Wednesday , October 28 2020

Monday briefing: Three tiers for Covid alerts

Downing Street says the country is at a “critical juncture” in managing Covid-19 as Boris Johnson prepares to lay out a new three-tier alert system for England.

After a Cobra meeting this morning which will determine the final plan, Johnson will address parliament and then appear on TV tonight alongside the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty.

“This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus,” a spokesman for No 10 said.

The plan is expected to include areas with relatively low infection levels being placed in what is being described as tier 1, where only national restrictions such as the rule of six, the 10pm curfew on restaurants and pubs, and existing rules on masks and social distancing will apply. The next tier is likely to include bans on home visits and indoor socialising with other households in bars or restaurants.

In areas under the toughest tier 3 restrictions – including Merseyside, Manchester and Newcastle – bars and pubs are expected to be forced to close. Late last night, the metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region and six other local leaders said in a statement their area was expected to face the toughest restrictions.

Restaurants in tier 3 councils were expected to be allowed to stay open until 10pm, but casinos, gyms and betting shops will have to close. However, government sources have reportedly disputed that restaurants would be allowed to remain open in Liverpool, and claimed that “nothing has been agreed” until this morning. You can read the details of the tiers here.

The plans will be debated on Tuesday, and could be implemented as soon as Wednesday, sources said. Business leaders are preparing to mount a legal challenge to the changes, which they say have “decimated the hospitality industry”. It comes as a survey by the Sustainable Restaurant Association showed 76% of respondents said they would revert to their previous habits of dining out up to four times a month, once restrictions allowed.
School meals – There’s been a surge in the number of children registering for school meals, with an estimated 1 million pupils recently signing up for the first time, food poverty campaigners say.

Analysis by the Food Foundation thinktank, released as part of footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty, estimates that as many as 900,000 more children have sought free school meals, on top of the 1.4 million who were already claiming, as the Covid-19 crisis plays havoc with family incomes.

Scotland – The son of a banker shot dead on the doorstep of their family home nearly 16 years ago has spoken out for the first time, saying he and his family deserve justice and closure from the unsolved murder. Andrew Wilson, 20, has no memories of his father, Alistair, apart from seeing him at the age of four lying dying on the doorstep of their home in Nairn in the Highlands.

“Someone came to our family home on a Sunday evening while my dad was reading my brother and me bedtime stories after our bath,” he said. “The next thing I know I am looking at my dad lying in our doorway covered in blood.” No one has been arrested in connection with the case, which remains under investigation.

Lord Janner – Three weeks of partially closed hearings into the way police, prosecutors, local government and the Labour party dealt with child sexual abuse allegations involving the late MP will start on Monday. In order to protect the identities of those who allege they were assaulted by the former Leicester West MP, most of the evidence sessions will not be live-streamed to the public. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is already carrying out all of its work remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Short summaries of the hearings will be published.


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