Coronavirus: Police may only deal with serious crime if there is mass COVID-19 outbreak

Beth Rigby, political editor, and Ajay Nair, news reporter

Police could be reduced to just dealing with very serious crimes and maintaining public order, while the NHS could be closed to all but critical care, as part of the government's coronavirus plans.

Under ministers' action plan to deal with a mass outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, it has been revealed emergency services all have measures in place to "fulfil critical functions".

But they would have to reduce services should significant numbers of police officers, NHS staff and other public services be struck down by the virus.

The government also confirmed plans were in place to draft in the army, if necessary, to maintain public order.

Key points:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there were "long-established plans by which the police will, obviously, keep the public safe but they will prioritise those things that they have to do".

He added: "And the army is of course always ready to back-fill as and when, but that is under the reasonable worst-case scenario."

:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Ministers did not put figures on projected mortality rates for a severe outbreak of COVID-19, but confirmed there could be an increase in deaths arising from the outbreak.

Reports of worst-case scenario plans suggest four out of five people could contract the virus with up to 500,000 deaths.

The government action plan, revealed on Tuesday, warned of a depletion in workforces across the UK.

Officials said they were "uncertain of the impact of the outbreak for business" but confirmed that one in five workers could be absent in the weeks the virus peaks.

The government also said it would consider closing schools, encourage working from home and the reduction of large-scale gatherings to slow the spread of the disease.

Universities and further education colleges could also be closed.

Speaking at a news conference, the chief scientific adviser to the government, Sir Patrick Vallance, said restricting travel once the epidemic was "everywhere" would make "no difference at all".

"At the moment we are certainly not recommending any change to behaviours in relation to that," he said.

"And if it grows in the UK, then of course it doesn't really make more sense to say that you're at more risk somewhere else than you are here."

Mr Johnson also told reporters he continued to shake hands with people, adding: "I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were coronavirus patients and I was shaking hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.

"People must make up their own minds but I think the scientific evidence is... our judgement is that washing your hands is the crucial thing."

On parents worried about further school closures, Mr Johnson said: "We don't think that schools should be closing in principle - we think if possible schools should stay open but that schools should follow the advice of Public Health England."

Speaking about the concerned members of the public stockpiling food and supplies, Sir Patrick said there was "no reason" to do so.

"There's no reason to be doing any panic-buying of any sort or going out and keeping large supplies of things," he said.

"Clearly, there will need to be measures in cases of household quarantine for making sure that food is in the right place at the right time, but we imagine that could be a rolling case of household quarantine if that measure becomes necessary."

The comments come despite the government plan warning of the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus.

"It is possible that an outbreak or pandemic of COVID-19 could occur in multiple waves and therefore, depending on what the emerging evidence tells us, it may be necessary to ensure readiness for a future wave of activity," the plan said.

The government's 27-page document outlines its response in four stages.

They include containing the outbreak, delaying its spread, mitigating the impact of the disease once it becomes established, and implementing a research programme aimed at improving diagnostics and treatment for COVID-19.

The government's response is currently in the containment phase, along with research being carried out and planning for the delay and mitigation phase.

Officials are hoping to delay the peak of the outbreak until the spring and summer months when health services are less busy.

Earlier Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted some of the planned action would be "uncomfortable" but insisted the government was "quite prepared to do that if it's necessary".

However, speaking to Sky News' Kay Burley@Breakfast show, he said ministers had not yet ruled out "succeeding in containing the disease" at its current relatively low level.

Mr Hancock said the government was seeking "as targeted an approach as possible" with the focus on elderly and vulnerable people, who are likely to see the biggest impact from the virus.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK currently stands at 51.

Many of the cases involve people who have recently travelled to Italy, which has seen the biggest outbreak in Europe.

The European Commission on Monday said the risk level for those in the European Union and UK was "moderate to high".

There are currently more than 91,000 cases of coronavirus around the world and more than 3,000 deaths.

Virus Outbreak: Global Emergency - Watch a special Sky News programme on coronavirus at 6pm weekdays.

  • How Boris Johnson’s gamble on one lie too many pushed the British public over the edge
    News
    The Independent

    How Boris Johnson’s gamble on one lie too many pushed the British public over the edge

    It’s one thing to live through a terrifying pandemic, but another thing entirely to do so under a blundering government. And during the past week, as Boris Johnson’s government dodged and lied to protect an adviser, while the nation’s coronavirus death rate became the highest, the mask finally came off even for many previous supporters of this failing administration, exposing the moral vacuum behind it.In just one week, the government trashed its public reputation, with Johnson’s approval dropping an eye-watering 20 points. As news emerged that the prime minister’s aide, Dominic Cummings, flouted lockdown measures with a family road trip to Durham, the nation united in outrage. Nearly 100 Conservative MPs revolted over Johnson defending his chief aide, while vicars, police officers and previously sympathetic columnists have voiced criticism. We watched Cummings claim a drive to Barnard Castle was an entirely permissible sight test and government ministers pretzeled themselves trying to make this sound legit. The ensuing mockery of government was allayed only by public rage.

  • Spanish health minister bans British holidaymakers 'until UK's coronavirus situation improves'
    News
    Yahoo News UK

    Spanish health minister bans British holidaymakers 'until UK's coronavirus situation improves'

    Tourists from Germany and the Nordic countries are likely to be the first allowed back into Spain.

  • 'Closed' Durdle Door packed as tourists ignore pleas from police
    News
    The Telegraph

    'Closed' Durdle Door packed as tourists ignore pleas from police

    After images emerged of thousands of tourists huddled together on a beach to allow rescue helicopters to land, Dorset Police announced in the middle of a sunny weekend that Durdle Door was closed. But just hours later officials were forced to admit that they were powerless to stop the hundreds of visitors who continued to flock to the beauty spot because it is privately owned. Whilst the council closed the roads, Lulworth Estates which owns the stretch of coastline refused to close the car parks saying that it would lead to “chaos” as people would still visit and park illegally. Hundreds of cars simply drove around the road closed signs, the council admitted, whilst there were reports of people parking four miles away and completing the journey on foot. Less than 24 hours after three people were seriously injured jumping from the 200ft cliffs, more were seen attempting the same feat on Sunday.

  • UK coronavirus LIVE: Death toll jumps by 113 ahead of lockdown easing for millions in England from Monday
    News
    Evening Standard

    UK coronavirus LIVE: Death toll jumps by 113 ahead of lockdown easing for millions in England from Monday

    Dominic Raab has said strict restrictions will return if there is an "uptick" in coronavirus cases as the UK lockdown is further eased.Speaking to Sky's ​Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said "we will have to take further measures again and target the virus wherever it may appear".

  • Coronavirus UK map: the latest deaths and confirmed cases near you
    Health
    The Guardian

    Coronavirus UK map: the latest deaths and confirmed cases near you

    Coronavirus UK map: the latest deaths and confirmed cases near youLatest figures from public health authorities on the spread of Covid-19 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Find out how many confirmed cases have been reported in each local authority

  • Thousands take to London streets after George Floyd killing
    News
    ITN

    Thousands take to London streets after George Floyd killing

    Thousands of people have taken to the streets of London to protest after the killing of George Floyd in the US. Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Protests have flared up across the United States following the murder.

  • UK records 113 daily deaths - lowest figure since lockdown began
    News
    The Telegraph

    UK records 113 daily deaths - lowest figure since lockdown began

    The UK's daily figure for coronavirus deaths has dropped to 113 - the lowest since the day after lockdown. Latest figures show 113 deaths reported on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 38,489. At its peak in mid-April, the pandemic saw almost 1,200 deaths in Britain daily. Sunday's figure is the lowest since 24 March, when 149 deaths were reported. The evening before that, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had introduced the lockdown. However, weekend figures are typically much lower than those during the week. Last Sunday saw 118 deaths recorded in the UK - but during the week the figure jumped back up to 412. The overall death toll at 38,489 remains the highest in Europe. And statistics from the Office for National Statistics are still higher, with more than 47,000 cases recorded on eath certificates from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said the latest figures were “significantly better in terms of those affected and their families than we were much further back in April, where you can see the peak.”

  • Second senior medical adviser weighs in over Dominic Cummings
    News
    The Guardian

    Second senior medical adviser weighs in over Dominic Cummings

    Second senior medical adviser weighs in over Dominic Cummings. Jenny Harries says obeying lockdown rules is ‘matter of personal and professional integrity’

  • Former deputy Labour leader Tom Watson rejected for peerage
    News
    The Independent

    Former deputy Labour leader Tom Watson rejected for peerage

    Tom Watson, the former deputy Labour leader, is one of three people nominated by Jeremy Corbyn to have had their peerages blocked by the independent watchdog, The Independent has learnt.John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons, and Karie Murphy, the former director of Mr Corbyn’s office, are also understood to have had their nominations refused.

  • Massive protests raise fears of new coronavirus outbreaks
    News
    PA Media: World News

    Massive protests raise fears of new coronavirus outbreaks

    Hundreds of people have taken to the streets across America in recent days following the police killing of a black man in Minneapolis.

  • Kensington Palace makes legal complaint over claims Duchess of Cambridge feels 'overworked'
    Celebrity
    The Telegraph

    Kensington Palace makes legal complaint over claims Duchess of Cambridge feels 'overworked'

    Kensington Palace has sent a legal complaint to Tatler magazine over claims the Duchess of Cambridge feels “overworked”, it is understood. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are understood to have asked that the society magazine remove its ‘Catherine the Great’ profile from the website. The Royal couple are reportedly upset about what they say is unfounded criticism of the Duchess’s family, her children and her weight. The Tatler article described the Duchess as “perilously thin” and referred to Princess Diana’s eating disorders. The society magazine claimed to have spoken to various friends of the Duchess of Cambridge for the profile with a source reportedly claiming the princess feels “exhausted and trapped” after taking on more royal duties following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step back. Kensington Palace has denied this account. "Meghan and Harry have been so selfish,” one source told Tatler. “William and Catherine really wanted to be hands-on parents and the Sussexes have effectively thrown their three children under a bus. “There goes their morning school runs as the responsibilities on them now are enormous." Another source allegedly added: “Kate is furious about the larger workload. Of course she's smiling and dressing appropriately but she doesn't want this. She feels exhausted and trapped. “She's working as hard as a top CEO, who has to be wheeled out all the time, without the benefits of boundaries and plenty of holidays.” Earlier this week a source familiar with the Duchess's work emphatically denied to the Telegraph that she feels "exhausted and trapped" by her duties, saying the description was inaccurate and offensive. They added: “Like many people across the country, the Duchess is juggling home schooling and work. But she's not also having to juggle being a front line worker. She is of course cognisant of that. "That's who she would much prefer the attention to be on." A Royal source told The Mail on Sunday the description of the Duchess as “perilously thin” is “such an extremely cruel and wounding barb. It's disgusting. It's sexist and woman-shaming at its very worst. “The [Tatler] piece is full of lies. There is no truth to their claim that the Duchess feels overwhelmed with work, nor that the Duke is obsessed with Carole Middleton. It's preposterous and downright wrong.” Tatler's article also claims that the Duchess had an argument with the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018. It claimed the row took place at a rehearsal two days before the wedding and was over whether the young bridesmaids should wear tights. Quoting an unnamed friend, the article said: “There was an incident at the wedding rehearsal. It was a hot day and apparently there was a row over whether the bridesmaids should wear tights or not. “Kate, following protocol, felt that they should. Meghan didn't want them to. The photographs suggest that Meghan won." But Kensington Palace insisted the story is wrong, the Mail on Sunday reported. In response to the Tatler claims a Kensington Palace spokesperson said at the time: “This story contains a swathe of inaccuracies and false misrepresentations which were not put to Kensington Palace prior to publication”. Tatler issued its own statement: “Tatler's Editor-in-Chief Richard Dennen stands behind the reporting of Anna Pasternak and her sources. “Kensington Palace knew we were running the 'Catherine the Great' cover months ago and we asked them to work together on it. The fact they are denying they ever knew is categorically false.” During the pandemic the Cambridges are working from home at Anmer Hall, homeschooling Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis while holding royal engagements over Zoom. Along with the rest of the Royal Family, they have changed the focus of their work to helping the country through the coronavirus crisis, paying particular attention to mental health. The children have joined in the "clap for our carers" movement, and delivered homemade pasta to their isolated neighbours. Since the Covid-19 lockdown, the Duchess of Cambridge has launched photography exhibition Hold Still, and taken part in video calls to schools, hospitals and maternity services, as well as playing bingo with pensioners to highlight social care. Tatler did not respond to a request for comment on the legal complaint and Kensington Palace declined to comment.

  • No Brexit trade deal unless UK keeps promises, Barnier warns
    News
    The Independent

    No Brexit trade deal unless UK keeps promises, Barnier warns

    The UK faces a no-deal Brexit unless Boris Johnson keeps the promises he made when securing the withdrawal agreement, the EU’s chief negotiator has warned.Michel Barnier accused the prime minister of trying to back away from the written commitments in the political declaration signed with the European Commission.

  • Coronavirus news – live: UK has reached 200,000 daily testing target, government claims after Raab admits he did not know Cummings was self-isolating in Durham when he acted PM
    News
    The Independent

    Coronavirus news – live: UK has reached 200,000 daily testing target, government claims after Raab admits he did not know Cummings was self-isolating in Durham when he acted PM

    The UK government claimed it had reached its testing capacity target of 200,000-a-day, amid mounting concerns about the effectiveness of the test and trace system ahead of the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.Foreign secretary Dominic Raab was unable to say how many people have so far been traced under the new scheme, which he claimed could cope with 10,000 new patients a day, after it emerged that PHE had capacity only to trace the contacts of five patients a week when contact-tracing was first abandoned in March.

  • Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over
    Politics
    The Guardian

    Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over

    Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is overA pandemic unabated, an economy in meltdown, cities in chaos over police killings. All our supposed leader does is tweet

  • Fears grow of US coronavirus surge from George Floyd protests
    News
    The Guardian

    Fears grow of US coronavirus surge from George Floyd protests

    Fears grow of US coronavirus surge from George Floyd protests * Demonstrators in close proximity, many without masks * Trump under fire as violence flares across America * George Floyd protests: live coverage

  • The Dragon has landed: SpaceX success as NASA astronauts set foot on International Space Station
    Science
    Evening Standard

    The Dragon has landed: SpaceX success as NASA astronauts set foot on International Space Station

    SpaceX’s historic mission is complete, as astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have finally set foot on the International Space Station.The two-man NASA crew blasted off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 8.22pm on Saturday – in the first ever space mission run by a private company.

  • 10 Acne Products From Amazon That Truly Work - the Customer Reviews Prove It
    Style
    Pop Sugar UK Beauty

    10 Acne Products From Amazon That Truly Work - the Customer Reviews Prove It

    Through my teen years, I was lucky enough to rarely deal with acne. Suddenly, as I entered my mid 20s, pesky zits started showing up on my cheeks and chin. I tried all sorts of treatments and products, including expensive creams, toners, and scrubs. That's when I became a skin-care enthusiast. I'm always on the lookout for new releases that will improve my complexion. Thankfully, Amazon is an excellent source for discovering formulas that truly work. There are thousands of customer reviews that can back these products claims. If you're in need of a new acne product to clear up breakouts, I curated a list of the best items on Amazon. They work for a variety of skin types, and each one offers a different pimple-fighting ingredient, so it's worth giving these formulas a try. You might find something that's a total game changer for you. Read on to check out these highly rated options. Related: 13 Cool and Useful Hair Products From Amazon's Bestsellers List

  • Boris Johnson blocks Corbyn’s recommendation for John Bercow peerage
    News
    The Telegraph

    Boris Johnson blocks Corbyn’s recommendation for John Bercow peerage

    Boris Johnson has blocked Jeremy Corbyn’s recommendation for John Bercow to receive a peerage over allegations of bullying by the former Speaker. Downing Street said it would not approve Labour’s nomination of Mr Bercow for elevation to the upper chamber because there are outstanding concerns about his “propriety”. Karie Murphy, Mr Corbyn’s former chief of staff, was also blocked for appointment to the Lords over an Equalities and Human Rights Commission investigation into alleged institutional anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The Jewish Labour Movement said her nomination was “deeply inappropriate”. Ms Murphy denies all allegations of anti-Semitism. Officials at Downing Street informed Mr Corbyn his nominations would be rejected before he stepped down as leader, The Sunday Times reported. The House of Lords Appointments Commission had concerns about both Mr Bercow and Ms Murphy’s “propriety”. Mr Bercow, who stood down as Speaker at the end of October, was referred to the parliamentary commissioner of standards in January over allegations of bullying, which he denies. Commons officials accused him of creating a climate of “fear and intimidation” during his time in office, and a former clerk of the Commons said he used “sexually and racially inappropriate” language. Mr Bercow said the claim was “unadulterated rubbish”. His nomination by Labour, which was greeted with surprise when it was leaked in January, cannot proceed to formal approval from the Queen without the backing of the Government. The rejection comes after Boris Johnson broke with tradition by refusing to nominate Mr Bercow for a peerage himself, which is customary of a Government after a Speaker’s retirement. Dawn Butler, a Labour MP who ran for the deputy leadership of her party, said Mr Johnson’s refusal to nominate Mr Bercow was in itself a “form of bullying”. After the commission advised against Labour’s nomination, Downing Street offered Mr Corbyn the option of replacing his nominees last month, allowing him to choose “antiwar” activists instead, the Sunday Times reported. Mr Corbyn is thought to have declined that offer after some consideration. The House of Lords Appointment commission, which does not comment on individual cases, said: “Our guidelines make clear that an individual must be in good standing in general and with the public regulatory authorities in particular.”

  • Lockdown easing for Covid-19 ‘shielders’ announced by PM
    News
    PA Media: UK News

    Lockdown easing for Covid-19 ‘shielders’ announced by PM

    Boris Johnson praised their resilience as he said those shielding from Covid-19 in England will be able to spend time with other people outdoors.

  • China says two new coronavirus cases, asymptomatic case on German charter
    News
    Reuters

    China says two new coronavirus cases, asymptomatic case on German charter

    China announced on Sunday two new confirmed cases of coronavirus and four new asymptomatic cases, including one person without symptoms of COVID-19 on a chartered flight from Germany. The two confirmed cases in Shandong province on Saturday compared with four cases the day before, data from the country's health authority showed. The National Health Commission (NHC) confirmed three new asymptomatic cases on Saturday.

  • Public warned to remain cautious when lockdown is eased further
    News
    PA Media: UK News

    Public warned to remain cautious when lockdown is eased further

    New freedoms include people who have been shielding, who can go outside from Monday while maintaining social distancing.

  • Brexit briefing: 214 days until the end of the transition period
    News
    PA Media: Video

    Brexit briefing: 214 days until the end of the transition period

    The UK left the European Union on January 31. Here we look at the latest figures and key dates in the ongoing Brexit process. Michel Barnier has taken a hard line on trade deal ahead of next round of post-Brexit negotiations

  • Why did the PM do so much to save Cummings?
    News
    Sky video

    Why did the PM do so much to save Cummings?

    Sky's political correspondent Joe Pike has been looking at why Mr Johnson is expending so much political capital to save Dominic Cummings.