UK Covid news LIVE: Scores of Brits forced to scramble back to UK before red list deadline

·16-min read

Thousands of Brits are desperately trying to get home from holidays after changes to the Government travel list with many scrambling to book airline tickets to return for Bank Holiday.

Montenegro will on Monday become the first European country to be added to the UK’s travel red list after an announcement by the Department of Transport last night.

Travellers returning from the country, as well as those coming from Thailand, will need to book a stay in a quarantine hotel if they arrive after 4am on Monday.

It comes as seven destinations were added to the green list for travel - Canada, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the Azores.

The UK is gearing up for a busy Bank Holiday staycation weekend, with travellers urged to avoid leaving on Friday afternoon to miss the rush.

Read More

UK Covid travel news: Which countries are on the red, amber and green list?

UK travel: When is the next Covid travel update and what can we expect?

Key Points

Face masks in schools after jump in cases in south west

22:19 , Rachael Burford

Secondary school and college pupils will need to wear face masks in communal areas outside of their classrooms in areas of the south west of England following a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Department of Health and Social Care said that from Friday Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay local authority areas - which have seen a rise in cases - will get help to increase vaccine and testing uptake, and deliver more public health messaging.

Although students will return from next week as planned, students in secondary schools and colleges will again need to wear face masks in communal areas after the guidance was scrapped on July 19.

The new measures are expected to be in place for five weeks, with the impact monitored.

It comes after new figures showed growing numbers of local areas - including in the South West - were recording their highest rates of new cases of Covid-19 since comparable records began, as the third wave of coronavirus continues to pick up pace across the country.

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Thousands arrive for Victorious Festival after Richard Ashcroft pulls out

22:15 , Rachael Burford

Thousands of music-lovers have arrived for a weekend at Victorious Festival - but Richard Ashcroft will not be playing in protest at Covid restrictions.

The UK’s biggest metropolitan festival has opened its gates on Southsea Common in Portsmouth, Hampshire, with acts during the weekend including Madness, Nile Rodgers, Manic Street Preachers, The Streets and Royal Blood.

The event returns after last year’s was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those attending are this year being asked to provide a negative lateral flow test or proof of double vaccination or natural immunity to gain entry.

The requirement prompted ex-Verve singer Ashcroft to pull out last month from the three-day festival.

The festival organisers posted on Twitter: “Following extensive discussions about the measures we have put in place to reduce risk for visitors, artists, and workers at this year’s festival, Richard Ashcroft will no longer perform at the event.”

Ashcroft had previously pulled out of Sheffield’s Tramlines festival saying he would not appear at any event with restrictions.

Covid denying salon owner receives £12k fine

19:45 , Rachael Burford

A beauty salon owner has been fined after breaching Covid regulations by aiding a protest in Merseyside.

Julie Saunderson, 43, from Formby, who owns the “Skin Kerr” beauty salon in Bootle, encouraged a crowd of people protesting against the coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Government, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Due to the rising number of cases in England, a nationwide lockdown was imposed from November 5 for four weeks. This prompted protests in Merseyside on November 7, 8 and 21.

Sanderson, who previously was handed a closure notice by Sefton Council after her salon had a poster in its window denying the existence of Covid-19, was spotted by police officers monitoring the November 21 protest “encouraging” the crowd by shouting “this way” and gesticulating for them to follow her, the CPS added.

She was later charged with three counts of contravening Covid lockdown legislation

Sanderson pleaded not guilty but did not turn up for the start of the trial on Friday at Liverpool Magistrates court.

She was fined £10,000 for her role in the protest and a further £2,000 for two other breaches. She was also ordered to pay £620 in costs and a £190 victim surcharge.

Senior Crown prosecutor Lydia Durkin of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: “Julie Saunderson clearly did not think that the legislation brought in by the Government to control a pandemic applied to her.”

Infection levels rise as Brits prepare for bank holiday festivals

18:11 , Rachael Burford

Coronavirus infection levels have risen across all four nations of the UK, as revellers head to festivals and people prepare to enjoy the bank holiday weekend.

Revellers are being urged to test for Covid-19 before they go and when they return, and not to visit older or more vulnerable loved ones in the days after big music events in a bid to avoid spreading the virus.

The latest snapshot survey of infections by the Office for National Statistics shows that around one in 70 people in England had Covid-19 in that week, up from one in 80 the previous week.

In Wales, the figure was around one in 120 people - the highest level there since the week to February 12 - while in Scotland it was around one in 140, which was a rise from one in 200 in the previous week.

The return of schools in Scotland earlier this month is believed to have contributed to an increase in infections in the country.

A number of big gatherings are being held this weekend, including the Reading and Leeds Festivals - where jabs will be offered across the two sites - and the Creamfields in Cheshire.

Public Health England strategy response director Dr Susan Hopkins urged people to “do a test before you go, wear a face covering if you’re travelling to and from the festival if you’re using public transport, and socialise outside as much as possible”.

She added: “Make sure you take an LFD (lateral flow) test when you get home, and then test twice a week after having mixed with a large group of people, as you could have Covid-19 without having symptoms.

“Try and avoid seeing older or more vulnerable relatives so that you don’t pass anything on.”

UK records 100 new Covid deaths

16:23 , Rachael Burford

The UK recorded 38,046 new Covid infections and 100 deaths linked to the virus on Friday.

The death toll now stands at 132,103 in the UK, according to Government figures.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show more than 156,000 people had Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.

Global policymakers urge more sharing of COVID-19 vaccine

15:16 , Tom Ambrose

A group of global policymakers tasked with responding to the COVID-19 health crisis on Friday urged nations with large vaccine stocks to share them with programs that distribute them to lower income counties.

In a joint statement, the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce - which includes the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization - also urged nations to eliminate export restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines.

Infection levels up across UK as revellers head into bank holiday weekend

14:50 , Tom Ambrose

Coronavirus infection levels have risen across all four nations of the UK, as revellers head to festivals and people prepare to enjoy the bank holiday weekend.

Music-lovers are being urged to test for Covid-19 before they go and when they return, and not to visit older or more vulnerable loved ones in the days after events in a bid to avoid spreading the virus.

The latest snapshot survey of infections by the Office for National Statistics shows one in 40 people in Northern Ireland had Covid-19 in the week to August 20.

The is equivalent to 43,300 people, and the highest level since estimates began in October.

The figures, for private households, show that around one in 70 people in England had Covid-19 in that week, up from one in 80 the previous week.

Underground is coming back to half pre-pandemic levels as London heads back to work

14:25 , Barney Davis

London Underground usage is regularly reaching at least half of pre-pandemic levels, Transport for London (TfL) said.

Demand for the Tube on weekdays is often at 50% of what it was before the coronavirus crisis, and is hitting more than 60% at weekends.

This is up from about 40% across the entire week in early May.

An average of more than 1.8 million journeys are being made on the Tube every weekday.

Last weekend, ridership was at 58% on the Saturday and 62% on the Sunday.

Bus travel in the afternoon is also continuing to grow.

R value is definitely above 1

13:52 , Barney Davis

The coronavirus reproduction number, or R value, in England is between 1.0 and 1.1, according to the latest Government figures.

Last week, it was between 0.9 and 1.2.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-positive person goes on to infect.

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially but when it is below 1, it means the epidemic is shrinking.

An R number between 1.0 and 1.1 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will go on to infect between 10 and 11 others.

Top prof warns of vaccine strength waning over time

13:18 , Barney Davis

Tim Spector, Professor of Epidemiology at King’s College London and lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study, said the latest research shows that the protection provided by the vaccines may start to wear off within six months, especially against the now-dominant Delta variant.

He wrote in the i: “The UK’s Covid vaccine rollout has been a huge success by any measure, with more than three quarters of adults receiving both doses in less than eight months.

“Earlier this week our ZOE Covid Study team published an analysis of data from our app contributors showing that the protection provided by two doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine wanes over a number of months.

“We found that initial protection against infection a month after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine was 88 per cent, falling gradually to 74 per cent within five to six months. For the AstraZeneca vaccine, there was around 77 per cent protection a month after the second dose, falling slightly less rapidly to 67 per cent after four to five months.”

Scottish teacher shortages could force return to remote learning, TES reports

12:04 , Barney Davis

Teacher shortages in Scotland could mean pupils being sent home from school if Covid cases continue to rise, according to a report.

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA), said coronavirus mitigations – such as staff and pupils wearing face coverings in secondary schools – should continue to avoid such a situation arising.

But Highland Council education chair John Finlayson said rising cases were already “having an impact on service delivery” and that a return to remote learning was likely where schools were “struggling for staff”.

Queen to honour Covid heroes at opening ceremony of Scottish Parliament

12:00 , Barney Davis

The Queen is to address MSPs at Holyrood’s official opening as part of a special ceremony that will celebrate the efforts of “local heroes” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The opening ceremony for the sixth session of the devolved Scottish Parliament is due to take place on Saturday October 2.

Her Majesty will be joined by the Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, who are known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland.

‘Natural immunity may be stronger than vaccine’ - Study

11:35 , Barney Davis

Natural immunity from previous Covid-19 infection may offer stronger protection against the Indian ‘Delta’ variant than immunity from full vaccination, a new study has suggested.

Israeli researchers compared people who had received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to unvaccinated individuals who had recovered from the virus.

They found that participants with natural immunity were up to 13 times less likely to contract Covid than those who were given two jabs.

N Ireland records spike in Covid deaths

10:26 , Barney Davis

Another 43 deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate were registered in Northern Ireland in the week to last Friday.

That is three more than the previous week, according to government statistics agency Nisra.

It is the highest weekly toll the Agency has recorded since the end of February.

The agency’s total number of Covid-19 related deaths in NI now stands at 3,129.

Thailand to loosen lockdown as UK puts destination on red list

09:41 , Barney Davis

Thailand will ease Covid-19 restrictions on shops and restaurants moments after the UK put the highly sought after holiday destination on to its red list.

But a Government spokesperson did not confirm when the restrictions will be lifted. In some provinces, indoor dining is banned.

There were another 273 Covid-19 fatalities in Thailand and 18,702 new cases recorded over the past 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry reported on Friday morning.

There were 18,360 cases in the general population and 342 among prison inmates.

Phuket, Thailand (Getty Images)
Phuket, Thailand (Getty Images)

New Zealand’s zero Covid policy in ruins as PM extends strict lockdown

09:33 , Barney Davis

New Zealand on Friday extended pandemic restrictions by four days after which they will be eased slightly, although businesses and schools will remain shut and the biggest city Auckland will be locked down for longer.

New Zealand had been largely virus-free, barring a small number of cases in February, but that changed last week after an outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant erupted, prompting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to order a nationwide lockdown.

The outbreak, which has so far infected nearly 350 people, may be reaching its peak, Ardern said at a news conference.

“We may be seeing the beginning of a plateau of cases,” Ardern said. “But caution is still required.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

RMT warns of industrial action over post-Covid job cuts

09:17 , Barney Davis

The biggest rail workers’ union is warning it is “ready” to take industrial action against any post-Covid plans to cut jobs and services.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said it was stepping up a campaign against a “cynical and opportunist” wave of cuts it warned was being planned across the rail network.

The union said cuts already being lined up would “decimate” services and staffing levels and would “fly in the face” of Government statements that rail passenger usage is expected to return to pre-Covid levels.

The i reporting that Boris Johnson privately considers 50,000 annual deaths ‘acceptable’

08:05 , Barney Davis

Downing Street has denied it has set any “acceptable level” of Covid deaths but two advisers told the i that the PM would only bring in lockdown measures if Covid deaths look to top 50,000 in a year.

The source told the i: “The Prime Minister is minded to implement another lockdown or new restrictions only if the figure of annual deaths looks like it’s going to go above 50,000. That means deaths from Covid of 137 a day, or just under 1,000 a week.

“However, it won’t be an immediate reaction. A sustained rate of death of around a 1,000 a week for two or three weeks will, though, lead to discussion on restrictions being reimposed. Unfortunately, prime ministers have to weigh up the cost of saving lives to the impact on the economy. No one wants to talk about that’s how it works.”

Expert says ‘more risky’ to get Covid than have vaccine

07:55 , Barney Davis

There will always be some “tragic cases” when it comes to risks around blood clots and vaccines, but it is “so much more risky to catch Covid”, an expert has said.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) which advises the Government, said he hoped a new large-scale study showing that risks of clots shortly after jabs are much lower compared to in people who get coronavirus “maintains the trust in the vaccines going forward”.

The research findings were published a day after an inquest heard that BBC radio presenter Lisa Shaw, 44, died due to complications of the AstraZeneca vaccination.

Dr Tildesley told BBC Breakfast: “I think it is about putting those risks into context. There are always going to be the tragic cases like Lisa unfortunately, but it still doesn’t mean that actually the risks of taking the vaccine are high – it is still so much more risky to catch Covid and develop a blood clot via that route.”

Prof says AZ complications 'very rare’

07:42 , Barney Davis

Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of clinical epidemiology and general practice at the University of Oxford, stressed the “vast majority of patients will be absolutely fine” following their coronavirus vaccination.

It comes after a coroner concluded that award-winning BBC radio presenter Lisa Shaw died due to complications from her first AstraZeneca dose.

“It’s very sad, and condolences to the family of Lisa,” Prof Hippisley-Cox told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“But to put it in context, these are very rare cases, and the vast majority of patients will be absolutely fine with these vaccines.”

There are to be no changes to the coronavirus restrictions in Wales

07:22 , Barney Davis

First Minister Mark Drakeford urged people in Wales to get vaccinated and keep taking familiar steps to help address rising levels of Covid-19 as the case rate earlier this week passed 320 cases per 100,000 people.

Nearly 10,000 alerts were sent to users of the NHS Covid-19 app in Wales in the latest recorded week – the highest number since mid-July – and up 63% on the previous week.

Three weeks ago, all restrictions on meeting others were lifted and all businesses, including nightclubs, reopened when Wales moved to Alert Level Zero.

Face masks continue to be required on public transport, in health and social care settings, and in shops.

Risk of blood clots with Covid ‘much higher’ than after vaccine dose, says study

07:20 , Barney Davis

The increased risk of being admitted to hospital or dying due to blood clots for someone with coronavirus is “much higher” than in people who had a first dose of vaccine, a study has found.

Researchers said their work is the first to compare the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines with risks from Covid-19 on such a large scale.

The paper, which is the biggest study of its kind on this issue, comes after a coroner concluded that an award-winning BBC radio presenter died due to complications of the AstraZeneca vaccination.

Lisa Shaw died in May, just over three weeks after she had her first dose.

 (PA)
(PA)

Good morning and welcome to the Evening Standard’s coverage of the very latest Covid-19 developments

07:14 , Barney Davis

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