THE Queen has urged Brits to have the Covid vaccine, saying people need to “think of others”.
The 94-year-old monarch said in a video call about those refusing to be jabbed: “They ought to think about other people rather than themselves.”
In a chat to chiefs overseeing the rollout, she said of her injection seven weeks ago: “It was very quick, and I’ve had lots of letters from people who’ve been surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine.”
Chuckling on screen, she said it “didn’t hurt at all” and gave her a huge feeling of protection.
Royal doctors gave the Queen and Philip their jabs at Windsor Castle on January 9.
Her Majesty told the NHS experts that the amazing public response to the pandemic was similar to British defiance in the Second World War.
The Queen added: “Once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important.
“And the other thing is that it is obviously difficult for people if they’ve never had a vaccine or they’ve had to umm but they ought to think about other people rather than themselves.”
Follow our live blog below for the very latest on the UK ‘s path out of lockdown…
FIRST COUPLE RELEASED FROM QUARANTINE HEAD TO MCDONALD’S
The first couple released from 10 days quarantine at a £1,750 ‘prison’ hotel celebrated by going straight to McDonald’s.
Wagner Araujo, 43, and his wife Elaine, 40, emerged jubilant from the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel near Heathrow Airport just after midnight.
The Brazilian couple punched the air with delight as they left their hotel confinement.
And they said after eating chicken burgers and fries at McDonald’s they were heading home to see their four children in Finchley.
Read the full story here.
VACCINATION PASSPORTS WILL BE ‘HERE BY SUMMER’
Covid vaccination passports are likely to be introduced by summer in a huge boost for Brits dreaming of a beach holiday abroad this year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after an EU virtual summit: “Everyone agreed that we need a digital vaccination certificate.
“This will make travelling within the EU possible and could pave the way for further travel from third countries into the EU.”
However, the EU Commission would need around three months to create the technical basis for such documents.
This means the scheme may not be available by May 17 – the earliest date the British government aims to allow travel for non-essential purposes again.
Read our story here.
GOVT URGED TO OPEN CAMPSITES ON APRIL 12
The government has been urged to allow all campsites in the UK to reopen on April 12.
Due to their shared toilet facilities, thousands of campsites across the country will not be able to reopen alongside other self-catering accommodation – and must instead wait until May 17.
Martin Smith, the founder of Campsites.co.uk, said: “Under the current roadmap, pubs and shops can open their toilet facilities for customers from April 12, but campsites must keep theirs closed until May 17.
“This matters, because it stops thousands of campsites opening for the early Bank Holiday weekend, depriving independent sites the chance to claw back some of the revenue they have lost from missing successive Easters and all of spring 2020.
“We want the Government to reconsider their decision and level the playing field for campsites. If toilets are OK for pubs and shops, there’s no sane reason they can’t be opened at campsites too.”
LASTMINUTE.COM WARNED IT MUST REFUND £1M OVER CANCELLED HOLIDAYS
Lastminute.com has been warned it must refund £1million to customers for cancelled holidays or face legal action.
The online travel agent promised the competitions watchdog to repay £7million to 9,000 holidaymakers still owed cash by the end of January.
But the travel firm still owes 2,600 customers a collective £1million weeks after the deadline passed, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The watchdog has today given Lastminute.com seven days to refund the money or it will take the company to court.
Read the full story here.
PFIZER VACCINE REDUCES TRANSMISSION AFTER JUST ONE JAB – UK STUDY
A single dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine developed in partnership with BioNTech could significantly reduce the risk of transmission after a single dose, results of a UK study found on Friday.
Researchers analysed results from thousands of COVID-19 tests carried out each week as part of hospital screenings of healthcare staff in Cambridge, eastern England.
EMPLOYERS MUST HAVE ‘CLEAR RATIONALE’ IF THEY WANT EMPLOYEES TO HAVE THE JAB – BUCKLAND
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said employers such as care homes must have a “clear rationale” if they want to require new staff to have the coronavirus vaccination as a condition of employment.
Mr Buckland told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Future contracts and contracts of employment are indeed matters between employers and employees.
“I think that where such conditions are imposed there needs to be a very clear rationale for them.
“In a care home, a closed environment where there are vulnerable residents, I would argue there does seem to be an obvious rationale.
“I think it will depend very much on each setting and the particular context. That is why I don’t think it would be right to say there can be a blanket approach here because we need to go back to the fundamental fact that vaccines are not compulsory here in the UK.”
HANCOCK TO LEAD 5PM BRIEFING
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will lead a press briefing at 5pm today and reveal those next in line for the Covid vaccine.
The Health Secretary will speak this afternoon to confirm ministers will back the scientists when deciding who gets the jabs after the over-50s.
It’s been reported that the government will continue prioritising people by age, with Brits in their 40s, followed by those in the 30s, and so on.
Read the full details here.
QUEEN NOT INTERFERING IN POLITICS – BUCKLAND
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has rejected suggestions that the Queen was interfering in politics by encouraging people to have a coronavirus vaccination.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “As is so often the case in our history, the Queen can, just with a few words, encapsulate the mood of the nation.
“I think we can trust the Queen to get it right. An issue like the vaccine and indeed the Covid pandemic goes beyond politics.
“Messages of unity are very much part of what the Queen is all about. She has got it right for nearly 70 years. She continues not to put a foot wrong.”
CORONAVIRUS HAS MADE UK LOOK DYSFUNCTIONAL, SAYS GORDON BROWN
The coronavirus crisis has made the UK look “dysfunctional” at times due to a lack of co-operation between administrations, Gordon Brown has said.
In an article on devolution for the Scottish Fabians think tank, the former prime minister also said Boris Johnson risks becoming the “biggest recruiting sergeant for nationalism” due to his position on devolution.
Mr Brown authored part of a report for the Scottish Fabians which was released on Friday ahead of the results of the Scottish Labour leadership election.
The report says the Labour Party, in Scotland and across the UK, must find a way to articulate the purpose of the United Kingdom.
In a section of the report titled “state of the nation”, Mr Brown accuses Mr Johnson of undermining devolution with the post-Brexit Internal Market Act.
PRISONERS NOT GIVEN PRIORITY FOR VACCINE
The Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said prisoners will not be given priority for the Covid vaccine but refused to rule out vaccinating them en masse.
“Prisoners will not be getting priority. At the moment they are vaccinated in accordance with the current guidelines, in accordance with what is happening in the community,” he told LBC.
“What is clear is that the need for speed is everything here. I will be supporting anything that gives us speed and maximises the impact that it has.
“Prisons are a closed environment, like care homes. I have got to think about the welfare of staff. I am particularly anxious to make sure that prison staff get the vaccine.
“I very much hope the JCVI will reinforce that message and allow ministers to make that informed decision as soon as possible.”
MORE FROM SEMPLE
“There is really good data coming out … that shows that children are half as likely to acquire the virus to a third as likely to acquire the virus.
“When it comes to transmitting, they are probably half as likely to transmit it as adults.
“That risk actually gets smaller as you go into younger age groups.
“So I am not a great fan of young children wearing face masks.”
He said he agrees that young children will find it difficult to wear the masks properly.
OPENING WINDOWS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN MASKS FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL KIDS – GOVT ADVISOR
Keeping windows open and improving ventilation in schools is much more effective at reducing coronavirus transmission than asking young children to wear face masks, a Government scientific adviser has said.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he is “not a fan” of asking young children to wear masks, and there are better strategies for managing the virus.
It came after some schools, including Selsdon Primary School in Croydon, south London, said pupils must wear face coverings at all times, except during sports lessons or when eating or drinking.
A statement from the school said: “This decision was solely based on keeping our staff, pupils and their families safe in the current situation.”
But Prof Semple, speaking in a personal capacity, said: “Primary school children are the lowest risk both to themselves and to society.”
MINISTER WELCOMES QUEEN’S COVID INTERVENTION
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has welcomed the intervention of the Queen encouraging people to get the Covid jab.
Buckland told LBC: “I think anything the Queen says has immense power.
“She was implying that it was not only good for our own health but that it was also an altruistic act, and that in doing so we all collectively enhance the safety of others.
“The message of encouragement, information, support for people who have never had a vaccine before is hugely important.
“I think the Queen again in her usual way has helped reinforce that important message.”
BRIT JAILED AND FINED OVER BREAKING COVID RESTRICTIONS
A Brit has been sentenced to two weeks in jail and fined 1,000 Singapore dollars ($753) on Friday for breaking a coronavirus quarantine order in Singapore.
Nigel Skea is the first Briton to be jailed for flouting coronavirus rules in the city-state. A handful had their work passes revoked and paid fines.
Skea left his room at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore on three occasions last September, according to charge sheets. He wasn’t wearing a mask.
On one of the occasions, he climbed an emergency stairwell and entered a room that his Singaporean fiancee had booked. They spent nine hours together.
Skea, who pleaded guilty to two charges of flouting the rules, arrived at the State Courts on Friday with Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai, whom he has since married.
Eyamalai pleaded guilty to one charge of aiding Skea. She was sentenced to a week in jail.
FRANCE UNABLE TO AVOID NEW LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS
France will not be able to avoid new lockdown measures given the increase in Covid-19 cases, the head of a Paris hospital emergencies unit told BFM TV on Friday.
“I do not understand what we are waiting for,” said Philippe Juvin, adding the hospital situation was “very tense” in the Paris region.
The French government will study a proposition for Paris to undergo a three-week lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, said government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
“Clearly, this will be studied,” Attal told France Inter radio on Friday, although he added he had some doubts over whether or not such a short lockdown would have an effect.
The Paris deputy mayor had said on Thursday that Paris would submit a three-week lockdown plan to the government. French Prime Minister Jean Castex had earlier said France would impose measures including weekend lockdowns in Paris and 19 other regions from the start of March if Covid-19 trends worsened.
STURGEON LASHES OUT AT BORIS’ ‘MADE UP’ LOCKDOWN END DATE
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has lashed out at Boris Johnson’s ‘made up’ June 21 lockdown end date.
Sturgeon addressed the PM’s target date as she took her daily briefing after unveiling her own rival ‘roadmap’.
Her blueprint, which was even more cautious in key respects than in England, has sparked anger due to its failure to give any key dates beyond April.
Sturgeon has promised to give another update in mid-March.
BEGUM COURT FEARS
MINISTERS fear a possible Supreme Court defeat today which would pave the way for runaway jihadi bride Shamima Begum’s UK return.
The Government has fought to stop her being granted the right to come back to appeal after she was stripped of her British passport.
Begum was 15 when she left Bethnal Green in East London and married an IS terrorist in Syria.
A GROUP of 68 Tory MPs have broken cover to demand Rishi Sunak slash beer duty at next week’s Budget.
They say pubs are already on their knees and the Chancellor should throw them a lifeline to save the local boozer.
Meanwhile, telly star Kate Thornton has blasted the ‘sexist’ higher booze duty on wine and urged the Chancellor to act.
BOOZERS will be able to serve takeaway pints when the open up for outdoor service on April 12.
Downing Street confirmed that alcohol to-go will be allowed in step two of the reopening after lockdown.
But punters sitting in beer gardens will still have to order booze via table service – as queueing at the bar is banned.
GAPS IN UK REGULATION FOLLOWING BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD – ACADEMIC REPORT
Authorities in the UK were ill-prepared to assume responsibility for regulation from the EU following the transition period, according to an academic report.
The wide-ranging report found that UK bodies were not ready to take on their new responsibilities from January 1 this year, and that gaps in this area still remain.
It also questions whether existing authorities are well enough equipped to carry on such responsibilities compared to the bodies they have replaced, due to staffing, budgets and expertise.
Researchers from a number of universities contributed to the review coordinated by The UK in a Changing Europe, the Centre for Competition Policy, and Brexit and Environment.
VACCINE PASSPORT COULD TAKE AT LEAST ‘THREE MONTHS’ SAYS EU CHIEF
Ursula von der Leyen last night warned it will take the EU “at least three months” to put in place plans for vaccine passports.
The news means they won’t be ready until the start of June at the earliest, in a blow to British sun seekers.
Under the PM’s roadmap out of lockdown international travel is set to be allowed again on May 17.
After a video call with EU leaders the Commission chief said she didn’t to get people’s expectations up “too high, too early”.
She added: “Member States will need to move fast if we want such a green certificate to be in place by summer.”
Teachers and coppers will not be able to jump the vaccine queue, it will be confirmed today.
Despite massive pressure to speed up jabs for some in the public sector, the rollout is to continue being distributed on an age basis.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will confirm the priority order of the next phase of vaccines that will not take into account any professions.
Ministers aim to have all UK adults jabbed by July, and the next cohorts will be those 49 to 40, then 39 – 30 and all under 30s.
Under 18s are not approved for the jab yet.
EARLY EVIDENCE DETECTED OF ‘PROTECTIVE IMPACT’ OF COVID VACCINE
Strong early evidence has been seen in Ireland of a protective impact from the coronavirus vaccine.
As of February 22, 359,616 doses of the coronavirus vaccine – 226,291 first doses and 133,325 second doses – had been administered.
Professor Philip Nolan said “significant progress” is being made in the pandemic.
And “very hearteningly” he said “we are beginning to see strong early evidence of a protective impact of vaccination” in the cohorts who are receiving the jab.
He said the seven-day moving average of cases over the week to Wednesday was 737, down from 816 in the previous week.
The daily number of new cases reported on Thursday was 613.
COVID VACCINE ROLLOUT IN THE UK
Yarmouth and Freshwater on the Isle of Wight came out on top having vaccinated 57.5 per cent of the population – a total of 5,451 first doses.
This was closely followed by Sidmouth Town in Devon at 57.3 per cent, and Felixstowe East in Suffolk at 54.75 per cent.
In fourth and fifth place were two areas of West Sussex – Selsey (53.17 per cent) and Ferring & Kingston Gorse (52.85 per cent).
But, 77 districts have vaccinated fewer than 10 per cent of residents, based on NHS figures and Office for National Statistics population estimates.
Cathedral and Kelham in Sheffield came bottom, having vaccinated just 3.19 per cent of its 21,171 residents.