Nicola Sturgeon announces national lockdown in Scotland
UK residents of Spain seeking to return to their homes were wrongly turned away by British Airways staff at Heathrow as they prepared to fly home. UK nationals attempting to reach the Netherlands have also been turned away since the Brexit transition phase ended.
It comes as Conservative MPs in the north of England have urged Rishi Sunak to set aside billions to fuel the region’s economy amid fears the pandemic will widen the gap between London and “left-behind” areas.
Jake Berry, chair of the Northern Research Group of more than 50 Tory MPs, said “we expect this government to invest”, and did not rule out his group pushing their influence in the Commons if progress is not made on Boris Johnson’s promise to “level up” the regions.
Little sign of post-Brexit chaos yet at Dublin Port
There is a slow but steady build-up of freight movements between Britain and Ireland, a Dublin Port official has said, with the “mayhem” warned of by hauliers having not yet materialised.
Tom Talbot, head of Revenue’s customs operations for Dublin Port, said they are still seeing “extremely low” levels of trade because of the time of year, but warned that officials expect it to get much busier in the next couple of weeks.
Speaking on the fourth day of the new post-Brexit rules coming into force, Mr Talbot suggested the lower volume levels had helped the situation, saying: “This has provided a good opportunity for ourselves, for trade, for business to build familiarity with the system, with new procedures.”
Mr Talbot said that currently up to 92% of drivers are being given green lights to pass through the port – meaning all of their correct documents and declarations are in place.
“We are seeing a little bit of more orange checks at the moment, but that’s because it is bedding in, but you get your green and that’s all you have to do.”
Andy Gregory4 January 2021 17:59
Stormont Executive to meet this evening to discuss ‘volatile’ situation
Ministers in Northern Ireland have convened an “urgent” meeting this evening to discuss “the fast-moving and volatile” situation regarding coronavirus, the nation’s deputy first minister has said.
First Minister Arlene Foster has also indicated she will take part in a four nations call ahead of the meeting.
Ms Foster said Stormont ministers will have “very difficult decisions to take” this evening, describing a “very dire situation”.
Andy Gregory4 January 2021 17:41
Gove ‘to hold four-nations call’ on coronavirus restrictions
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove will shortly hold a four-nations call on coronavirus restrictions, the PA news agency reports.
Andy Gregory4 January 2021 17:25
Keir Starmer calls for ‘simple contract’ over lockdown
As England appears to stand at the edge of a new national lockdown, the Labour leader has suggested that “we need a simple contract between the British people”, whereby the country abides by a shutdown on the understanding that the government is rapidly and efficiently delivering the vaccine.
Andy Gregory4 January 2021 17:24
Jeremy Hunt calls for immediate school and border closures to accompany lockdown
The former Tory health secretary has called for the closure of schools and borders and a ban on household mixing “RIGHT AWAY” as he warned that the pressures facing hospitals are “off-the-scale worse” than previous winter crises.
“To those arguing winter is always like this in the NHS: you are wrong. I faced four serious winter crises as Health Sec and the situation now is off-the-scale worse than any of those,” the chair of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee wrote on Twitter.
“It’s true that we often had to cancel elective care in Jan to protect emergency care but that too is under severe pressure with record trolley waits for the very sickest patients. Even more worryingly fewer heart attack patients appear to be presenting in ICUs, perhaps because they are not dialling 999 when they need to.
“Full credit to NHS for keeping cancer services open but in Wave 1 there was still a 2/3 drop in cancer appts: people didn’t come forward to GPs or want to go to hospitals, with many potentially avoidable cancer deaths. We hoped to avoid that this time but now looking unlikely.”
Mr Hunt also called for a new national lockdown to last until all of the most vulnerable have been vaccinated.
Andy Gregory4 January 2021 16:57
Welsh government ‘fully supports’ stronger police action over Covid rule-breaking
Police will have the full support of the Welsh Government if they take a “more enforcement-heavy approach” to people breaking Covid-19 rules, such as travelling to beauty spots, the nation’s health minister has said.
After days of people being photographed at scenic locations such as the Brecon Beacons and Snowdon, despite Wales being under lockdown restrictions, Vaughan Gething told a Cardiff press conference that he was “deeply frustrated” to see a small minority of people breaking the rules.
“The rules and what’s the right thing to do aren’t a surprise now – we’ve been in this position for the best part of 10 months,” he said, adding: “If the police take a more enforcement-heavy approach with people who are plainly doing the wrong thing and knowingly doing so, they will have the full support of Welsh Government ministers.
“All of us need to play our part and I cannot overstate my frustration with pictures of people who know they’re doing the wrong thing, but are nevertheless doing so.”
Andy Gregory4 January 2021 16:34
Starmer urges PM to close all schools in England
Sir Keir Starmer has called on Boris Johnson to announce the closure of all schools in England as part of a national package of restrictions this evening.
The Labour leader said it was “tragically inevitable” that pupils would have to learn from home in order to regain control over coronavirus, protect the struggling health service and create the breathing space to deploy millions of vaccines.
Sir Keir added that the government must vaccinate two million people a week this month, doubling to four million a week in February.
Andy Gregory4 January 2021 16:20
Angela Rayner says government delay is ‘unforgivable’
Angela Rayner has attacked the government over their handling of the announcement of new measures, specifically targeting Boris Johnson who she said is “unable to learn from his mistakes”.
The deputy Labour leader said the government’s “delay” in introducing a new lockdown was “unforgivable” in the light of the number of deaths during the pandemic so far.
Ms Rayner then laid out demands for the prime minister’s announcement this evening.
Liam James4 January 2021 16:07
Andy Burnham weighs in on new lockdown
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has repeated his call for support measures to be extended in response to the announcement that Boris Johnson will address the nation this evening on the further steps the government will be taking to tackle the Covid crisis.
Mr Burnham previously said people being “excluded” from support measures was a growing problem and called on the government to divert money allocated for businesses which no longer require support towards individuals instead.
Liam James4 January 2021 15:41
Father of the House welcomes parliament recall
Father of the House Peter Bottomley has welcomed the recall of parliament on Wednesday to debate additional coronavirus measures.
The longest serving sitting MP said in reaction to the announcement: “This recall of Parliament is necessary and welcome. We want to hear that vaccinations will come early for frontline staff, including dental staff, teachers and police officers who have to deal with any member of the population.”
Liam James4 January 2021 15:31