions are expected from the Chancellor in the coming days
- The UK is conducting between 8,000 and 10,000 coronavirus tests per day
- The government has seen a "concerning" rise in motor vehicle traffic and has again urged the population to say at home
- In the UK, 29, 474 tested positive for COVID-19 and 2, 352 died
- Wimbledon 2020 has been cancelled
31st March 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The government refused to say whether or not UK workers will be subject to tax rises in order to pay for the economic impact of the crisis
- UK broadband providers have removed data caps on household WiFi connections for the duration of the crisis
- The NHS is exploring a contact-tracing app that will alert people if they have been in contact with the virus
- London is unlikely to see its peak for the next 2-4 weeks
- Infections are not rising as rapidly as they have been
- Testing has only seen a limited increase because the UK government cannot get hold of the necessary chemicals needed to conduct the tests
- Difficulties are ongoing with regards to PPE distribution
- This weekend the first thousands of new ventilator devices will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week
- In the UK, 25, 150 tested positive for COVID-19 and since yesterday, deaths doubled and stand at 1, 789
30th March 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The government has pledged up to £75million in funding to bring back UK travellers who are stuck overseas
- The government has launched a specialist unit to crack down on COVID-19 disinformation online
- PM Johnson has renewed his call for British businesses to build ventilators and associated components
- Formula 1 car manufacturers such as Mercedes and McLaren have announced that they are working in conjunction with the government to produce lifesaving medical equipment
- In the UK, as of this morning, 22, 141 tested positive for COVID-19 and 1, 408 have died
- The UK is currently tracking alongside France in terms of COVID-19 cases
- The number of cases is set to rise, but the UK is not currently seeing an acceleration of hospital admissions
- The Prince of Wales is out of self-isolation and in good health
29th March 2020
- All parts of the country are now on an emergency footing which is unprecedented in peace time
- The government will set up strategic coordination centres across the country that will be led by gold commanders from the emergency services who will lead communities through this period.
- The members of the armed forces will be embedded in these teams to plan local response to COVID-19. The government, along with medical experts, are expected to review the lockdown measures in 2-3 weeks
- In the UK, as of this morning, 19, 522 tested positive for COVID-19 and 1, 228 have died
28th March 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, announced changes to insolvency rules to allow firms “greater flexibility as they face the current crisis”. The new rules will allow companies undergoing restructuring to continue access to supplies and raw materials.
- Sharma further announced that there would be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic, which will apply retrospectively from 1 March. “However, to be clear, all of the other checks and balances that help to ensure directors fulfil their duties properly will remain in force,” he said.
- Sharma added that companies who were required to hold annual general meetings would be able to do so flexibly in a matter compatible with public health guidance. He said, “This might include postponing or holding the AGM online, or by phone using only proxy voting.”
- About 170m masks have come into hospitals in recent weeks, and 40m gloves and 25m face masks in recent days.
- In the UK, as of this morning, 17, 089 tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,019 have died
27th March 2020
Pertinent to business
- PM Johnson has brought together businesses, research institutes and universities in a new alliance to increase testing capacity for front-line workers. The new initiative will be "antigen" testing that will help prove if it is safe for a worker to go back to the front line and will begin immediately.
- The rate of infection in the UK is doubling every 3-4 days; 113,777 have been tested for COVID-19; 14,543 of these have tested positive (increased by 2885 since yesterday); 759 have died
- For treating COVID-19 patients, in addition to the NHS Nightingale hospital in east London, two new hospitals will be built in Birmingham and Manchester.
- The NHS has reached an agreement with independent hospitals so that cancer care can take place there rather than at the busy hospitals that are treating coronavirus patients.
- Gove mentioned that there has been a "dramatic decline" in the use of public transport and a decline in footfall in public places.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have tested positive for COVID-19 and are self-isolating; England’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, is also self-isolating for the next seven days after experiencing symptoms of coronavirus last night.
26th March 2020
Pertinent to business:
1. The Chancellor today announced detailed crisis guidance for the self-employed in the UK:
- The government will provide the UK's 5 million self-employed with up to £2,500 per month before tax, for at least three months
- The grant figure will be based upon an average of an individual's past 3 years of income
- It is open with anyone who earns up to £50,000 per year
2. The Chancellor also suggested that, in the future, those who are self-employed will have to pay more tax contributions than they currently do
3. On a question raised about smaller companies being unable to get access to the Bank of England loans as they do not have investment-grade rating, the Chancellor said that he is aware of the issue and is looking at means to construct a credit rating from the information about the firms’ relationships with their banks. He added that 80% of the UK’s employment and 80% of the UK’s turnover will be covered by the government’s loan schemes.
- Under the new law, those in the UK that flout rules on social distancing can be fined up to £960
- The UK has declined to take part in an EU scheme to provide ventilators to member states, despite being invited to join
25th March 2020
Pertinent to businesses:
- The UK government has launched a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp
- Support for the self-employed is to come forth from the Chancellor tomorrow
- Boris Johnson warned today against “profiteering” by the private sector during the crisis. The Competition and Market Authority (CMA) is already looking at this. But he said that the government is looking at legislation too, of the kind introduced in wartime.
Other related information:
- The 392-page Coronavirus Bill passed in Parliament today and is now awaiting Royal Assent. It has many different elements, including powers to allow employers to reclaim statutory sick pay funds from HMRC to help with the burden of increased staff absence.
- Work has begun on London's new makeshift hospital, which will have a 4,000-bed capacity
- In the last 24 hours, 405,000 Brits have volunteered to assist the NHS
- The UK is hoping to roll out an antibody test in the coming weeks to establish whether or not a person has had the coronavirus, asymptomatically or not
24th March 2020
Pertinent to businesses:
- The Government is continuing to look at ways to support the self-employed through the crisis, with new policies expected this week
- The Health Secretary has announced an urgent appeal to recruit 250,000 volunteers to the health service
- 35,000 staff are returning to the NHS, including 12,000 existing health workers and 18,000 student nurses
- A new hospital with a capacity of 4,000 beds is to open in London's Excel Centre, staffed by the NHS and the British Army
- 8,077 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK, while 422 patients have died
23rd March 2020
The UK Prime Minister has just given an address to the nation in which he announced a full UK lockdown for at least the next three weeks.
Everyone in the UK will be required to stay at home, with the following exceptions:
- Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise a day, alone or with members of the household
- Any medical need
- Providing care or helping a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work where this is absolutely essential
He also announced the following:
- All shops selling non-essential goods are to close immediately; libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship will also be closed
- All gatherings of more than two people in public are banned
- All social events including weddings and baptisms are banned; funerals are excluded
- Parks will remain open for exercise, but gatherings will be dispersed
- Police will have the power to fine individuals who do not comply
On a separate note, the UK Government also announced today that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction.
You can read more here.
22nd March 2020
Please find below the highlights from this evening’s briefing by the UK Prime Minister on COVID-19.
1. The Prime Minister reiterated the importance of “social distancing”:
- Brits have been requested not to “congregate” either inside or outside
- PM did not enforce any further measures to prevent people from leaving their homes etc
- However, he said that he would order the closure of the UK's green spaces if people do not “act responsibly” going forward
2. Approximately 1.5 million clinically vulnerable Brits are to be “shielded” from tomorrow onwards
- They will be required to stay at home with no face-to-face contact for 12 weeks
- Local councils will work with pharmacies and supermarkets to deliver essential items
- Civilian volunteers and the UK military are to be mobilised across the UK to run the scheme
3. The Deputy Chief Medical Officer admitted that the UK will see "many more deaths" from COVID-19 but suggested the country will be subject to a lower overall death rate in comparison to Italy.
4. The number of COVID-19 cases in the UK has risen to 5,700. Deaths are at 281 (up 48 from yesterday
20th March 2020
Pertinent to businesses:
- The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, unveiled a second package of emergency measures to help businesses struggling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Government will pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Funding will be available for any employer in the country to keep their employees on the payroll (so as to help them retain their job even if the employer cannot afford to pay them) – The scheme will pay 80% salary (up to £2500 per month) of retained workers– It will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open before the end of April for at least 3 months.
- VAT bills deferred: Chancellor announced today that no business will pay VAT from now until the end of June. The businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills. He said that this should help companies “struggling with a cash flow crisis.” This will result in a £30bn injection to businesses (equivalent to 1.5% of GDP).
- The government is also extending its Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, to be interest free for 12 months (up from 6 months). These loans will be available from Monday.
- The Universal Credit standard allowance will increase by £1,000, for the next 12 months, as will the Working Tax Credit basic element by the same amount – This will benefit over 4 million vulnerable house holds
- Self-employed: Government has suspended the minimum income floor for universal credit – this means self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees; also, the next self-assessment has been deferred until January 2021
- For renters, the Chancellor announced £1bn of “support by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents” in their respective areas.
- The government ordered all cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants across the UK to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow but they can provide take outs. Night clubs, theatres, gyms, cinemas and leisure centres have also been asked to be closed from tonight.
The number of deaths in the UK due to the coronavirus increased by 40 today and now stand at 177.
19th March 2020
Pertinent to business:
- The UK has reduced interest rates from 0.25% to a historic low of 0.1% in a bid to support the economy. - Though the Bank of England had cut rates earlier in the week (from 0.75% to 0.25%), those cuts had not been reflected across the financial world, mostly due to continuing uncertainty in the markets
- The Chancellor held a roundtable this afternoon with business groups and unions in order to discuss the fiscal response to the COVID-19 crisis - All parties agreed the response must go further to support businesses and the workforce - The Chancellor will tomorrow announce further measures to support employees
- The UK recorded a total of 137 people of which almost a third have been in London
- The London transport network has partially shut down, with 40 Underground stations closed and service limited across the network
- No further lockdown measures for London as of yet, but the Prime Minister does not rule this out for the future
- PM suggests that the UK can "turn the tide" on COVID-19 within 12 weeks if proper social distancing and self-isolation is adhered to
- UK is in negotiations to buy an "antibody test" that can test for whether or not an individual has had the coronavirus at all
18th March 2020
Pertinent to businesses:
- In the UK, 104 people have died and 2626 have tested positive; London is ahead of the rest of the country for rates of infection
- The government announced emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation; Landlords will also be protected as 3-month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages
- Emergency legislation expected in Parliament tomorrow: The PM said that the government will continue to look at steps that are necessary to support “good companies” and businesses
All schools (including nurseries, sixth form and private) in England will be closed from Friday, 20 March until further notice for pupils and staff. However, schools in England will be open for vulnerable pupils and those with parents who are key frontline workers
Schools in Scotland and Wales schools will also be closed from Friday, 20 March
Schools Northern Ireland have closed for students from 5 PM this evening but staff will continue to attend until this Friday
No exams in May and June but the government will make sure that children get the required qualifications – details to follow but it will be done fairly
The PM refused to rule out introducing tighter self-isolation rules for London
Brexit: PM said that he has “no intention” of changing the law that rules out an extension of the Brexit transition.
Additionally, the government just announced that the implementation of reforms to off-payroll working rules (known as IR 35) have been postponed for a year. The rules will now come into effect from 6 April 2021. More information here.
17th March 2020
Pertinent to business:
- To support liquidity amongst larger businesses, low-interest commercial lending will shortly be made available via the Bank of England
- Tax holidays almost guaranteed, details to be announced
- The government will not be convening with the EU negotiation team as planned but remains committed to concluding the Brexit negotiations by December 31st
Other commercial measures:
- £330 billion of cash guarantees to be made available (equivalent to 15% of UK GDP)
- If this is not enough, as much will be provided as is needed to keep the economy afloat
- Loans of up to £5 million will be made available for smaller businesses with no interest due in the first 6 months
- Specific measures for airlines and airports
- Businesses in affected sectors will be asked for input including possible regulatory forbearance
- Will provide small hospitality/retail/leisure businesses with cash grants of £25,000 to cover cash flow in the short term
- Business rates holiday for all hospitality/retail/leisure businesses regardless of size
Personal finance measures:
- 3-month mortgage holiday for all mortgage-holders
- More to be announced in coming days