What happened today
Good evening. Here is a summary of today's biggest developments:
London will be moved to Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions from 12.01am on Saturday, putting around nine million people under new, tighter measures. Other newly-affected areas include York, Essex, Elmbridge and North-East Derbyshire.
The new measures introduced mean that, from this weekend, more than half of people living in the UK now face local restrictions on top of existing national rules.
Andy Burnham launched a blistering attack on the Government, accusing ministers of treating Manchester as "canaries in the coalmine" for regional lockdowns.
NHS Test and Trace recorded its worst week so far, with experts warning that its failure is making more draconian lockdown measures increasingly likely.
Italy has lost its travel corridor with the UK, the Department for Transport confirmed, although it is now easier for Britons to visit the Greek islands.
Oxford University unveiled a new Covid-19 test capable of detecting the virus in less than five minutes through artificial intelligence analysis of throat swabs.
Margaret Ferrier, the disgraced MP who broke Covid rules by making an 800-mile round trip on public transport while she had the virus, escaped a £4,000 fine.
And the public have been banned from this year's Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph for the first time in history, with people asked to commemorate the war dead at home.
Tier 2 rules lead pub bosses to plead for more support
Britain’s biggest pub chains have demanded urgent support for businesses affected by the new London lockdown as Marston’s said it would axe more than 2,000 jobs in light of greater restrictions.
In a letter to the Chancellor, industry chiefs said the tougher restrictions on London - which from Saturday will bar households from mixing indoors including in pubs and restaurants - were of “grave concern” for the sector.
York and Essex were among the areas also placed in tier 2 on Thursday, joining Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
The letter, signed by a number of leading chief executives responded for a total of 105,000 jobs, warned that the government measures were now at risk of “causing more harm to the sector than the pandemic itself” and would leave many pubs “unviable”.
The call came as pub chain Marston’s said it would cut up to 2,150 jobs, blaming latest restrictions such as the 10pm curfew and table service rule for “undermining consumer confidence” and creating uncertainty.
Hannah Uttley and Simon Foy have all the latest.
Coronavirus cases in England still highest in 10-19 and 20-29 age brackets
Rates for new Covid-19 cases in England remain highest in the 10-19 and 20-29 age groups, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.
Among 20 to 29-year-olds, the rate was 252.6 cases per 100,000 people in the week to October 11.
This was up from 232.1 in the previous week. The rate among 10 to 19-year-olds was 245.2 per 100,000, down from 269.8.
By contrast the rate for the 70-79 age group was 54.7, up from 43.3, while for people aged 80 and over it was 76.6, up from 60.9.
UK news today: Your Thursday evening briefing
Are we approaching a national lockdown "by the backdoor"? More than half of people living in the UK now face local restrictions on top of national rules.
The addition of several "high" alert, or Tier 2, areas from Saturday means that a majority of Britons (34.2 million) will be under targeted measures.
Meanwhile, a north versus south row is brewing. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is accused of plunging London into tougher restrictions in order to placate local leaders in the north of England, who are resisting calls for their regions to be put into Tier 3.
Elsewhere the Queen ventured out of HMS Bubble - the nickname for her reduced household of staff - with the Duke of Cambridge in tow, for what was her first external engagement in seven months.
For all this and much more, Danny Boyle has all of today's headlines.
Margaret Ferrier latest: MP who brought Covid to Commons escapes £4,000 fine thanks to legal loophole
A disgraced MP who broke Covid rules by making an 800-mile round trip on public transport while suffering from the virus has escaped a £4,000 fine.
Margaret Ferrier, who is resisting calls to quit her seat, was investigated by the Metropolitan Police but will now not face punishment under English laws as a result of a technicality, as a new legal requirement to self-isolate did not come into force until a few days after she took a test.
The force has referred the case back to Police Scotland, however, as a requirement to self-isolate in Scotland is guidance, rather than written into law, she is unlikely to face a penalty. Even if she was found to have broken the law north of the border, the heaviest fine available to police is £60, reduced to £30 if paid promptly.
The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP travelled from Glasgow to London on Monday, September 28, after experiencing coronavirus symptoms and taking a test two days earlier.
Our man in Scotland Daniel Sanderson has the story.
The shadow pandemic of domestic violence in Africa amid Covid-19
Almost three-quarters of refugee and displaced women in 15 African countries reported an increase in domestic violence during the pandemic, writes Jennifer Rigby.
The numbers from the International Rescue Committee, taken from a survey of more than 850 women across countries in East Africa, West Africa and the Great Lakes region, indicate how widespread the so-called "shadow pandemic", has become.
The new report found that 73 per cent of the women had reported an increase in domestic violence, 51 per cent a rise in sexual violence, and 32 per cent a leap in early and forced marriage during Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns.
"Honestly, it's always shocking, but is it surprising? No, it's not surprising at all," said Nicole Behnam, senior director for violence prevention and response for the International Rescue Committee.
"As soon as Covid-19 happened and the measures taken to try to control the virus, we knew we would see this. That's why there is all this talk of the shadow pandemic, and attempts to keep it front and center."
Wales coronavirus patients admitted to field hospital after outbreaks
Patients recovering from coronavirus have been admitted to a field hospital in Wales.
Ysbyty'r Seren, which is located in Bridgend and run by Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, opened its doors today.
It comes after outbreaks of the virus at the three district general hospitals covered by the health board.
Teams have been working "extremely hard" to ensure all operational and infection control measures are fully in place at the field hospital, the board said.
Ysbyty'r Seren will take patients from the three hospitals that have been affected as a means of creating capacity in acute settings for patients requiring more specialist care.
FinnAir sells out of its in-flight menu as supermarket pilot scheme takes off
With travel restrictions in place for people around the world, many miss the excitement of getting on a plane and going on holiday, writes Richard Orange in Malmo.
Finnair, however, has found that people miss air travel so much that they are even nostalgic for often-maligned aeroplane food.
The state-controlled airline's pilot scheme selling its first-class meals, such as reindeer meatballs and Arctic char, fully sold out after being launched on Thursday.
Kimmo Sivonen, who runs K-Citymarket in the suburb of Vantaa, told the Daily Telegraph:
"They miss the flights. Customers have been telling me that they want to celebrate the days they had planned to be in an aeroplane, that now they are sitting at home simulating it by eating Finnair food."
If the scheme is successful, the meals will be sold in other branches in Finland.
Mr Shapps has spoken...
TRAVEL CORRIDOR UPDATE: We are REMOVING ITALY, Vatican City state & San Marino from the #TravelCorridor list.
However, note that the implementation date is moved to 4am on SUNDAY 18 October & applies UK wide, if you arrive from these destinations you will need to self-isolate.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 15, 2020
Police raid French health minister's home and office over Covid negligence claims
Police on Thursday raided the homes and offices of France's health minister, former prime minister, and its public health director as part of an investigation into multiple complaints that its reaction to the Covid outbreak was slow and inadequate.
News of the raids broke just hours after President Emmanuel Macron imposed a 9pm curfew on a third of the French population over nine cities, including Paris, in a bid to flatten the surging second wave of the deadly viral epidemic. Private groups are restricted to six people and private events, including weddings, are banned throughout the country.
Besides health minister Olivier Veran and public health director Jerome Salomon, Mr Veran's predecessor Agnes Buzyn, former prime minister Edouard Philippe and former government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye were also targeted by the raids.
They came after the Law Court of the Republic - a special tribunal created to try cases of ministerial misconduct - launched a judicial investigation in July into whether French leaders were guilty of a "lack of will to fight a disaster” following 90 separate complaints by doctors, local authorities and nursing homes.
Henry Samuel has more from Paris.
Italy removed from travel corridor list
Italy, San Marino and the Vatican City State have been removed from the Government's list of travel corridors, the Department for Transport has confirmed.
This will mean that those arriving in England from these locations after 4am on Sunday must now self-isolate for 14 days on their return.
Meanwhile the Greek island of Crete has been given a travel corridor after a decline in its caseload, meaning that returning Britons will no longer have to isolate on coming back.
UK coronavirus cases rise by 18,980
The UK has recorded a further 18,980 Covid-19 infections, new figures from the Department of Health show, which is down marginally on yesterday's record increase in logged cases. 673,622 people in the UK have now tested positive for coronavirus.
A further 138 deaths with coronavirus have also been recorded, which takes the UK's overall death toll to 43,293.
792 more patients have been admitted to hospital, with 563 Covid-19 patients currently in ventilator beds.
WHO urges swift action but says national lockdowns must be 'last resort'
Close to 300,000 lives could be saved across Europe by February if countries impose tighter restrictions, but national lockdowns should be a “very last resort”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Speaking at a weekly briefing Dr Hans Kluge, director of WHO Europe, urged countries across the continent to swiftly “step up” to stem rising infections, warning that “the pandemic won’t reverse its course on its own”.
In the last week more than 700,000 cases have been confirmed in Europe – the highest figure since the pandemic began – and Dr Kluge said projections from “reliable epidemiological models” are “not optimistic”.
“These models indicate that prolonged relaxing policies could propel – by January 2021 – daily mortality at levels four to five times higher than what we recorded in April,” he said.
However Dr Kluge added that hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved if swift action is taken now.
Sarah Newey has the story.
UK coronavirus deaths: 81 deaths reported in English hospitals
A further 81 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, NHS England has confirmed.
This brings total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 30,743.
The patients were aged between 40 and 99, and all but three patients, who were aged between 67 and 86, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between August 17 and October 14.
HMRC tells 24,000 freelancers to hand back their Covid support grants
Tens of thousands of freelancers who applied for state support grants may be forced to hand them back to the taxman or face fines, after HM Revenue & Customs sent them information on the scheme – even though they were not eligible, writes Harry Brennan.
HMRC is writing to 24,000 people to check they met the criteria for self-employed income support grants when they applied. It is the start of the tax authority’s “post-payment” compliance checks to stamp out misuse of the scheme.
Businesses that claimed after they were forced to close and stop trading during the pandemic will be told to hand back the support cash, as the scheme was only ever designed to save struggling freelancers intending to make it through and continue to operate in 2021.
HMRC has admitted it previously sent information about the scheme to 100,000 freelancers it already knew had stopped trading at some point, 30,000 of which went on to apply for the state support scheme.
Those who did stop trading before they applied will be told to inform HMRC by November 20 and hand back the support cash to avoid penalties.
First coronavirus, now starvation: Hunger stalks millions of Indians plunged into poverty
The first thing you notice on arrival in Nagla Vidhichand is the morbid silence, enveloping the villagers’ ramshackle homes, Joe Wallen and Mohammad Sartaj Alam report.
Even the stray dogs are motionless, their ribs protruding as they lie panting under withered tree canopies.
There are thousands of impoverished villages like this one in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh but in late August, Nagla Vidhichand made national headlines after the prolonged and painful death of Sonia Kumari, a five-year-old girl.
“For eight days, there was not a single grain in our house to eat and my sister became very weak during this time,” reflects Pooja Kumari, 15.
“We were all worried about her deteriorating condition but due to our lack of money, we could neither feed her or get her treated at any nearby hospital.”
Officially, there have been over 6.8 million Covid-19 cases and 106,000 fatalities in India but, six months after its onset, the virus now threatens to cause a spate of deaths from starvation.
Sadiq Khan says he called for circuit-breaker lockdown
"What I said to the Government having examined the evidence from the scientific advisers is, for a very short period of time, to have a very short circuit-breaker," Sadiq Khan told Sky News.
"And that short term set of restrictions would avoid damage to businesses and individuals."
“The options left are the three buckets the Government’s got with triggers in between each tier. What I’ve seen is the indicators among a number of different sectors - hospital admissions, ICU admissions, there’s been a high prevalence of this virus in many, many Londoners but also those tested positive and the positivity rate. All of those are going in the wrong direction.
"The best way to help our businesses is for the Government to get a grip. This time should give the government the time to develop an effective test, trace and isolate system and in the absence of a vaccine ultimately should lead to us managing this virus without a vaccine.”
Mr Khan could not confirm that an exit strategy was in place, and said that "we're finalising what the indicators are" in terms of London's exit from Tier 2.
Sadiq Khan: London indicators 'all going in wrong direction'
Speaking to Sky News, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says that "London is in a different position to Greater Manchester, and in London what we're seeing is all parts of London with an increase in this virus.
"Also we're looking at admissions to hospital, admissions to ICUs, the number of over-60s who have been tested positive and they're all going in the wrong direction.
"So what we're doing is choosing an option that's the least worst to try to slow the spread of the virus, to give the Government even more time to try to sort out the Test and Trace system, which in the absence of the vaccine is the best measure we have to control the virus."
Mr Khan says that the Government "has a habit of treating mayors and local leaders with suspicion and as adversaries, rather than allies".
Andy Burnham: Government must 'reflect long and hard' on Greater Manchester measures
Mr Burnham says “The ball is in their court. They will have to decide. In the end we have to protect people through this come what may, whatever the Government decides to do. I can't decide in the end what the Government is going to do.
“But what they have to decide is whether a regional strategy of this kind, which isn't fully funded, is consistent with what the Chief Medical Officer said on Monday. I think the Government has to reflect long and hard on that advice.”
Andy Burnham: 'It would be wrong to place poorest parts into punishing lockdown'
Andy Burnham said that regional leaders “today communicated our clear and unanimous view to the Government” that it would be “wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England into a punishing lockdown” without fiscal compensation.
“To do so will result in certain hardship, job losses, business failure. It will cause harm in a different way to people’s mental health and is not certain to control the virus,” he said.
“Last night the deputy chief medical officer told regional leaders that to bring the infection rates down, any regional lockdown would require widespread closures way beyond pubs to stand any real chance of working.
“And that would have to be done in tandem with other neighbouring regions. And even then it would not be certain to work.”
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said that “there have been attempts to divide us from other areas of the north”, but “we will get a fair deal for the north of England”.
“Why would we accept a proposal that their own advisers say don't work?” he said.
“We are still in a position that we are prepared to work cooperatively with the Government. But we are not going to accept measures... for no apparent benefit.”
Andy Burnham: 'Greater Manchester will fight back' against 'damaging' regional lockdowns
Andy Burnham says that the "very least" the Government should be offering the people of Greater Manchester is a "full and fair" 80 per cent furlough scheme for all affected workers, in addition to 80 per cent support for people who are self-employed.
"Imposing damaging regional lockdowns in this way won't work," he says.
"To those who say this is all politics, let me remind you that myself, two deputy mayors and others became the first to work with the Government in accepting regional restrictions.
"This is an important moment. Greater Manchester will stand firm. We are fighting back for the health of our people."
Andy Burnham: Government 'willing to sacrifice' jobs and businesses in Manchester
"It is wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England in a punishing lockdown without proper financial support," Andy Burnham has told reporters.
"It would not be certain to work. The Government is not giving city regions like ours and the Liverpool city region the necessary financial backing for full lockdowns of that kind.
"That is why we have unanimously opposed the Government's pans for Tier 3. They are cruel and unfair.
"They are willing to sacrifice jobs and businesses here to try and save them elsewhere.
"Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and Lancashire are being set up as the canaries in the coalmine for an experimental regional lockdown strategy as an attempt to prevent the expense of what is truly needed."
Covid test that takes less than five minutes developed by Oxford scientists
Scientists at Oxford University have developed an extremely rapid diagnostic test that detects and identifies viruses in less than five minutes.
The test, which has been created by researchers from Oxford's physics department, can tell Sars-CoV-2 - the virus responsible for Covid-19 - apart from negative clinical samples.
It is also able to tell it apart from other viruses such as flu and seasonal human coronaviruses, according to the study.
Remembrance Day 2020 service at Cenotaph will be closed to the public
Members of the public have been advised to stay away from this year's Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph.
Only limited numbers of armed forces veterans, international leaders and members of the Royal Family will be allowed to attend the service, which usually draws thousands to Whitehall in order to pay their respects.
It will be the first time in 100 years of the Cenotaph that the traditional service, held at 11am, is to be closed off to members of the public, who will be asked to commemorate from home.
An annual march past the memorial is also cancelled, although some veterans will be invited to attend the 'Covid-secure' service with minimal numbers and stringent social distancing.
"Is with a heavy heart that I must ask people not to attend the ceremony at the Cenotaph this year in order to keep veterans and the public safe," Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, said in a statement.
Margaret Ferrier case will see no further action taken by Met Police
No further action will be taken by the Metropolitan Police in relation to the disgraced MP Margaret Ferrier, who has been suspended from the SNP.
Ms Ferrier, who has resisted calls to resign her seat after she made an 800-mile round trip between Glasgow and London with coronavirus, complained earlier this week that she had been “hung out to dry”.
The Met said in a statement:
On Thursday, 1 October, a Member of Parliament contacted Police Scotland to report she may have breached legislation and guidance relating to Covid-19.
This related to a train journey on Tuesday, 29th September 2020, between London and Glasgow, following a positive Covid-19 test.
Officers considered possible offences including those under Reg. 11(2) of the Health Protection Regulations 2020 which relates to self-isolation requirement.
However, on detailed examination of this new legislation, and following legal advice, it was concluded that this regulation is applicable only after the 28th September 2020.
In this case the test occurred prior to the 29th September 2020 and therefore the regulation does not apply.
As such, there will be no further action in relation to this investigation from the Metropolitan Police. We are in liaison with Police Scotland and have referred the matter to them for consideration.
Nicola Sturgeon writes to Boris Johnson to request four-nation travel approach
Nicola Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request an urgent meeting between officials from all four nations of the UK and agreement on a four-nations approach with regards to travel from high-risk areas.
She has also backed calls for a COBRA meeting "to discuss additional steps to support the virus".
In the letter, Ms Sturgeon says:
I am writing following Mark Drakeford's letters yesterday about the risks of spread of Covid-19 as a result of travel between areas of low and high prevalence.
This is a live issue for Scotland too - for example with a significant outbreak linked to travel to Blackpool - and I am keen to establish if it is possible to agree a four-nations approach to this issue.
As a first step, I suggest that officials meet urgently to identify a way forward to address this matter that ensures coherence in our approaches.
More generally, I support Mark's proposal for an early meeting of COBR(M) to discuss additional steps to suppress the virus.
Queen steps out with Prince William for first engagement since March
The Queen is undertaking her first public engagement outside a royal residence since the coronavirus lockdown March, writes Hannah Furness.
The Queen and the Duke of Cambridge are visiting the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, near Salisbury, where they will see displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence before meeting those involved in the Novichok poisoning of 2018.
She will formally open the new Energetics Analysis Centre, while the Duke presents an award to members of the military who helped with the Novichok clean-up.
Heightened safety precautions were taken ahead of the visit to protect the Queen against coronavirus.
All 48 people who were due to come into close contact with the monarch and the duke were tested for Covid-19. Small groups of those taking part in the royal visit were arranged two metres apart for social distancing.
Winter holiday destination tips from our top travel team
There's something particularly wonderful about escaping to a far-flung place for days filled with sunshine, when back home is still in the depths of a grey winter.
In 2020, with yet more coronavirus restrictions and limited holiday options, this couldn't be more true.
Read more from our travel team on the best hotels for winter sun – which all have a minimum average temperature of 25°C – in destinations including Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua.
Lockdown by stealth: Majority of UK population now facing local restrictions
Over half of people living in the UK now face local restrictions on top of national lockdown rules after the Government announced it was raising the Covid alert level of a swathe of new areas in England, Telegraph analysis has found.
The ratcheting up of places including London, Essex and York to "high" alert under England's new system for local lockdowns means that 34.2 million Britons in total are now living under targeted restrictions for their local area.
In England 28.3 million people in total are now in areas under "high" alert, banning them from meeting other households indoors, with an additional 1.6 million also facing pub and bar closures in "very high" alert areas.
That is compared to 28 million who are in areas under "medium" alert, which means they are subject to just the national restrictions for England of Rule of Six and the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.
Casinos closing: Bosses lambast Tier 3 shuttering as 'illogical'
Casino bosses have lambasted the decision for gambling outlets to be closed in Tier 3 regions as ‘illogical’, and questioned why casinos will be forced to shut their doors yet restaurants and some pubs can remain open, Max Stephens reports.
Genting Casinos, who operate four sites in and around Merseyside, have argued that groups of diners at restaurants pose more of a health risk than one or two players socially distanced around a gaming table.
Jon Duffy, a senior vice-president of corporate assurance at Genting, told The Telegraph:
We don’t understand the logic in why casinos have been selected as one of those to close.
Wetherspoons in Liverpool is open whereas casinos such as ours which have some quite extreme Covid secures measures aren’t allowed to operate.
To the best of my knowledge casinos have not been involved in any outbreaks of Covid-19 anywhere in the UK.
There is a real risk of the entire industry going under, added Mr Duffy.
Furlough scheme and tax breaks planned by Italian government
The Italian government will spend 10 billion euros of its 2021 draft budget on extending furlough plus tax breaks in a bid to boost employment in the south of the country.
A total of 30 billion euros on expansionary measures in response to Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown measures will be allocated in the budget, according to Reuters.
However Giuseppe Conte's government is also planning to restore some pre-virus mechanisms by lifting curbs on firing for businesses that are not accessing government support at the start of 2021.
Italy this afternoon risks having its travel corridor with the UK terminated after it recorded 7,332 new Covid-19 infections yesterday, the highest ever Italian caseload.
Figures in the Mediterranean country now stand at a seven-day average of 58.3 per 100,000. Some new restrictions have already been adopted in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.
North-South divide 'not a factor in London curbs'
Matt Hancock has said London is not being put under greater restrictions to "stop the North-South divide argument running", and that instead the decision is driven by data.
Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: "Whether people like it or not, London is very diverse and each of the boroughs, many of them are bigger than most of the towns in the rest of the UK."
Sir Iain urged Matt Hancock to remove some parts of London from tier two and speculated that the unilateral restrictions were merely a means of mitigating a perceived North-South divide.
"The decision has been taken on the basis of the data across London," Mr Hancock said.
Herd immunity 'a dangerous fallacy', claims response to Barrington Declaration
Allowing immunity to develop in low-risk populations while protecting the most vulnerable is “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by the scientific evidence”, a group of 80 researchers have said.
An open letter known as the John Snow Memorandum, which has been published in medical journal The Lancet, acknowledges that there is renewed interest in the concept of herd immunity.
However the authors argue uncontrolled transmission among younger people risks a significant increase in illness and death across entire populations. They also warn herd immunity strategies risk overwhelming health systems and damaging workforces.
It follows last week's Barrington Declaration, signed by almost 2,500 medics and scientists from around the world, which called for societies to be allowed to reopen, with efforts focused on protecting the most vulnerable.
Tier 2 rules: What are the new restrictions for 'high' alert areas?
The Government has introduced a “rule of three” tiered system in order to simplify local lockdowns in coronavirus hotspots.
To "simplify" the rules, Boris Johnson has ushered in a new model of “Local Covid Alert Levels” in England which will work as a traffic light system. Under the system there will be three tiers - medium, high and very high.
In areas with particularly high levels of infection pubs, gyms and casinos could be forced to closed in order to stop the spread.
The Prime Minister said the new Covid alert levels were being introduced to "squash this virus wherever it appears".
London Covid cases vary significantly amid blanket approach
In light of the news that there will be a blanket Tier 2 lockdown policy which covers all areas of London, this Telegraph graphic shows that the current case rates across different boroughs are vari:
London lockdown rules motivated by Government wanting 'consistent approach'
A Downing Street spokesman has said the Government looks at "a range of data" to inform decision making on the tiers, and that it wanted a "consistent approach" in London.
He added: "If we see infection rates and the other important bits of data fall, we will obviously look at them again."
Asked why the Government was not taking a nationwide approach, the spokesman said the Government "only wants to put the most stringent measures necessary" in parts of the UK where "the virus is surging".
Elsewhere council leaders in Essex and Barrow-in-Furness have welcomed the new Tier 2 curbs, although the latter said that "this decision...ideally would have come sooner".
Free school meals during holidays unlikely over Christmas or Easter
Downing Street has indicated ministers would not provide free school meals to children during the Easter and Christmas breaks.
"We took that decision to extend free school meals during the pandemic when schools were partially closed during lockdown," said a spokesman, who added "we're in a different position now with schools back open to all pupils".
"It's not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays. We believe the best way to support families outside of term time is through Universal Credit rather than Government subsidising meals."
Tier 2 rules will cause 'great hardship and distress' for hospitality, warn industry leaders
The chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality has said rules around businesses in Tier 2 areas are "not viable at all" and "the worst of all possible worlds".
"It means the pub isn’t forced to close, but in many cases just won’t be able to justify being open," said Peter Ducker.
“I feel for the Government in this but we are now over six months into this, many businesses in hospitality to be quite frank make their money in the summer to survive in the winter.
"It’s too late for that now and they’re running on empty, if you like. I guess we do need to see support because perfectly good businesses that are viable in a normal world just won’t be able to sustain, and surely the Government doesn’t want to see that happen.
"It will certainly spell the end for a number of hospitality businesses and create great hardship and distress for a lot of people.
"I’ve also never understood why the 10pm curfew only applies for restaurants, and given that they’re working with reduced capacity again that’s been a killer punch.”
London lockdown exit plan being readied, Health Secretary claims
Bob Blackman, the Conservative MP for Harrow East, asked what criteria would be set for London to come out of the higher category, specifically asking if the rates would have to fall in every borough.
The Health Secretary said the best way to have the capital leave the higher category was "all pulling together and following the rules".
The cross party London group this morning "set out very clear criteria about needing to go up a level", which included the fact that the capital was poised to cross the threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 people.
They are "now working with us" to put together an equivalent exit strategy, he said.
London lockdown: 'Best approach' for whole of capital to enter Tier 2, says Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock says that he wants the time London is in Tier 2 to be "as short as possible".
He admits that the Government considered a borough-by-borough approach, but "the best approach is for the whole of London to go into Tier 2 together".
He does not respond to a question about what additional help will be provided for thousands of hospitality businesses in the capital which will be affected by the changes.
Matt Hancock says 'teamwork' between public and private sector best for tests
Asked about the involvement of private companies such as Serco in NHS Test and Trace, he says: "Let us not divide people where people should be brought together."
"It is the teamwork between the national and local system that works best, and the combination of the large-sector private organisations and the public sector, people working together, that is able to deliver a better service."
He accuses Labour MP Richard Burgon of a "divisive, derisory" line of questioning.
'Work out to help out'? Hancock will look at gym closure alternatives
"The best way to improve the non-Covid health of the nation is to ensure that Covid stays under control," insists Matt Hancock.
Asked about the forced closure of gyms in Tier 3 areas, Mr Hancock says that he "loves the idea of 'work out to help out'", and it is "undoubtedly true that obesity contributes to a worse impact on you if you catch coronavirus".
He says that proposals have been changed even for the highest-risk areas and shielders to "always be clear that outdoor exercise is a good thing".
Care home visits: Government looking at policy change 'according to risk level'
Matt Hancock says the Government is looking at adjusting care home visiting "in a way that is safe, according to the risk level".
He says that the use of personal protective equipment and testing "can be a solution" to the issue of elderly couples and relatives who have been separated as a result of lockdown measures.
Matt Hancock: Londoners must 'pull together' to avoid need for Nightingale
Mr Hancock says that the Government "stands ready" to stand up the NHS Nightingale hospital in London "if necessary" after it was closed shortly after the first peak of the virus.
He says that the Greater Manchester Nightingale hospital is already being stood up, and adds the onus is on the people of London "pulling together" in order to avoid the same happening in London.
Greater Manchester lockdown call resulted in 'unanimous fury', says Labour MP
Lucy Powell, the Labour MP for Central Manchester, says that there was "unanimous fury about the process, about the evidence base and about the economic support packages on the table" on a call this morning between Greater Manchester leaders and Downing Street.
"We've lived in Tier 2 for three months now and it's not worked," she says. "The Chief Medical Officer says measures in Tier 3 will not make a material difference to the infection rate, but will cost tens of thousands of jobs and thousands of businesses.
She asks Matt Hancock to ensure that conversations come to a meaningful conclusion. Mr Hancock responds by urging her to "work together" with others, and claims Ms Powell has misquoted the Chief Medical Officer.
Coronavirus tests should be every week for Britons, says Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock is asked by Jeremy Hunt to set a target for a date every Briton will be tested every week for Covid-19, irrespective of a vaccine. Mr Hancock says that he "will consider" Mr Hunt's idea.
Dr Philippa Whitford speaks of the importance of ventilation and making hospitality premises more secure in place of "repeated" shutdowns.
Conservative backbencher Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset, says that Mr Hancock's claim that people "want to let the virus rip" is "unhelpful".
Mr Drax says that current Government policy is "destroying the lives and livelihoods of people in the process until a vaccine is found, which might never happen. And even if it does, there is no guarantee it will work."
"We need a plan B and I'd be grateful if my Right Honourable friend could tell the House what that is," he says.
Matt Hancock insists that the current plan of action is "the best strategy that we have".
Greater Manchester lockdown: Hancock 'doesn't want to preempt discussions'
"I don't want to preempt those discussions," Matt Hancock responds with regards to Greater Manchester's possible move to Tier 3.
"We have put in place unprecedented financial support to support those who are affected.
"The Test and Trace figures this morning in fact show there have been a record high number of those contacted by NHS Test and Trace, reaching more people, testing more people faster than at any other point.
"Finally [Mr Ashworth] talks about the national circuit break idea. What I gently say to him is we take the view we should do everything we can to control this virus where it rising the fastest, and take a more targeted approach."
The Health Secretary claims Labour mayors need to "pull together" with the Government to avoid such a circuit breaker.
Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas need more financial support, argues Labour
Mr Hancock finishes his statement and says "we all have a part to play in defeating this virus".
His opposite number Jonathan Ashworth, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, says that he "totally understands why he has had to make difficult decisions today" regarding London, Essex, and other areas.
"I hope he will agree that when decisions like these are made they are most effective when made in tandem with local leaders," he says, asking about whether further announcements can be expected on Greater Manchester today.
Mr Ashworth claims that families have been "failed by the Chancellor" in Tier 2 and 3 areas, and calls for a stronger package of financial support measures.
"Much of this could have been avoided if the misfiring £12 million Test and Trace had been fixed over the summer," he says. He highlights new data showing that 38 per cent of contacts are not reached by the system.
London lockdown as capital moves to Tier 2 alongside Essex and Elmbridge
Mr Hancock says that infections in London are rising sharply.
"Working closely with the Mayor, with cross-party council leadership, and the national team, we've together agreed that London needs to move to local Covid alert level 'High'," he says, thanking those involved for their "collaborative approach".
"To Londoners and all who work in our great capital, I want to say thank you for what you've done to suppress this virus once. We all need to play our part in getting the virus under control once again."
Essex and Elmbridge have also been moved to Tier 2, the Health Secretary confirms, with all of the new Tier 2 restrictions taking effect from 12.01am on Saturday.
He confirms that Barrow-in-Furness, York, Erewash, Chesterfield, and Inverness will also be subject to Tier 2.
He says that under Tier 2 households cannot meet indoors, including in hospitality settings, and that households should "reduce [their] number of journeys where possible".
Hancock says 'no further decisions made' on Tier 3 changes
Matt Hancock says "discussions are ongoing" with local leaders on moving regions from Tier 2 to Tier 3.
It comes after Liverpool moved to the highest tier - Tier 3 - yesterday.
He said that Liverpool will eligible for more support in Tier 3, and says that "no further decisions have yet been made but we need to make rapid progress" regarding Tier 2 areas.
Matt Hancock: 'If we act collectively we can control the virus'
"I hate the fact that we have to bring them in, but it essential that we do bring them in both to keep people safe and to prevent greater economic damage in the future," Mr Hancock says of the new restrictions.
"If we act collectively we know we can control the virus because we have done it before. I believe in the people of this country and I believe - in fact I know - that the people of this country want to control the virus, protect their loved ones, their lives and their livelihoods."
Mr Hancock says inaction would mean more Covid and non-Covid deaths in the future.
"Unless we suppress the virus we cannot return to the economy we've had, keep non-Covid NHS services going, and keep the elderly and vulnerable safe and secure.
"I didn't come into politics to put restrictions on people's lives and I want people to have as much freedom as possible subject not harming others. But any one of us could inadvertently pass it on without even knowing. That is the liberal case for action."
Matt Hancock: Coronavirus 'deadly and spreading exponentially'
Matt Hancock says that in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands cases have doubled in the last fortnight, and that the UK yesterday saw the highest daily death count since June.
"Let us be under no illusions posed by the dangers of this virus," he says.
"Coronavirus is deadly and it is now spreading exponentially in the UK."
He says the Government must act to prevent further cases, deaths and economic damage.
Unless we act together to get it under control, this is the result.
Local action is at the centre of our response. The virus is not spread evenly and the situation is particularly severe in some parts of the country."
London lockdown: Sadiq Khan warns of 'difficult winter'
Londoners have been warned they face "a difficult winter ahead", as the capital is braced to enter tier two of restrictions from late Friday night.
Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed the move to the London Assembly, as he warned of a "difficult winter ahead".
But he added: "Just as we have always done through our city's great history I know we will get through this dark time by pulling together."
Greater Manchester lockdown meeting described as 'pointless' by Oldham MP
Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon said that Downing Street has refused to tell affected MPs whether Greater Manchester will being placed in Tier 3.
The Labour MP tweeted: "The Covid-19 meeting with Government is over and it was absolutely pointless.
"No consultation, no evidence was shared on the likely impact of further measures, no economic analysis and no enhanced financial support.
"Wouldn't even tell us if Greater Manchester is being placed in Tier 3 lockdown!"
The Covid-19 meeting with Government is over and it was absolutely pointless. No consultation, no evidence was shared on the likely impact of further measures, no economic analysis and no enhanced financial support
Wouldn’t even tell us if GM is being placed in T3 lockdown!
— Jim McMahon MP (@JimfromOldham) October 15, 2020
Lucy Powell, the Labour MP for Manchester Central and a shadow business minister, added that there was "unanimous anger" on this call at "[Government] process, [the] evidence base for proposals and economic support".
25.5 million will be living under local lockdowns by Friday night...
25.5million people in England will be living under local lockdowns from Friday night
That is 45 per cent of the 56.3million population
— John Stevens (@johnestevens) October 15, 2020
UK coronavirus cases highest since Test and Trace launched, reveals new data
A total of 89,874 new people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to October 7, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.
This is an increase of 64 per cent in positive cases on the previous week and is the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.
Lancashire lockdown: Region will remain under Tier 2 restrictions
Lancashire MPs have been told that the region will stay under Tier 2 restrictions following speculation it would move into Tier 3.
A Labour MP has confirmed to the PA news agency that the county will remain in the "high" Covid alert level, as opposed to "very high".
More clarity on which regions will be subject to which restrictions is expected from Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, from 11.30am onward.
Circuit breaker lockdown 'not a panacea', warns WHO Europe director
Asked about circuit breakers, the World Health Organisation's Europe director Hans Kluge was non committal - and even apprehensive, saying "it is not a panacea":
First, if it is implemented, the time has to be taken to further develop the basics... the test track trace isolate. So really to take advantage to get the basic in place.
But maybe the most important point is that it's not a panacea.
It cannot be taken in isolation, because if the people suffer this hardship because of that measure and then it is lifted, and then the people, for example, would not adhere to the basic public health measures, then the effect will wane very quickly.
So it has to be seen in a comprehensive approach, and it if is implemented we definitely need to have to look at the dashboard of the potential collateral damages, to protect the mental health of the people, the economic health, the students, etc.
Scotland coronavirus rules: Sturgeon examining Wales-style border ban
Nicola Sturgeon is examining a travel ban between Scotland and the north of England after backing draconian cross-Border restrictions unveiled by the Welsh First Minister, our Scottish political editor Simon Johnson reports.
Ms Sturgeon said she "fully" supported a decision by Mark Drakeford to ban people from Covid hotspots in the rest of the UK travelling to Wales from 6pm on Friday.
In an extraordinary intervention, Mr Drakeford said he will instruct police to issue fixed penalty notices, and the Welsh people to inform on visitors.
Ms Sturgeon urged Boris Johnson to urgently chair a meeting to strike a four nations deal "on travel restrictions where necessary from high prevalence areas".
But she warned that her government "will also take whatever action we consider necessary" if he failed to act.
Health Secretary to speak at 11:30am
Millions of people in England will face tougher coronavirus restrictions, with pubs expected to be ordered to shut in Greater Manchester and households banned from mixing indoors in London.
Discussions are continuing between local leaders and the Government over the extension of coronavirus controls, but it is understood that Greater Manchester and Lancashire have been told that they will be placed under the toughest Tier 3 restrictions which would involve closing pubs and bars unless they can operate as restaurants.
London will move to Tier 2 at midnight on Friday, meaning households will be banned from mixing indoors including pubs from Saturday.
Essex is also expected to move up to Tier 2.
Ministers are holding a series of talks with MPs from the regions affected by the changes ahead of Health Secretary Matt Hancock giving a Commons update on the measures.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who has been resisting following the Liverpool City Region into Tier 3 restrictions, was to hold talks with No 10 as he demands greater financial support.
His region and Lancashire are under pressure to accept the controls set out for "very high" risk areas, which have so far only been applied in the Liverpool City Region.
No way to Essex
As the county looks set to join London in being placed under Tier 2 restrictions.
We will hear more from Health Secretary Matt Hancock at 11:30am.
BREAKING: @BBCEssex understands Essex County will move from Tier 1 to Tier 2 #Coronavirus restrictions from Saturday. It is expected to be announced in the Commons by the Health Secretary around 1130 - via our Political Reporter @SiDedman
— BBC Essex (@BBCEssex) October 15, 2020
Police fine Merseyside gym owner who stayed open
A Merseyside gym which remained open despite new coronavirus restrictions has been fined by police.
Officers attended at Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Wirral, twice on Wednesday as new Tier 3 measures, including the closure of gyms, bars and betting shops, came into force.
After the new rules for the Liverpool City Region were announced, owner Nick Whitcombe said on his Instagram page the gym would be staying open.
He said: "We are not staying open for financial gain but more for our members mental and physical well-being.
"Gyms should be supported in fighting against Covid obesity, mental health and many other conditions and diseases."
On Wednesday he posted a video showing five police officers in the gym.
Merseyside Police said officers were called to the gym on Pasture Road at 8.35am on Wednesday after a report from a member of the public that it was contravening new legislation.
Officers ordered the gym to close but when they returned later that day and it was still open, the owner was issued with a fixed penalty notice ordering him to pay a £1,000 fine.
London heading into tier 2
London will be moved to Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions from midnight on Friday, MPs in the capital have been told, putting around nine million people under new, tighter restrictions.
Rates are nudging towards the 100 per 100,000 trigger point and there will now be a ban on different households meeting indoors.
However there is a lot of variation across the capital, and there has been some push to have alternatives including the suggestion of a "doughnut", which would protect central London, or that it be targeted at areas where rates are highest, mostly in East London.
It is thought that the practicalities of enforcing this meant it had been ruled out in favour of the city-wide approach, something which London Councils and the Mayor Sadiq Khan backed.
London MPs took part in a Zoom call with junior health minister Helen Whately at 9:30am this morning, where they were told of the plans.
Read more here.
Welsh holiday bookings from people in virus hotspots should not be accepted
First Minister Mark Drakeford said holiday providers in Wales should not accept half-term bookings from people in areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus.
Asked about existing bookings, he told BBC Breakfast: "I'm afraid those bookings will no longer be able to be honoured.
"It's why we're taking this action now to give people a good period of time to understand that, if you did book a holiday in those parts of Wales, I'm afraid that holiday will now no longer be able to take place."
Mr Drakeford said he is "baffled" by Boris Johnson's reluctance to impose travel restrictions on people in Covid-19 hotspots across the UK.
"I am genuinely baffled by the Prime Minister's unwillingness"
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford tells #BBCBreakfast he felt obliged to bring in the travel restrictions to keep Wales safe.https://t.co/WacI0b9zWc pic.twitter.com/Im3qu8B77z
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 15, 2020
He said that if the Prime Minister had supported the measure, it would have reinforced "the sense of acting together across the United Kingdom".
"I never wanted this to become an issue of the border and people travelling in and out of Wales," Mr Drakeford said.
"I've always thought it's an issue of high-incidence areas and low-incidence areas, wherever they may be.
"The Prime Minister says to me he's issued guidance. The problem with that is the police can't take action on the basis of guidance, they have to have the force of law behind them."
Mr Drakeford said Mr Johnson "could still change his mind and then we wouldn't need to do what we are doing".
Police to patrol roads into Wales
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said police forces will carry out extra patrols on main roads to enforce a planned travel ban to prevent people entering Wales from Covid hotspots in the UK.
He told BBC Breakfast that officers will explain the rules to people but could also issue fixed penalty notices to those who "knowingly and flagrantly" breach them.
"They will take the action that they need to take but enforcement is the final resort, not the first resort," he said.
Mr Drakeford added that he has discussed the plans with police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales.
Officers will use a "range of techniques" to police the travel ban, he said.
On #BBCBreakfast the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford details how the ban on people travelling into Wales from high risk areas in England will work. https://t.co/WacI0brbkM pic.twitter.com/PzXotm9XTF
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 15, 2020
Khan's funding plea comes as London braced to be placed in Tier 2
London's MPs are braced for the entire capital to go into the "high" category, putting around nine million people under tier two as early as tomorrow.
Rates are nudging towards the 100 per 100,000 trigger point. However there is a lot of variation across the capital, and there has been some push to have alternatives including the suggestion of a "doughnut", which would protect central London, or that it be targeted at areas where rates are highest, mostly in East London.
It is thought that the practicalities of enforcing this means it has been ruled out in favour of the city-wide approach, something which London Councils and the Mayor Sadiq Khan are backing.
London MPs are expected to take part in a Zoom call with junior health minister Helen Whately at 9:30am this morning, although one said there had been "problems with the invite", leaving several representatives in the dark.
Sadiq Khan asks for funding to be given to London
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has written to the Prime Minister and taken to Twitter to explain.
"Urgent action is needed to protect Londoners & bring the virus under control in our city. Govt must provide proper financial help to all businesses & vulnerable Londoners affected by restrictions, as well as local authorities who support them.
"Support for businesses already struggling is vital. We must have an extension to the business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses as more restrictions are expected, as well as further support to help them maintain COVID-safe environments.
"The Government must also commit to protecting vulnerable Londoners. It is essential that no one should be faced with added financial hardship through redundancy or a loss of earnings, and is able to access benefits or crisis support straight away should they need to.
"We also need an immediate increase in testing capacity so that London’s testing rates can increase to the national average, and low-paid workers who are ineligible for benefits must receive the adequate support they need to self-isolate and keep their community safe."
THREAD: Urgent action is needed to protect Londoners & bring the virus under control in our city.
Govt must provide proper financial help to all businesses & vulnerable Londoners affected by restrictions, as well as local authorities who support them.
My letter to the PM: 1/4 pic.twitter.com/SKhoOG80Fm
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) October 15, 2020
'We are making the same mistake again'
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has tweeted: "We are making the same mistakes again.
"The deadly dithering by @BorisJohnson is causing untold grief we need a 'circuit breaker' now and continuous 80% financial Furlough for businesses, the economic damage being caused could last a decade."
Earlier, he said leaders were "desperately trying to cobble together" a package of funding to help businesses stay open, but said that regional leaders were "categorically told" by Westminster officials that there would be no changes to the package of Government funding.
#COVID19 We are making the same mistakes again.The deadly dithering by @BorisJohnson is causing untold grief we need a “ circuit breaker” now and continuous 80% financial Furlough for businesses, the economic damage being caused could last a decade #Actnow
— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) October 15, 2020
Liverpool health system "highly stressed"
Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has told BBC Breakfast that the health system in Liverpool was "highly, highly stressed" by having so many Covid-19 cases.
"There's also a high level of (NHS) staff absence because of, essentially burnout but also sickness, and that within our infrastructure within Liverpool is cause for concern.
"And these cases are from infections that occurred 10 days ago.
"The current infections... are baked into the system so we're predicting quite a dire situation within a week or so, and that's why we've been making these very public announcements."
Prof Calum Semple said unless something happened to stem the spread of coronavirus, "the numbers will keep rising, there'll be further hospital admissions and further deaths.
"But it's not just the Covid disease in the hospital we have to think of.
"When you start to get levels of infection like this in the community, it starts to affect other services such that, so many teachers will be off sick off with Covid that the schools will have difficulty delivering education.
"And eventually, it starts pushing into other service essential services such as fire brigade or telecommunications, delivering bread and petrol, because many of these systems are already running at the limits on reduced staff.
"So, this isn't just now about protecting the NHS, this is actually now about protecting other aspects of how we run our communities in Liverpool."
Anger among northern MPs
William Wragg, Conservative MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, was among those complaining at a lack of communication from the Government despite reports on Wednesday night that Tier 3 restrictions had been signed off for the region.
After Labour's Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Manchester Norton MP Afzal Khan both said they had not been informed of the plans being reported last night, Mr Wragg wrote: "Sadly, I've received no email... says it all really.
He then posted this morning: "Email now received. However, it is frustrating to keep learning of these developments from second-hand sources, alongside the speculation and hearsay."
Lisa Nandy, the Labour front bencher and MP for Wigan went further and called out Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi for appearing to announce the measures on Sky News this morning.
I would say it’s frustrating to learn this via sky news but it’s honestly got to the point where it’s so unsurprising there’s no point. We’re going into tier 3 apparently. At some point today the government will “discuss” the decision with those of us affected and I’ll update. https://t.co/NKlIQxIboJ
— Lisa Nandy (@lisanandy) October 15, 2020
University lockdown may come too late
Imposing a two-week lockdown on universities in England before Christmas may come too late to prevent widespread infections, a scientist who advises the Government suggested.
Dr Ellen Brooks-Pollock, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "In our analysis before the start of term we estimated that the R value could be up to 30% higher in a university setting, which could mean in an unmitigated setting it could be around 3.5 or 4.
"Our analysis suggests that reducing face-to-face teaching to essential teaching only does have the impact of slowing down the rate of spread and preventing more disseminated outbreaks.
"However it needs to happen early on in the outbreak because if infection is already widespread then having this quiet period at the end of term is unlikely to prevent outbreaks within halls of residence.
"Two weeks might be enough for students living in smaller households, living with two or three other people, but in these halls of residence where there's really a lot of people living together it could just lead to an outbreak in those halls of residence.
"And if there's already disseminated infections, many of which are unobserved, two weeks wouldn't be long enough at the end of term - it's too late essentially."
Liverpool facing 'tough month' says mayor
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the city was facing a "tough month" and that some businesses that close under the latest coronavirus restrictions may not reopen.
He told BBC Breakfast: "It's a very tough time for us. We're all really anxious and really worried about that and also the infection rates are continuing to climb.
"We've got 3,300 cases of Covid, 30 deaths in the last week, it's spreading by around about 630 cases (in the) last week.
"It's a really worrying time for us, a really anxious time."
He said leaders were "desperately trying to cobble together" a package of funding to help businesses stay open, but said that regional leaders were "categorically told" by Westminster officials that there would be no changes to the package of Government funding.
"I was told 'well look, it doesn't matter what you say, the Chancellor, the Prime Minister made their decision and made their mind up that the furlough scheme, and then the Government system for unemployed people and for businesses, it's going to stay the same no matter what you say.
"Basically forget about it because you're not moving us on it."
The Liverpool mayor said ministers should stop listening to economic advisers "telling us the country is in a mess when we'll be in an even bigger mess if businesses go to the wall, don't come back and we lose jobs and then we have to pay unemployment rates and benefits of Universal Credit."
Pub closures could drive people towards illegal house parties
The closure of pubs could "drive" people to break the law, Northumbria's police and crime commissioner has suggested.
Kim McGuinness told the Today Programme the number of fines handed out to people for holding house parties has gone up "substantially".
"Tier 3 means pubs or non-food pubs closing so the concern is that that would drive any people who are seeking to break the law underground and makes it more challenging for police, Ms McGuinness said.
"The police prior to this phase, the initial phases of lockdown, saw a real reduction in crime and burglary and so on.
"And now those levels are back and there's the expectation that police will enforce Covid regulations as well, which is really difficult and puts pressure on them."
Record infections in Italy
Italy registered the highest ever number of new cases last night - more than 7,300, Nick Squires in Rome writes.
Thankfully deaths are a fraction of what they were in March, when more than 900 a day were recorded.
There were 43 recorded yesterday.
It is also worth noting that a huge number of swabs were taken - 152,000, the highest number since the pandemic started.
But virologists and the prime minister say it may be necessary to have another lockdown.
"I think a lockdown at Christmas is in the order of things: we could reset the system, lower the transmission of the virus and boost contact tracing," said leading virologist Andrea Crisanti.
"The way things are right now the system is saturated". Prof Crisanti, one of Italy's top experts on the virus, said "we must stop the virus" and "the impact of current measures will be seen within 15 days. As cases have risen the capacity for contact tracing and doing swabs drops and you go into a vicious circle that pushes the transmission of the virus up".
Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, said: "If the number of infections continues to rise, and the number of people in hospital and in intensive care, we will once again be heading into difficulties."
He said he wants to avoid a second national lockdown but it "will depend on the behaviour" of Italians.
Scotland could implement travel restrictions
Scotland could implement measures to prevent non-essential travel from coronavirus hotspots, the SNP's Westminster leader has said.
Ian Blackford told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We of course have the opportunity to put in place appropriate public health measures.
"What we can do, if necessary, is say that people should not travel from hotspots, whether they should be from in Scotland or people coming to Scotland from other parts of the United Kingdom.
"But that will be done on an evidence-based approach where we think it's appropriate to protect the people in all parts of the country from people travelling where it's not necessary.
"When people have to travel for business, for work, and so on - essential journeys - they will still be allowed, but what we're talking about is non-essential journeys, where it's appropriate to do that."
The latest rules in Northern Ireland
Tighter restrictions for Northern Ireland have been announced by Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster, with most measures coming into force on tomorrow.
Pubs and restaurants will close for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries, while schools will close on Monday for two weeks - one of which will cover the half-term Halloween break.
Under the new restrictions, retail outlets will remain open, as will gyms for individual training.
Churches will also remain open and it is understood a 25-person limit will be placed on funerals and weddings, but wedding receptions are prohibited.
People should work from home unless unable to do so, and are urged not to take unnecessary journeys.
Ryanair to scale back operations
Ryanair has announced it will further reduce its operations due to coronavirus travel restrictions. The budget airline said its capacity between November and March will be 40% of what it was 12 months earlier, compared with the 60% it previously planned.
The firm said it expects to fill 70% of seats on its planes.
It will close its bases in Cork and Shannon, both in Ireland, and Toulouse in France during the five-month period.
Routes that do survive will be served with a lower frequency of flights than normal.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is to hold talks with No 10 amid mounting expectation the region will be the next to face the toughest coronavirus controls.
Mr Burnham has been resisting pressure to follow the Liverpool City Region into the Tier 3 restrictions - which would see bars, gyms and betting shops forced to close - despite soaring infection rates.
However following a briefing with the deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Jenny Harries on Wednesday, he said he expected to have a further meeting with Boris Johnson's team on Thursday.
The move came amid reports the Government's Joint Biosecurity Centre had recommended most of the North West and North East of England, as well as parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands, should be moved into Tier 3.
With Greater Manchester and Lancashire looking set to be the first to be affected, Manchester MPs said they had been invited to a meeting on Thursday morning.
Lucy Powell, the Labour MP for Manchester Central said it had "all the hallmarks of a decision having been made".
Mr Burnham reacted angrily to the reports, tweeting: "At no point during tonight's briefing was this news communicated to us. Media told first once again. Our position has not changed."
In contrast, London mayor Sadiq Khan has said he would back tighter restrictions in the capital - which is currently under the lowest Tier 1 controls - but called for a package of financial support for the city.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, he said that with the infection rate approaching approaching 100 cases per 100,000 head of population, new measures would be needed "very soon" - possibly as early as this week.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will update MPs on the latest measures in a Commons statement later today.
Patients tackle after-effects of 'long Covid'
Patients should be allowed to self-diagnose "long Covid", Government researchers have said, amid concerns sufferers are not being believed.
The call accompanies the publication of new findings suggesting the condition is not a single syndrome, but potentially as many as four syndromes.
NHS chiefs believe hundreds of thousands of people are suffering long-term after-effects of Covid-19, including breathlessness, chronic fatigue, "brain fog", and anxiety.
Czech Republic battles surge in infections
The Czech Republic reported 9,544 new Covid cases on Wednesday, its highest one-day tally since the pandemic started, Health Ministry data showed on Thursday.
The number of total cases detected since the outbreak hit in March has nearly doubled in October alone, to 139,290.
The country of 10.7 million people faces one of the world's largest surges in infections.
Australia considers travel routes 'probably next year'
Australia's Prime Minister said on Thursday that his government was giving priority to reopening air services to Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
Scott Morrison said he had discussed reopening air routes with the leaders of all three countries.
He described Japan and South Korea as "two countries that have done particularly well" in dealing with the pandemic.
"There are a number of countries we're looking at to see what we can do probably next year. We're not going to rush into this," Mr Morrison said.
"[The three Asian countries] are my current priorities in how we would pursue that."
Australia will allow travellers from neighbouring New Zealand to arrive without hotel quarantine from Friday.
New Zealand has eradicated community transmission of Covid.
But New Zealand will continue to insist travellers from Australia quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
Facebook acts on NZ coronavirus misinformation
Facebook shut down the page of conspiracy-embracing political party Advance New Zealand on Thursday just two days out from a general election, accusing it of spreading misinformation about coronavirus.
"We don't allow anyone to share misinformation on our platforms about Covid-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm," a spokesperson for the social media giant told AFP.
The action prompted the party's co-leader Billy Te Kahika - who has amassed a huge following using the online platform - to accuse Facebook of meddling in the upcoming vote.
Facebook said it would enforce its policies on coronavirus misinformation "regardless of anyone's political position or party affiliation".
"We removed Advance New Zealand/New Zealand Public Party's Facebook Page for repeated violations [of misinformation policies]," it said.
India records nearly 70,000 cases in just 24 hours
India's tally of coronavirus infections stood at 7.31 million on Thursday, having risen by 67,708 in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed.
Deaths from Covid infections rose by 680 to 111,266.
India crossed the seven million mark on Sunday, adding a million cases in just 13 days.
It has the world's second-highest tally after the United States, where the figure is nearing eight million.
Health chiefs fired in China
A hospital president and the director of the health commission in the northern Chinese city of Qingdao have been fired after China's latest coronavirus outbreak.
A brief notice on the Qingdao city government's official microblog on Thursday said Health Commission director Sui Zhenhua and Deng Kai, president of Qingdao's thoracic hospital to which the cases have been linked, were placed under further investigation. No other details were given.
Authorities ordered testing of all nine million people in the city after a total of 12 cases, including those not displaying symptoms, were discovered over the weekend - accounting for China's first local transmissions in about two months.
Qingdao on Wednesday reported more than eight million tests have been conducted, with no additional cases discovered among the almost five million results returned.
Trump's teen son tested positive for coronavirus
Donald Trump's 14-year-old son Barron contracted coronavirus after both his parents tested positive, the First Lady has confirmed.
Melania Trump said Barron had the virus but had not exhibited any symptoms, and was now negative.
His father, the President, said he was doing "fine".
In an essay entitled My Personal Experience with Covid-19, Mrs Trump wrote that after she and the President were diagnosed on October 1, "naturally my mind went immediately to our son".
Germany posts record daily increase in cases
Germany has posted a record daily increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, adding 6,638 cases and bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 341,223.
Germany's previous record daily increase was 6,294 on March 28.
Thursday's tally showed the reported death toll rose by 33 to 9,710.
By European standards, Germany has experienced relatively low infection and death rates during the pandemic, but new daily cases have jumped in recent weeks and Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned there could be 19,200 infections per day if current trends continue.
More than 120,000 Mexican healthcare workers infected
Mexico's health ministry on Wednesday reported 4,056 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 478 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 829,396 cases and 84,898 deaths.
The ministry also said 127,053 healthcare workers had contracted Covid, with at least 1,744 fatalities since the pandemic began.
In August, Reuters reported that Mexican healthcare workers' risk of dying was four times higher than in the United States, and eight times higher than in Brazil, according to government data.
The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
Heart problems 'killed hundreds' due to pandemic
Hundreds of people under the age of 65 died from heart problems like strokes and cardiac arrests as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, a leading charity has warned.
According to the British Heart Foundation, there have been more than 800 "excess" deaths from heart and circulatory problems among those aged under 65 since the start of March.
It comes as new analysis showed that England and Wales recorded the highest number of excess deaths of 21 major industrialised nations during the first wave of the pandemic.
READ MORE: Hundreds of under-65s died from heart problems because of pandemic
China offers free vaccine for students heading overseas
A division of Chinese state-run Sinopharm Group developing two Covid vaccines is offering them for free to Chinese students going abroad for higher studies, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The move by China National Biotec Group (CNBG) is aimed at boosting public confidence in homegrown inoculations, the Journal reported, citing a company website and some students who applied for it.
The announcement of the company distributing vaccines to students appeared on a website where people could sign up to receive it, the newspaper reported.
The website said on Monday that 481,613 people had taken the vaccine while an additional 93,653 had applied to be inoculated.
The website was down starting on Tuesday for "maintenance".
Today's top stories
Rishi Sunak warned against "rushing to another lockdown" and made clear his opposition to a national "circuit breaker" as he said the country faced an economic emergency
The phrase “circuit breaker” is a gift for any pandemic-fighting politician. It’s accessible and talks to precision and immediacy. "That dastardly virus. Have no fear, we’ll simply turn it off with a flick of our special circuit-breaking switch"
Care homes have been told they will be expected to make room for coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospital, despite the policy being blamed for spreading the virus earlier in the year
Donald Trump's 14-year-old son Barron contracted coronavirus after both his parents tested positive, the First Lady has confirmed
Nicola Sturgeon is examining a travel ban between Scotland and the north of England after backing draconian cross-Border restrictions unveiled by the Welsh First Minister
Operations are being cancelled across the NHS as health services struggle to cope with rising numbers of Covid-19 patients
Hundreds of under-65s died from heart problems like strokes and cardiac arrests as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, a leading charity has warned
Consultants working on NHS test and trace are being paid the equivalent of up to £1.5 million a year, it emerged on Wednesday night, as MPs hit out at the “staggering” use of taxpayers’ money
Liverpool's Mayor says video images showing large crowds blocking a police car and hurling drinks and abuse had "shamed our city", while the Liverpool-born Cabinet minister Therese Coffey says she was "saddened" by such "irresponsible" behaviour