Covid-19 vaccine news LIVE – Boris' lockdown roadmap will take till JULY before pubs and restaurants are back to normal

BORIS Johnson's lockdown roadmap means it will be July before pubs and restaurants are able to offer anything like normal service.

The PM warned this weekend that the path out of lockdown would be "cautious but irreversible" and he plans to outline exactly what that may mean during a major roadmap announcement next Monday.

Some of his plans appear to have leaked early, however, with the Daily Mail reporting a month-by-month timeline of gradual lockdown easing.

In March children will return to schools and outdoor sports like tennis will resume, in April non-essential shops will reopen and in May pubs will reopen with no more than two households and rule of six outdoors.

Then in June pubs and restaurants will be allowed to offer rule of six measures indoors before finally, in July, groups of unlimited size are allowed in, albeit with social distancing.

The news comes as an extra 1.7million Brits were added to the list of people asked to shield after new modelling identified additional risk factors.

New data from Oxford University shows people from minority backgrounds, lower income households and those who are overweight died at disproportionate rates during the first wave of coronavirus.

800,000 of those who fall into the new shielding categories but have not yet been vaccinated will now be fast-tracked to get them their jabs as soon as possible in order to make their shielding experience a short one.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest UK politics news

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'NOT AS SIMPLE AS SANCTIONS'

    Britain said it does not shirk its responsibilities in sensitive cases such as the fate of Sheikha Latifa, one of the ruler of Dubai's daughters, who said in a video that she was being held hostage in a villa.

    "It's not as simple as saying 'well we could apply sanctions'. There is a very strict legal threshold," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC radio on Wednesday.

    "When there's a human rights issue or a very sensitive case we do not shirk our responsibilities."

    He added: "So for example, on the Magnitsky sanctions, which I introduced, they can be applied, asset freezes, visa bans, where there is evidence of torture, or forced labour, or an extrajudicial killing of some description.

    "But it's not simply the case that we can willy-nilly, if you like, just slap sanctions on individuals."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'BLENDED LEARNING' IN SCOTLAND POSSIBLE

    There is "every possibility" that secondary schools in Scotland may have to use blended learning when more youngsters are allowed to return to the classroom, the country's Education Secretary has said.

    John Swinney was speaking after it was confirmed a small number of senior students in Scotland will be able to return to high school from Monday, if they need to do so for practical work.

    Children in P1 to P3 and nursery school youngsters are also set to return to class on Monday, on a full-time basis.

    Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday, Mr Swinney said: "The scientific advice I have available to me just now recognises that physical distancing will be required for at least senior phase pupils in our secondary schools."

    Asked about the prospect of blended learning – which would see pupils in class for part of the week and learning remotely for the remainder – he said there is "every possibility, unless that advice changes, that we have to operate on such a model".

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'AMBITIOUS TESTING TARGETS'

    Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that ministers had "ambitious targets", when asked about reports of 400,000 lateral flow tests being posted out to homes per day.

    "We have got ambitious targets in relation to testing which we have met at various points, as well as the vaccine rollout," he told Times Radio Breakfast.

    "And we are absolutely doing everything we can to meet those targets. They are obviously designed to be challenging, because we want to get people out of the current lockdown as soon as possible.

    "The only way to do that is responsibly, safely – that's the way we make it sustainable."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    JOBS BOOST

    Rishi Sunak wants to coax bosses into a hiring spree with his Budget next month.

    He is considering cutting the jobs tax and bringing back a £1,000 bonus for those that unfurlough staff, The Sun can reveal.

    The Chancellor hopes he can wean employers off state support as shops, pubs and other businesses gradually reopen.

    A source said: “The Treasury is keen to support jobs rather than businesses.”

  • Britta Zeltmann

    TESTING PILOTS 'OF VALUE'

    Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that testing pilots such as in Liverpool had shown the "value" of coronavirus testing carried out at scale.

    When asked about a potential programme of mass testing, he told Sky News: "We learnt previously in places like Liverpool and other areas in the north, the value, particularly when you have got a spike, of testing done at scale and at pace, particularly with the new lateral flow testing."

    Mr Raab said that the vaccine rollout, treatments for coronavirus and carrying out lateral flow testing "at scale, at pace" would be "important" when easing the lockdown.

    On lateral flow testing, he added: "So that when you do have upticks of the virus, we can come down on it like a tonne of bricks.

    "It's only one part of the strategic jigsaw, if you like, but make sure we can come down on it like a tonne of bricks."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'WE WANT FULL COOPERATION' FROM CHINA

    Britain said on Wednesday that China must cooperate with the World Health Organization review into the origins of the virus which causes COVID-19 so that the world can understand who is responsible.

    The United States and Britain have expressed concern over the access given to a WHO mission to China – where the novel coronavirus emerged in late 2019.

    "We want to see full cooperation," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC radio.

    Raab said that the world needed to know detail of the origins of the outbreak "because then the issue of responsibility can be addressed but also frankly, looking forward, so we can learn the lessons."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'NO SINGLE FORMULA' FOR EASING LOCKDOWN

    Steps to ease lockdown measures in England will not depend on any single indicator, such as case numbers, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Wednesday.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson will publish the path out of lockdown on February 22.

    "The number of cases is important, and so is the R level – it is good to see the R level is below 1, there's pressure on the NHS, there's the rollout of the vaccine," he told LBC radio

    "There's no single cast iron formula or one particular indicator above all other considerations that can decide this." 

  • Britta Zeltmann

    NORWAY: CURFEWS SCRAPPED

    The Norwegian government is scrapping a plan to introduce legislation permitting the use of curfews in the fight against emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Justice Minister Monica Maeland said on Wednesday.

    Draft legislation submitted for a round of hearings last month drew fierce opposition to the measure, including from some of the minority centre-right coalition's supporters in parliament.

    While Norway has one of Europe's lowest rates of deaths from the novel coronavirus, the initial proposal of curfew legislation was made during a spike of infections at the start of the year.

    Infections have since dropped however, as other strict measures such as a temporary closure of shopping centres in the capital region took effect.

    "We have not needed this tool so far. That's still the situation and we hope it will stay that way," Maeland said in a statement.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    BAT PROFITS RISE

    British American Tobacco (BAT) has posted higher annual profits despite seeing the pandemic wipe 2.5% off global sales growth.

    The Lucky Strike and Camel maker reported a 10% rise in pre-tax profits to £8.7 billion in 2020.

    On an underlying basis, pre-tax profits lifted 1% to £10.2 billion.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    TEST BLITZ

    Boris Johnson is drawing up plans to test more than 400,000 Brits a day in homes and workplaces in a bid to clear a path out of lockdown.

    NHS Test and Trace is preparing for nationwide 'surge' Covid testing which will see millions of lateral flow tests posted out each week.

    The Royal Mail is being geared up for the huge scaling up of deliveries which will see around two-thirds of the population offered repeat rapid tests from next month.

    Schoolchildren will be among those offered the 30-minute tests twice a week after returning to class from March 8.

    And The Times reports the scheme will be accompanied by a publicity campaign called "Are you ready? Get testing. Go."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    RAAB: 'WE NEED GLOBAL SOLUTION'

    Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that "we need a global solution to a global pandemic" when asked about the UK redistributing its vaccine supply to other countries.

    "It's true as well if we have got excess supply, in due course, when we know not just the amount of vaccines we need, but the timing, we would then want to think again whether there is an additional route of support that we might be able to provide," he told Sky News.

    "We are not there yet but we are already stepping up to the plate in the way I described by putting money in and using our convening power to get other countries to match it.

    "That is the way we will support the most vulnerable countries, the most vulnerable people, around the world and show that we need a global solution to a global pandemic."

  • Abe Hawken

    JAB ROLLOUT

    Conflict zones around the world should temporarily pause fighting to enable the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, Dominic Raab has said.

    The Foreign Secretary will lead the call for local ceasefires at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

    He is expected to warn that allowing Covid-19 to spread in areas without vaccination campaigns will increase the risk of new variants taking hold.

  • Abe Hawken

    VULNERABLE KIDS

    Boris Johnson must show he is serious about vulnerable children by placing them at the heart of his plans to ‘build back better’ post-Covid, England’s children’s commissioner has said.

    Anne Longfield will warn that the Prime Minister’s promise to “level up” the country will be “just a slogan” unless children are put at the “centre stage”.

    In her final speech in the post, Ms Longfield will call for a new “Covid Covenant” of education and well-being support in every community to help children and young people recover from the pandemic.

  • Abe Hawken

    'POVERTY WAGES'

    Paying social care workers “poverty wages” is holding back the economy, Labour will warn as it demands the Government raise their salaries to £10 an hour.

    Deputy leader Angela Rayner is set to say that giving the frontline workers a pay rise will mean “every extra pound” is spent in local businesses and high streets – and will not be “squirrelled away in an offshore account”.

    She will use a speech to the Unison Women’s Conference on Wednesday to say such a rise for social care “heroes” is “well overdue” and the “least that they deserve” after the last year.

  • Joseph Gamp

    DOMINIC RAAB LEADS CALL FOR CEASEFIRES TO VACCINATE WORLD’S MOST VULNERABLE

    Conflict zones around the world should temporarily pause fighting to enable the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, Dominic Raab has said.

    The Foreign Secretary will lead the call for local ceasefires at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

    He is expected to warn that allowing Covid-19 to spread in areas without vaccination campaigns will increase the risk of new variants taking hold.

    Mr Raab will urge members of the council to agree a resolution for negotiated vaccine ceasefires and help to ensure the most vulnerable people can access jabs.

    The Foreign Office said more than 160 million people around the world are at risk of being excluded from vaccines because of instability and conflict, in countries including Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BORIS JOHNSON WARNED AGAINST EASING LOCKDOWN TOO QUICKLY AS NHS TO 'STAY AT FULL STRETCH'

    The NHS is likely to remain "at full stretch" for at least another six weeks, a leading health official said as he warned the Prime Minister against easing lockdown too quickly.

    Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England, has written to Boris Johnson calling for a focus on "data, not just dates" when it comes to the Government's approach to the route out of lockdown.

    The Prime Minister will scrutinise data this week on coronavirus case numbers, hospital admissions, deaths and the impact of the vaccine rollout as he prepares his plan to reduce restrictions.

    Mr Johnson has said he will aim to give target dates for restrictions being eased when he sets out his plan next Monday, but "won't hesitate" to delay plans if infection rates make it necessary.

  • Joseph Gamp

    'ONE IN SIX PEOPLE' IN ENGLAND COULD BE ON NHS WAITING LIST BY APRIL, THINK TANK STUDY SUGGESTS

    One in six people in England could be on the waiting list for NHS treatment by April due to strains on the health service caused by coronavirus, a think tank has warned.

    Modelling by researchers at Reform showed that patients waiting a year or more had risen by over 12,000% since the start of the pandemic.

    The organisation predicted that waiting lists could hit 10 million by April, equivalent to one in six people in England, as referrals for non-Covid cases begin to resume but limits on NHS capacity remain.

    NHS directors say that if the predictions are correct then services will face a "mammoth" task to tackle the backlog.

    Reform said "a lack of system resilience" has forced the NHS to become a "national Covid service" and that patients in need of other serious medical treatments would continue to lose out.

     

  • Joseph Gamp

    CUT VAT ON GREEN HOME UPGRADES, RECYCLED PRODUCTS AND REPAIRS, MPS URGE

    VAT should be cut on home energy efficiency projects, repair services and products using recycled materials to boost a green recovery, MPs have urged.

    The parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) also called for tax incentives to make electric vehicles more affordable as part of efforts to "grow back better" from the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Committee chairman Tory MP Philip Dunne said Britain needed a tax system that was fit for the shift to net zero as he urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use the Budget in March to make changes to drive a greener future.

    A report from the EAC said Covid-19 must be treated as a "wake-up call" to the ecological damage humans were causing.

    It warned that if the economic recovery from the pandemic is not used to improve the environment, climate change and the collapse in nature may deliver an even greater crisis.

  • Joseph Gamp

    NUMBERS GAME

    COVID restrictions in the UK aren't likely to be lifted significantly until daily cases drop below 1,000, it's reported.

    Boris Johnson is due to unveil a roadmap detailing a path out of lockdown next Monday.

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    CAPTAIN TOM WANTED TO COME HOME TO STEAK AND CHIPS AFTER COVID TREATMENT

    Captain Sir Tom Moore wanted to come home to steak and chips after he was admitted to hospital with coronavirus, his daughter has revealed.

    Hannah Ingram-Moore has spoken about her father’s days in hospital, their final family holiday to the Caribbean and how his heart would have been “broken” if he had known about trolling the family received.

    She told BBC Breakfast: “I said to him in the last few days, “so, what do you want to eat when you come home?”, and we decided it was steak and chips.

    “He was really excited about coming out for steak and chips and getting his frame back outside and his walker.

    “The last real conversation was positive and about carrying on, and that’s a lovely place to be.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    PM AND UN CHIEF AGREE NEED FOR GLOBAL VACCINES PUSH TO SUPPLY DEVELOPING NATIONS

    Boris Johnson spoke to the UN secretary-general about the "importance" of producing more Covid-19 vaccines for developing countries during a call, Downing Street said.

    The UK has more than 400 million doses of vaccine on order and ministers have previously vowed to be "generous around the world" with its supply – in recognition that Britain will have enough doses to inoculate the population three times over.

    Outlining what happened during the phone call on Tuesday between the Prime Minister and the UN's Antonio Guterres, a Number 10 spokeswoman said: "They agreed on the importance of scaling up the global manufacturing of coronavirus vaccines and increasing international support to the Covax facility, to ensure vaccine access for developing countries."

    The pair also discussed efforts to tackle climate change, the military coup in Myanmar and "stressed the need to continue international support for the political process in Libya and for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Yemen".

    The spokeswoman added: "The Prime Minister looked forward to joining the secretary-general at the UN security council next week for a virtual session chaired by the UK on climate and security, and to welcoming him to Cornwall for the G7 summit in June."

  • Joseph Gamp

    PROTOCOL OFFERS NORTHERN IRELAND LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES – KPMG PARTNER

    New post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland offer lots of opportunities for the region, a senior partner in KPMG has said.

    Johnny Hanna, who heads up the global accountancy firm's operations in Belfast, acknowledged the Northern Ireland Protocol had caused some disruption in its early weeks of operation.

    However, Mr Hanna expressed optimism that issues would be resolved in the months ahead, as businesses "get to grips" with the new regulatory and customs processes on shipping goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

    Looking to the future, he said the protocol, which gives Northern Ireland companies unfettered access to sell into both the GB and EU markets, could prove beneficial.

    Mr Hanna was commenting after KPMG announced 200 new jobs in Belfast.

  • Joseph Gamp

    RAPID TESTING AT VENUES NOT SOLUTION TO RESTORE LIVE EVENTS – MUSIC VENUE TRUST

    Rapid testing outside music venues is not the answer to reviving the live concert industry, but using Government testing centres could be way forward, the head of the Music Venue Trust has said.

    Mark Davyd, the CEO of the organisation – which works to protect, secure and improve music venues, said the most viable move is to use the Government testing centres already in operation.

    The Prime Minister has said rapid Covid-19 testing could help entertainment venues, such as theatres and nightclubs, start to welcome back customers once lockdown restrictions are eased. However, Mr Davyd said it is unlikely venues themselves would be able to test patrons on the spot in a safe and efficient manner.

    He said: "If we could use those to get people rapid tested, to get acknowledgement of a negative test onto their phones or a digital device, which they could show at the door, then it's very practical to imagine that that could be a very significant contributor towards risk management.

    "If we are imagining that every venue would carry out its own rapid test, that quickly moves into the realms of not making a lot of financial sense and also being a nightmare to administer and frankly being quite risky in terms of how efficient the testing would be. If we can rely on the rapid testing centres, then I think it's definitely a contributor towards getting events back."

  • Joseph Gamp

    LABOUR ASKS FOR DETAILS ON GOVERNMENT CONTRACT MEETINGS WITH TORY-LINKED FIRMS

    Labour has written to the Cabinet Secretary asking him to publish details on meetings with Tory-linked firms that have secured contracts during the pandemic.

    Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves last week revealed she had written to 10 firms with connections to the Conservative Party awarded contracts during the coronavirus crisis in a bid to unveil their profit levels.

    Ms Reeves has now asked Simon Case to disclose details of meetings between these companies and Government departments in the past year, according to Labour.

    She also requested details of all people present at the meetings, including ministers, MPs, special advisers, civil servants and Conservative Party staff members.

    "As outlined, to restore transparency and public trust, this information is extremely important," she said in the letter.

  • Joseph Gamp

    SHIELDING LIST WILL ALMOST DOUBLE IN SIZE AS NEARLY 2M IDENTIFIED AS 'HIGH RISK'

    Almost two million more people are to be told to shield to protect themselves from serious side-effects from Covid-19, officials have said. A new tool has identified those who are at high risk of severe disease or death.

    As a result, 1.7 million additional people in England will be sent letters asking them to shield. Around 2.2 million people are currently on the list in England, which will expand to almost four million when the additional people are included.

    More than 800,000 of these are aged 19 to 69 and will be prioritised for the vaccination programme, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed.

    The current shielding list includes people with single risk factors such as those with various cancers, people on immunosuppression drugs or those with severe respiratory conditions. But as the pandemic has progressed, medics have found that some people are at higher risk than others because they have multiple risk factors.

    Using medical records, the new tool assesses which people are at higher risk based on multiple factors including age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), other health conditions and also postcode, which is indicative of levels of deprivation.

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