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UK coronavirus LIVE: Boris Johnson unveils ‘tougher’ post-lockdown rules as London looks set for Tier 2

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oris Johnson has announced a “tougher” system of Covid tiers to replace England’s lockdown when it ends on December 2. 

No decisions have yet been taken on which tier London will end up in, but it appears the capital is headed for Tier 2. It comes as the number of new Covid cases in London begins to fall, raising hopes that the second peak may be starting to end.

Live updates

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New rules put UK at risk of ‘third wave’ – Labour

Labour’s Richard Burgon said the measures the Government has announced today “risk a third wave”.

He added: “Will the Government take responsibility for the thousands of deaths and all the pain and bereavements that would cause?”

In response, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Tier 3 restrictions “are calibrated to ensure that we can get the rates coming down using the mass testing as well which has been so effective in Liverpool”.

He added: “So we can do this, especially if we all act and pull together.”

Conservative former minister and chair of the science and technology select committee Greg Clark said: “Will (Mr Hancock) speak to the Chancellor over the next couple of days to advance some of the money that the Prime Minister referred to – the record-breaking increase in science funding – to put it in the hands of those other clinical trials that are funded by charitable funds where fundraising income has dropped, so that there is no interruption to life-saving research for cancer and other sources given that we’ve made that commitment?”

Mr Hancock replied: “(Mr Clark) asks a question that tempts me to give an answer ahead of its time and I look forward, with him no doubt, to hearing what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to say on Wednesday.”

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Here’s what the London Mayor has to say about the new plans:

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We need to wait and see the final detail of the plan, but it is vital that London’s shops and businesses, which were forced by the Government to close just as preparations for the festive period began, are allowed to open in a safe and Covid-secure manner.

“The Government should also scrap its ill-judged curfew altogether to support our pubs, bars and restaurants.

“While this is certainly not going to be a normal Christmas, it is more important than ever that no-one has to spend it alone. It is important plans are devised to allow people to spend the festive period with loved ones after such a tough year, but this must be done in the safest way possible.

“Given the sacrifices made over recent weeks and months, it will be crucial that the Christmas period doesn’t see a reversal of the progress made in getting on top of the virus – especially when a vaccine is in sight.

“We have known since the start of the pandemic that an effective test, trace and isolate system is the only way we will be able to properly reduce the spread of the virus until a vaccine has been rolled out widely.

“I welcome the Government’s plans to ramp up mass testing, but there have been broken promises before, so many will be sceptical. It is beyond belief that it has taken ministers almost the entirety of this pandemic to fully recognise how crucial testing and contact tracing is.

“We will continue to carefully analyse the data over the coming days to determine the tier London should be in on the lifting of the lockdown. Londoners should continue to stick to the rules so we do not waste the hard work and efforts that have been made during this lockdown.”

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Lockdown-sceptic MP demands hard evidence for restrictions

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbench MPs, urged the Government to publish the scientific evidence and economic assessments of the refreshed tier system.

He told the Commons: “I think the Secretary of State said that he recognises the damage that’s done by these restrictions. Will he go further and publish the Government’s assessment of what that impact is both in economic terms and in health terms and can I also ask him: will he ensure that on Thursday when it becomes clear which regions are going into which tier the Government publishes the exact criteria which will be used to make that judgment?”

Responding for the Government, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, said: “Yes, we will publish the statistics that we look at to make exactly the judgments that… my right honourable friend refers to.

“It is not possible to put a specific number on it though and the reason it is not possible because there are a number of criteria and you wouldn’t, for instance, put an area into lockdown or a higher tier more accurately because it triggered numerical criteria if there was a specific reason.

“For instance, there had been an outbreak at a barracks in the last month, very significant outbreak. It meant that that area looked like it has a huge spike but it was entirely, literally, confined to barracks and therefore an element of judgment is important in making these decisions, but what we will do is publish the data on which these decisions are taken.

“And he raised a question also about the economic impact assessment and I’ll raise that point with the Chancellor.”

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Here’s how retailers have responded to today’s post-lockdown plans:

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BREAKING: The latest figures are in

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Here’s an overview of the latest rules:

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New rules ‘unfairly target pubs

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the new restrictions “unfairly target” pubs, but he welcomed the changes to the 10pm curfew.

She said: “Our sector has been singled out by these new measures which unfairly target pubs. The additional restrictions will destroy our sector if they go ahead as proposed.

“Whilst the review of curfew is overdue, the relaxation of the 10pm curfew is meaningless if most pubs are rendered unviable or forced to close under Tiers 2 and 3…

“If these tighter tier restrictions are forced upon us, far more Government financial support will be needed to avoid the resulting carnage. In Tier 2 alone, the new restrictions will mean 90% of pubs will be unviable and will only be able to operate at a loss.

“In Tier 3, no pub is viable if restricted to takeaway only. This will also mean our brewing businesses will be hugely damaged too.

“The current grants are not even enough to cover fixed costs in a pub, and now must compensate for the revenue pubs and breweries will lose as a result of these additional restrictions. Without an enhanced grants package of support for pubs and brewers thousands of businesses are doomed to fail, destroying thousands of livelihoods and communities across the UK.

“We are asking the Government to reconsider their approach and allow pubs to play their vital role in local communities over the festive period, bringing people together safely and providing some much-needed festive cheer this Christmas, and essential trade to keep our locals alive.”

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Will Christmas carols be allowed?

Conservative Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) asked for reassurance about Christmas carols saying “we don’t want it to be a silent night”.

He asked: “Under any tier or indeed under any future lockdown we will never return to the abolition of healthy outdoor sports or going to religious services. There’s never been a shred of evidence that they cause any problem. By the way this is the first time in 800 years that people have been prevented from going to church in this country since the country was put under an interdict by a medieval pope, so we do want reassurance on that.

“Could he give us some more reassurance about Christmas carols, we don’t want it to be just a holy night, we don’t want it to be a silent night either.”

Mr Hancock said: “I very much hope that we won’t have another national lockdown at all, it’s one the reasons that we’ve toughened up the Tier 3.”

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Police chief says new rules will be ‘next to impossible’ to enforce

Che Donald, national vice chairman of the Police Federation, said a possible relaxation of rules over Christmas coupled with a return to the tier system would be extremely difficult to enforce.

He said: “A potential short-term relaxation of Covid-19 regulations and a return to the tier system represents a unique challenge and will be next to impossible to police.”

The rules could mean that travelling across the UK to see family is legal one day and not the next, he said.

Mr Donald added: “Our message to the Government is police officers need clearer and more consistent rules which can be enforced fairly, and the public need clearer instructions so that they know what they are allowed to do within the law.”

Source: Evening Standard Business News

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