Q: Are Tory MPs thinking of voting against the government tomorrow being irresponsible?
Hancock says he would urge all MPs to vote for the government tomorrow. He says the tiering system is not as strict as lockdown. But measures are needed to keep the virus down.
Powis says, without further restrictions, there will be further deaths.
Q: There are 23m people living in tier 3 areas. How many of them are likely to get access to community testing?
Messenger says he cannot say. Planning is still underway. It will vary from area to area, he says.
He says this is an offer that will extend over time.
He says areas will get prioritised according to their infection rate, the length of time they have been under restrictions, and their preparedness for the programme.
That’s it. The press conference is over.
Q: How to you respond to claims the mass testing programme could detract from the vaccine programme? And is this an admission that test and trace has no worked?
Hancock says he does not accept either claim.
The community testing programme is an expansion of what was available before, he says.
And he says a testing programme needs to run alongside a vaccination programme. They are designed to be symbiotic.
The rollout of the community testing programme shows how successful test and trace has been in building up capacity, he says.
Messenger says he has only been in the job for three weeks, but agrees with what Hancock says. He says test and trace has been very supportive.
Hancock says the government does not plan to making having the vaccine mandatory. It thinks there will be a very high take-up without compulsion being needed.
Hancock claims there is realistic chance of some areas moving down a tier before Christmas
Q: Is there any realistic chance of any part of England moving down a tier before Christmas?
Hancock says he does not accept that. They will look at the data on 16 December, and announce the results on 17 December. But case rates are coming down, he says. He wants to see what happened in Liverpool, which pulled down cases and went into tier 2, happen more broadly.
Q: How will you have the same success you had in Liverpool in other places where councils are not getting the same support Liverpool did?
Hancock says the plan being published this afternoon will offer councils extra money – £14 per test done, he says. He says that is equivalent to what happened in Liverpool.
Gen Sir Gordon Messenger, who is in charge of the programme, says they are calling it community testing not mass testing. It is about communities, he says.
He says the Liverpool programme was delivered by the military. But in other places it will have to be delivered locally – albeit with military support.
at 5.33pm GMT
Q: How effective will testing for students be given it is voluntary?
Hancock says the government wants as many students as possible to be able to have access to testing.
And he says he thinks the government decided it was best to keep this voluntary.
Q: How worried is the NHS about Christmas leading to a new wave of cases in January?
Powis says it is very important for the NHS to get infection rates down. He says the NHS is always at its busiest in January, February and heading into March. There are more chest infections then. And there are more slips and falls too.
at 5.25pm GMT
Q: What rules apply to couples who live in tier 2, but do not live together. Are they only allowed to meet apart?
Hancock says the rules are on the website.
He says there is specific provision for people in a relationship. But generally people in tier 2 should only be mixing indoors with people in their household.
at 5.26pm GMT
Prof Stephen Powis, the medical director for NHS England, is now presenting this slide.
Hospital inpatient numbers Photograph: No 10
Hancock says the government now has the capacity to do more with its mass testing programme.
It is rolling out its university testing programme from today.
In Liverpool, where mass testing has been used, the case rates have been reduced by three-quarters, he says.
He says he is publishing a community testing prospectus, which will tell local authorities how they can use mass testing to “come down the tiers”.
Many councils have already expressed an interest, he says.
at 5.15pm GMT
Matt Hancock’s press conference
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is speaking now at the No 10 press conference.
He says the virus is now “back under control”.
He says there are now on average 14,778 positive cases per day. But on 16 November the seven-day average was 25,331.
He says today there are 15,712 patients in hospital in the UK. A week ago that figure was 16,612, he says.
And he says before the lockdown in England cases were going up 11% per week. Last week they fell 30%, he says.
If you are interested in what a proper cost-benefit analysis of lockdown measures might look like, do take a look at this report (pdf) from the Centre for Economic Performance published in April. It sought to compare the impact of long and short lockdowns on overall “wellbeing years”. There is a summary here.
at 5.19pm GMT