United Kingdom

Nottingham and three neighbouring boroughs 'WILL enter Tier 3' this week

Nearly 700,000 people living in parts of Nottinghamshire could be forced into a Tier Three coronavirus lockdown in the coming days amid claims the toughest rules will be enforced in Warrington from tomorrow in a desperate attempt to crack down on rising cases.

Local MPs say Nottingham City, Gedling, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe — home to around 680,000 people — will be the next parts of England to be hit with the toughest restrictions.

Lilian Greenwood, Labour's representative for Nottingham South, admitted it was 'clear' that the four boroughs will 'definitely' be going into Tier Three. It will mean pubs and bars have to close unless they serve meals, while people are banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens and beer gardens.

Currently more than 7million people in England are currently living under the toughest Covid-19 curbs, including Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and swathes of South Yorkshire. A further 19.6million are living in Tier Two, which bans people from seeing their friends and family indoors.

Officials last week said Warrington in Cheshire — home to around 210,000 people — would join the growing list of regions living in Tier Three from Thursday, after council leaders agreed to a £6million support package from the Government. 

Local bosses warned cases were 'stubbornly high' and that the tougher action was 'necessary and proportionate'. But Warrington Council has now claimed the date has been moved forward to tomorrow to 'urgently bring down the number of cases' — even though Government statistics suggest the outbreak is no longer growing as quickly as it once was.

MPs in Nottinghamshire have yet to agree on financial support to go alongside the tightened restrictions, even though talks about slapping parts of the county with an indoor socialising ban first began last week. Discussions were carried out throughout the weekend.

Labour's MP for Nottingham East, Nadia Whittome, claimed that local officials have been asked to sign last-minute agreements about entering Tier Three without any clear information about how much funding they will receive to protect jobs and businesses.

It comes as Matt Hancock today said areas would have to prove their infection rate was 'coming down', especially among over-60s, before they could be removed from the strictest measures. The Health Secretary also refused to rule out bringing in a tougher set of Tier Four impositions, following reports another level is being considered to tackle England's rise in infections.  

NOTTINGHAM CITY: Department of Health statistics show how the number of Covid-19 cases diagnosed in Nottingham each day has been dropping since the start of the month. The figures relate to specimen date, which is when the sample was taken — not when it was recorded as being positive. For this reason, the numbers lag by a few days

GEDLING: Daily infections appear to be stable in Gedling, a borough of Nottinghamshire that is home to around 120,000 people. Cases spiked at the end of September and continued rising rapidly until roughly a fortnight ago

BROXTOWE: Infections also appear to have stabilised in Broxtowe, another borough of Nottinghamshire that locals say will be hit by the toughest Tier Three restrictions

RUSHCLIFFE: Cases in Rushcliffe also appear to have stabilised. It has been reported that the other parts of Nottinghamshire — Ashfield, Mansfield, Newark and Sherwood and Bassetlaw — will remain in Tier Two

WHAT ARE THE RULES IN DIFFERENT TIERS OF LOCKDOWN?

TIER ONE 

Tier one restrictions mirror those already in place across England.

These include the rule of six, a 10pm curfew, group sport to be played outdoors only and a maximum of 15 guests at wedding ceremonies.  

TIER TWO 

Tier two restrictions mean people are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting

Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden and public outdoor spaces, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.

Tradespeople - such as plumbers and electricians - can continue to go into a household for work. 

TIER THREE 

Restaurants can open, but only until 10pm. 

Pubs and bars will be ordered to close unless they also operate as a restaurant.

This definition extends to pubs which sell 'substantial' meals, which like restaurants will be allowed to stay open but only serve alcohol to people eating a meal.

Locals are advised only to leave their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.

Overnight stays by those from outside of these 'high risk' areas are also be banned. Households are not be allowed to mix either indoors or outdoors.     

Nottingham City Council said talks about Tier Three restrictions would resume today after local health chiefs failed to thrash out an agreement last week. 

It comes after both local leaders in Gedling and MPs in the city criticised the Government's lack of communication over proposed tighter restrictions last week, complaining they had not been invited into crucial talks. 

An announcement is expected by Wednesday, but Lilian Greenwood, Labour MP for Nottingham South, said on Twitter 'it's clear that Nottingham city and those three boroughs will definitely be going into Tier Three'. 

Speaking to the Nottingham Post, she said: 'I share the frustration of my constituents that, for over a week now, the Government have been saying that they want to put Nottingham and parts of Nottinghamshire into Tier Three.

'And yet they didn't even start having detailed discussions with the local councils until Thursday.

'The expectation clearly was that there would be an announcement on Monday and new measures would be coming in on Wednesday. I don't know what the sticking points are and why it's really been delayed over the weekend.' 

Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East, told the paper local leaders had 'been asked to sign last-minute agreements' without knowing what financial support would be available.

She said: 'Nottingham City Council has already had to spend more than £30million from its own reserves to cover the cost of the pandemic.

'After years of cuts, council budgets are already badly overstretched and this can't go on for any longer.

'The people of Nottingham also need reassurance that their jobs and businesses will be protected, that they will have enough money to live on if they fall ill or have to self-isolate, and that they won't lose the roof over their heads.  

'My constituents want to follow the rules and help contain the virus but lockdowns only work if people have the financial security to be able to do so.'

Labour MP for Nottingham North, Alex Norris said: 'If the Government believes Nottingham should be in Tier Three then it's time now for them to come up with the right package of support.' 

It comes as the council for Warrington said on Saturday it would be upgrading to Tier Three as of Tuesday, instead of Thursday, as was originally planned. 

Its website says: 'Warrington is currently defined as a "high risk" local COVID alert level (tier 2) but will move to "very high" risk (tier 3) on 00.01am on Tuesday 27 October.'

The council for Warrington said on Saturday it would be moving to Tier Three as of Tuesday

ENGLAND COULD HAVE TOUGHER LOCKDOWNS AMID CLAIMS NUMBER 10 IS PLANNING TIER 4 RESTRICTIONS 

The Health Secretary refused to deny that plans were being made to emulate Nicola Sturgeon's clampdown in Scotland and bring in a new top Tier 4

Matt Hancock raised fears of new tougher coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the worst affected parts of England today that could close restaurants and shops in a devastating blow to the economy.

The Health Secretary refused to deny that plans were being made to emulate Nicola Sturgeon's clampdown in Scotland and bring in a new top Tier 4.

Currently England's Tier system ends at three, which allows restaurants and shops to remain trading, while closing pubs bars which do not serve food.

But asked about reports that there are plans to partially copy Scotland, which has Tier 4 at the top of a five-tier system, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: 'We've always said all along that we take nothing off the table.

'Having said that, we have seen the rise in the number of cases has slowed a bit.

'The problem is it's still going up, and while it's still going up we've got to act to get it under control.

'We rule nothing out but at the moment the three-tier system is what we're working to and it's effective in slowing the growth of this virus but it hasn't brought this curve to a halt.'

However Boris Johnson poured cold water on the idea this morning.

On a visit to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading he said: 'We are working at the moment through the Tier 3 strategy.

Initial discussions indicated that Warrington's new restrictions could come into play from Thursday. But it was brought forward based 'on the need to urgently bring down the number of cases of coronavirus in the town and protect hospital capacity'.

Council leader Russ Bowden said: 'The decision for Warrington to enter Tier Three on Tuesday is the necessary and proportionate thing to do. 

'We know our case numbers in Warrington remain stubbornly high, but what is more concerning is the number of admissions into hospital. 

'The upsetting and grim reality is that there are more people in hospital, more people in intensive care beds and more people being taken by the virus, and we need to do all we can to try to bring this under control.'

It was revealed last week that councillors had secured a £5.9million support package to move into the toughest bracket, with £1.68 million allocated to public health – including public protection, testing and enforcement – and a further £4.2million to be used for business and employment support. 

Over the weekend, South Yorkshire became the latest region to fall under the highest tier of controls, following Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

Asked about the criteria for an area to exit Tier Three, Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'The first thing that's most important is that the case rate has to be coming down, and in particular we look at the number of cases amongst the over-60s because that's the number that is likely to translate into hospital admissions and sadly into deaths.'

Mr Hancock also suggested a vaccine would not provide an escape route from the social restrictions until next year.

Quizzed on Today about whether there would be some roll-out of a vaccine this year, he said: 'Well, I don't rule that out, but that is not my central expectation.

'The vaccine programme is progressing well. The leading candidates we're in very close contact with. On my central expectation, I would expect the bulk of the roll-out to be in the first half of next year.' 

Amid the talks between councils and Government about escalating the tier levels in England, the Government has faced increasing criticism that the NHS Test and Trace service, which was supposed to be the key to controlling the disease, is failing.

Senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin issued a call at the weekend for the head of the organisation — Tory peer Baroness Harding — to be sacked and replaced by a military commander.

He was backed by Labour which said that Lady Harding's position had become 'untenable' after the latest weekly figures showed fewer than 60 per cent of the contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19 had been traced and told to self-isolate.

But Mr Hancock came to the Test and Trace tsar's defence, telling BBC Breakfast she was 'of course' the right person for the job.

However, it has emerged that officials on the Covid-19 task-force are looking at the possibility of easing the rules for people ordered to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the disease because of low levels of stay-at-home compliance.

Ministers confirmed they were looking at reducing the time that people have to quarantine at home from 14 day to between 10 days and a week.

Scientists have publicly criticised the mooted change, arguing it would risk allowing infected people to mix with others.

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the Today programme: 'Other things being equal, it would certainly increase the risk of transmission because the average incubation period for the disease is about five to six days, and only about 85-90 per cent of people by seven days will have actually developed ill.

'So if you cut that incubation period what would happen is 10, maybe 15 per cent, of people who were infectious would ultimately (be) allowed to be back out in public.'

But Mr Hancock pointed to France as an example of where a similar measure had been introduced. He added: 'So it isn't about the compliance issue. It's about the overall clinical judgment of what time is required for isolation.

'Obviously I'd rather have isolation as short as is reasonably possible because of the impact it has on people's lives, but it must be safe.'

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has said it will review a controversial ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items during a two-week 'firebreak' lockdown which began on Friday.

Explaining the purpose of the review, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething told Sky News: 'We want the clarity on the principle that if there really are exceptional circumstances when someone needs what would otherwise be a non-essential item, that can happen as well.'

How Britain's Covid-19 outbreak has slowed down: Speed of growth has plunged from doubling every week to rising by just 14% in seven days as Matt Hancock claims 'problem is still going up' (and even the crisis in Tier 3 Liverpool is shrinking)

Britain's coronavirus outbreak has slowed significantly since the start of the month, suggesting the latest suite of lockdown restrictions are successfully flattening the second curve of the outbreak.   

Infections were almost doubling every seven-to-eight days in September, which sparked widespread fears the country had sleep-walked into a second wave following a lull in transmission over summer when the national lockdown was lifted. 

On the back of the worrying figures, the Government's chief scientific and medical officers warned the disease was growing exponentially and predicted a doomsday scenario of 50,000 cases a day by mid-October. Ministers tightened social freedoms nationally - introducing the rule of six and 10pm curfew - and ushered in the controversial three-tier lockdown system which plunged millions into even stricter curbs in Covid-19 hotspot areas. 

There has been much debate about whether the new measures have been effective, but analysis of official data by MailOnline shows weekly Covid-19 cases across the entire UK are currently rising by just 14 per cent, with an average 18,465 cases per day. And in Merseyside - the only region which has been in a Tier Three lockdown long enough for the curbs to take effect - infections are already in retreat.

Despite the promising statistics, Health Secretary Matt Hancock today confirmed a Tier Four lockdown was on the cards if the current three-category system fails to push cases downwards. While he acknowledged that the virus had 'slowed down a bit', he said: 'The problem is it's still going up, and while it's still going up we've got to act to get it under control.' Mr Hancock said he would 'rule nothing out' on the prospect of a new fourth bracket of restrictions, which could see restaurants and non-essential shops forced to close. 

Public Health England figures show the seven-day rolling average number of daily cases jumped from 3,676 in the week ending September 18 to 6,301 by September 25 (71 per cent). It rose by a similar rate the following week, climbing to 10,470 by September 29. The rolling seven-day average is considered the most accurate way to assess Covid-19 outbreaks because it takes into account day-to-day fluctuations in infections.

But, between October 9 and October 16 - the most recent snapshot - the rolling seven-day average number of cases only crept up by 14 per cent, from 16,196 to 18,465. For comparison, infections grew by 26.6 per cent the week prior. It suggests the rate at which infections are increasing is halving every week. 

Meanwhile in the Liverpool city region - which became the first area to go into a Tier Three Lockdown on October 14 - four out of six boroughs have seen infections fall in the last week. And in the two where cases are still climbing, the rate at which they are increasing has began to decelerate.  

Analysis of official data by MailOnline shows weekly Covid-19 cases across the entire UK are currently rising by just 14 per cent, with an average 18,465 cases per day. For comparison, infections were almost doubling every seven-to-eight days in September

In the city of Liverpool, average daily infections dropped from 460.3 on October 11 to 387.1 on October 18, the most recent recording period

In Knowsley, daily infections have fell from 154.1 to 132.6 in the same time, suggesting the Tier 3 lockdown rules are already taking effect

The metropolitan borough Sefton has seen infections drop slightly in the last week, decreasing from 178 to 176.4 

Halton's rolling seven-day average number of cases has dropped from 64 to 63.3, according to analysis of PHE figures

Despite all signs suggesting the latest lockdown rules are working, Mr Hancock raised fears of new tougher restrictions in the worst affected parts of England today that could close restaurants and shops in a devastating blow to the economy 

The figures are available on the Government's coronavirus dashboard. They are based on specimen date, which is how many coronavirus samples taken on that day came back as positive. 

Specimen date figures lag by around five days because of a delay in analysing tests, and even longer over weekends, which is why the figures can only accurately depict outbreaks in towns and cities up to October 16.  

Despite all signs suggesting the latest lockdown rules are working, Mr Hancock raised fears of new tougher restrictions in the worst affected parts of England today that could close restaurants and shops in a devastating blow to the economy.

The Health Secretary refused to deny that plans were being made to emulate Nicola Sturgeon's clampdown in Scotland and bring in a new top Tier 4. Currently England's Tier system ends at three, which allows restaurants and shops to remain trading, while closing pubs bars which do not serve food.

But asked about reports that there are plans to partially copy Scotland, which has Tier 4 at the top of a five-tier system, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: 'We've always said all along that we take nothing off the table. 

'Having said that, we have seen the rise in the number of cases has slowed a bit. The problem is it's still going up, and while it's still going up we've got to act to get it under control. 

'We rule nothing out but at the moment the three-tier system is what we're working to and it's effective in slowing the growth of this virus but it hasn't brought this curve to a halt.'

Swathes of the North West and Yorkshire have been plunged into Tier Three local lockdowns in recent weeks, including Liverpool, Manchester, Lancashire and Sheffield. It has seen pubs and bars close and a ban enforced on different households meeting.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, however, are already having much stricter lockdowns in a bid to halt a surge in cases. Officials in Whitehall are now said to be considering a fourth tier to be added to the Government's existing system for England, which rates local alert levels under medium, high and very high.

The Government has previously been accused of jumping the gun with new lockdown restrictions before letting previously-imposed rules take effect. 

Analysis of official figures shows four out of six regions in Tier Three Merseyside are already seeing cases fall.

St Helens and the Wirral are the two boroughs where cases are still rising, but the rate at which they are increasing has slowed. For example, the Wirral saw infections rise from just 136 to 137.3 in the week ending October 18 (1 per cent). It marks a stark difference from the 31 per cent jump between September 27 and October, when daily cases went from 101.9 to 134.3

In St Helens, cases jumped 5 per cent in the last week, compared to 10 per cent the seven days prior

NHS used HALF as many intensive care beds as other badly-hit European nations during crisis in the spring amid claims infected over-60s 'were DENIED treatment during height of pandemic' 

The NHS used half as many intensive care beds as France, Belgium and other badly-hit European nations during the Covid-19 crisis in the spring, according to figures that come amid shock claims the health service denied care to older patients to stop it becoming overwhelmed. 

At most, there were the equivalent of 50 infected patients hooked up to ventilators for every million people in mid-April, the peak of the pandemic when Britons were told to stay at home to 'protect the NHS'. 

In Belgium, which at the time was seeing Covid-19 deaths at a similar rate to the UK, the figure stood at around 111 per million people. France was treating 104 people per million in intensive care during the same week. While in the Netherlands, which suffered a similar amount of coronavirus cases as the UK, the figure reached a high of 74. 

The numbers come amid disputed claims the NHS was rationing beds and denying older coronavirus patients intensive care treatment during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, even though hospitals were nowhere near being overrun. 

Those aged over 80, and some over 60s, were not given potentially life-saving treatment because health officials were concerned the NHS would be overwhelmed, according to reports. It is claimed documents called a 'triage tool', drawn up at the request of England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, were used in preventing elderly Covid-19 patients from receiving ventilation in intensive care.

As part of an investigation, the Sunday Times says the tool was used to create a 'score' for patients based on their age, frailty, and illness. Under the original system, over-80s were automatically excluded from ICU treatment due to their age. Even over-60s considered frail and with pre-existing health conditions, such as heart disease, could have been over the intensive care threshold. 

NHS chiefs hit back at the accusations and said they were false, while 'deeply offensive to NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics'. Officials say that while early work on an intensive care national 'triage tool' did take place, it was 'not completed' and never issued.

In the city of Liverpool, average daily infections dropped from 460.3 on October 11 to 387.1 on October 18, the most recent recording period. In Knowsley, daily infections have fell from 154.1 to 132.6 in the same time.

Sefton and Halton have seen infections drop slightly in the last week, decreasing from 178 to 176.4 and 64 to 63.3, respectively. It suggests the Tier 3 measures were already taking effect, despite only coming into force on October 14. 

St Helens and the Wirral are the two boroughs where cases are still rising, but the rate at which they are increasing has slowed. For example, the Wirral saw infections rise from just 136 to 137.3 in the week ending October 18 (1 per cent). It marks a stark difference from the 31 per cent jump between September 27 and October, when daily cases went from 101.9 to 134.3. In St Helens, cases jumped 5 per cent in the last week, compared to 10 per cent the seven days prior. 

According to The I, sources in Whitehall expect it will be clear by mid November whether existing restrictions are working to reduce daily case numbers.

Wales entered a 'fire break' lockdown on Friday, which has seen all non-essential retail, leisure and hospitality businesses close until November 9.

Similar to the nationwide lockdown in March, Welsh residents have been told they can only leave home for a limited number of reasons, such as exercise, providing care or buying essentials.

A row has broken out over the sale of essential items after supermarkets were seen cordoning off aisles and covering up some products. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted on Saturday: 'We'll be reviewing how the weekend has gone with the supermarkets and making sure that common sense is applied.

'Supermarkets can sell anything that can be sold in any other type of shop that isn't required to close. In the meantime, please only leave home if you need to.' 

Meanwhile experts have said Scotland's 16-day circuit breaker, which has been extended by another week, had little effect on coronavirus infections - which are falling.

Nicola Sturgeon's scientific advisers themselves warned on Thursday it was 'too early to detect any impact on transmission from the restrictions introduced on October 9'.  

Local leaders have been told by Government that Tier 3 regions need to reduce social contact by 60 per cent. 

On Friday five Army and Navy environmental health officers trained in 'outbreak management' were deployed in Liverpool on Friday, as the British Army was drafted in to support Tier 3 lockdown measures.

They have been tasked with identifying clusters of local infections, helping control outbreaks and taking action against businesses failing to comply with the Covid-19 rules. 

It is thought that further teams will be moved into other high-risk areas within the coming weeks. Labour councillor in Liverpool, Paul Brant, told The I he expected to see Tier 3 rules have some impact on Covid infection rates. 

He added: 'Our fear is that Sage are correct to say that it won't be enough to drive the R below 1. Even if it does go down below 1, actual case levels have shot up now rapidly.

'We know from the first wave that infection levels can rise very rapidly and they come down quite slowly, so we could well find ourselves in a situation where R has drifted down but absolute numbers were not.

'If the numbers don't significantly improve, no doubt we will be revisiting exactly the same questions about whether further restrictions are going to be necessary to drive the levels down. That is the argument for a short sharp shock.' 

Football news:

Premier League clubs will no longer be able to sign players under 18 due to Brexit
Pirlo about 3:0 with Dynamo Kiev: I'm happy. Juve must always play to win
Giroud on possible departure from Chelsea: Let me enjoy the win, I scored 4 goals. Then let's see
CSKA's last home game in the Europa League. Finally win?
Casillas-Ronaldo: just 750 goals? You can do better 😏
PSG President on 3:1 with Manchester United: We are fighting for the Champions League and always show ourselves in important moments
Lazio pulled out a draw with Borussia thanks to a controversial penalty: Schulz crashed into Milinkovic-Savic, the Serb dived beautifully