‘It’s wrong to say tests aren’t available’ – Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was “wrong to say” that there were no tests available after she was quizzed about the long delays in trying to book a test in Bolton where the infection rate is the highest in England.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, she said: “Tests are available, you’ve heard me say, particularly in local lockdown areas, I’ve seen this myself, I’ve seen the teams that have been working on this.
“Mobile testing is going in, capacity is going into local areas where lockdowns have been undertaken and are taking place.
“I think it is wrong to say tests are not available, new book-in slots are being made available every single day, mobile testing units are being made available.
“And on top of that home testing kits are being issued across the country but specifically in local lockdown areas.”
A warning to Priti Patel’s neighbours here…
No magic solution to testing – Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel defended the Government’s record on coronavirus testing.
Ms Patel told Times Radio: “Testing capacity is increasing.
“Our capacity is at the highest level it has been since coronavirus.”
She added: “I think we have to recognise this is challenging.
“There is no magic solution to say that it is all going to be perfect.”
NHS must come first for testing, says health chief
Health staff and patients should be prioritised regarding coronavirus testing, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson has said.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you have got a demand-capacity mismatch what you need to do is, kind of, prioritise really clearly in terms of work out who should have greatest access to tests.
“Now, clearly from the NHS’s point of view we would want to have our staff tested and we would also want to have our patients who are needing treatment. They are the people who are the real priorities.”
Good news for online grocery giant Ocado:
Retailer Ocado has said it is set to deliver full-year underlying earnings of at least £40 million thanks to surging demand for online groceries amid the pandemic.
The group said its retail business – a joint venture with high street giant Marks & Spencer – saw revenues jump 52 per cent to £587.3 million in its third quarter to August 30.
It said sales growth picked up on the previous three months as customer demand remained high amid a shift to online supermarket shopping.
The group said its switchover to selling M&S products on September 1 had seen average shopper baskets rise by around five items and also saw its biggest ever forward order day, on the day of launch.
Ocado said: “While uncertainties remain over the scale, and duration, of the ongoing impact of social distancing restrictions in the UK, the strong trading performance of Ocado Retail in the first three quarters of the year, combined with the impact of operational leverage in the retail business, suggest, given current trends, a full-year Ebitda result for Ocado Group of at least £40 million.”
Here’s a breakdown of today’s unemployment figures:
Coronavirus still having ‘big impact on world of work’
ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “Some effects of the pandemic on the labour market were beginning to unwind in July as parts of the economy reopened.
“Fewer workers were away on furlough and average hours rose.
“The number of job vacancies continued to recover into August, too.
“Nonetheless, with the number of employees on the payroll down again in August and both unemployment and redundancies sharply up in July, it is clear that coronavirus is still having a big impact on the world of work.”
The number of UK workers on payrolls fell by 695,000 between March and August due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Office for National Statistics has confirmed.
Police chief calls for clarity over rule of six
The national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales has called for guidance over enforcement of the rule of six.
In response to a question about having “more guidance” on Good Morning Britain, John Apter responded: “Maybe we should have ‘guidance’, because we haven’t had any yet.”
Mr Apter said he understood the Government faced a “very fast-moving” and complicated situation.
“But my colleagues who are on the front line trying to interpret this law, trying to educate and work with the public, are now being accused of asking (people) to snitch on their neighbours.”
He also said the community needed to manage its expectations of police in enforcing the new rule.
“We do not have loads of extra police officers. We’re already trying to manage increasing demand. We’re not going to be able to attend every call.”
We begin with concerns over testing shortages:
NHS staff have been forced to stay off work and quarantine due to the lack of coronavirus testing, health leaders have warned.
Hospitals in Bristol, Leeds and London have raised concerns over the weekend about tests being unavailable for health workers.
NHS Providers, which represents NHS trust leaders, warned that the recovery of normal NHS services was being put in jeopardy.
Scotland Yard says it is deploying resources across the capital to help enforce tighter restrictions on social gatherings following changes in the coronavirus regulations
DAC Matt Twist, leading the Met’s response to Coronavirus, said: “Coronavirus has had an enormous impact on London and the life of Londoners and my thoughts are with all those who have battled the virus or who have lost loved ones. Our city has made huge sacrifices since the start of lockdown in March and officers across the Met have been working around the clock to keep London safe and support our heroic health colleagues.
“Throughout this period, the vast majority of Londoners have complied with the regulations. Today’s changes are an important step to reduce the spread of the virus and I would urge everyone to take them seriously and comply.
“We will be deploying resources across the capital to engage with groups of more than six to highlight the risks and regulations. Where necessary, officers will enforce the regulations. We will be working closely with the London boroughs and their enforcement teams, and doing all we can to persuade Londoners to take the threat seriously. Where people just won’t listen, and are putting everyone at risk, we absolutely will take enforcement action.
“It is very clear that we cannot control the spread of the virus through enforcement alone, and we need Londoners to work with us. Therefore, please continue to act responsibly – maintain social distancing, respect the new regulations and guidance, and help keep yourself, your friends and family safe.”
People drink and dine out in Soho as the Metropolitan Police says it will deploy resources across the capital to enforce the tighter restrictions on social gatherings
New Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey says respecting the rule of law has never been more precious due to the pandemic
Sir Ed said: “If we are to beat this dreadful virus people need to obey the law, even when some of the emergency Covid laws are amongst the most draconian the British people have faced for centuries.
“So the rule of law has never been more precious to the health of our nation. And yet this Prime Minister has chosen this moment to trash the rule of law.
“This House must stop him, tonight.”
People should report their neighbours to the police if they breach the new “rule of six” coronavirus restrictions, a Home Office minister said
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse suggested that people should ring the non-emergency 101 number if they have concerns that the laws are being breached.
Any social gathering of more than six people in England is against the law, with people facing fines of up to £3,200 if they do not abide by the new measure, which applies to both indoor and outdoor settings.
Mr Malthouse said if people saw “that kind of thing” they should consider calling the police.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are in discussions about what reporting mechanisms there might be, but there is obviously the non-emergency number that people can ring and report issues they wish to.”
Pressed on whether that would involve reporting a gathering of seven or more in a neighbour’s garden, Mr Malthouse said: “It is open to neighbours to do exactly that through the non-emergency number, and if they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing, then absolutely they should think about it.”
Six people arrested as police break up 405 house parties across Scotland at the weekend in alleged breaches of coronavirus regulations
Just one fixed penalty noticed was issued following the incidents between Friday and Sunday with police giving advice while dispersing party-goers.
Two officers were allegedly assaulted at one such incident in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, with the windows of two police cars also smashed at around 5.35am on Sunday.
After the incident two men aged 47 were arrested and expected to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday. Elsewhere, a 21-year-old man was arrested and charged for allegedly obstructing officers as they responded to another reported house party at a tower block in Muirhouse, Motherwell, at around 11.30pm on Friday.
Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: “The figures from this weekend show that we will use the powers we have to disperse parties which breach the regulations and will enforce where necessary.
“We will not tolerate blatant disregard for the legislation which is there to help stop the spread of the virus. I’m extremely disappointed to learn that two officers were allegedly assaulted while responding to a party in Edinburgh.
“Our officers find themselves dealing with situations on a daily basis to protect the people and communities we serve, and are trained to a high level to deal with violent and confrontational situations. However, being assaulted is not simply part of the job and it cannot be tolerated.
“The Chief Constable made it clear that assaults against officers and staff is utterly unacceptable in his public pledge made to tackle this last month.”
Stricter lockdown restrictions which have been imposed on the Greater Glasgow area will continue for another week, the Scottish Government has announced
The measures on meetings in indoor household settings will remain in place across seven regions until the next review on Tuesday September 22 after being recommended by the National Incident Management Team chaired by Public Health Scotland.
Originally the tougher restrictions were put in place in the Glasgow City Council area as well as West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire.
Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in west central Scotland meant they were later extended to Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and North and South Lanarkshire.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “clearly regrettable that these restrictions need to continue”.
She added: “I understand that this will not be welcome news for people living in these areas but given the continued worrying increase in cases we continue to see, we must act to get more control over the virus in these areas.
“But while cases remain on the rise, early indications show these measures are working.
“I would ask everyone in the affected areas to continue being extra vigilant, to follow all guidance and to isolate and book a test if they have any symptoms. Do not lose ground now.”
Government’s chief scientific adviser claims he received a “telling off” from other senior officials after calling for lockdown restrictions earlier in the pandemic
In an email obtained by the BBC, Sir Patrick Vallance said he “argued stronger than anyone for action for lockdown”.
His message, sent in May, claimed this prompted a rebuke from chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and then cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.
A full lockdown was introduced on March 23, but some scientists have since argued that more lives could have been saved if restrictions had been imposed earlier.
The Government has insisted there was “no delay” to lockdown, with its actions being “guided by the advice of world-renowned scientists”.
According to the minutes of a March 16 meeting of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), scientists said there was “clear evidence to support additional social distancing measures be introduced as soon as possible”.