Boris Johnson in telephone talks with Cabinet as new Covid regulations loom

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits UKPrime Minister Boris Johnson (Aaron Chown/PA)
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits UKPrime Minister Boris Johnson (Aaron Chown/PA) - (Copyright PA Wire)
20:22pm, Sun 11 Oct 2020
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Boris Johnson is holding a telephone conference with Cabinet members on Sunday as the Prime Minister prepares to bring in a new three-tier coronavirus restrictions regime.

Mr Johnson’s decision to brief Cabinet ministers on a Sunday is a rare move and comes as Northern leaders have expressed anger at the economic impact of further Covid rules in their areas as talks with the Government appeared tense.

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said there was a “large gulf” in discussions about new restrictions.

He told Times Radio: “We seem to have an almost impossible task of penetrating the Westminster bubble.”

However, the Government signalled local councils would be given more control over the coronavirus test and trace programme.

This came as England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the country is at a tipping point similar to the first wave of coronavirus, but can prevent history repeating itself.

Mayors and council leaders in the North have said local economies could be “shattered” as a result of sweeping new rolling Covid enforcements set to be unveiled by Boris Johnson in the Commons on Monday.

The Prime Minister is set to detail a new three-tier system of restrictions with measures expected to force pubs and restaurants to shut across the North of England and see millions of people banned from mixing indoors and outdoors.

We are getting proposed solutions with no evidence to suggest why they are needed and no evidence to suggest they would work

Reports suggest the top tier will see no household mixing allowed either, which could affect millions of people living in areas with high Covid-19 rates across England.

Sir Richard said Manchester council’s own data showed there was “no evidence closing pubs works”.

He added: “We are still getting things coming from Government and meetings that took place on Friday, not just in Greater Manchester, across the North, where we are getting proposed solutions with no evidence to suggest why they are needed and no evidence to suggest they would work, when all the evidence we have got says they are looking in the wrong place.”

Asked by Sophy Ridge on Sky News if local leaders would be given more control over test-and-trace efforts, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Yes, we want to work very closely with the local mayors and with the councils.

“We are going to be ensuring that the national testing infrastructure… works in harmony with what’s happening locally.

“Because local councils and local communities are very good at contact tracing.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham called for more financial support and consultation, telling Times Radio: “If they continue with this, jobs will be lost, businesses will collapse, the fragile economies of the North will be shattered.”

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said that, if the Government does not offer economic support for people and businesses during the lockdown, they will have to pay instead for people to be on benefits.

He said: “If this was in London we wouldn’t be talking about this.

“It’s because it’s the North West they want to do it on the cheap and we are not going to allow them to do that.”

Mr Jenrick told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “You say that there’s anger in the North, but the measures that we are bringing in here are universal.

“These apply across the whole of the United Kingdom and there is nothing that we would ever do that penalises one part of the country over another.”

Steve Rotheram, the mayor of Liverpool city region, said in a statement:  “Since Friday, myself, and the leaders of our local councils have been in dialogue with the government.

“Government have been clear from the start that they plan on placing the Liverpool City Region in tier 3 and plan on announcing this tomorrow.

“Whilst we have asked for the evidence to support that decision, none has been forthcoming.

“Throughout, we have been clear that new restrictions must come with the financial support to protect local jobs and businesses.

“No agreement has yet been reached on this point and negotiations are ongoing. As in all these things, the devil will be in the detail. A deal is not a deal until it is agreed.”

Prof Van-Tam said the best way to keep transmission low and stop the NHS being overwhelmed is for people to follow self-isolation guidance, wash their hands, wear face coverings and social distance.

He added: “Earlier in the year, we were fighting a semi-invisible disease, about which we had little knowledge, and it seeded in the community at great speed.

HEALTH Coronavirus - (Copyright PA Graphics)

“Now we know where it is and how to tackle it – let’s grasp this opportunity and prevent history from repeating itself.”

The Government said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 12,872 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 603,716.

It also said a further 65 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday. This brings the UK total to 42,825.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Nottingham continues to have the highest rate in England, with 2,763 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 8 – the equivalent of 830.0 cases per 100,000 people.

This is a huge jump from 314.5 per 100,000 in the seven days to October 1.

Knowsley has the second highest rate, which has climbed from 485.9 to 669.5, with 1,010 new cases.

Liverpool is in third place, where the rate has increased from 504.4 to 598.5, with 2,981 new cases.

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