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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden hints the TV licence fee WON’T be decriminalised

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culture secretary oliver dowden hints the tv licence fee wont be decriminalised

The Culture Secretary has suggested TV licence fee evasion won’t be decriminalised because he does not want to send a signal that it is legitimate to not pay the TV licence.

Oliver Dowden made the comment to MPs as the Government prepares to publish its response to a consultation on decriminalisation.

It had been reported the Government was considering decriminalisation of non-payment and bringing it under the scope of ‘civil debt’, much in the same way non-payment of utility bills is treated.

At present, those caught not paying for a TV licence face a fine of up to £1,000 which, if ignored, can lead to a prison sentence. 

However, Mr Dowden told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that this could send a message that it’s acceptable not to pay it. 

‘I do think there are major challenges around decriminalisation which we continue to consider,’ Mr Dowden told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Oliver Dowden has implied plans to decriminalise non-payment of TV Licence fees may be scrapped because it sends the wrong message that non-payment is acceptable to the public

Oliver Dowden has implied plans to decriminalise non-payment of TV Licence fees may be scrapped because it sends the wrong message that non-payment is acceptable to the public

Oliver Dowden has implied plans to decriminalise non-payment of TV Licence fees may be scrapped because it sends the wrong message that non-payment is acceptable to the public

‘I am concerned that… we do not send a signal that it’s acceptable not to pay your TV licence. So, I’d be concerned around sending signals around non-payment.’

He added that there are ‘wider questions around the funding of the BBC’. 

The BBC has warned that switching to a civil system would cost the broadcaster more than £200 million a year.

While contributing to the consultation, the BBC said: ‘Action taken by bailiffs is by its very nature intrusive … TV Licensing does not use them to recover arrears.’

In 2018, 129,446 people in England were prosecuted for not owning a TV licence but only five of these cases resulted in a jail sentence.

Sources initially told the Times that the changes could be introduced as early as this month and one Government source told the paper decriminalisation was a ‘done deal’.

However, they also said that they needed to ensure that the new penalty put in place was not more severe than what is already in place.

Mr Dowden ‘took issue’ with an MP’s suggestion it was ‘a Dom Cummings agenda’ – referring to Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings. 

‘I’ve had conversations with him about many things but I’ve never had a conversation with him once about the BBC or decriminalisation or anything else like that,’ he said of Mr Cummings.

Asked whether it appeared that the Government would not be going down the road of decriminalisation, he said: ‘There are legitimate questions about whether people should ultimately face a criminal sanction… I think it was appropriate that we looked at that. The Government is now considering its response.’

‘There are many other big decisions we have to take around the BBC, not least the licence fee settlement.’

His comments came as the Government published an advert for the new BBC chairman.  

The suggestion had been that non-payment would be treated as a civil debt, much like the non-payment of a utility bill, a move the BBC said would cost the corporation £200 million a year

The suggestion had been that non-payment would be treated as a civil debt, much like the non-payment of a utility bill, a move the BBC said would cost the corporation £200 million a year

The suggestion had been that non-payment would be treated as a civil debt, much like the non-payment of a utility bill, a move the BBC said would cost the corporation £200 million a year

And he said he was looking for ‘a strong, credible figure who can hold the BBC to account, to ensure that we have strong and effective corporate governance of the BBC, a proper challenge of the BBC’.

He is ‘particularly concerned to ensure that the BBC returns to its core values of impartiality and takes the opportunity to develop in this rapidly moving digital landscape…’.

What do you need a TV licence for? 

Current law dictates that a household needs to purchase a TV licence in order to watch or record any television as it is being shown live.

A licence is also needed if shows are watched live on online TV or streaming services.

You are also only allowed to watch shows on BBC iPlayer if you own a TV licence.

However, you are still allowed to watch films and shows on services such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime as well as DVDs and Blu-rays.

Non-BBC catch up services such as ITV Player and Channel 4 on-demand can also be enjoyed without a TV licence as long as live television is not watched through them.

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‘Does the BBC as much reflect the values of somebody living in a semi in Leigh outside Manchester as they do reflecting the values of someone living in a loft apartment near Old Street roundabout in London?’, he said.

The committee hearing came as the Government prepares to announce a panel to review public service broadcasting.

The possible privatisation of Channel 4 could be on the cards.

‘I don’t think it’s unreasonable that given the massive changes in the public service broadcasting landscape… we review the public service broadcasting landscape and of course all options need to be on the table,’ Mr Dowden said.

Scottish National Party MP John Nicolson accused the Government of being too scared to appear on Channel 4 News.

Mr Dowden denied offering Charles Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph, the job of BBC chairman.

Boris Johnson’s first choice to be chairman reportedly ruled himself out of the running earlier this month.

‘The problem is you guys really hate Channel 4 News. There’s always a slight hint of menace about the way you talk about it,’ he said.

‘Your own Prime Minister… is too scared to appear…. There’s a boycott of Channel 4 News because it’s so effective at pinning him down.’

Last month, the Mail on Sunday reported that the BBC had been facing a TV licence rebellion from pensioners who were refusing to pay the fee.

Before this year, over-75s received free TV licences, but in June the BBC confirmed that the scheme was to end, following a two-month extension because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Non-payments of a TV licence would affect a person's credit score under civil system plans

Non-payments of a TV licence would affect a person's credit score under civil system plans

Non-payments of a TV licence would affect a person’s credit score under civil system plans

As a result, an extra three million households were faced with a £157.50 fee and only those who received the Pension Credit would remain exempt from paying the fee. 

Meanwhile, former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has been approached by Boris Johnson to become Chairman of Ofcom, in the latest example of Downing Street’s determination to shake up the Left-wing establishment.

The Mail on Sunday claims Dacre, 71, who edited the Daily Mail for 26 years until 2018, was asked to consider the role over drinks at Number 10 earlier this year.

Lord Burns, the current Ofcom Chairman is set to step down later this year after agreeing to end his tenure short, rather than seeing out his four-year term which was due to end in 2022.

During ongoing conversations with Downing Street, Mr Dacre said that he was interested, subject to ‘assurances’ about ‘freedom and independence’. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus UK: Stay-at-home orders do NOT stop the spread of Covid-19

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coronavirus uk stay at home orders do not stop the spread of covid 19

Ordering people to stay at home is a futile move which barely reduces Covid infection rates, researchers said yesterday. 

The R rate – the key measure of the virus’s spread – drops by only 3 per cent after a month of the restriction being in place. 

And a ban on gatherings of more than ten also cuts R by only the same amount – raising questions over the value of the Rule of Six. 

The Edinburgh University study found that the main flaw with the two measures was the inability to ensure compliance. 

Writing in a Lancet journal, the researchers found that banning public events was the most effective standalone intervention, reducing R by 24 per cent in four weeks. 

At the start of the crisis big sporting occasions – such as the Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid – went ahead despite widespread warnings. 

The research headed by Edinburgh’s Harish Nair is based on an assessment of pandemic measures in 131 countries.

‘If you tell people to stay at home it is very difficult to ensure compliance,’ said the professor. ‘And if you ask people not to meet in groups you have the same problem – it is about adherence. Banning mass events or closing schools, on the other hand, ensures compliance.’ 

Shutting schools reduced R by 15 per cent but the researchers found that, individually, very few measures have a significant impact. It is only in combination that they work to any great degree, which may explain why the limited local restrictions in England are achieving so little.

The Government’s Sage scientific advisory panel calculated that lockdown in March, including the ‘stay at home’ order, resulted in a 75 per cent reduction in R. 

It comes as the UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people due to the virus.

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing. 

In other coronavirus developments:

  • Rishi Sunak unveiled yet another bailout amid warnings that thousands of bars and restaurants in Tier 2 lockdown areas face going bust; 
  • Welsh supermarkets have been ordered to only sell ‘essential goods’ during the country’s 17-day lockdown; 
  • Shocking official figures today show that 17 per cent of firms in the accommodation and food services industry are at ‘severe’ risk of insolvency; 
  • South Yorkshire agreed a deal to move into Tier 3 from Saturday, meaning 7.3million in England will be living under the toughest Covid rules; 
  • Boris Johnson sought to bypass Andy Burnham by offering £60million of coronavirus help directly to local councils in Greater Manchester;
  • Five  hospitality industry bodies in Scotland have launched legal action against Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid-19 shutdown measures on pubs and restaurants;
  • The Canary Islands, Mykonos, the Maldives and Denmark were all added to the UK’s list of travel corridors but Alpine tax haven Liechtenstein was removed; 
  • Hospitals stepped up the cancellation of routine surgery and non-Covid appointments as virus cases rose.
A lockdown involving school closures and stay at home orders can halve the R rate within a month, study finds, but opening schools again can increase it by a quarter

A lockdown involving school closures and stay at home orders can halve the R rate within a month, study finds, but opening schools again can increase it by a quarter

A lockdown involving school closures and stay at home orders can halve the R rate within a month, study finds, but opening schools again can increase it by a quarter

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh studied various government intervention measures on the R rate in 131 different countries

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh studied various government intervention measures on the R rate in 131 different countries

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh studied various government intervention measures on the R rate in 131 different countries

The Scottish researchers examined a variety of measures and how they individually, or in combination with other options, can reduce or raise the rate of infection. 

Looking at the measures individually, a ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R, amounting to a 24 per cent reduction after 28 days.    

Meanwhile, the measures most strongly associated with an increase in R were lifting bans on gatherings of more than 10 people  – seeing a 25 per cent spike in the rate. 

The findings, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, are based on a modelling analysis, taking into account of measures across 131 countries.

Study author Harish Nair said a combination of measures was the best approach when looking to reduce the rate of transmission for Covid-19. 

Looking at the measures individually, a ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R, amounting to a 24 per cent reduction after 28 days

Looking at the measures individually, a ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R, amounting to a 24 per cent reduction after 28 days

Looking at the measures individually, a ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R, amounting to a 24 per cent reduction after 28 days

‘As we experience a resurgence of the virus, policymakers will need to consider combinations of measures to reduce the R number.’

He said the findings can be used to inform decisions on whether to introduce or lift various restrictions and when to expect to see them take effect. 

COMBINATIONS OF MEASURES WORK TO REDUCE THE R RATE 
Day 7 Day 14 Day 28
  R RATE 
Option 1: Ban on public events and gatherings of more than ten  0.94 0.87 0.71
Option 2: Workplace closure, ban on public events and gatherings of more than ten 0.84 0.78 0.62
Option 3: Workplace closure, ban on public events, gatherings of more than ten people and internal movement limits 0.81 0.76 0.58
Option 4: School and workplace closure, ban on public events, ban on gatherings of more than ten people, internal movement limits and stay at home orders 0.65 0.58 0.48

Individual measures considered included: School closures, workplace closures, public event bans, limit of 10 people mixing, public transport closure, stay at home orders, limits on internal movement and and international travel restrictions.

A ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R at 24 per cent after 28 days, which could be due to the fact they are likely causes of super spreader events and often the first restriction imposed by a country. 

Previous studies have found that measures, including school closure, social distancing, and lockdown, could reduce R substantially to near or below 1, but this is the first study to look at the effects on R following the relaxation of these measures.  

The analysis included 790 phases from 131 countries and used a model to measure the association between which measures were in place and changes in the R. 

The authors used this to estimate the effect up to 28 days on the R of introducing or lifting measures. In addition, they modelled four combinations of measures that could be introduced to tackle the resurgence of SARS-CoV-2.  

The combinations included mixtures of each of the individual measures, from a ban on events and limiting gatherings, to what is effectively a full lockdown. 

The team found that the least comprehensive package of measures would still reduce R by 29 per cent within 28 days of the measures being imposed.

That is still four per cent more than the most effective individual measure – banning public events such as sport matches and concerts. 

In contrast, the most comprehensive package – similar to a lockdown including school closures and limits on movement – would lead to a 52 per cent reduction.  

The effect of introducing measures was not immediate; it took an average of 8 days after introducing a measure to see 60 per cent of its effect on reducing the R.

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people due to the virus

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people due to the virus

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people due to the virus

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that numbers are 'still heading in the wrong direction' but also admitted Britain's outbreak appears to be slowing

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that numbers are 'still heading in the wrong direction' but also admitted Britain's outbreak appears to be slowing

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing

Researchers found that reopening schools after lockdown could result in a 24 per cent increase in the R rate

Researchers found that reopening schools after lockdown could result in a 24 per cent increase in the R rate

Researchers found that reopening schools after lockdown could result in a 24 per cent increase in the R rate

Researchers didn’t, or couldn’t consider the impact of other measures linked to certain restrictions – such as hand washing, masks or people following the rules. 

For example, although reopening schools was associated with a large increase in R, the researchers said they were unable to account for the impact of class size limits, deep cleaning, social distancing or temperature checks on arrival. 

Professor Nair said: ‘We found an increase in R after reopening schools but it is not clear whether the increase is attributable to specific age groups.’

This is because there could be substantial differences in adherence in social distancing measures from one class to another – but they didn’t have the data.  

The R rate seems to be levelling off at between 1.3 and 1.5 after a peak of nearly 1.6 early in October

The R rate seems to be levelling off at between 1.3 and 1.5 after a peak of nearly 1.6 early in October

The R rate seems to be levelling off at between 1.3 and 1.5 after a peak of nearly 1.6 early in October

‘Furthermore, more data are needed to understand the specific role of schools in increased Sars-CoV-2 transmission through robust contact tracing,’ he said.

The study authors also did a secondary analysis using Google mobility data, modelling the total visits to workplaces and the total time spent in residential areas.

Thursday: UK confirms 21,242 coronavirus cases and 189 deaths 

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people as Sir Patrick Vallance claimed as many as 90,000 could be catching the virus every day. 

The chief scientific adviser said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing down.  

Official data this afternoon shows that cases are 12 per cent higher than the 18,980 on Thursday last week – the smallest seven-day increase of any day of any day this week – while deaths are up 37 per cent from 138.

Speaking in a TV briefing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sir Patrick showed slides that estimated there are somewhere between 22,000 and 90,000 new infections every day in England.

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Results indicated that people took some time to adapt their behaviour to comply with workplace closures and stay-at-home requirements, which was similar to the delay between the measures and the effects seen on R – around one to three weeks.

The authors suggest the delay was possibly due to the population taking time to modify their behaviour to adhere to measures.

The researchers also said that some of the greatest effects on R were seen for measures that were more easily implementable by law, like school reopening and introduction of a public events ban.

They suggest this may have been because their effects were more immediate and compliance was easier to ensure. 

However, likely low compliance when it comes to bans on gatherings of 10 or more people could explain why that measure saw a minimal impact on the R rate.

Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Chris T Bauch from University of Waterloo, Canada, said despite the imperfections with R, the findings show measures including lockdown do work to reduce the rate. 

‘This information is crucial, given that some [measures] have massive socioeconomic effects. In a similar vein, transmission models that project COVID-19 cases and deaths under different scenarios could be highly valuable for optimising a country’s portfolio of [measures], the researcher, not involved in this study explained.

‘The success of large-scale [measures] requires population adherence. R can stimulate populations to act and gives them useful feedback on the fruits of their labour. Perhaps this is one reason that R has entered our vernacular in 2020.’

RESEARCHERS COMPARED THE IMPACT OF VARIOUS RESTRICTIONS ON THE R RATE WHEN THEY WERE IMPOSED AND RELAXED 
Day 7 Day 14 Day 28 
  R RATE   
SCHOOL CLOSURE 
Introduction 0.89 0.86 0.85
Relaxation 1.05 1.18 1.24
WORKPLACE CLOSURE 
Introduction 0.89 0.89 0.87
Relaxation 1.04 1.1 1.01
PUBLIC EVENTS BAN 
Introduction  0.9 0.83 0.76
Relaxation 1.02 1.07 1.21
BAN ON GATHERINGS OF MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE 
Introduction  0.93 0.98 0.97
Relaxation 0.99 1.07 1.25
PUBLIC TRANSPORT CLOSURE 
Introduction  0.97 0.98 0.99
Relaxation  1 1.08 1.04
STAY AT HOME ORDERS 
Introduction  0.9 0.89 0.97
Relaxation 0.97 1.02 1.11
LIMITS ON INTERNAL MOVEMENTS 
Introduction  0.97 0.97 0.93
Relaxation 0.98 1.06 1.13
RESTRICTIONS ON INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL 
Introduction  0.89 0.97 1.08
Relaxation 0.95 1.02 0.98

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon says ‘Santa is a key worker’

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coronavirus scotland nicola sturgeon says santa is a key worker

Nicola Sturgeon was forced to make a bizarre promise to Scottish children that Santa would still deliver their Christmas presents – after her top medical advisor said hopes of a traditional festive gathering were a ‘fiction’. 

The First Minister joked that her national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch would be portrayed as the Grinch on newspaper front pages after he said families should prepare to see loved ones over Zoom because of coronavirus.

She attempted to play down the significance of his remarks at her daily press conference today as she came under increasing fire over a five-tier lockdown system set to be even tougher than Boris Johnson’s in England. 

The First Minister has been hit with a wave of anger after it emerged she wants to take a harsher approach than the PM, with more levels of curbs to tackle the pandemic.

Ms Sturgeon was faced by a barrage of questions as she faced the media, after Prof Leitch told BBC Scotland this morning that while there may be some ‘normality’ over Christmas, ‘we’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year’.

After a question about Santas having to use Zoom in their grottos across the country, she turned to the camera and said: ‘On Santa, if there are any kids watching: Santa will not be prevented from delivering your presents on Christmas Eve, Santa is a key worker and he has got lots of magic powers that make him safe to do that. 

‘If he is having to do Grotto appearances by Zoom, that is to keep you safe, it is not because he is at any risk. Santa will be delivering presents across the world as normal.’ 

She added: ‘Since I’m spending so much time responding to Jason’s comments today, I should make him dress up as the Grinch for Halloween and do a briefing to cheer everybody up.’

In other coronavirus developments today;

  • Rishi Sunak unveiled yet another bailout amid warnings that thousands of bars and restaurants in Tier Two lockdown areas face going bust;
  • Shocking official figures today show that 17 per cent of firms in the accommodation and food services industry are at ‘severe’ risk of insolvency; 
  • South Yorkshire agreed a deal to move into Tier Three from Saturday, meaning 7.3million in England will be living under the toughest Covid rules;
  • Talks to put Nottinghamshire into the ‘very high risk’ category were said to be close to completion;
  • Boris Johnson sought to bypass Andy Burnham by offering £60million of coronavirus help directly to local councils in Greater Manchester;
  • Economists warned that lockdowns were killing even more people than they ‘could possibly save’;
  • Labour’s Angela Rayner was forced to apologise after she called a Tory MP ‘scum’ during a Covid-19 debate;
  • 191 further deaths from coronavirus were reported yesterday, with daily cases at a record 26,688;
  • Hospitals stepped up the cancellation of routine surgery and non-Covid appointments amid a surge in virus admissions;
  • Scotland Yard agreed to withdraw a letter urging pubs and restaurants to snoop on their customers;
  • Prince William spoke of the ‘unimaginable challenges’ faced by cancer patients as a result of coronavirus;
  • National debt has soared to the highest level in 60 years;
  • A major report warned Covid-19 must not be used as an excuse to delay social care reform. 
The First Minister joked that her national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch would be portrayed as the Grinch on newspaper front pages after he said families should prepare to see loved ones over Zoom because of coronavirus

The First Minister joked that her national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch would be portrayed as the Grinch on newspaper front pages after he said families should prepare to see loved ones over Zoom because of coronavirus

The First Minister joked that her national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch would be portrayed as the Grinch on newspaper front pages after he said families should prepare to see loved ones over Zoom because of coronavirus

34703328 8867021 image a 5 1603363545072

34703328 8867021 image a 5 1603363545072

The First Minister has been hit with a wave of anger after it emerged she wants to take a harsher approach than the PM, with more levels of curbs to tackle the pandemic

Prof Leitch told BBC Scotland this morning that while there may be some 'normality' over Christmas, 'we're not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year'

Prof Leitch told BBC Scotland this morning that while there may be some 'normality' over Christmas, 'we're not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year'

Prof Leitch told BBC Scotland this morning that while there may be some ‘normality’ over Christmas, ‘we’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year’

Prof Leitch told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: ‘Christmas is not going to be normal, there is absolutely no question about that.

‘We’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year.

‘I am hopeful, if we can get the numbers down to a certain level, we may be able to get some form of normality.

‘People should get their digital Christmas ready.’

Later, Ms Sturgeon said he was simply trying to he honest with people about the hard decisions that faced.

The First Minister (pictured campaigning last December) said: 'Since I'm spending so much time responding to Jason's (Leitch) comments today, I should make him dress up as the Grinch for Halloween and do a briefing to cheer everybody up'

The First Minister (pictured campaigning last December) said: 'Since I'm spending so much time responding to Jason's (Leitch) comments today, I should make him dress up as the Grinch for Halloween and do a briefing to cheer everybody up'

The First Minister (pictured campaigning last December) said: ‘Since I’m spending so much time responding to Jason’s (Leitch) comments today, I should make him dress up as the Grinch for Halloween and do a briefing to cheer everybody up’

‘What he is trying to do is be frank with people about the reality we live in and not prematurely rule things out but equally not try to give people false assurances,’ she said. 

‘I want us to be able to celebrate Christmas as normally as it is possible to do within the context of a global pandemic. And my message to people is that the more we all stick with these really difficult restrictions right now, the more chance there will be of us doing that.’

Details of the new tier system are due to be spelled out tomorrow, with the highest bracket potentially condemning large areas to a March-style squeeze. It will raise concerns that England could end up in a similar position, as has often happened during the previous phases of the crisis.

But pubs, restaurants and retailers are already voicing alarm they face a catastrophic winter, with dire predictions that two-thirds of hospitality firms could close.

The licensed trade said businesses had been kept ‘completely in the dark’ about the fresh wave of regulations, and warned the sector was ‘staring into the abyss’, with thousands of jobs at risk. 

Writing in today’s Daily Mail, Stephen Montgormery, from the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: ‘Yesterday the Scottish Government effectively called last orders on our country’s hospitality industry.

Hundreds of viable businesses now face closure, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Time and time again we have called on the Government to work with us on a solution. Time and time again we have faced a closed door.

The next few days will be critical. The hospitality sector is on a financial precipice as the long, difficult winter stretches ahead.’   

Q&A on Scotland’s coronavirus lockdown

I live in the Central Belt, which is under the strongest restrictions in Scotland at present. Will we be placed into the highest tier when the new system comes in?

It is expected that no areas will initially be placed into the top, fifth tier under current proposals. Instead, areas under the toughest restrictions at present will likely be placed in the fourth tier when the system comes into force on November 2. This could involve a continuation of current restrictions, such as the closure of licensed premises.

Our children missed a lot of school towards the end of the last academic year because of the Covid-19 lockdown. Could schools close again?

Nicola Sturgeon has said her ‘default’ position is to keep schools open through any future lockdown and has highlighted other countries which kept the education system going, even during full lockdown. Under the new tier system, schools should not automatically close, even if the local area enters the top alert level. It’s thought a ‘judgment’ will be made on a case-by-case basis over whether pupils would be sent home.

Are there any tiers that would see life go back to normal?

Yes, under tier zero, it is expected that life would resemble pre-pandemic normality.

Will the tiers be implemented at health board or local authority level?

It is thought restrictions will be set by council area, rather than health board, as is the case with current restrictions.

What will be the rules for areas in the highest tier?

Those living in an area placed under top tier restrictions would experience limitations almost as severe as the full lockdown imposed across the UK in March, when people were told to ‘stay at home’ and there were strict limits on travel.

What will the three middle tiers involve?

These are said to ‘broadly mirror’ the English system. The ‘rule of six’ is expected to apply in the second tier, meaning people can only socialise indoors or outdoors in groups of six adults from a maximum of two households. The rule will apply to pubs and restaurants, where customers will also be required to wear face coverings indoors when they are not eating and drinking. The next tier will reportedly see Scots prohibited from socialising in any indoor setting with people from outside their household or extended household. The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors.

In the fourth tier, it is expected that people will be prohibited from socialising indoors or outdoors with anybody they do not live with, or with whom they have not formed an extended household.

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Paul Waterson, of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, warned: ‘Hundreds of businesses are facing permanent closure and with that thousands of jobs will be lost – the damage could be irreparable.

‘We estimate that two-thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under in the coming months. Over 50 per cent of jobs in the pub and bar sector could also be lost.’ 

The First Minister also refused to rule out school closures in badly affected areas, saying ‘blended learning’ could be reintroduced under extreme circumstances.

Don Lawson, owner of the Inverness bar Johnny Foxes, told the Press and Journal that the Government should ban alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-licences to save pubs.

He said: ‘Pubs are facing an unprecedented crisis and the jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people are in jeopardy.

‘Many of our beloved pubs are at real risk, with significantly reduced trade and increased costs as a result of questionable restrictions.

‘I feel the answer to the hospitality conundrum is as follows, that the Scottish Government bans all alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-licenses, including off-sales in pubs and restaurants.

‘Allow the sale of alcohol to be restricted to pubs and restaurants – this will boost local economies and safeguard thousands of jobs.’

Reacting to the proposal, Stuart McPhee, the director of Siberia Aberdeen and spokesman for the Aberdeen Hospitality Group, said: ‘I’m all for trialling anything. It’s as radical an idea as any.

‘I’ve certainly advocated a few ideas such as shutting down premises who are not following the rules.

‘We need to be working as an industry alongside the Scottish Government to find a solution, given that we’re the third-biggest employer in the country.’

It came as Scotland recorded its deadliest day since May, with 28 deaths linked to Covid-19 registered in 24 hours. 

A further 1,739 people tested positive, with 49 patients admitted to hospital. There are now 73 people in intensive care units across the country.

The new five-tier system is due to be rolled out on November 2.

Ms Sturgeon has said current restrictions on pubs and restaurants will remain in place until then.

She has already indicated that the three middle tiers will be broadly similar to the new system in England – where areas are classed as being at either ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk.

But there will also be a lower level in Scotland for areas with fewer cases of Covid-19, and clinical director Prof Jason Leitch indicated travel restrictions will be put in place to prevent people from higher tiers moving into these.

In areas in the lowest tier, he said people will have ‘slightly more freedoms than other parts of the country’.

In contrast, Professor Leitch said areas in the highest tier would be under a ‘fuller’ lockdown, though schools would remain ‘as open as possible’.

The new system is not expected to come into place until November 2, replacing temporary restrictions on the hospitality sector which were on Wednesday extended for another week up to that date.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme today, Professor Leitch said work is under way by advisers on what levels should be applied in different areas.

He said: ‘We will give advice and then the decision makers will make those choices over the weekend and into next week.’

He explained a five-tier system is preferred in Scotland over the three levels in England because ‘we think as advisers you have to have everything in your toolbox’.

He added: ‘You have to have the lower end, because if you were an area of Scotland with very low prevalence… then you could perhaps have slightly more freedoms than other parts of the country.

Shoppers walk yesterday along Princes Street, which is the main shopping area in Edinburgh

Shoppers walk yesterday along Princes Street, which is the main shopping area in Edinburgh

Shoppers walk yesterday along Princes Street, which is the main shopping area in Edinburgh

‘Then there’s the middle ones… kind of what we are in just now in various parts of the country.

‘But we think you need something in your toolbox that says if those aren’t working in time to protect the National Health Service, to protect individuals from the disease, you have the option of a fuller, unfortunate lockdown.’

Get ready for Christmas by ZOOM: Scotland’s top medic warns that family hopes of a large festive gathering this year are a ‘fiction’ 

Family hopes of a large Christmas gathering are a ‘fiction’ and families should prepare to see loved ones over Zoom, Scotland’s top medic warned today. 

National clinical director Professor Jason Leitch (below) said he is hopeful that by sticking to tough restrictions, Scots could enjoy ‘some form of normality’ over the festive break.

But he was clear people should not expect to have large gatherings involving multiple households this year.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: ‘Christmas is not going to be normal, there is absolutely no question about that.

‘We’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year.

‘I am hopeful, if we can get the numbers down to a certain level, we may be able to get some form of normality.

‘People should get their digital Christmas ready.’

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said that after making huge sacrifices for months, Scots will be ‘devastated to hear that Christmas as they know it is cancelled’.

He said: ‘Many will rightly question whether the Government have used the past six months as well as they could have to expand testing, shore up our NHS and prepare for a second wave.

‘If the Government expects months more of sacrifices it needs to be honest with the public – Nicola Sturgeon must release the data and projections underpinning these proposals and allow the public to debate them openly.’

 

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Professor Leitch also delivered a stark warning that hopes for a family Christmas this year are ‘fiction’. 

He said: ‘Christmas is not going to be normal, there is absolutely no question about that.

‘We’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year.

‘I am hopeful, if we can get the numbers down to a certain level, we may be able to get some form of normality.

‘People should get their digital Christmas ready.’

According to business bosses, they had been assured that the First Minister would remain ‘as closely aligned with the rest of the UK as possible’.

But her comments yesterday revealed she is willing to impose far harsher restrictions than those in England. 

During her Covid briefing yesterday, Miss Sturgeon said: ‘Let me explain the logic for the five tiers, which I think is very strong. 

‘The middle three tiers will be broadly equivalent to the three tiers in England which they describe as medium, high and very high.

‘We think we need one at the bottom, which is the level we would be aspiring to this side of getting a vaccine, which is closest to normality we could reasonably expect. 

‘We think it’s important to have that until we all know what we’re working towards. We also think we need another one [tier] at the top.’

Ms Sturgeon said that when Mr Johnson published his tier system, his Chief Medical Officer thought the top level was ‘not enough to necessarily, in all circumstances, get the virus down’.

She said Scotland’s top level would be closer to the ‘full lockdown’ imposed across the country in March, but at a local level. 

Miss Sturgeon signalled that schools would remain open in the top tier but depending on circumstances ‘a move to blended learning in some council areas could be required’.

The highest tier in England includes a ban on socialising with other households both indoors and outdoors. 

Pubs and bars are closed unless they operate as restaurants, with alcohol only served alongside a substantial meal.

Last night, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association hit out at Miss Sturgeon’s plans. 

A spokesman said: ‘There’s huge concern from businesses who are now completely in the dark about when they might be able to reopen again.

‘We don’t know how many tiers there will be, what the restrictions will be in each, or which areas are going to be in which tiers. 

‘The closure was meant to be temporary, but the announcement today and potential for further restrictions has left the trade staring into the abyss.’

A recent study revealed nearly 40 per cent of hospitality firms are considering closure. 

Meanwhile, retailers demanded ‘clarity’ about the five-tier system as the Christmas period approaches.

Two young men sit on a park bench in Edinburgh yesterday as the pandemic continues

Two young men sit on a park bench in Edinburgh yesterday as the pandemic continues

Two young men sit on a park bench in Edinburgh yesterday as the pandemic continues

A little girl runs past a sign outside a premises on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh yesterday

A little girl runs past a sign outside a premises on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh yesterday

A little girl runs past a sign outside a premises on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh yesterday

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: ‘We have consistently called for greater visibility and clarity over potential next steps when it comes to future Covid restrictions, particularly in the run-up to the critical Christmas trading period.’

Scottish Tory health spokesman Brian Whittle said: ‘Businesses can’t go through another confusing SNP debacle like the one they’re still facing over what’s a café and what’s a restaurant.

‘Any confusion would only make it more difficult for people and businesses to do their bit to suppress the virus.’

Miss Sturgeon will tomorrow reveal details of financial support for the businesses affected in coming months.

She said this would be ‘broadly similar’ to that offered south of the Border by the UK Government. 

Miss Sturgeon added that she was urgently seeking to speak to the UK Treasury to enhance the spending packages.

Pubs face last orders: Business owners ‘feel betrayed over devastating week extension’

Pubs, bars and restaurants have warned they face ‘devastating’ consequences after Scotland’s two-week circuit breaker was extended by Nicola Sturgeon.

The hospitality sector yesterday claimed it had been ‘betrayed’ by the First Minister after she had ‘gone back’ on her word over the restrictions.

The current measures were meant to end on Monday, but Miss Sturgeon said she had made the ‘harsh’ decision to extend them until November 2.

‘We’ve done everything they asked… and we still have to close’ 

James Gulter, 40, and his wife Ioana, 34, run The Hermitage in Edinburgh’s Morningside area and the Spylaw bar in Colinton.

They have been forced to cut six jobs from their 28-strong workforce as a result of the pandemic lockdown measures.

Mr Gulter said he feels the hospitality sector has been unfairly targeted by the Scottish Government measures, which still allow hairdressers, shops and unlicensed cafes to trade.

James Gulter, 40, and his wife Ioana, 34, run The Hermitage in Edinburgh's Morningside area and the Spylaw bar in Colinton

James Gulter, 40, and his wife Ioana, 34, run The Hermitage in Edinburgh's Morningside area and the Spylaw bar in Colinton

James Gulter, 40, and his wife Ioana, 34, run The Hermitage in Edinburgh’s Morningside area and the Spylaw bar in Colinton

He said: ‘It’s really frustrating and annoying. The hospitality sector has been handled really poorly throughout the pandemic.

‘Another week isn’t going to put the nail in the coffin for us because we have savings but we haven’t been told what will happen the week after next, so we can’t plan.

‘December is our biggest month so we need to know what is coming. We are already probably going to lose office parties and big bookings before Christmas, so we are hoping to offer smaller groups a more premium service.

‘But who knows because every announcement has come with zero warning. It means we have had a lot of unnecessary waste with food and beer stocks.’

The couple took over the Hermitage in 2014 and then its larger sister pub the Spylaw in January 2019. Once the UK Government’s furlough scheme ends, the couple face paying a higher percentage of their staff’s wages.

The couple took over The Hermitage in Edinburgh's Morningside area in 2014

The couple took over The Hermitage in Edinburgh's Morningside area in 2014

The couple took over The Hermitage in Edinburgh’s Morningside area in 2014

Mr Gulter said both pubs have introduced every social distancing and track and trace measure required.

He said: ‘The customer feedback has been that they feel safe. We have done everything we have been asked to do and still told to close. If the Scottish Government knows something we don’t, then they need to tell us.’

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This will see all licensed premises except cafes in the Central Belt forced to remain closed for an additional week.

Other restrictions such as a ban on indoor gym classes and contact sports for adults will also remain in place across the five health board areas – including Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and Lothian.

In other parts of Scotland, restaurants and pubs can stay open between 6am and 6pm – but alcohol is only allowed to be served until 10pm outside.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘This news is absolutely devastating for the sector.

‘We were told that these measures were to be ‘short’ and ‘sharp’ but now the Scottish Government have gone back on that, leaving operators feeling betrayed.

‘The extension of the economic support is welcome, but still in no way makes up for the lost income of another week fully closed. The trade now feels even more let down by the Government and unfairly targeted by the measures which are costing jobs and livelihoods.

‘Scotland’s pubs and bars have repeatedly been subject to some of the most penalising restrictions in the world, but without the evidence to back it up. The situation cannot continue.’

Speaking at her briefing yesterday, Miss Sturgeon said she had agreed, with her Cabinet, to extend the short-term restrictions to ensure a ‘smooth transition’ to the new five-tier system which will come into force on November 2.

Announcing the extension, she said: ‘I know all of this is really unwelcome and I know that these restrictions are harsh.

‘They are harsh financially for many individuals and businesses, and they are harsh emotionally for all of us.

‘I want to stress again none of these decisions are being taken lightly – this is about trying to minimise the health damage we know this virus is capable of doing.’

But business bosses hit out at the move, with Liz Cameron of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce saying that the hospitality sector would be ‘absolutely devastated that restrictions now look to be in place indefinitely’.

She said: ‘We were advised that temporary restrictions would help to reduce the spread of the virus. But now the temporary restrictions have been extended, which make it impossible for businesses to rebuild and protect jobs.

‘This short-term reactive approach is no longer enough. Where is the plan that we can all get alongside to help the Scottish Government to both manage the virus and ensure the economy can also return to health?’

Campaign for Real Ale spokesman Joe Crawford said that the announcement was a ‘hammer blow’ to pubs and breweries ‘who feel like they’re being offered up as a sacrificial lamb without sufficient evidence’.

Last night, hospitality bosses launched a Save Our Jobs campaign following Miss Sturgeon’s announcement.

It demands support from the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure up to 100,000 jobs are not lost in bars and restaurants across the country when the furlough scheme ends on October 31.

Michelin-star chef Tom Kitchin, Signature Group boss Nic Wood –the head of one of Scotland’s biggest pub groups – and other hospitality sector bosses and staff have joined the campaign.

Mr Kitchin said: ‘Our industry is in real need of help, especially having only just partly recovered from the first lockdown.

‘Eliminating the risks of the virus is our greatest concern, but there needs to be a balance for the hospitality future of Scotland.’

Mr Wood said that he hopes the campaign will highlight the plight of the young hospitality workforce, with 50 per cent of all staff aged between 16 and 24.

The Scottish Government has provided £40million to affected businesses over the original 16-day closure period, and Miss Sturgeon said this would be extended on a ‘proportionate’ basis.

Research shows that the industry spent around £15million on training and implementing social-distancing measures across the entire sector to reopen businesses and rebuild consumer confidence.

However, a large number of licensed premises have not reopened at all since March as they would not be viable as a result of a decrease in their capacity in order to adhere to social distancing regulations. 

If the SNP don’t give us a seat at the table, they’ll be destroying a £10bn industry, says Stephen Montgomery

34704962 8867021 image a 14 1603370854551

34704962 8867021 image a 14 1603370854551

Yesterday the Scottish Government effectively called last orders on our country’s hospitality industry.

Hundreds of viable businesses now face closure, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Time and time again we have called on the Government to work with us on a solution.

Time and time again we have faced a closed door.

The next few days will be critical. The hospitality sector is on a financial precipice as the long, difficult winter stretches ahead.

When I spoke to owners and operators across the country following the announcement yesterday, their despair and desperation was palpable.

I could sense that they had lost faith in the Government to protect jobs, support businesses and lead Scotland through these unprecedented times.

Catastrophic The First Minister said that the decisions her Government is making have not been easy.

But for a business owner, the decision to lay off half your staff is far from easy.

A further week of restrictions is catastrophic for a sector that is already on its knees, with the two-week closure costing £10million in revenue across Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) members alone.

And it is not only hospitality staff at risk but jobs at the thousands of businesses in our supply chains, from butchers on local high streets to brewers and fishermen.

We have repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to work with us on a solution to safeguard an industry that is the third biggest employer in the country.

Scotland’s bars and restaurants have demonstrated again and again that they are willing to work with the Government and are doing absolutely everything asked of them to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

Responsibly run bars and restaurants should be regarded as a vital part of the solution, as evidence shows that people will socialise at home or other venues that have no social distancing.

As well as the public health risks of shutting down the hospitality sector, the economic cost is catastrophic for an industry worth £10.6billion to the Scottish economy annually, and which employs 285,000 people – many of them young Scots under 25.

I am now pleading directly to the First Minister.

Stop shutting us out. Give us a seat at the table to provide our experience, support, and critical industry knowledge before important decisions are made that affect the future of our businesses and the lives of our employees.

The hospitality industry has repeatedly felt the brunt of restrictions. We have repeatedly called for adequate financial support that will keep venues viable, save jobs and protect livelihoods.

While the First Minister consistently lays blame with the UK Government for her Government’s inability to provide further financial support, there are actions she can take today to provide some hope of a longer-term financial solution.

Business rates are fully devolved to Scotland. Put your money where your mouth is and extend the relief for hospitality until April 2022.

Press the UK Government harder for the money required for a sector-specific furlough scheme and the funding hospitality businesses across the country need to survive winter. This will give businesses some hope that the Government is trying to help.

Every business is facing a unique situation, with some operators outside the Central Belt forced to close because they cannot trade viably under the current restrictions, leaving them unable to access full Scottish Government support or the new furlough scheme.

Manchester, with its 1,912 licensed premises, could receive up to £60million in government support. This works out at more than £31,000 per premises, against the woefully inadequate £3,500 potentially on the table from the Scottish Government.

Beyond the overall level of support, there remains damaging and unacceptable uncertainty over how financial support will be accessed and administered, and an effective postcode lottery in the levels of support that businesses in different parts of the country are able to access.

Solution Such regional variation will only become more pronounced as we move to varying levels of restrictions from November 2.

Scotland’s hospitality sector should not – and cannot – be left short-changed compared to other parts of the UK.

The hospitality industry has constantly done everything asked of it – and more – by the Government in order to protect customers and staff and be part of the solution to beating coronavirus in Scotland.

There is still no scientific evidence to support the shutdown of pubs and restaurants in Scotland.

Since July, SHG members have served more than 1.8million customers and have had only 17 confirmed cases of Covid-19. In our premises we have track and trace, PPE, social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

The inevitable increase of socialising in uncontrolled, unmonitored environments, such as house parties, will only increase as we enter the cold, dark winter months.

Our businesses are part of the solution to fight this virus, not part of the problem.

We have put our trust in this elected Government to navigate us through this crisis.

But trust works two ways.

We are owners and operators working at the coalface.

Evidence After 16 days, there is still no clear indication that virus case numbers are dropping, despite the closure of bars and restaurants.

Restrictions must be based on evidence or they are disproportionate and unfair.

Now the Government must engage and listen to business owners to regain trust.

Scotland’s bars and restaurants have demonstrated again and again that they are willing to work with the Government and be part of the solution to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The winds of change have begun to blow across the industry. We need action to save our industry now.

Without a seat at the table, and without further financial support, hundreds of once flourishing businesses at the heart of communities up and down the country will be forced to call last orders for the final time.

  • Stephen Montgomery is the owner of two hospitality businesses in Dumfries and Galloway and the spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group , which comprises many of the country’s largest and best-known restaurant and bar businesses, including the DRG Group , Buzzworks Holdings, Signature Pubs, Montpeliers,  Manorview Group, Lisini Pub Co, Caledonia Inns, G1 Group, Siberia Bar & Hotel, Mor-Rioghain, Group and Caledonian Heritable.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Just 13% of people in England feel they ‘fully understand’ Covid-19 lockdown rules

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just 13 of people in england feel they fully understand covid 19 lockdown rules

Just 13 per cent of people in England claim they ‘fully understand’ the current Covid-19 lockdown rules, a study has shown.

That falls to only five per cent of people under 30 in England and Wales, according to the ongoing University College London (UCL) Covid-19 Social Study. 

Researchers questioned more than 14,500 people in the UK about their knowledge of the rules in all four nations at the start of autumn and after the rule of six was introduced.

But it was before England went into a tiered system imposing different restriction levels on various parts of the country, and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland took decisions to use ‘circuit breakers’.

Since then, experts think people will have become even more confused about which restrictions apply to them and blame the Government’s lack of clear messaging. 

How many people understood the Covid-19 restrictions in England now (51 per cent) compared to during lockdown (90 per cent for the UK generally)

How many people understood the Covid-19 restrictions in England now (51 per cent) compared to during lockdown (90 per cent for the UK generally)

How many people understood the Covid-19 restrictions in England now (51 per cent) compared to during lockdown (90 per cent for the UK generally) 

How restrictions are different across England and Wales. Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will be in Tier 3 from Sunday morning

How restrictions are different across England and Wales. Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will be in Tier 3 from Sunday morning

How restrictions are different across England and Wales. Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will be in Tier 3 from Sunday morning 

34717218 8868711 image a 19 1603383450188

34717218 8868711 image a 19 1603383450188

The latest wave of responses came from a survey over four weeks ending on October 18. 

The results show only 51 per cent of people in England felt they understand the ‘majority’ of rules, with just 13 per cent ‘fully understanding’ them. 

People in England are more confused than in both Wales and Scotland, where 15 per cent of people ‘fully understand’ the rules.

Some 62 per cent and 66 per cent understand ‘the majority’ of the rules in Wales and Scotland, respectively.  

WHAT ARE THE COVID-19 RULES IN EACH COUNTRY? 

ENGLAND

The Prime Minister introduced a three-tier system of lockdown measures on October 12. 

It followed the ‘rule of six’ announced on September 12, banning people across the UK from meeting in groups of more than six, and a 10pm curfew in pubs on September 24.

These rules are the only ones in Tier 1, which most of England is under.   

Tier 2 includes London, parts of Essex, parts of the North West in West Yorkshire and the Midlands. 

Tier 2 restrictions mean people are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor settings.

Places in Tier 3 include the whole of Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Merseyside. Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will be in Tier 3 from Sunday morning.

The restrictions include closures on pubs and bars, but not restaurants, and sometimes gyms and leisure centres.

Read more on the government website. 

WALES

A circuit breaker came into force in Wales on Friday 23 October. It will remain in place until Monday 9 November, at least.

On September 12, new UK Covid-19 restrictions came into force (the rule of six and 10pm curfew). But Wales did not consider children in the group of six. It also banned alcohol sales after 10pm.

Read more on the government website. 

SCOTLAND

On September 25, new Covid-19 rules came into force banning social mixing in homes.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the limits on the number of people who can gather outdoors (six).

Those aged between 12 and 17 are allowed to meet outside in groups of up to six from six different households, but should observe physical distancing.

On October 9, pubs were ordered to close for 16 days in five areas in the central belt: Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and the Forth Valley health board areas.

In these areas, snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls were closed.

Other parts of Scotland can only serve indoors between 6am and 6pm, and outdoors until 10pm.

The country is due to move to a five-tier system of virus alert levels from 2 November.

Read more on the government website. 

NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland is currently in a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown which was introduced on 16 October and will be in place for four weeks. It means restaurants and pubs can only offer takeaway or delivery.

The health guidance has been updated to say that ‘no unnecessary travel’ should be undertaken.

All schools closed on October 19 and will not reopen until November 2.

It came after new national rules on September 24, which banned social mixing in homes on top of the rules in England (rule of six and 10pm curfew). 

Read more on the government website.

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During the lockdown, 90 per cent of people in the UK said they understood the rules. Six out of ten people in still did as restrictions were eased over summer.

As the rules started to change in the four nations, UCL presented findings for England, Wales and Scotland separately.

Understanding of the rules in England dropped to 45 per cent in July, before a significant change in restrictions when pubs, restaurants and cafes opened on July 4.

Although a slightly higher number of people in England said they understand the rules now (51 per cent) compared to July, the researchers expect this to reverse amid the tiered-lockdown system. 

Dr Daisy Fancourt, lead author of the study from UCL, said levels of understanding had dramatically fallen, and the new tier system may be increasing confusion.

She said: ‘Levels of understanding around what is and isn’t allowed under current lockdown restrictions have dropped markedly since nationwide “strict lockdown” has ended.

‘This issue may well also be exacerbated by the newly introduced system of tiers in England and the differing policies of the devolved nations.

‘As well as this potentially leading to people breaking rules they don’t fully understand, confusing messages or unclear communication could result in people disengaging from trying to keep abreast of restrictions, which could well lead to lower compliance in the long term.

‘These developments are especially worrying at a time when the number of cases continues to climb, so it is vital that the government improves communication of lockdown restrictions and ensures they are as simple to understand and follow as possible.’

Critics of the Government’s handling of the pandemic say clear and concise public health messaging was a key failure.

Last week Dr Gabriel Scally, an epidemiologist at the Royal Society of Medicine, said: ‘The problem has been in consistent messaging. 

‘They are far from clear and consistent from the government unfortunately. 

‘As everyone knows we were being extorted to work in our offices in the centre of cities even if we didn’t want to, because it would be good for the economy. Then a couple of weeks later the virus numbers go up and we were told stay at home if you can. 

‘People get confused by that, they lose hope and belief.’  

It has become apparent that even the Prime Minister has struggled to grapple with the coronavirus restrictions. 

On September 29, Boris Johnson was forced to make an embarrassing apology after getting mixed up over local lockdown measures in north-east England.

He said he ‘misspoke’ after wrongly suggesting the ‘rule of six’, imposed two weeks prior, does not apply outdoors in the region.

Owen Weatherill, the officer leading the national police response, admitted yesterday he did not know the new lockdown rules and they should be simplified. 

The research asked people how well they understood the rules from one, meaning not at all, to seven, which meant ‘very much so’.

Scores above four were taken to mean that people had a broad understanding of the measures.

Comprehension of the rules is currently lowest amongst younger adults in all nations. 

Just one in 20 adults (five per cent) aged under 30 currently report completely understanding the rules in England or Wales, compared to one in six in Scotland. 

This compares to around one in seven adults over the age of 30 in England and one in six in Wales and Scotland. 

The researchers said younger people may be less clued up because they do not watch the news as often as older people, or have more complicated lives that are harder to apply the regulations to. 

Educated people, with a university degree or higher qualification, were least able to understand the rules. It was suggested this was because they scrutinise them more closely for inconsistencies.  

The study also found people felt more in control of aspects of their lives since July.

Around three fifths of respondents (60 per cent) felt in control of future plans compared with half in July. 

Meanwhile 70 per cent now felt in control of their employment situation – up from 60 per cent in July.

Despite this, the study found half of respondents do not feel at all in control or only feel a little in control of their mental health. 

The project started in mid-March and claims to be the UK’s largest study into how adults are feeling about the lockdown.

It tracks the response to Government advice, wellbeing and mental health, following more than 70,000 participants over the last 30 weeks.   

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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