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Public Health England still hasn’t pinpointed 30,000 duplicated test results in coronavirus count

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public health england still hasnt pinpointed 30000 duplicated test results in coronavirus count

Public Health England’s counts of new daily coronavirus cases still includes 30,000 people who were counted twice before July, MailOnline can reveal.

Although the total number of people infected has been adjusted down to 313,798, as of yesterday, the sum of all the daily increases amounts to 344,384.

When the Government split its statistics into ‘pillar one’ and ‘pillar two’ tests, 30,000 Covid-19 patients were found to have been counted twice and the overall tally had to be redone.

Although the grand total was changed six weeks ago, officials have been unable to show exactly where and when the duplicate tests happened.

It is the latest in a string of issues with Government data about the pandemic, with it emerging that Public Health England was recording anyone who ever tested positive as a victim, even if they died in a car crash months after recovering.

There are now five separate measures for fatalities across the UK and experts have dubbed the handling of official statistics ‘confusing’.

And today it emerged 1.3million counted tests have been removed from the official government total because they were counted twice.  

Case figures are just an ‘estimate’ of the real prevalence of the virus, accounting for around a third of the real number of infections because thousands of patients will never develop any symptoms.

But the numbers are still critical for understanding the progress of the outbreak and letting experts analyse the size of the outbreak.

And the daily updates released by the Government will become ever less accurate as the number of people catching the disease gets lower because inevitable false positive results will skew the number to look higher than it really is, experts say.

Public Health England has not adjusted the number of people being diagnosed each day and has shaved off 30,000 positive tests that were counted twice, but it is not clear when or where the people were double-counted

Public Health England has not adjusted the number of people being diagnosed each day and has shaved off 30,000 positive tests that were counted twice, but it is not clear when or where the people were double-counted

Public Health England has not adjusted the number of people being diagnosed each day and has shaved off 30,000 positive tests that were counted twice, but it is not clear when or where the people were double-counted

GOVERNMENT WIPES OFF 1.3MILLION SWAB TESTS OFF ITS COUNT

The Department of Health has wiped 1.3million swab tests off its count of the number of tests done – a staggering 10 per cent of the total, it emerged today.

The Government has repeatedly boasted about the number of tests it is capable of doing – with capacity now reportedly at around 340,000 per day – but it has now emerged one in 10 tests have been counted twice, The Guardian reported.

The double-counted tests had been done between May 14 and August 12, but the total number of tests ‘made available’ before and after the adjustment is unclear.

The Government describes tests as ‘made available’ because it includes tests sent to people’s homes that are counted whether someone takes the test or not.

It says a total 13,785,297 tests had been completed by yesterday, Wednesday August 12.

In a statement on the website on Wednesday the Department said: ‘An adjustment of -1,308,071 has been made to the historic data for the “tests made available” metric. 

‘The adjustments have been made as a result of more accurate data collection and reporting processes recently being adopted within pillar 2.’

The error reportedly came to light in July but was not corrected until this week.  

 

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Professor Carl Heneghan, an evidence-based medicine expert at the University of Oxford, has followed the Government’s data closely throughout the epidemic.

He said the issue appears to have come from when the Department of Heath split testing into pillars one and two. 

Pillar one refers to tests done in hospitals and medical facilities while pillar two is members of the public who are tested in drive-through, walk-in or home tests.

Professor Heneghan told MailOnline: ‘There is seemingly a problem when you start to introduce pillar one and pillar two tests – they seemed to be double counting tests.  

‘Somebody would have a pillar two test and then gone into hospital and had a pillar one test, and they thought it was two people.’

He said it was unsurprising that data errors were creeping and that some allowances should be made because of a difficult situation, but that it is ‘vital’ that numbers are correct.

Professor Heneghan said: ‘If the number of cases is wrong, the case fatality rate and everything gets skewed.

‘It is vital they’re correct but, to be honest, it doesn’t surprise me there have been areas where you’ve had discrepancies that need to be corrected.’

He added: ‘It does concern me and I think it’s important that data and epidemiology is transparent and it’s clear that [decisions] actually are based on up to date info.

‘What we’re interested in is understanding trends, and information has to be correct for that.’   

Numbers of people diagnosed with the coronavirus are updated each day by the Department of Health and Public Health England.

While the Department of Health is responsible for organising the tests, carrying them out and reporting the results back, PHE controls the statistics.

On July 2 officials consolidated their counts of the cases and as a result the total number of people diagnosed dropped by 31,388, from 315,145 to 283,757.

This shows more than 31,000 people had been counted twice in the Government’s testing system up to the end of June.

But despite the total number being updated, the daily numbers were never changed.

The data still shows that May 1 had the highest number of cases of any day in the epidemic so far, with 6,201, and that 33,760 people were diagnosed in that week, from April 27 to May 3. 

The daily new numbers of cases in England add up to a total 344,384, with a peak of 6,201 people getting diagnosed on May 1

The daily new numbers of cases in England add up to a total 344,384, with a peak of 6,201 people getting diagnosed on May 1

The daily new numbers of cases in England add up to a total 344,384, with a peak of 6,201 people getting diagnosed on May 1

But the total number of cases was adjusted on July 2, where a drop of more than 30,000 cases can be seen. No further details about the decline have been offered

But the total number of cases was adjusted on July 2, where a drop of more than 30,000 cases can be seen. No further details about the decline have been offered

But the total number of cases was adjusted on July 2, where a drop of more than 30,000 cases can be seen. No further details about the decline have been offered

NEW CASES ‘MAY NEVER HIT ZERO’ BECAUSE TESTS ALWAYS PRODUCE FALSE POSITIVES

Experts say the number of people being diagnosed with coronavirus will never drop to zero if the UK keeps doing hundreds of thousands of tests – even if they virus is truly gone.

Because the swab tests used to diagnose people with Covid-19 are not perfectly accurate, they will always produce false positive results.

A false positive is when someone gets a positive result even though they don’t actually have the disease.

It can be caused by a cross-reaction, such as another type of coronavirus being picked up by the test, or by faults in the testing process.

The accuracy of swab tests being used in the UK is unclear but one paper submitted to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) estimated that the false positive rate is 2.3 per cent, The Telegraph reported.

This would mean that for every 1,000 people who test positive, 23 people would be wrongly told they were infected. 

As the true number of cases becomes ever lower, this false positive group begins to make up a larger and larger proportion of the numbers announced.

Even when the reality is that there are no cases in the group being tested, false positive results will still occur because the tests aren’t perfect. 

Oxford University’s Professor Carl Heneghan told MailOnline: ‘You get to a point where there’s a greater chance the test result is wrong than it is right.

‘Are we picking up people who have had virus some time ago and still have RNA in their body?’ 

He told the Telegraph: ‘It looks like we’ll struggle to get out of this. We’re now in a spiral of bad data.’ 

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But the true number of cases diagnosed in that week cannot be confirmed because hundreds or thousands of those people could have been counted twice.

Dr Simon Clarke, a cellular microbiologist at the University of Reading, said the official data was ‘a bit of mess’.

‘My understanding is it’s still basically an estimate,’ he said. ‘It also needs to be remembered that the diagnoses is way below what the [Office for National Statistics] thinks the real numbers of cases are… 

‘I think it is confusing for people. A lot of people think the numbers they see are it – that that is how many cases there are – but it’s not.’ 

The discrepancy is just one in a string of issues with the Government’s coronavirus data.

Officials this week confirmed they were changing the way they count the number of people who are dying because PHE had been including anyone who died of any cause after a positive test for Covid-19.

Even someone who tested positive in March, then recovered and died after getting hit by a bus in August would have been included in the Covid-19 death toll.

Now the Department of Health is including only people who die within 28 days of their diagnosis, in an attempt to reduce the number of people included wrongly.

NHS England and the devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been using the 28-day cutoff throughout the outbreak. 

As a result of this change the official death count dropped by 5,000 this Tuesday, from 46,706 to 41,329. 

PHE will still publish weekly stats showing how many people died within 60 days of a positive test, to try and include people who have long stays in hospital or long-lasting Covid-19 illness.

And it emerged today that the Department of Health has wiped 1.3million swab tests off its count of the number of tests done – a staggering 10 per cent of the total.

The Government has repeatedly boasted about the number of tests it is capable of doing – with capacity now reportedly at around 340,000 per day – but it has now emerged one in 10 tests have been counted twice, The Guardian reported.

The double-counted tests had been done between May 14 and August 12, but the total number of tests ‘made available’ before and after the adjustment is unclear.

The Government describes tests as ‘made available’ because it includes tests sent to people’s homes that are counted whether someone takes the test or not.

It says a total 13,785,297 tests had been completed by yesterday, Wednesday August 12.

In a statement on the website on Wednesday the Department said: ‘An adjustment of -1,308,071 has been made to the historic data for the “tests made available” metric. 

‘The adjustments have been made as a result of more accurate data collection and reporting processes recently being adopted within pillar 2.’

The error reportedly came to light in July but was not corrected until this week.  

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Sarah Ferguson shares childhood snap to pay tribute to her mum Susan Barrantes on death anniversary

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sarah ferguson shares childhood snap to pay tribute to her mum susan barrantes on death anniversary

Sarah Ferguson has shared a sweet throwback image with her sister Jane and mother Susan Barrantes to pay tribute to the late film producer on the 22nd anniversary of her death.

The Duchess of York, 60,  who has been staying at Royal Lodge in Windsor since the beginning of lockdown, posted the adorable family shot of the red-haired sisters that bare a striking resemblance to Princess Eugenie and Beatrice, sitting on a lake in Scotland with their pet poodle.

In a second picture, the royal showed a shot of her mother in the 1980s, sporting long blonde hair, black sunglasses and a white blazer. 

Sarah Ferguson has shared a sweet throwback image with her sister Jane and mother Susan Barrantes to pay tribute to the late film producer on the 22nd anniversary of her death. The Duchess of York, 60, who has been staying at Royal Lodge in Windsor since the beginning of lockdown, posted the adorable family shot of the red-haired sisters that bare a striking resemblance to Princess Eugenie and Beatrice, sitting on a lake in Scotland with their pet poodle.

Sarah Ferguson has shared a sweet throwback image with her sister Jane and mother Susan Barrantes to pay tribute to the late film producer on the 22nd anniversary of her death. The Duchess of York, 60, who has been staying at Royal Lodge in Windsor since the beginning of lockdown, posted the adorable family shot of the red-haired sisters that bare a striking resemblance to Princess Eugenie and Beatrice, sitting on a lake in Scotland with their pet poodle.

Sarah Ferguson has shared a sweet throwback image with her sister Jane and mother Susan Barrantes to pay tribute to the late film producer on the 22nd anniversary of her death. The Duchess of York, 60, who has been staying at Royal Lodge in Windsor since the beginning of lockdown, posted the adorable family shot of the red-haired sisters that bare a striking resemblance to Princess Eugenie and Beatrice, sitting on a lake in Scotland with their pet poodle.

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33370884 8750405 image a 53 1600516048759

‘Happy days with Mum (always in my heart) my sister Jane and Puff the Poodle on a lake in Scotland. She died far too young .. we miss you Mum,’ she captioned the image.

Susan died in 1998 following a car crash in Argentina, just one year after the death of Princess Diana.

The Duchess of York’s mother earned the nickname ‘the bolter’ and caused a stir in British social circles when she eloped with Argentinian polo player Hector Barrantes in 1975, a year after her divorce from Fergie’s father Sir Ronald Ferguson.  

Sir Ronald died in 2003 following a heart attack in Basingstoke, Hampshire.   

The Duchess of York's (pictured)  mother earned the nickname 'the bolter' and caused a stir in British social circles when she eloped with Argentinian polo player Hector Barrantes in 1975, a year after her divorce from Fergie's father Sir Ronald Ferguson.

The Duchess of York's (pictured)  mother earned the nickname 'the bolter' and caused a stir in British social circles when she eloped with Argentinian polo player Hector Barrantes in 1975, a year after her divorce from Fergie's father Sir Ronald Ferguson.

The Duchess of York’s (pictured)  mother earned the nickname ‘the bolter’ and caused a stir in British social circles when she eloped with Argentinian polo player Hector Barrantes in 1975, a year after her divorce from Fergie’s father Sir Ronald Ferguson. 

In a second picture, the royal showed a shot of her mother in the 1980s, sporting long blonde hair, black sunglasses and a white blazer.

In a second picture, the royal showed a shot of her mother in the 1980s, sporting long blonde hair, black sunglasses and a white blazer.

In a second picture, the royal showed a shot of her mother in the 1980s, sporting long blonde hair, black sunglasses and a white blazer.

The father-of-five, a polo manager for the Duke of Edinburgh and later Prince Charles, married Susan Deptford in 1975, a year after his divorce from Fergie’s mother, also named Susan.

He shared daughters Sarah and Jane with his first wife, and son Andrew and two more daughters, Alice and Eliza with his second.     

Jane is a public relations exec who lives in Sydney with her three children Seamus, Ayesha and Heidi.  

The Duchess Of York is pictured with her mother Susan Barrantes, at Wentworth Golf Club in the 1980s

The Duchess Of York is pictured with her mother Susan Barrantes, at Wentworth Golf Club in the 1980s

The Duchess Of York is pictured with her mother Susan Barrantes, at Wentworth Golf Club in the 1980s

Susan Barrantes, left, is pictured on the Buckingham Palace balcony on the wedding day of her daughter to Prince Andrew. Also pictured is Prince Edward, the Queen mother, The Queen and Prince Philip

Susan Barrantes, left, is pictured on the Buckingham Palace balcony on the wedding day of her daughter to Prince Andrew. Also pictured is Prince Edward, the Queen mother, The Queen and Prince Philip

Susan Barrantes, left, is pictured on the Buckingham Palace balcony on the wedding day of her daughter to Prince Andrew. Also pictured is Prince Edward, the Queen mother, The Queen and Prince Philip

The Duchess of York was married to the Queen’s second son Prince Andrew from 1986 to 1996, but the couple remain close years after their divorce.

With Andrew she shares daughters Princess Beatrice, 32, and Princess Eugenie, 30.

The royal recently announced she will be collaborating with Laleh Mohmedi, the mother behind the viral sensation, Jacob’s Food Diaries to release her own cookbook Fergie’s  Fun Food.

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Working from home is BAD for business: Bosses accuse WFH staff of skiving off

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working from home is bad for business bosses accuse wfh staff of skiving off

Business leaders are railing against Government proposals to impose a second national lockdown as they claim that working from home is bad for productivity, fuels loneliness and would finish the UK economy. 

Bosses grappling with the shift by millions of people towards working from home fear the model could stifle creativity and wreck productivity over the long-term.

Some chief executives have reported being able to save money on rent for office space in expensive cities like London, while office staff who hate commuting enjoy working from the comfort of their own homes – or back gardens.

But there is a general concern among industry leaders that the model of work could lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, and in turn hurt Britain’s productivity – already lagging behind other advanced economies.

Business leaders are now looking to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to soften the Prime Minister’s attitude towards coronavirus restrictions as Boris Johnson is advised by Government scientists to send Britain back into a second national lockdown.  

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan, has lamented the lack of ‘creative combustion’ in his largely empty office and trading floors, noting that productivity at the bank, which employs 16,000 people in the UK, was noticeably lower on Mondays and Fridays – a nod to colleagues skiving either side of the weekend.

Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia, ex-boss of Virgin Money, said: ‘I think it prevents those sparks that come from having a cigarette together or an informal cup of coffee.’ 

Robert Swannell, the former chairman of Marks & Spencer, recent bemoaned the lack of ‘chance conversations, social interactions and snippets overheard that allow networks to flourish’ at an FT City Network conference.  

Meanwhile, Lindsell Train co-founder Nick Train said that solitary working was not good for him, and reflected that he was ‘losing the plot’ and missed ‘having a sobering cup of coffee with a respected colleague’. 

It comes as a survey of 1,000 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development published this week found that 29 per cent felt working from home had helped productivity, while 28 per cent felt it had harmed productivity. 

In other coronavirus developments: 

  • Sadiq Khan held an emergency meeting about the ‘accelerating speed’ of Covid in London and said that extra coronavirus restrictions would be required; 
  • A further 4,322 confirmed cases were recorded nationally – the highest total since May 8 – with public officials warning that Covid-19 was ‘spreading widely’;  
  • Local lockdown restrictions were extended to cover 13 million people, with 3.5 million more affected in the North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands;  
  • The Scottish and Welsh leaders, as well as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, called for an emergency Cobra meeting for coronavirus 
Business leaders are railing against Government proposals to impose a second national lockdown as they claim that working from home is bad for productivity (stock)

Business leaders are railing against Government proposals to impose a second national lockdown as they claim that working from home is bad for productivity (stock)

Business leaders are railing against Government proposals to impose a second national lockdown as they claim that working from home is bad for productivity (stock)

Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next, has warned working from home means employees cannot learn from each other or enjoy spontaneous everyday conversations

Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next, has warned working from home means employees cannot learn from each other or enjoy spontaneous everyday conversations

Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next, has warned working from home means employees cannot learn from each other or enjoy spontaneous everyday conversations 

A graphic shows where the latest restrictions are being enforced across Great Britain

A graphic shows where the latest restrictions are being enforced across Great Britain

A graphic shows where the latest restrictions are being enforced across Great Britain

Employers are concerned about their staff – and new recruits in particular – not learning and improving on the job as they would in an office environment where they absorb working practices from senior colleagues.   

Chancellor Rishi Sunak begs Boris Johnson ‘Don’t go too far’ with new lockdown rules – hours after PM warns ‘inevitable’ second wave is coming in 

Rishi Sunak has urged Boris Johnson not to risk the recovery by going too far with any new lockdown rules.

Issuing his ‘sombre’ warning, the Chancellor highlighted the huge potential damage to the economy – including mass job losses. 

A Government source said: ‘Everybody’s general health depends on the economic health of the UK – there is a way to bring in restrictions without going overboard.’ 

Government scientific advisers have modelled a range of new restrictions, including the reimposition of a temporary full lockdown. 

But the Mail understands that the Prime Minister is facing intense pressure from his Chancellor to limit the impact on the economy. 

At a meeting in Downing Street on Thursday, Mr Sunak urged Mr Johnson to minimise the number of businesses affected by any new curbs. 

A Government source said of the discussion: ‘Mr Sunak gave sombre warnings – Boris said he was confident it will all be OK in the end.’ Allies of Mr Johnson insist he will try to balance both the threat of the virus and the risks to the economy.

 

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Paul Manduca, chairman of insurance group Prudential, told the City Network conference: ‘Working from home works for a time within communities that know one another well but it is very hard to get to know and assess new employees unless physical interaction takes place.’

Bosses also fear that some of their employees will not be able to work as productively because of distractions such as children, hot weather and working in a shared flat.  

Others have admitted that it is more difficult for line managers to monitor staff and make sure they are concentrating on their work. Andy Golding, chief executive of mortgage lender OneSavings Bank, said: ‘It is difficult for managers to do the performance observations they would normally do in the office.’   

Lord Wolfson, the boss of high street retailer Next, warned about the damaging and ‘joyless’ effects of the new work environment on businesses.

The Conservative life peer also criticised video conference calls such as Zoom which have become vital for many companies as employees work from home.

He told The Telegraph that online meetings transformed ‘meetings from productive exchanges of ideas into boring, one-way lectures’.

It comes as many bosses fear that office staff will soon be back working from home within weeks due to the current testing fiasco – as supermarkets make contingency plans if workers can’t get swabbed.  

The Government has come under fire after widespread reports of people having to travel hundreds of miles to get checked and being unable to book a test at all – despite ministers pledging that testing capacity will hit 500,000 a day by the end of October.

The test and trace system has buckled under the pressure since children returned to school and the Government made a concerted effort to encourage people back into the office in order to try and kickstart the flagging UK economy. 

Business leaders have displayed concerns about the current testing system and emphasised that it working effectively will be vital for getting employees back to work and boosting the UK economy.

Matt Fell CBI, UK Chief Policy Director, said if the Government wants to get people back to their desks, then the test and trace system will be a ‘key component.’  

There is a general concern among industry leaders that the model of work could lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, and in turn hurt Britain's productivity (stock)

There is a general concern among industry leaders that the model of work could lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, and in turn hurt Britain's productivity (stock)

There is a general concern among industry leaders that the model of work could lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, and in turn hurt Britain’s productivity (stock)

‘Reports of people being unable to access tests in their area or waiting too long to get the results will be deeply frustrating for individual and businesses alike,’ he added. ‘No one doubts how much effort is going in to get it right.’ 

Meanwile, landlords last night warned that a second national lockdown could see pubs close for good unless the Government provides a support package.  

Campaign for Real Ale, a voluntary organisation, has warned that a second lockdown could have a ‘terrifying impact’ on UK pubs.

It said that many pubs are making their venues Covid-secure and are still struggling ‘to return to growth’ two months after reopening following the first lockdown.

Chairman Nik Antona has urged the Government to introduce a support package for pubs to reintroduce the full furlough scheme amid fears of a shutdown.

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Is there really another spike in hospitalisations? Public officials are warning that hospitalisations in the UK are doubling every eight days - but data show that even current hospitalisations are a fraction of those seen at the height of the pandemic

Is there really another spike in hospitalisations? Public officials are warning that hospitalisations in the UK are doubling every eight days - but data show that even current hospitalisations are a fraction of those seen at the height of the pandemic

Is there really another spike in hospitalisations? Public officials are warning that hospitalisations in the UK are doubling every eight days – but data show that even current hospitalisations are a fraction of those seen at the height of the pandemic 

Campaign for Real Ale, which promotes pubs across Britain, has warned that a second national coronavirus lockdown could see pubs closing for good across the UK. Pictured, The Montagu Pyke in London on July 4

Campaign for Real Ale, which promotes pubs across Britain, has warned that a second national coronavirus lockdown could see pubs closing for good across the UK. Pictured, The Montagu Pyke in London on July 4

Campaign for Real Ale, which promotes pubs across Britain, has warned that a second national coronavirus lockdown could see pubs closing for good across the UK. Pictured, The Montagu Pyke in London on July 4

Mr Antona added: ‘The prospect of a second lockdown will be a terrifying impact on publicans who have invested money and time making their premises Covid-secure and who are still struggling to return to growth two months after reopening. 

‘If another lockdown is announced, the Government must immediately introduce a new, comprehensive support package for pubs that includes extending the business rates holiday for another year, reintroducing the full furlough scheme, and announcing new hospitality support grants. 

‘This will be the only way to avoid mass pub closures and job losses. The vast majority of publicans and pub-goers across the country are doing the right thing.’ 

Fears of a second national lockdown follow reports that Government scientists have spooked the Prime Minister with warnings of hundreds of daily coronavirus deaths, and telling terrified Mr Johnson: ‘There is no alternative to a lockdown’.  

Mr Johnson is threatening to ‘intensify’ coronavirus restrictions as early as Tuesday as he blames the British public for the rise in cases – despite his repeated pleas for people to get back to offices and eat out to resuscitate Britain’s flailing economy. 

How could the ‘circuit breaker’ work? 

The Government is mulling what has been described as a ‘circuit breaker’ in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.

But it would not be quite as draconian as the lockdown that was imposed at the previous height of the crisis in March.

Instead it would be similar to the lockdowns that have been introduced locally in areas with high infection levels. 

Restrictions would be imposed nationwide for perhaps a fortnight, in the hope that short sharp action can break the chain of transmission. 

LOCKED DOWN:  

  • People only allowed to socialise with their own household or support bubble. 
  • Curfews and restrictions on activities in public spaces such as town centres and parks.
  • Face masks need to be worn in more public areas and venues. 
  • Pubs and restaurants and other firms like hairdressers and beauty salons could either be ordered to close altogether, or have their opening hours severely restricted. 
  • The edict to work from home where possible could be reinstated, after Boris Johnson spent months urging people to return to offices. 

UNLOCKED 

  • Non-essential shops and workplaces would stay open, to avoid further disastrous damage to the economy. 
  • Schools would also probably be kept going, after ministers warned of the massive impact on the prospects of pupils. 
  • There is speculation the curbs could be introduced over the half-term at the end of October – if the government can wait that long with cases doubling every eight days.
  • Healthcare and dentistry is likely to be kept going, rather than being reduced to urgent care as in the previous lockdown. 
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The Prime Minister is looking to ditch his Rule of Six and introduce fortnight-long ‘circuit breakers’ nationwide for six months, following claims that it was ‘inevitable’ that a second wave would hit the country last night.  

The new approach to get the UK through winter would see it alternate periods of stricter measures, including bans on all social contact between households and shutting down hospitality and leisure venues like bars and restaurants, with intervals of relaxation. 

Schools will be shut as a ‘last resort’, a Whitehall source claimed.

It is understood that the new ‘circuit break’ shutdown could be announced via television press conference on Tuesday, in a move reminiscent of the Government’s behaviour during the peak of the pandemic. 

Visiting the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford, Mr Johnson said: ‘What I can certainly say about parents and schools is we want to keep the schools open, that is going to happen.

‘We want to try and keep all parts of the economy open as far as we possibly can – I don’t think anybody wants to go into a second lockdown but clearly when you look at what is happening, you have got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we have brought in on Monday, so we will be looking at the local lockdowns we have got in large parts of the country now, looking at what we can do to intensify things that help bring the rate of infection down there, but also looking at other measures as well.’ 

Officials, including England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, are thought to be arguing for tough restrictions as panic within official circles grows. 

Today the Government’s original lockdown architect, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, recommended ‘rolling back’ freedoms ‘sooner rather than later’ by ‘reducing contact rates between people’.  

The scientist, who was sacked from SAGE for flouting his own lockdown rules, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Right now we’re at about the levels of infections that we were seeing in late February, if we leave it at another two to four weeks we will be back at levels we were seeing more like mid March.

‘That’s going to clearly cause deaths… I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later, the timing of any more intensive policy, temporary policy, is open to question’. 

But the measures are thought to have been met with protests from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has warned against introducing new blanket restrictions by pointing to huge damage already inflicted to the economy.

Government sources claim that Mr Sunak gave ‘sombre warnings’ to the Prime Minister as he highlighted the severity of the damage caused to the UK economy as a result of the March lockdown – while Mr Johnson shrugged off the ‘grim’ economic forecasts, claiming that ‘he was confident it will all be OK in the end’.  

Business leaders echoed the Chancellor’s concerns and warned that a second lockdown would tank the economy, with the British Chambers of Commerce saying: ‘Uncertainty and speculation around future national restrictions will sap business and consumer confidence at a delicate moment for the economy’. 

ALEX BRUMMER: A second national Covid lockdown would crush our recovery… and it could take decades to remedy an economic slump

By Alex Brummer, City Editor for the Daily Mail 

The threat of a second national lockdown, just as the UK’s resilient economy shows signs of recovering from the first, is a thoroughly depressing prospect.

It illustrates so clearly the dilemma of a government under pressure to save the vulnerable from the scourge of Covid-19, but also wanting to avoid plunging the citizens of Britain back into the worst economic slump they have seen in peacetime.

The current rise in infections, hospitalisations and deaths is deeply worrying for all. 

And it would be an irresponsible government which ignored the health data, the pressures on the NHS and the safety of its citizens. 

That is why the lack of adequate test and trace systems, after months to prepare for the great return to work and full time education, is so frustrating.

The threat of a second national lockdown, just as the UK’s resilient economy shows signs of recovering from the first, is a thoroughly depressing prospect. Pictured: Boarded up pubs and shops in Edinburgh in April

The threat of a second national lockdown, just as the UK’s resilient economy shows signs of recovering from the first, is a thoroughly depressing prospect. Pictured: Boarded up pubs and shops in Edinburgh in April

The threat of a second national lockdown, just as the UK’s resilient economy shows signs of recovering from the first, is a thoroughly depressing prospect. Pictured: Boarded up pubs and shops in Edinburgh in April

Similarly, fear of the disease explains why the public has generally been so stoically supportive of the ‘rule of six’ restrictions. 

But there also needs to be recognition that with every new restriction placed on the lives of citizens, from curfews to hospitality closures, the economic, health and well-being consequences for the country could be infinitely damaging.

Indeed, the improving outlook for jobs and prosperity is built on public confidence and could be crushed in an instant, throwing the UK back into a debilitating slump that could take decades to remedy.

The tragedy is that the looming prospect of a second lockdown has been thrust sharply into focus at a moment when it seemed that the British economy, the worst performing among the richest countries in the first six months of the year, was coming back into its own.

Certainly the huge amount of assistance that Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Bank of England have poured into business and the pockets of furloughed workers is starting to pay dividends.

Yes, when the nightmare of this pandemic is halted by new medicines and vaccines there will be £2 trillion of national debt that will need to be eventually paid back over the decades. 

However, it is not inconceivable that such a goal can be achieved without permanent scarring to the economy and mass unemployment.

It seemed that the British economy was coming back into its own. Certainly the huge amount of assistance that Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) and the Bank of England have poured into business and the pockets of furloughed workers is starting to pay dividends

It seemed that the British economy was coming back into its own. Certainly the huge amount of assistance that Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) and the Bank of England have poured into business and the pockets of furloughed workers is starting to pay dividends

It seemed that the British economy was coming back into its own. Certainly the huge amount of assistance that Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) and the Bank of England have poured into business and the pockets of furloughed workers is starting to pay dividends

When the nightmare of this pandemic is halted by new medicines and vaccines there will be £2 trillion of national debt that will need to be eventually paid back over the decades. Pictured: Cars line up at a testing centre in Abercynon

When the nightmare of this pandemic is halted by new medicines and vaccines there will be £2 trillion of national debt that will need to be eventually paid back over the decades. Pictured: Cars line up at a testing centre in Abercynon

When the nightmare of this pandemic is halted by new medicines and vaccines there will be £2 trillion of national debt that will need to be eventually paid back over the decades. Pictured: Cars line up at a testing centre in Abercynon

Personally, as someone who months ago predicted the very worst for Britain as a result of the pandemic, I have been pleasantly surprised by our much discussed ‘V’ shaped recovery. 

Even the great sceptics at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who just a few months ago delighted in highlighting the UK’s dismal slump earlier this year, this week posited that the UK will be the fastest growing economy in the Western world in 2021, expanding at a Chinese-like 7.6 per cent.

But there still needs to be a recognition of how fragile the recovery could be and how easily it could be knocked off course should the nation be locked down again, even for a temporary period. 

The very prospect of more restrictions on commerce yesterday was enough to send shudders through the stock market values of British Airways owner IAG and the country’s biggest engineer Rolls-Royce, with values pummelled by up to 10 per cent.

Meanwhile, among the most encouraging aspects of the recent upturn has been the return of faith in the housing market and signs of a mini-consumer boom. 

According to the latest retail figures, sales in August jumped 0.8 per cent – and were 4 per cent higher than pre-virus levels. 

Strong sales numbers from big high street names including Next and John Lewis have added to the belief that they can return to some sort of normal. 

Nevertheless, among top retailers there is an underlying fear that if shops were to be closed again or retail parks emptied out, it could be disastrous in the run-up to Christmas when John Lewis, among others, takes as much of two-thirds of its annual income through the tills.

There still needs to be a recognition of how fragile the recovery could be and how easily it could be knocked off course should the nation be locked down again, even for a temporary period. Pictured: Windows of a pub in Dublin's Temple Bar are boarded up, as further restrictions in Dublin were imposed on Friday

There still needs to be a recognition of how fragile the recovery could be and how easily it could be knocked off course should the nation be locked down again, even for a temporary period. Pictured: Windows of a pub in Dublin's Temple Bar are boarded up, as further restrictions in Dublin were imposed on Friday

There still needs to be a recognition of how fragile the recovery could be and how easily it could be knocked off course should the nation be locked down again, even for a temporary period. Pictured: Windows of a pub in Dublin’s Temple Bar are boarded up, as further restrictions in Dublin were imposed on Friday

At its regular interest rate setting this week, the Bank of England was much more cheerful, noting that GDP in July was 18.5 per cent above its trough in April, though still 11.25 per cent below 2019 levels. 

On the employment front, it noted that online vacancies have started to rise and that in August the flow of new redundancies was less severe.

It cautioned, however, that the outlook was still ‘unusually uncertain’. 

The continued progress for GDP, jobs and prosperity would be closely connected to the development of the pandemic and the measures taken to protect public – a veiled warning of how catastrophic a further lockdown could be.

Already damage has been done to swathes of the British economy, not least in the hospitality, aviation, aerospace and creative industries. 

But there is no reason to believe that, with the right policies, these parts of our economy cannot be revived.

And so much as I believe in the sanctity of life and the health of the British people, one cannot escape the fear that a renewed lockdown would destroy the progress Britain has already made, and be an unnecessary hardship for years to come.

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Newcastle drinkers hit the pubs ahead of curfew while Leeds revellers enjoy last BIG weekend

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newcastle drinkers hit the pubs ahead of curfew while leeds revellers enjoy last big weekend

Hundreds of Newcastle drinkers hit the pubs last night ahead of curfew while Leeds revellers enjoy their last big weekend as lockdown looms over the city. 

Students and young people appeared undeterred by the new early curfew as they flocked to Big Market – a popular area with bars and pubs in Newcastle – in the early evening and knocked back drinks.

Young women were pictured laughing and saying cheers with their final pints before being kicked out by bar staff at 10pm. Some revellers were clearly not done with the night’s partying and were seen picking up booze from local convenience stores after the pubs shut up shop.

Police officers were pictured surveying empty streets as partygoers headed home and the city centre became eerily quiet for a Friday night. 

Meanwhile in Leeds, people took to the streets in their droves as the city faces its own lockdown after a surge in coronavirus cases. Groups of people gathered in the city centre and queued for bars, as bouncers used temperature guns on patrons as part of new safety measures.

Tough new restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus were announced for the North East of England last night, ahead of further rules which were unveiled yesterday across parts of the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire.  

The latest measures, which include a 10pm curfew on pubs and bars, affect Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and County Durham from last night. 

A group of eight people gather in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night and curfew rules were introduced

A group of eight people gather in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night and curfew rules were introduced

A group of eight people gather in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night and curfew rules were introduced

Newcastle students outside a bar in the city centre getting ready to head home as a curfew comes into effect at 10pm

Newcastle students outside a bar in the city centre getting ready to head home as a curfew comes into effect at 10pm

Newcastle students outside a bar in the city centre getting ready to head home as a curfew comes into effect at 10pm

Police officers survey the normally heaving Big Market area of Newcastle. Pubs are closing at 10pm due to a new localised lockdown to battle the pandemic

Police officers survey the normally heaving Big Market area of Newcastle. Pubs are closing at 10pm due to a new localised lockdown to battle the pandemic

Police officers survey the normally heaving Big Market area of Newcastle. Pubs are closing at 10pm due to a new localised lockdown to battle the pandemic

Staff pictured clearing away glasses in Newcastle as the pubs and bars closed up at 10pm as part of new lockdown measures

Staff pictured clearing away glasses in Newcastle as the pubs and bars closed up at 10pm as part of new lockdown measures

Staff pictured clearing away glasses in Newcastle as the pubs and bars closed up at 10pm as part of new lockdown measures

Drinkers in Newcastle were booted out of the pub at 10pm as the city gets used to its newly imposed lockdown

Drinkers in Newcastle were booted out of the pub at 10pm as the city gets used to its newly imposed lockdown

Drinkers in Newcastle were booted out of the pub at 10pm as the city gets used to its newly imposed lockdown

Three revellers pose for a photograph in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night under new curfew rules

Three revellers pose for a photograph in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night under new curfew rules

Three revellers pose for a photograph in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night under new curfew rules

Drinkers raise their glasses and cheers as they enjoy the last pint of the evening before the curfew comes into force at 10pm

Drinkers raise their glasses and cheers as they enjoy the last pint of the evening before the curfew comes into force at 10pm

Drinkers raise their glasses and cheers as they enjoy the last pint of the evening before the curfew comes into force at 10pm

Drinkers dressed up to hit the town are forced to leave early as bars and pubs close their doors at 10pm in Newcastle

Drinkers dressed up to hit the town are forced to leave early as bars and pubs close their doors at 10pm in Newcastle

Drinkers dressed up to hit the town are forced to leave early as bars and pubs close their doors at 10pm in Newcastle

Revellers still had a great time in Newcastle city centre despite the curfew in place at 10pm last night

Revellers still had a great time in Newcastle city centre despite the curfew in place at 10pm last night

Revellers still had a great time in Newcastle city centre despite the curfew in place at 10pm last night

Similar lockdown measures will then come into force in Lancashire, Merseyside, Warrington, Halton, Wolverhampton, Oadby & Wigston, and parts of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale from Tuesday.

Residents in these areas are banned from socialising in homes or gardens with people outside their household or ‘bubble’ and food and drink venues are restricted to table service only. Restaurants, bars and pubs will have to close between 10pm and 5am.  

Drinkers flocked to watering holes across the North East on Thursday night for a final night of carnage after Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the region would be hit by a 10pm curfew on pubs and bars.

Those in Newcastle, where 40,000 university students are expected to return in the coming days, were photographed in close proximity outside busy clubs and bars despite the growing numbers of Covid-19 cases in the area.

Similar scenes were spotted in Leeds last night, as rising numbers of infections in the city prompted warnings the it may soon head in the same direction as other parts of West Yorkshire with additional restrictions. 

A group of revellers gather in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night due to new curfew rules

A group of revellers gather in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night due to new curfew rules

A group of revellers gather in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night due to new curfew rules

Two men pictured in Newcastle last night as bars closed at 10pm after the Government put the North East into lockdown

Two men pictured in Newcastle last night as bars closed at 10pm after the Government put the North East into lockdown

Two men pictured in Newcastle last night as bars closed at 10pm after the Government put the North East into lockdown

A couple head home in Newcastle after the bars and clubs closed at 10pm this evening as part of a new local curfew

A couple head home in Newcastle after the bars and clubs closed at 10pm this evening as part of a new local curfew

A couple head home in Newcastle after the bars and clubs closed at 10pm this evening as part of a new local curfew

Three friends joke around as they leave a pub in Newcastle this evening. The new curfew in the city has been imposed by the government after a rise in coronavirus cases

Three friends joke around as they leave a pub in Newcastle this evening. The new curfew in the city has been imposed by the government after a rise in coronavirus cases

Three friends joke around as they leave a pub in Newcastle this evening. The new curfew in the city has been imposed by the government after a rise in coronavirus cases

Young people enjoyed a night out in Newcastle last night, but it was enjoyed at 10pm due to a newly imposed curfew

Young people enjoyed a night out in Newcastle last night, but it was enjoyed at 10pm due to a newly imposed curfew

Young people enjoyed a night out in Newcastle last night, but it was enjoyed at 10pm due to a newly imposed curfew

A police officer is seen patrolling the area in Newcastle city centre after bars closed at 10pm last night as part of a new curfew

A police officer is seen patrolling the area in Newcastle city centre after bars closed at 10pm last night as part of a new curfew

A police officer is seen patrolling the area in Newcastle city centre after bars closed at 10pm last night as part of a new curfew

Students and young people went out in Newcastle city centre to enjoy the pubs and bars before the 10pm curfew

Students and young people went out in Newcastle city centre to enjoy the pubs and bars before the 10pm curfew

Students and young people went out in Newcastle city centre to enjoy the pubs and bars before the 10pm curfew

A group of four revellers pose for a photograph in Newcastle city centre as the Government put the North East into lockdown

A group of four revellers pose for a photograph in Newcastle city centre as the Government put the North East into lockdown

A group of four revellers pose for a photograph in Newcastle city centre as the Government put the North East into lockdown

Three revellers head home as bars closed at 10pm last night in Newcastle city centre following new curfew rules

Three revellers head home as bars closed at 10pm last night in Newcastle city centre following new curfew rules

Three revellers head home as bars closed at 10pm last night in Newcastle city centre following new curfew rules

Police officers wearing face masks were out in force in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night

Police officers wearing face masks were out in force in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night

Police officers wearing face masks were out in force in Newcastle city centre as bars closed at 10pm last night

Leeds recorded its highest ever daily increase of Covid-19 cases yesterday, with the city confirming a further 117 infections. The largest rise ahead of this figure was reported on April 22, when 109 cases were detected. 

The streets were also busy in Birmingham last night as university students moved back to the city – despite households in the area having been banned from mixing following a spike in coronavirus cases last week.

Those in the city and neighbouring areas Sandwell and Solihull are not permitted to meet others outside their household or social bubble under the rules, either indoors or in private gardens. 

Birmingham had seen its infection rate more than double to 90.3 cases per 100,000 ahead of the measures, which affect more than 1.6 million people in total.

The increased measures, which were announced today across parts of the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire, will mean a total of 12million people are now under lockdown restrictions across Britain. 

It comes as Mr Hancock today admitted that a new national crackdown is on the cards as he warned infections are ‘accelerating across the country’ and more people will die due to the pandemic.

The Health Secretary pleaded with the public to ‘come together to tackle this virus’ as ministers consider imposing draconian restrictions for a fortnight in a ‘circuit break’ to stop the spread.

The move could come as soon as next week, with pubs, restaurants and hotels across Britain facing being shut to prevent ‘significant’ casualties.

Revellers also headed out in Leeds which does not currently have a local lockdown, but is at risk of one being imposed after a rise in Covid-19 cases

Revellers also headed out in Leeds which does not currently have a local lockdown, but is at risk of one being imposed after a rise in Covid-19 cases

Revellers also headed out in Leeds which does not currently have a local lockdown, but is at risk of one being imposed after a rise in Covid-19 cases

Police officers, two pictured wearing masks, appear to restrain a man in Leeds city centre on Friday night

Police officers, two pictured wearing masks, appear to restrain a man in Leeds city centre on Friday night

Police officers, two pictured wearing masks, appear to restrain a man in Leeds city centre on Friday night 

A group of revellers head out into Leeds city centre on Friday night as the city is still on the high at risk category

A group of revellers head out into Leeds city centre on Friday night as the city is still on the high at risk category

A group of revellers head out into Leeds city centre on Friday night as the city is still on the high at risk category

A group of people gather in Leeds city centre as students arrive to the area for the start of their university term

A group of people gather in Leeds city centre as students arrive to the area for the start of their university term

A group of people gather in Leeds city centre as students arrive to the area for the start of their university term

Four revellers carry their drinks in plastic cups in Leeds on Friday night as students arrive to the city centre

Four revellers carry their drinks in plastic cups in Leeds on Friday night as students arrive to the city centre

Four revellers carry their drinks in plastic cups in Leeds on Friday night as students arrive to the city centre

Two revellers pictured in Leeds city centre on Friday night as the city recorded its highest ever daily increase of Covid cases

Two revellers pictured in Leeds city centre on Friday night as the city recorded its highest ever daily increase of Covid cases

Two revellers pictured in Leeds city centre on Friday night as the city recorded its highest ever daily increase of Covid cases

A doorman in Leeds uses a temperature reader on a patron as people queue up to head to bars in the city centre last night

A doorman in Leeds uses a temperature reader on a patron as people queue up to head to bars in the city centre last night

A doorman in Leeds uses a temperature reader on a patron as people queue up to head to bars in the city centre last night

Crowds of young people queue up to go into a bar in Leeds as people took the opportunity to let their hair down

Crowds of young people queue up to go into a bar in Leeds as people took the opportunity to let their hair down

Crowds of young people queue up to go into a bar in Leeds as people took the opportunity to let their hair down

Speaking today, Mr Hancock said a national lockdown was the ‘last line of defence’. But he warned that it was a ‘big moment for the country’ with cases now doubling every eight days, and unless the ‘Rule of Six’ restrictions worked more would have to be done.

‘The virus is clearly accelerating across the country,’ he told Sky News. ‘We have got to take the necessary action to keep people safe. We will do what it takes to keep people safe.’   

Around 12million people across the UK are now in areas of intervention, including parts of Greater Manchester, Leicester and Scotland. But neither Middlesbrough and Hartlepool in the North East, two other authorities officially named as a hotspot by Public Health England, were hit by new measures announced yesterday. 

Increasing numbers of infections in London and Leeds have also prompted warnings the cities may soon head in the same direction as the North East with additional restrictions. And in North Yorkshire ‘full emergency mode’ has been declared after cases surged by 167 per cent in the first week of September.  

It is also feared the thousands of students returning to universities in the North East could cause the soaring infection rate to rise even further despite the draconian measures. Around 40,000 students are expected to flock back to Newcastle University in the coming days, as well as nearly 20,000 to Durham University.

Pubs, bars and restaurants in areas where the new restrictions will apply — Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham — are now only allowed to offer table service.

Sean Southern from The Gateshead Arms yesterday told MailOnline of the impact the new restrictions are likely to have on business.

He said: ‘We used to be open until 12.30am, then because of Covid we reduced that to 11pm and now we’re being told we have to shut at 10pm.

‘Those hours are absolutely crucial for us, and probably our busiest time for those who want to have a few drinks before going further afield or going home.

‘There’s a few bars in the area which have closed down over the last few weeks and so we’ve sort of taken on those customers as well as our regulars recently.

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33310542 8746837 image a 7 1600422038081

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33307632 8746837 image a 59 1600418915186

Coronavirus cases have been increasing rapidly across NE England. Newcastle has recorded a sharp rise in its weekly infection rate, up from 51.2 cases for every 100,000 people to 64.1 in the seven days to September 13

Coronavirus cases have been increasing rapidly across NE England. Newcastle has recorded a sharp rise in its weekly infection rate, up from 51.2 cases for every 100,000 people to 64.1 in the seven days to September 13

Coronavirus cases have been increasing rapidly across NE England. Newcastle has recorded a sharp rise in its weekly infection rate, up from 51.2 cases for every 100,000 people to 64.1 in the seven days to September 13

‘Things seemed to be getting better and then all of a sudden we’re told last night that there’s going to be big changes and we haven’t really had time to prepare.

‘People forget that closing at 10pm also has an impact on staff who might have wanted to pick up a few extra hours.’

Some 2,350 pubs and restaurants ware affected by the measures, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.

Speaking about the number of Britons under lockdown rules hitting 10 million, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘Labour warned months ago that unless the Government spent the summer fixing the testing regime then we would face a bleak winter.

‘The Government ignored that advice, the testing regime is collapsing and so it is not surprising national restrictions are back on the table.’ 

Police said they will enforce the lockdown measures as a last resort.

Superintendent Steve Long, of Durham Constabulary, said: ‘The Government has announced that further local restrictions are necessary in addition to those already in place nationally.

The Government's chief science and medical officers today warned that another serious outbreak of coronavirus could lead to a significant number of deaths by the end of next month. Pictured: Leeds

The Government's chief science and medical officers today warned that another serious outbreak of coronavirus could lead to a significant number of deaths by the end of next month. Pictured: Leeds

The Government’s chief science and medical officers today warned that another serious outbreak of coronavirus could lead to a significant number of deaths by the end of next month. Pictured: Leeds

Although there has been no final decision on new 'circuit break' measures, the BBC said they could involve the closure of key hospitality businesses for a fortnight. Pictured: Leeds

Although there has been no final decision on new 'circuit break' measures, the BBC said they could involve the closure of key hospitality businesses for a fortnight. Pictured: Leeds

Although there has been no final decision on new ‘circuit break’ measures, the BBC said they could involve the closure of key hospitality businesses for a fortnight. Pictured: Leeds

Pictured: Partygoers have their temperatures checked before entering busy clubs in the city centre on Thursday night

Pictured: Partygoers have their temperatures checked before entering busy clubs in the city centre on Thursday night

Pictured: Partygoers have their temperatures checked before entering busy clubs in the city centre on Thursday night

Recent analysis from Imperial College London suggests Covid-19 rates are doubling every seven to eight days

Recent analysis from Imperial College London suggests Covid-19 rates are doubling every seven to eight days

Recent analysis from Imperial College London suggests Covid-19 rates are doubling every seven to eight days

‘We would like to thank the vast majority of people who have taken personal responsibility, done the right thing and stuck to the guidance over the last few months.

What are the new restrictions for the North East?

Matt Hancock announced in the Commons that Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham will be subject to new restrictions from midnight last night to curb the spread of the virus. The new restrictions are:

  • Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens
  • Pubs, bars and other hospitality businesses can only run table service
  • Leisure and entertainment venues to shut between 10pm and 8am

People have also been advised to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Not to socialise with other people outside of their own households in all public venues
  • Only to use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
  • Take holidays only within your own household or support bubble
  • Avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators

The Health Secretary said they were necessary to stop the spread of the virus and prevent another lockdown.

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‘Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the new regulations and encourage people to act responsibly: only then will we move to enforcement as a last resort.’

Announcing the drastic new measures in the House of Commons, which come into force from midnight, Mr Hancock said: ‘I know, the whole house knows, that these decisions have a real impact on families, businesses and local communities.

‘I can tell everyone affected we do not take these decisions lightly. We agree with the local councils that we must follow the data and act, and the data says we must act now, to control the virus and keep people safe. I know the people of the North East will come together to beat this virus, and beat it we must.’

He added: ‘We’ve seen concerning rates of infection in parts of the North East. Sunderland, for example, now has an incidence rate of 103 positive cases per 100,000 population. And in South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, figures are all above 70.’   

The Government’s chief science and medical officers today warned that another serious outbreak of coronavirus could lead to a significant number of deaths by the end of next month.

Although there has been no final decision on new ‘circuit break’ measures, the BBC said they could involve the closure of key hospitality businesses for a fortnight.

Schools and most workplaces would stay open, but pubs and restaurants could have their opening hours restricted.  The idea of conducting the lockdown over the half-term holidays has also been mooted. 

The drastic steps are on the table as concerns grow about the shambolic testing system, with claims the Government’s seven ‘lighthouse labs’ are in chaos due to shortages of staff and equipment. 

A leading scientist warned that ‘testing is dying on its a**e’, adding he was ‘appalled by what I saw’ at the labs. 

Recent analysis from Imperial College London suggests Covid-19 rates are doubling every seven to eight days.

The unnamed scientist warned rising coronavirus levels could ‘break the NHS’, criticising the Government’s test-and-trace system by warning it was ‘creaking at the seams’.

Speaking on Wednesday, Boris Johnson told a committee of MPs: ‘I don’t want a second national lockdown. I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it.’ 

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