Author: Radio News Hub
Government urged not to let ‘everything loose’ over Christmas
The Government has been urged not to let “everything loose” in the lead-up to Christmas after it emerged that families could be allowed to meet for up to a week as part of a UK-wide relaxation of coronavirus rules.
Several families could be allowed to join a bubble and to mix between December 22 and 28, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Downing Street insiders have suggested that discussions on what Christmas will look like are still ongoing.
But Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that while infection rates were dropping in all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester and other parts of the North West, the Government should not “let everything loose”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I would also say to the Government, don’t just go towards Christmas and let everything loose.
“What you need to do is keep a steady approach that will keep the numbers going in the way they are currently going in the North West and in Greater Manchester, and that will relieve the pressures on the NHS come January.”
On Friday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were “substantial differences” in Covid-19 infection rates across England, with rates having continued to increase in London, the east of England and the South East, but decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands.
Former chief government scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport told Times Radio there was “something iconic in people’s minds” about Christmas but that it “doesn’t make sense to have big parties” this year.
He added that UK lockdown measures appeared to be working but that people should continue to follow the rules.
“It’s absolutely clear that if you were to stop everything and take the brakes off completely, then infection would start growing again and so the question is what measures will come in after December 2?” he said.
“I’m sure there will need to be continuing measures of some sort.
“Surely now, when there is the prospect of a vaccine, is not the time to give up.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street briefing on Friday it was still too early to say what contact people will be able to have over the festive period.
Mr Hancock said it would be a “boost” for the UK if a “safe, careful and sensible” set of plans could be agreed between the devolved nations.
He said: “Over Christmas I know how important it is that we have a system in place, a set of rules that both keeps people safe but also allows people to see their loved ones.”
Earlier this week, Public Health England said Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) guidance had suggested each day of greater freedom could require five days of tighter measures.
But Professor Calum Semple, from Liverpool University and a member of Sage, said if he had a crystal ball, he would say the North West was going to have a “cracking Christmas”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “What I have seen in Liverpool is that the Tier 3 system was like taking the power off the supertanker so instead it’s just gliding, but the lockdown is putting the brakes on – that’s the big difference.
“So that’s why we can be really confident that the North West is coming out of this earlier, and if I had a crystal ball, I think the North West is going to have a cracking Christmas.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson acknowledged the frustration of people self-isolating due to coronavirus and thanked them for their “incredibly important” actions.
The Prime Minister posted a video update online from Downing Street, where he himself continues to isolate, and joked that he had finally been “put under house arrest”.
“Bear in mind what you are doing is incredibly important because that is how we are going to break the chain of transmission, stop the disease, get the R down as I believe we are doing at the moment and get it under control,” he said.
Mr Hancock said he is increasingly hopeful of some kind of normality by spring, as he confirmed the UK’s health regulator is assessing a coronavirus vaccine which could potentially be rolled out next month.
He described the consideration by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as “another important step forward in tackling this pandemic”.
Referring to the “ray of light” that a vaccine may bring, he confirmed he had formally asked the regulator to assess the vaccine and that, if approved, a jab could be rolled out from December.
He said: “If the regulator approves a vaccine, we will be ready to start the vaccination next month, with the bulk of roll-out in the new year.”
It comes as NHS documents seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) suggest all adults in England – of any age – could start to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before the end of January if supplies allow.
Under the plan, every adult who wants a jab could be vaccinated by early April.
But an NHS spokeswoman said: “These earlier draft slides are no longer up to date relative to the latest information from companies on likely supply schedules, and as there is of course as yet no authorised vaccine in the world the NHS is having to plan for many different scenarios.”
Meanwhile, the UK will be the first country to begin clinical trials of a new coronavirus antibody treatment developed by drugs giant AstraZeneca aimed at people with a weakened immune system who cannot be vaccinated.
A participant in Manchester will be the first in the world to receive the pharmaceutical company’s new “antibody cocktail” as part of the trial to test whether it will prevent Covid-19 for up to a year.
The clinical trial programme will recruit 5,000 participants, which includes 1,000 people from nine sites in the UK.
Published: 21/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Big spending plans to be unveiled by the Government *
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil the much-delayed National Infrastructure Strategy for £100 billion of long-term investment next week.
He will publish the strategy to help tackle the climate crisis and invest in transport on Wednesday, when he will also outline his spending review.
The infrastructure strategy to boost transport connectivity and work towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 had been expected to be published in March but was delayed.
Mr Sunak said he would unveil it on Wednesday alongside tens of billions of pounds of infrastructure investment, including £1.6 billion to tackle potholes, in his spending review.
The Treasury said the infrastructure strategy would contain a down payment on flagship programmes including fibre broadband, flood defences and transport schemes.
Mr Sunak said: “We are absolutely committed to levelling-up opportunities so those living in all corners of the UK get their fair share of our future prosperity.
“All nations and regions of the UK have benefited from our unprecedented £200 billion Covid support package. And after a difficult year for this country, this spending review will help us build back better by investing over £600 billion across the UK during the next five years.”
The location for the Treasury’s northern headquarters as part of a drive to get more civil servants working outside of London will be announced “in the coming weeks”, a press notice added.
Jake Berry, who is leading a group of Tory MPs representing the North of England, welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement for putting “‘levelling-up’ at the heart of this Government’s agenda”.
But the Government is facing the threat of industrial action if it imposes a pay cap on millions of public sector workers.
Unions reacted angrily to reports the Chancellor would announce a pay limit at the spending review, though frontline NHS doctors and nurses are expected to be exempt.
Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: “Communities up and down the country don’t want to hear more empty rhetoric from this Government.
“The Conservatives have been in power for 10 long years, but their track record is a litany of failure and broken promises.”
Published: 21/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Easing of Covid restrictions for Christmas: Key questions answered *
Families could be allowed to join a temporary bubble to meet up over Christmas, it has been reported.
Household mixing is currently subject to harsh restrictions in England under the country’s second lockdown with only support bubbles allowing people from different addresses to mix.
Similar curbs are in force in mainland Scotland, a fresh lockdown will prevent gatherings of more than one household in Northern Ireland from Friday and Wales has rules governing people mixing indoors.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the key questions surrounding a Christmas curtailment of restrictions:
– What is being reported?
Several households – potentially three – could be allowed to create a bubble temporarily between December 22 and 28, with the plans covering all four nations of the UK, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The announcement of the plans – which will allow families to spend up to seven days together – is expected to come next week.
The paper also reported Chancellor Rishi Sunak pushed to have the restrictions eased ahead of December 25 to allow the hospitality sector to benefit from increased trade.
– What else could be allowed under the plans?
Restrictions on church services are also due to be lifted allowing Christmas Day services to be held, the paper said.
Currently, churches will remain open for private prayer only, with Downing Street saying in November that outlawing services inside places of worship is “vital in tackling the spread of the virus”.
– What consequences could follow from allowing more than two bubble households to mix over Christmas?
Public Health England (PHE) suggested earlier this week that for every one day restrictions were relaxed over the holiday, there would need to be an extra five days of tighter rules.
This would mean that an easing of restrictions for seven days between December 22 and 28 would mean more than a month of tighter regulations, according to this formula.
– Does everyone agree on this?
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said there was “no magic number” relating to an easing of lockdown and a subsequent period of tighter measures.
He said it was more important people complied with whatever rules were in place if coronavirus infection rates were to be held down.
“There is no magic number about how many days this is going to cost us so we shouldn’t frame it that way,” he added.
– What about care homes?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he wants to have testing for care home visitors in place for all care homes in England “by Christmas”.
A pilot scheme has seen family and friends of people living in 20 care homes across Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall getting access to regular testing to allow them to visit their loved ones.
The scheme, which started this week, will be assessed by experts and the aim is to roll it out to other regions before the end of December.
– Would I be able to go on holiday, or visit my second home for Christmas?
Under the current lockdown rules, people are advised not to travel unless for essential reasons.
People can travel for work and there are exemptions for overnights and second homes for work purposes.
It is not known how this will change when the restrictions lift on December 2.
Published: 21/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Shooting at a shopping centre in Wisconsin leaves eight injured *
Police are searching for the suspect in a shooting at a suburban Milwaukee mall that left seven adults and a teenager injured.
Police searched on Friday evening for the suspect in a shooting at a suburban Milwaukee mall that left seven adults and a teenager injured.
Wauwatosa Police chief Barry Weber gave no motive for the attack at the Mayfair Mall in a brief update about three hours after the 2.50pm local time incident near an entrance to the Macy’s store.
He said the extent of the eight victims’ injuries was unknown, but all were alive. He added that the gunman was “no longer at the scene” when authorities arrived.
“Preliminary statements from witnesses indicate that the shooter is a white male in his 20s or 30s,” Mr Weber told reporters.
“Investigators are working on determining the identity of that suspect.”
The chief called the mall an active crime scene and asked people to continue to stay away. He said the mall would remain closed until further notice.
Witnesses told WISN-TV that they had heard what they believed to be eight to 12 gunshots.
Some people remained in the mall while police searched for a suspect. The station interviewed several people outside the mall who said they had friends sheltered inside stores while the search was ongoing.
Jill Wooley was inside Macy’s with her 79-year-old mother when they heard eight to 12 gunshots just outside the store entrance.
“We heard the first shot fired and knew immediately it was a gunshot,” Ms Wooley told CBS58 in Milwaukee. “We both just dropped to the floor.”
Ms Wooley said she did not see anyone but the shots were “very close”. She added that they ran in the opposite direction to the basement of the store, where they then hid.
Trish Cox’s 19-year-old nephew works at Finish Line sporting goods store.
She said she was worried because the store’s phone was not being answered and was frantic as she waited while FBI agents cleared the mall.
An agent who would not give his name said the mall was being “methodically” cleared. Heavily armed FBI personnel were visible at the mall.
Mall operator Brookfield Properties said in a statement they were “disheartened and angered that our guests and tenants were subject to this violent incident today”. They declined further comment.
Published: 21/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Jeremy Kyle may have played a part in the death of a guest on his TV show, according to a coroner
TV presenter Jeremy Kyle “may have caused or contributed” to the death of programme guest Steve Dymond, who is suspected to have taken his own life after failing a lie detector test on the show, a pre-inquest review has heard.
The preliminary hearing is being held into the death of the 63-year-old, who died of a morphine overdose and a heart problem at his home in Portsmouth, Hampshire, seven days after he had filmed The Jeremy Kyle Show last year.
He took a lie detector test on the programme to show whether he had cheated on his ex-fiancee Jane Callaghan, from Gosport.
Coroner Jason Pegg said he has made Mr Kyle an “interested person” for the inquest, stating the presenter is someone “who may have caused or contributed to the death of Stephen Dymond”.
He added: “It might seem ludicrous not to have Mr Kyle to give evidence to give his take on the situation.”
Counsel for Mr Dymond’s family Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC told the Winchester hearing that Mr Dymond became “distressed” after he failed the lie detector test.
She said Mr Dymond had gone on the show to “prove his fidelity”, and had said: “I pushed and pushed but it all went wrong.”
Ms Gallagher said after the result was announced during filming, the audience “booed and jeered” at him and he was “called a failure by the presenter”.
She said Mr Kyle was “in his face” and even when he was “at the point of collapsing, he was still being heckled”.
She said Mr Dymond sought to leave through a side door but found it locked, and she added: “He couldn’t escape the heckling. He was on his hands and knees because he thought he was going to pass out from the stress.”
Ms Gallagher said his state of mind was known by the crew on the show, with a message sent on a WhatsApp group stating: “Just so you know, he’s still crying, he has just said he wishes he was dead. Just giving you the heads up.”
Ms Gallagher added: “While he was still on the programme, within minutes, he was talking about wishing he was dead.”
She said Mr Dymond called his brother as he was taken home by taxi from the show.
In a statement read to the hearing, Leslie Dymond said: “He seemed completely broken and frightened and told me he couldn’t go on living.”
The hearing was told Mr Dymond was originally turned down to appear on the show but was accepted as a guest after gaining a letter from his doctor.
The inquest has heard he had been receiving mental health care from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Mr Dymond’s death in May 2019 was caused by a morphine overdose and left ventricular hypertrophy, which is when the left chamber of the heart is not pumping properly, the inquest has heard.
The hearing continues.
Published: 20/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Substantial regional differences in Covid-19 infections across England – ONS
There are “substantial differences” in Covid-19 infection rates across England, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), although the national picture suggests there may be some impact of lockdown.
Data from November 8 to 14 suggests the overall national infection rate for England is similar to the week before, but there are stark regional divides, with rising rates in primary school aged children.
The ONS said: “Over the last week, infection rates have continued to increase in London, the East of England and the South East, however rates now appear to be decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands.
“The highest Covid-19 infection rates remain in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.”
Its estimates for cases are based on 665,759 swab tests in people’s homes in England over the last six weeks, regardless of whether people have symptoms.
The ONS said the highest infection rates are in secondary school aged children, older teenagers and young adults and that rates continue to increase in primary school aged children.
Meanwhile, infection rates appear to be levelling off in people aged 25 and over.
Katherine Kent, co-head of analysis for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “There are early signs that the national level of infections in England might be levelling off but this hides a lot of variation at a regional level.
“Whilst the highest levels of infection remain in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, rates are now decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands while increasing in London, the East of England and the South East.
“New increases appear to be driven by infections in younger people, with increasing levels in primary school age children.
“Elsewhere in the UK, we are seeing a similar picture with increasing infections throughout October which are now decreasing in Wales and Northern Ireland and levelling off in Scotland.”
The ONS said there were an average of 38,900 new cases per day of Covid-19 in private households in England between November 8 to 14.
This is down from an estimated 47,700 new cases per day for the period October 31 to November 6.
The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
Analysing the data, Professor James Naismith, from the University of Oxford, said: “The ONS data continue a run of data suggesting that the number of new infections is now beginning to fall.
“These numbers would be the first where we might hope to see the national lockdown beginning to impact.”
Meanwhile, data from the Zoe app coronavirus study run by King’s College London suggests the UK reproduction number – the R value – is around 1.
The R represents the average number of people someone with Covid-19 goes on to infect.
The Zoe app team put the R in England at 1.0, and at 0.9 in Wales and Scotland.
But it said “worryingly, the east of England and especially the Midlands are both seeing numbers still increasing with R values of 1.1 and 1 respectively”.
Meanwhile, the North West and the North East and Yorkshire both have R values of 0.9 as cases decline.
In the South East, London and South West, cases are not declining, the researchers said, and the R is 1.
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “The reason we are now seeing an overall R value of 1 in England is because numbers are falling in the North, rising in the Midlands and East but staying flat in the south of England.
“The continued rise in the Midlands, despite national lockdown, is concerning.
“This suggests an approach focused on improved compliance at regional, not national level, over a longer time frame is the best way forward.
“We need to keep cases low enough for us to function as a nation until vaccines arrive without further harmful lockdowns.”
Published: 20/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Ministerial standards adviser quits as PM contradicts his Patel bullying advice
Boris Johnson’s adviser on ministerial standards has resigned after the Prime Minister contradicted his advice by judging that Priti Patel did not breach the rules despite being found to have bullied staff.
Sir Alex Allan said the Home Secretary had not always treated civil servants with “consideration and respect” and concluded that her approach on occasions “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals”.
He said Ms Patel had “not consistently met the high standards required by the ministerial code”, though said there was “no evidence that she was aware of the impact of her behaviour”.
But Mr Johnson, who is arbiter of the code, judged that Ms Patel did not breach the rules.
He continues to have “full confidence” in the Home Secretary and “considers this matter now closed”, according to a Government statement.
Sir Alex resigned in response to Mr Johnson’s verdict, saying in a statement: “I recognise that it is for the Prime Minister to make a judgement on whether actions by a Minister amount to a breach of the ministerial code.
“But I feel that it is right that I should now resign from my position as the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on the code.”
Ms Patel said she was “sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people” and thanked the Prime Minister for his support.
Ministers are usually expected to resign if they breach the code, and Mr Johnson’s decision to stand by Ms Patel sparked fury from opposition MPs.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It is hard to imagine another workplace in the UK where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top.”
Jess Phillips, shadow minister for domestic violence, said it was an “utter disgrace” and that any Conservative MP “seeking to defend this is utterly without reason or comprehension”.
Sir Alex concluded that Ms Patel’s behaviour – which was said to include some occasions of shouting and swearing – met the definition of bullying adopted by the civil service.
In his advice published on Friday morning during Anti-Bullying Week, he said: “The definition of bullying adopted by the Civil Service accepts that legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of a worker’s performance will not amount to bullying.
“It defines bullying as intimidating or insulting behaviour that makes an individual feel uncomfortable, frightened, less respected or put down. Instances of the behaviour reported to the Cabinet Office would meet such a definition.”
He added: “Her approach on occasions has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals. To that extent her behaviour has been in breach of the ministerial code, even if unintentionally.”
However, he said there was “no evidence that she was aware of the impact of her behaviour, and no feedback was given to her at the time”.
He added: “The high pressure and demands of the role, in the Home Office, coupled with the need for more supportive leadership from the top of the department has clearly been a contributory factor.
“In particular, I note the finding of different and more positive behaviour since these issues were raised with her.”
Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Home Office, said relationships between officials and ministers at the department had “improved considerably” but admitted the report made for “difficult reading”.
The full report into her conduct has not been published by the Government.
A Cabinet Office investigation was launched in March over allegations that Ms Patel belittled colleagues and clashed with senior officials in three different departments.
It followed the resignation of the Home Office’s permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam, who accused Ms Patel of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” against him and is claiming constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal.
Published: 20/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Northern Ireland shuts retail and hospitality for two weeks to curb virus spread
Northern Ireland will shut non-essential retail, pubs and restaurants for two weeks from November 27 to save the health service from becoming swamped. The country was poised to emerge from a limited circuit-breaker lockdown until the number of infections rose to worrying levels.
Close-contact services and cafes can open this Friday as planned but will have to close again next Friday, while other hospitality sectors like pubs and licensed restaurants will remain closed throughout, Stormont ministers said.
From November 27, non-essential retail and services like hairdressers, beauticians and driving lessons will also have to shut to protect an NHS battling a surge in coronavirus cases.
Takeaway hospitality will be allowed but leisure and entertainment venues will be closed.
The measures were taken as top doctors warned hospitals could otherwise be overwhelmed.
Business leaders predicted a “huge” number of redundancies.
Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Executive has been presented today with the sobering prospect of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed within weeks.
“It is clear that a tough, carefully timed, intervention is required to give us the best chance to have a safe and happy Christmas and further into the new year period.”
The Stormont Executive also decided sporting events will only be allowed for elite athletes, with no spectators.
Other decisions included:
– Rules around household gatherings will be unchanged and places of worship will close.
– People will be strongly encouraged to stay at home and work from home.
– Schools and child care centres can remain open and universities will conduct distanced learning except where it has to be face to face.
– Outdoor playgrounds can remain open.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “It is a difficult and challenging decision and as a mother and daughter I understand how difficult these new interventions will be on family lives.
“Given the gravity of the situation there is no other choice but to act now.”
Health Minister Robin Swann’s ultimatum to Stormont colleagues stated that if they did not take action, a full lockdown in mid-December would not be enough to prevent hospital services from being outstripped.
Colin Neill, chief executive of industry group Hospitality Ulster, said: “There is a huge amount of anger right across the hospitality industry.
“We have been left with left with no trade, no hope and a huge amount of redundancies on our hands.”
Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton represents traders in the city.
He said: “There is real anger tonight that the Executive’s new lockdown decision will inevitably have a catastrophic effect on jobs and livelihoods.
“Their trust in this Executive is now at rock bottom.”
Chairman of the BMA’s Northern Ireland Council Dr Tom Black said infection rates were still too high, GP practices were still exceptionally busy and hospitals were either at or above capacity.
“As we have seen, failure to do just that in recent weeks has undermined the hard work and selfless dedication of frontline health and social care staff, and put our health service in a precarious position heading into winter.”
Another 487 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said.
A total of 3,401 cases have been diagnosed over the last seven days.
Another 12 deaths were reported, the department’s daily update showed.
Published: 20/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh mark wedding anniversary with new photo
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have marked their 73rd wedding anniversary by releasing a photograph showing them opening a card from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children.
The colourful homemade gift was created by Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and is emblazoned with the number 73 – that pops out from the front of the card.
In the touching image, the Queen and duke are sat on a sofa in Windsor Castle’s Oak Room and appear to be reading the card’s message from George, a future king, and his siblings.
The picture, taken by Chris Jackson from Getty Images, also shows a small pile of anniversary cards and letters sent by well-wishers on a nearby table.
The monarch, 94, was a 21-year-old princess when she married the dashing Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey on November 20 1947.
Their enduring relationship has lasted the longest of any British sovereign and Philip has been at the Queen’s side throughout the decades, supporting her as she devotes herself to her role as head of state.
The Queen and the duke, who has retired from public duties, are spending the lockdown in England isolating at Windsor Castle, and anniversary celebrations are expected to be low-key.
There is no traditional gift, jewel or colour associated with 73rd wedding anniversaries in the UK.
In the new photograph, the Queen is wearing a pale blue double wool crepe dress by Stewart Parvin and a chrysanthemum brooch made from sapphires and diamonds set in platinum, while Philip wears a blazer, shirt, tie and trousers.
The head of state, when Princess Elizabeth, was photographed wearing the brooch in images taken on her honeymoon at Broadlands in Hampshire, and again in pictures released to mark the Queen and duke’s 60th wedding anniversary in 2007.
The past year has been a tumultuous one for the nation, with people learning to live with coronavirus that has had a profound impact on all aspects of society.
Royal events moved online during the first national lockdown, with the Queen holding virtual engagements via video calls and meetings by phone.
In the spring, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down as working royals for financial freedom and now live in California after signing a lucrative Netflix deal and appear poised to announce projects through their charitable body Archewell.
Philip celebrated his 99th birthday on June 10 and a joint portrait with the Queen was released to mark the milestone.
The Queen and the duke have also just celebrated the 72nd birthday of their eldest child, the Prince of Wales.
During the summer the Queen’s consort made a rare public appearance when he stepped down as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles and the Duchess of Cornwall took up the role.
Their long union is seen as a key source of stability within the monarchy.
Together they have celebrated the silver, golden and diamond jubilees of the Queen’s reign, and faced ups and downs over the years including the breakdown of three of their four children’s marriages, and the backlash which followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, the Queen paid a touching tribute to her husband, saying: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”
Philip used the occasion to praise the Queen for her abundance of tolerance.
“I think the main lesson that we have learnt is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage,” he said.
Published: 19/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub
Each day’s Christmas mixing could see five days of tighter restrictions follow
Household mixing could be allowed over Christmas, but scientists have warned that each day’s freedom might require five days of tougher measures to make up for it. The Government is considering ways to allow people to spend time with family over the festive period, although a senior health official said any socialising would likely have to be followed by “very responsible” behaviour and a reduction in contacts again.
Reports suggest households might be allowed to mix indoors for a five-day period from Christmas Eve, and that ministers are considering plans to allow three or four households to form bubbles.
A five-day easing could mean a potential 25-day period of tighter measures into January if the Government follows advice from Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies).
Dr Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser to the Government’s Covid-19 response, suggested tougher restrictions could be needed either side of Christmas if curbs are to be eased for a time.
She told a Downing Street briefing: “We are very keen that we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible.
“That requires all of us to make every effort over this national restriction period and even in early December to get the cases as low as possible and to reduce the risk of transmission within households and between families.”
While she said scientists had suggested that one day of greater freedom required two days of restrictions, PHE later said Dr Hopkins “misspoke” and that Sage advice had referred to modelling indicating that for every one day of relaxation, five days of tighter restrictions could be needed.
She said she was hopeful the Government would make a decision “that will allow us to have some mixing”, but added: “Once we have got past the Christmas period, if there has been some release and some socialisation, we will all have to be very responsible and reduce those contacts again.”
With Christmas Eve falling on a Thursday and a bank holiday Monday on December 28, it is thought that ministers are looking at that five-day period to allow some sort of indoor gatherings.
Churches are likely to be allowed to hold Christmas Day services, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Boris Johnson wants to ease coronavirus rules to allow families to be reunited over Christmas and his Government has been working with counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to agree to a UK-wide approach.
His official spokesman said: “We are looking at ways to ensure that people can spend time with close family over Christmas at the end of what has been an incredibly difficult year.”
Sage member Professor John Edmunds said normal socialising activity around Christmas “all unfortunately carries a risk” and people should probably prepare for a “slightly disappointing Christmas”.
He told ITV’s Peston: “I think that it would be prudent not to go wild at Christmas quite honestly, so I think that we will have to moderate and have a slightly disappointing Christmas, unfortunately.”
Ministers are also working out what new tiers should replace the previous system once England emerges from the current lockdown on December 2.
Scientists including Dr Hopkins have said the previous Tier 1 had very little effect on reducing coronavirus cases, with the highest impact found from enhanced restrictions in Tier 3 areas.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for a beefed-up tier system when England’s lockdown ends.
Deputy chief scientific adviser Dame Angela McLean said it was important to go into the festive week of Christmas with “infections in the community as low as possible”.
The latest reproduction rate – the R value – of the virus is still above one, according to most recent estimates, meaning the disease is still spreading.
A further 529 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, the Government said, bringing the UK total to 53,274.
There had been a further 19,609 lab-confirmed cases in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday, taking the total to 1,430,341.
Published: 19/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub