Nottingham MPs have described a decision by the government to leave them out of discussions on moving the city into tier 3 measures as “insulting”.
City council leader, David Mellen, confirmed both he and Nottinghamshire council leader, Kay Cutts, had received an invitation to a meeting with a government minister.
But Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East, said only local government leaders had been invited. “It’s just so insulting. We’ve got constituents who are rightly concerned about their livelihoods and the spread of the virus,” Whittome said on Thursday morning,” she added.
We’ve been standing up in the Commons at every opportunity asking the government what financial help is going to be provided, when we’ll have details of going into tier 3, asking them why there have been these delays and we just get stonewalled.
Lilian Greenwood, the Labour MP for Nottingham South, described the decision as “disrespectful”. She added:
I find it baffling that they want to keep MPs out of these discussions. Obviously we will want to have details of what their plan is, what they think it will achieve, how long they think we would need to be in tier 3, and what the criteria is for coming out.
Although Nottingham has the second-highest rate of coronavirus in the country, with 639.5 cases per 100,000 people in the week to 16 October, cases are falling in the city and rising in most areas across the county.
Here are the latest figures from the UK’s coronavirus dashboard.
The UK has recorded 21,242 new cases. This is down more than 5,000 – or 20% – on yesterday’s record total (26,688). A week ago the figure was 18,980.
The UK has recorded 189 further deaths. That is two below yesterday’s total, but well above the total for this time last week (138).
Canary Islands, Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos exempt from quarantine rules, Shapps announces
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has announced that the Canary Islands, the Maldives, Denmark and the Greek island of Mykonos have been added to the travel corridors list. That means that from Sunday morning people arriving from those places will not have to quarantine.
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
UPDATE: Following an assessment of the latest data, the Canaries, the Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos have been ADDED to the #TravelCorridors list. From 4am on Sunday 25th Oct, you will no longer need to self-isolate if you arrive from those destinations. pic.twitter.com/vVF40XKS2t
October 22, 2020
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
The latest data indicates we need to remove Liechtenstein from the Travel Corridors list. From 4am on Sunday the 25th October, you will need to self-isolate if you arrive from there.
October 22, 2020
Johnson says £12bn test and trace is ‘helping a bit’ in fight against Covid, but it must improve
Today NHS Test and Trace published performance figures showing that the proportion of close contacts of people with Covid-19 being reached has fallen to a new low and waiting times for test results have soared to almost double the target.
The government has spent more than £12bn on the service and, at the press conference, both Boris Johnson and Sir Patrick Vallance said it needed to improve.
Johnson said the service was helping “a bit” in the fight against the virus, but that it needed to improve. Asked about today’s performance figures, he said:
Look, I share people’s frustrations, and I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we do need improve it. We need to make sure that people who do get a positive test self-isolate. That’s absolutely crucial if this is going to work in the way that it can.
He claimed that, in terms of expanding capacity, the achievements of the service had been “colossal”. He said:
But I would just stress to you that the achievement of the testing operation has been colossal. They have moved from a capacity of I think 3,000, 2,000 tests per day to about 300,000 now.
We’ve done 26m tests, more than any other country in Europe. And they are on track to reach capacity of 500,000 by the end of this month.
And the technology is improving the whole time.
But he also admitted its overall impact on the virus had been limited.
The thing depends on people self-isolating and breaking the transmission.
It is helping a bit already to break the transmission. About 1m contacts have been reached.
But there is more that it can do if everybody complies once they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
The claim that the service is only helping “a bit” may sound unduly harsh, or like an unintended verbal error, but in fact it is in line with the assessment from the government’s Scientific Advisory Committee for Emergencies. In a report written in September and released last week Sage said NHS Test and Trace was only having “a marginal impact on transmission”.
Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said it was clear that there was “room for improvement” with test and trace. He said that ideally it should be reaching contacts within 48 hours. He said:
It’s really important to concentrate on numbers of contacts, isolation as quickly as you can and getting things back as quickly as you can – ideally you get the whole process done within 48 hours.
Figures in today’s report (pdf) show that only about two-thirds of the close contacts who are reached are reached within 48 hours of the case entering the system. More than a third of close contacts are never reached at all. Vallance said the system had to get better. He said:
It’s very clear there’s room for improvement on all that and therefore that could be diminishing the effectiveness of this.
And he also said that, with case numbers high, it would be of less use anyway. He explained:
It’s undoubtedly the case that test, trace and isolation becomes much more difficult to have an impact once numbers are high, it’s much more effective when numbers are low.
at 5.44pm BST
Q: If we get a vaccine in the spring, when will we be able to stop social distancing and wearing masks?
Vallance says he does not want to speculate on how effective the vaccines will be.
He says results will come in during the next two months or so. Once you see how effective they are, with different groups, you can work out what impact they will have.
But the aim is to ensure that people can relax restrictions, he says.
Johnson says he really hopes we make progress with vaccines.
But we cannot just count on that, he says.
Q: If the Welsh and Scottish lockdowns are more effective, would you copy them?
Johnson says he thinks having successive lockdowns would be really damaging, particularly to children. So he is not going for that approach.
He says there has been plenty of great local leadership.
He ends up by summarising the hands, face, space guidance.
And that’s it. The press conference is over.
I’ll post a summary soon.
Q: Why was the government willing to go to the wall with Andy Burnham over £5m, when today you announced spending worth billions. The chancellor today met business leaders in London. Does that mean they’re more important?
Johnson says the negotiation between metro mayors was about fairness.
What he is doing now is address a national issue.
Sunak says a plan was drawn up over the summer. But over the past few weeks it has become clear that other measures are needed.
He says he did have a meeting with businesses and unions this morning. But there were people from Zoom in on the meeting from Merseyside and North Yorkshire and from other places too.
They were there to highlight the concerns of the hospitality sector.
Q: Can you guarantee this level of support will be maintained until a vaccine is available?
Sunak says this support will last at least six months. It will be reviewed at the mid point. But this will take us through to the spring.
Johnson says it is far better to keep the economy going. We are going to have to pay this money back. So we need an economy that can bounce back, he says.
He says if you look at the way the science is evolving, the improvements in treatments and drugs, and in mortality rates, he is confident we will get through this.
If we can do this together, we will drive the R number down, he says.
Vallance says he thinks the wider use of vaccines will not be until spring next year. There may be some doses this year. But spring is more realistic.
Q: Is test and trace salvageable, given case numbers are so high?
Vallance says it will work effectively in places where cases are lower.
It is much less effective in places with high levels, he says.
That is why you need other measures. You can only stop the virus by stopping contacts.
What test and trace will do is remove people who are infectious, he says.
Sunak says it is clearly not sustainable to carry on borrowing at this rate.
It is important to have one eye on the public finances, he says.
Prime minister says he ‘shares peoples’s frustrations’ over test and trace
Johnson says he “shares people’s frustrations” about test and trace.
But the achievements have been “colossal”, he says.
It has done more tests than any other country in Europe.
It is on course to reach 500,000 tests per day.
And the technology is improving.
But it is crucial that people self-isolate when they do test positive, he says.
He says it is helping “a bit” to stop the virus spreading. He quotes the figures for the number of people already told to self-isolate.
at 5.08pm BST
Q: Isn’t today’s announcement an acknowledgment that you have neglected the north for months?
Johnson says the issue is one of fairness. That is what he sought to achieve in the last few days.
Now he is trying to help businesses that cannot trade as normal. The measures are backdated.
Sunak says this is about fairness, about treating places the same.
He says he wants people to have equal support.
Q: Sage said test and trace would have to reach 80% of contacts. How disappointed are you by today’s numbers?
Vallance says test and trace works best with a small number of cases.
He says the system has done well to ramp up the number of tests being carried out. But he says that the system will not be effective if people are not being reached on time. Ideally the whole process should be complete within 48 hours.
at 4.50pm BST
Q: The problems with the first version of your jobs scheme were obvious to industry. Why weren’t they obvious to you?
Sunak says that is a fair question to ask.
But when he designed the jobs support scheme in the summer, they were looking forward to the country reopening.
Since then the impact of the new restrictions has been heavier than envisaged.
He has adapted his policies as the situation has changed, responding flexibly to circumstances.
Q: Do you agree with your Scottish counterpart that families won’t have a normal Christmas?
Vallance says a lot depends on what happens. At the moment the numbers are heading in the wrong direction. But there are some signs of things flattening off.
Q: Why are you at war with local leaders?
Johnson says he does not accept that. He says he has had great conversations with local leaders. And he says he is grateful to Andy Burnham in Manchester.
There are signs the measures are starting to work, he says.
He says he is adopting a balanced approach.
at 4.51pm BST
Q: What can you do to encourage innovative business?
Johnson says the UK is one of the most competitive and dynamic environments in which to set up a business.
We now have very low business taxes, he says.
Sunak says we have fabulous, entrepreneurial start-ups.
He says early this year he set up a Future Fund to help fund start-ups.
Johnson is now taking questions from members of the public.
The first is from a woman who wants to know what help is available for businesses that are not told to close, but that are getting less income.
(These questions are submitted in advance, and it was a good question at 9am this morning, but sounds a bit redundant now given that we had a lengthy statement from the chancellor a few hours ago on exactly this.)
Sunak is now summing up what he told MPs earlier.
These are the hospital figures. Vallance says there are some indications of a decrease in the rate of increase.
Hospital admissions Photograph: No 10
Here are the hospital admission figures. Vallance says the more people there are in hospital with Covid, the less able they are to treat non-Covid patients.
Hospital admissions Photograph: No 10
Sir Patrick Vallance is now showing slides.
He starts with a reminder from last week – the latest estimate for new cases.
Extent of virus Photograph: No 10
And here are estimates for the number of new cases per day.
New cases Photograph: No 10