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2020-09-16T12:01:12.720Z

Another set of job casualties here:

2020-09-16T11:58:19.643Z

Meanwhile… Middlesborough steps up Covid fight

Every household in Middlesbrough will be given free masks with information leaflets as the elected mayor steps up its fight against coronavirus.

The town is on the Government register as an area of concern and the independent mayor Andy Preston is in the process of updating residents with 65,000 leaflets.

Re-usable face coverings will be handed out alongside the leaflets to help people follow the latest guidance.

People have been repeatedly warned that lockdown measures could return to some or all of the borough if the local infection rate is not halted.

Mr Preston said: “We always knew there was a risk of new infections with the easing of lockdown, but it’s what we do next that really matters.

“New cases are rising at worrying levels in Middlesbrough and the Government is now watching our situation closely – but we can turn the tide if we work together.

“Any new lockdown will seriously damage jobs and mental health, so we need to act now.

“The information in this leaflet – and the face coverings we’re giving out for free – couldn’t be more important, so I’m urging everyone to play their part.”

2020-09-16T11:55:45.863Z

What about weddings?

Tory MP Gagan Mohindra asked the PM if he was open to changing the current 30-person limit on weddings in favour of a “fairer system”.

Mr Mohindra suggested that if venues were allowed to operate at a proportion of their normal capacity – say 50 per cent – they would be able to “bounce back” and keep staff.

In reply, Mr Johnson said he understood and appreciated the concerns raised by businesses facing restrictions, adding: “The trouble is that in all these things there is an increase in the risk involved, an increase in the risk of contagion and we simply have to balance that risk with what we’re seeing now in the spread of the virus.

“So I must reluctantly say to (Mr Mohindra) that we will work as fast as possible to get our whole economy open, to take all these restrictions off.”

Mr Johnson said the best way to achieve this is for the country to work together to enforce social distancing, obey the rules, and take a test if they have symptoms.

2020-09-16T11:51:33.090Z

What about support for ailing air travel?

Boris Johnson said he would “certainly look at” air passenger duty reforms but added it would be wrong of him to “make any fiscal commitment at this stage”.

His remarks came after Conservative Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) warned smaller airports face closure unless they receive support.

Mr Double asked: “Could (Mr Johnson) please ensure our regional airports get all the help that they need, whether that’s through grants, the Government backing more public service obligation routes and would he carefully look at reducing air passenger duty – particularly on domestic flights?”

The Prime Minister replied: “Yes, I can tell (Mr Double)… we will continue to consider applications for public service obligations on routes such as into Newquay and elsewhere, and we will certainly look at air passenger duty though it’d be wrong of me to make any fiscal commitment at this stage.”

2020-09-16T11:49:58.400Z

Government will ‘creatively’ continue to ‘put arms around’ UK workforce – PM

Boris Johnson insisted the Government would act with “maximum creativity” to support jobs when pressed by Labour MP Rachael Maskell (York Central) to extend the furlough scheme in a reformed and targeted way to help thousands of workers.

The Prime Minister replied in the Commons: “We need to get people off furlough and into work and that is what this Government is doing.”

He listed schemes to help keep people in work, adding: “We will continue to apply the maximum creativity as we have in putting our arms around the workforce of the UK.”

2020-09-16T11:48:32.820Z

More on today’s lockdown announcement for Wales:

The Welsh Government said the new restrictions would apply to everyone living in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.

They follow a “rapid increase” in the number of Covid-19 cases, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from holidays abroad, it said.

Further measures will be considered by the Welsh Government, working with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Public Health Wales, if cases do not fall.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said: “We have seen a rapid rise in cases in Rhondda Cynon Taf in a very short space of time, linked to people socialising indoors and not following social distancing guidelines.

“We now have evidence of wider community transmission in the borough, which means we need to take urgent action to control and, ultimately, reduce the spread of the virus and protect people’s health.”

2020-09-16T11:44:13.883Z

Don’t leave disabled behind – Lib Dem leader

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) called on the Government to “protect the rights to care of disabled people and act lawfully” during the pandemic.

He said: “Research by the Disabled Children’s Partnership shows that three quarters of families with disabled children had their care support stopped during lockdown. The Coronavirus Act is partly to blame as it relaxed the duties to assess and meet the needs of disabled people.

“As the father of a disabled child and the patron of the Disability Law Service, I’ve seen legal advice that suggests that his Government broke international law in how the Coronavirus Act reduced the rights of disabled people. So before this House is asked to renew the Coronavirus Act, will he meet with me to discuss how we protect the rights to care of disabled people and act lawfully?”

Mr Johnson responded: “I must say to him I’m not aware of that particular allegation about the legal effects of the Coronavirus Act and would be only too happy to write to him very shortly to clarify the matter.”

2020-09-16T11:41:09.246Z

BREAKING: Wales to enforce new local lockdown

Rhondda Cynon Taf in south Wales will be placed under a local lockdown following an increase of coronavirus cases, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

Health minister Vaughan Gething announced that the measures, which will be reviewed within two weeks, would come into force at 6pm today.

Rhondda Cynon Taf, which has a population of around 240,000, has seen a rolling seven-day case rate of 82.1 per 100,000 people.

Under the measures, people must not enter or leave the Rhondda Cynon Taf council area without a reasonable excuse.

People will only be able to meet outdoors and will not be able to meet members of their extended household indoors.

All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm.

2020-09-16T11:40:25.480Z

In a brief aside from today’s PMQs session: 

(AFP)

The number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus in England on Sunday was the highest it has been since the beginning of July, figures show.

The latest Government data reveals 153 people with Covid-19 were admitted on Sunday – the most since July 1 when the figure was 201.

It brings the total number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus in England up to 115,097.

The data, published on Tuesday, includes people admitted to hospital in England who tested positive for Covid-19 in the 14 days prior to admission and those who tested positive in hospital after admission.

Inpatients diagnosed with Covid-19 after admission are reported as being admitted on the day prior to their diagnosis.

The data, from the Government’s coronavirus dashboard, also shows there were 101 Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds in England on Tuesday.

It is the first time that figure has been above 100 since July 23, when it was also 101.

There were 866 confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospitals in England on Tuesday, the highest number since July 28 when there were 868.

The highest number of confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospital was in the North West at 269, the highest since 370 on July 22.

This was followed by 190 in the Midlands, 152 in the North East and Yorkshire and 134 in London.

The areas with the fewest coronavirus patients in hospital were the East of England with 35, then 73 in the South East.

2020-09-16T11:37:23.963Z

Elsewhere in Westminster: No10’s lips are sealed over curfew rumours

Downing Street did not deny reports that curfews were being considered to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Asked about reports that a curfew could be introduced in London, a Number 10 spokesman said: “We will continue to keep the transmission rate under review.

“We’ve introduced the rule of six to try and bear down on the transmission rate given that it has risen recently.

“But as I say we will keep that data and the scientific evidence under review.”

2020-09-16T11:35:49.480Z

Does grouse shooting takes priority over families? – Rayner

Angela Rayner also questioned whether Boris Johnson’s priority is the resumption of grouse shooting.

Ms Rayner said: “This winter, we are staring down the barrel of a second wave with no plan for the looming crisis.

“People can’t say goodbye to their loved ones, grandparents can’t see their grandchildren and frontline staff can’t get the tests that they need – and what was the top priority for the Covid war cabinet this weekend? Restoring grouse shooting.”

She added: “So Prime Minister, is this really your top priority?”

Mr Johnson replied that “while the Labour opposition has been consistently carping from the sidelines throughout this crisis” the Conservative Government are “getting on with delivering for the British public”.

2020-09-16T11:34:10.003Z

Don’t let women give birth alone – Rayner

Angela Rayner asked Boris Johnson to commit to ensuring that no woman is forced to give birth alone due to coronavirus.

Ms Rayner said: “We’ve heard of relatives dying alone in care homes and people not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. We’ve also heard from mothers who have had to give birth without the support of their partners or their family.

“The Health Secretary yesterday said that the new guidance had been issued, but even under that new guidance many birth partners will not be allowed to join until that moment of established labour, leaving women enduring difficult labours or even worse, traumatic and devastating miscarriages alone without support.

“Will the Prime Minister agree to meet with me and my honourable friends and work with us to ensure that no woman is forced to give birth without the support that they need?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I totally agree that birth partners should be able to attend the birth, that’s why we changed the guidance in the way that we did.

“But of course I’m very happy to encourage co-operation between her and my right honourable friends in the Health Department to take the matter forward.”

2020-09-16T11:33:26.463Z

Only get tested if you show symptoms – PM

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged only those who need a test to get one.

Responding to Labour’s Angela Rayner he said: “The British people, quite understandably, are responding to that system, with a huge, huge surge in demand.

“And so it’s very important that everybody follows the guidance about when they should be getting a test.”

2020-09-16T11:30:20.446Z

PM makes promises… then breaks them – Rayner

Angela Rayner replied: “I heard what the Prime Minister had to say, but I have to say to him yesterday (Tuesday) the chief executive of Care England said ‘we were promised weekly testing for staff, that has not been delivered’.

“Time and time again he makes promises then breaks those promises. In June he told this House ‘I can undertake now to get all tests turned in 24 hours by the end of June’.

“They’ve had six months to get this right and yet the Prime Minister still can’t deliver on his promises.

“The Health Secretary said yesterday it would take weeks to sort this situation out.

“We don’t have weeks.”

More from the deputy Labour leader here:

Evening StandardLabour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner opened PMQs by asking Boris Johnson a question “from a man called Keir” as she quizzed him over coronavirus testing. Ms Rayner deputised for Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons after the Labour leader had to self-isolate while his child was waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test. 

2020-09-16T11:25:48.080Z

Meanwhile in Scotland, the latest figures are in:

One more confirmed coronavirus patient has died in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

It brings the total number of Covid-19 fatalities to 2,501.

The figures are lower than weekly statistics from the National Records of Scotland – which record people who have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus – and show the death total stands at 4,236.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, the First Minister said 23,283 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland, up by 267 from 22,749 the day before.

This is 3.6% of newly-tested individuals.

Of the new cases, 105 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 40 in Lanarkshire and 45 in Lothian.

There are 51 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by three in 24 hours.

Of these patients, six were in intensive care, down one.

2020-09-16T11:23:28.426Z

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called on the Prime Minister to “get some skates on” in delivering testing and PPE to care homes ahead of winter.

She said: “I must say to the Prime Minister get some skates on it. Those care workers are still not getting the PPE they need, they’re still not getting the testing they need.

“So I urge the Prime Minister to get on top of this problem now before the winter crisis hits.

“The Prime Minister has put his faith in Operation Moonshot, but meanwhile on planet Earth there are no NHS tests available for several high-infection areas.”

She asked: “Can the Prime Minister confirm yes or no, do all care homes in this country have weekly tests?”

Boris Johnson replied: “Yes, to the best of my knowledge care homes in this country… should get weekly tests for all staff members and tests every 28 days for those who are in the care homes, the residents in the care homes.”

2020-09-16T11:16:07.303Z

Government to launch care home ‘action plan’ for winter

Boris Johnson has expressed concerns about Covid-19 infection rates in care homes, as he prepared to announce a “toughening up” of rules governing care home worker movement.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner challenged the Prime Minister to give the social care sector the funding it needs to “get through this looming winter crisis”.

Mr Johnson replied: “We are concerned about the rates of infection in care homes, clearly they’ve come down massively since we instituted the £600 million care home action plan.

“Tomorrow we will be announcing a further winter care home action plan and it won’t surprise her to know that we want to see a toughening up of the rules governing the movement of workers from one care home to another, we want to make sure we protect care homes from further infections.”

2020-09-16T11:14:48.730Z

Angela Rayner kicks things off with testing

Angela Rayner opened PMQs by reading a message from “a man called Keir” – as she deputised for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Ms Rayner told the Commons: “Keir wasn’t able to go to work today and his children couldn’t go to school because his family had to wait for their coronavirus test results despite the Prime Minister’s promise of results within 24 hours.

“Keir was able to do the right thing and self-isolate and work from home, but other people aren’t in this position – many of them are the very people getting us through this crisis.”

Ms Rayner said Boris Johnson once earned £2,300 an hour, asking: “So can the Prime Minister tell us what is the average hourly rate for a care worker in this country?”

The Prime Minister said he understood a negative test had been returned for Sir Keir’s child, adding: “I don’t know why he is not here.”

Mr Johnson defended the speed of testing but did not offer an answer on the average hourly rate, to which Ms Rayner said: “The whole country would have seen that the Prime Minister doesn’t know how much a care worker earns because that was my question – the shameful fact is the average wage in social care is barely more than £8 an hour.”

2020-09-16T11:10:50.420Z

Scotland’s ‘true’ death toll rises to 4,236

A total of 4,236 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

A total of five deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered between September 7 and 13, two in a care home and three in a hospital.

The statistics are published weekly and account for all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government because they include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.