Professor Peter Horby said the UK was at a “precarious point” as cases and hospital admissions continue to rise in many regions. He added that the “critical mission” now was to protect the NHS to avoid all non-essential hospital services being cancelled. He said: “We really need to provide care to everybody – those with Covid and those without. “The way to do that is to keep the numbers down.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also preparing to brief cabinet ministers ahead of unveiling his new three-tier lockdown system.
The Government has spent this weekend informing mayors and council leaders around the UK about the new three-tier “Local COVID Alert Levels”, which are the new system of restrictions that will be announced by Boris Johnson tomorrow.
Areas in the north and midlands are likely to be placed in the third tier, the toughest restriction, as cases continue to spike.
Following backlash from some areas over the new restrictions, mayors and council leaders will also get more of a say in the new rules under new “co-design” restrictions.
Regions placed in the “very high” tier will see hospitality or leisure venues closed.
The UK recorded another 15,116 COVID cases and 81 more deaths on Saturday.
This is up from 13,864 infections on Friday, 12,827 seven days ago and 6,739 two weeks ago.
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Coronavirus news: Millions of people could face being told not to leave
12.34pm update: National lockdown could have been avoided with a three-tier system from the start
Professor John Ashton, former regional director of Public Health England, told Sky News: “This three-tier approach would have been the way to go in the beginning if we had had adequate testing and tracing.
“We could have avoided locking the whole country down.
“In fact now, what we should be doing is doing it in reverse order. We need a lockdown of most of the country again now to try and get back in control.
“I would not be surprised if the testing and tracing collapses completely in the next week or two. It has been a disaster.”
He added: “The government needs to put its hands up and admit it has made lots of mistakes, reach out and form a coalition with the best people nationally – we haven’t got the strongest ministerial group around this at all – and really mobilise the country.”
11.02am update: Council leader warns ‘no evidence closing pubs works’
Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, told Times Radio there was a “large gulf” between the city and Government in ongoing discussions about further restrictions.
He said: “We seem to have an almost impossible task of penetrating the Westminster bubble.”
Sir Richard said the council’s own data showed there was “no evidence closing pubs works”.
He added: “I think we believe with good cause, because of the data and knowledge of what is going on, on the ground we have far more finely grained data than government does and we are in a far, far better position to lead in the containment process.
“And we are still getting things coming from Government and meetings that took place on Friday, not just in Greater Manchester across the North, where we are getting proposed solutions with no evidence to suggest why they are needed and no evidence to suggest they would work when all the evidence we have got says they are looking in the wrong place.”
He said his data showed very little evidence of transmission of the virus in pubs and suggested closing them just displaced the problem to gatherings outside and unregulated settings.
Coronavirus cases in the UK are rising to worrying levels seen in the first wave
10.08am update: ‘Why on earth?’ Nicola Sturgeon squirms as Ridge exposes huge SNP Covid testing failure
Asked to reveal what is the full coronavirus testing capacity in Scotland, the Scottish First Minister attempted to dodge the question by giving a convoluted answer on the different types of tests available in the UK.
But Sky News host Sophy Ridge urged her: “What’s the capacity though? Just give a straight answer. What is the weekday capacity?”
Nicola Sturgeon replied: “So on a weekday taking all the different capacity it will be between 30,000 and 40,000 tests a day.”
The answer shocked the Sky News host who confronted the SNP leader on the evident huge failure of her Government.
Ms Ridge blasted: “Just looking at the tests carried out in Scotland, on Monday it was 15,000, Tuesday 13,000, Wednesday 17,000, Thursday 18,000, Friday 18,000.
“When we know the R rate is rising in Scotland and infections are rising, and the virus is spreading, why on earth aren’t you using the full testing capacity?
“You’re using less than half of the testing capacity.
“If you’re using less than half testing capacity when the R rate is going up, and infections are going up, it doesn’t sound like a world-beating system to me!”
9.27am update: North leader blasts local lockdown ‘oppressive’
Leader of Bolton Council David Greenhalgh told Andrew Marr says the idea of preventing people from leaving their local area during local lockdown is “oppressive”.
8.18am update: England has now reached COVID levels similar to first wave
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned people to wash their hands, wear face coverings and maintain social distancing to help keep transmission rates low.
He said: “In our national fight against COVID, we are at a tipping point similar to where we were in March; but we can prevent history repeating itself if we all act now.
“Earlier in the year, we were fighting a semi-invisible disease, about which we had little knowledge, and it seeded in the community at great speed.
“Now we know where it is and how to tackle it – let’s grasp this opportunity and prevent history from repeating itself.”
7.39am update: What happens next after another lockdown?
MP for Wokingham John Redwood shared his concern over new restrictions leading to another lockdown and how this would eventually be lifted.
Mr Redwood said: “Before imposing a new lock down the government must explain how it will be lifted and how that stops the virus after lock down.”
He tweeted earlier: “Let us assume there is no early solve all vaccine. We need to allow people to carry on working as safely as possible.
“We cannot go back in to national lock down without grave economic damage.”