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Daily Coronavirus Update – 11th May 2020
10 Downing Street press conference – Prime Minister accepts lack of childcare for manufacturing and construction workers may be a “barrier” to going back to work
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP addressed a virtual press conference in 10 Downing Street in which he:
Explained the basics of the Government’s new ‘Plan to Rebuild’ (set out in detail below)
Stated, in response to a question from the media, that whilst people in sectors such as manufacturing and construction were being encouraged to go back to work, those that required childcare would face a barrier in doing so and should therefore discuss this with their employers. Although he did not directly answer the question, his response confirmed that those being encouraged to go back to work, and who are not classed as essential workers, will not immediately be able to send their children back to school in order to do so.
Argued that employers will not be allowed to get away with forcing employees to work in conditions that are not safe and secure, adding that there will be an increase in health and safety inspections.
Stated that if there are flare ups across the country in specific regions, the Government will respond locally – “we will be firefighting, doing whack-a-mole, to deal with that issue as it arises”.
Stressed that the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland will not change and that no checks will be implemented.
Stated he believed the hospitality sector will recover and added that they hope some jobs in the sector will begin to restart from 4th July onwards.
The Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty also addressed the press conference in which he:
Stated that from the beginning he has tried to balance the seriousness of the virus, but at the same time stress that most people will not die from it. He stated that, of those who catch the virus, 1% or possibly even fewer will die, adding that even in the very highest risk groups, this figure would be significantly less than 20%.
The Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance also addressed the press conference in which he:
Stressed the importance of moving slowly through the lockdown exit plan, and the importance of the alert system put in place to measure how the UK is responding to the changes, adding “if we allow this to get out of control, if we allow the transmission to increase between households, we go back to where we are and more measures will come in”.
Daily UK coronavirus statistics
The Department of Health and Social Care announced:
1,921,770 tests have been conducted (an increase of 100,490 since yesterday)
1,400,107 people have been tested (an increase of 65,337 since yesterday)
223,060 people have tested positive (an increase of 3,877 since yesterday)
32,065 people have died (an increase of 210 since yesterday)
NB: The daily death count includes all those who have tested positive for COVID-19, not just those in hospitals
See online here
‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ – UK Government publish recovery strategy
Following Boris Johnson’s address to the nation yesterday, 10 Downing Street has published a document providing limited further details on what to expect as the Government amends the current regulations:
Step 1 (from 13th May)
Anybody who can’t work from home should be actively encouraged to go to work if their workplace is open.
Everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible; but where necessary, social distancing guidance on public transport must be followed rigorously.
Face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces such as public transport or in some shops where social distancing is not always possible.
People can now spend unlimited time outdoors, (including driving to open spaces for those in England), irrespective of distance, as long as they do not meet up with more than one person outside their household and follow social distancing guidelines.
The clinically vulnerable should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their households, but will no longer need to be shielded. Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact.
Fines will be increased for non-compliance with social distancing measures.
International arrivals to the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days (this measure will not come into force immediately, but will be introduced ‘as soon as possible’).
Step 2 (from 1st June at the earliest)
Phased return for early years settings and schools, beginning with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in smaller class sizes, and ending with all primary school pupils returning to school for a month before the summer if feasible.
Secondary schools should ‘prepare to begin some face-to-face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils’.
Non-essential retail that can enforce social distancing regulations will be reopened.
Cultural and sporting events will be permitted to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast.
Local public transport in urban areas will be reopened, subject to strict measures.
The Government will consider whether it is possible to allow a household group to expand to include one other household in the same exclusive group, and how it could enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to facilitate small weddings.
Step 3 (from 4th July at the earliest)
Reopening of some of the remaining businesses required to close, including personal care (eg hairdressers), hospitality (eg food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (eg places of worship) and leisure facilities (eg cinemas), where social distancing regulations can be met.
The guidance also states that ‘the Government may adjust restrictions in some regions before others: a greater risk in Cornwall should not lead to disproportionate restrictions in Newcastle if the risk is lower’. This contravenes previous answers provided by Government ministers who have stated the nations and regions of the UK would operate in lockstep.
In response to questions following a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, the Prime Minister added that the Government will publish guidance on workplace safety today (see below) and guidance on transport tomorrow.
New guidance launched to help get Brits safely back to work
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published eight new guidance documents for employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely. The guidance covers:
New care home online testing poral launched
The Department of Health and Social Care announced that it has launched a new portal for care homes to arrange coronavirus testing. All symptomatic and asymptomatic care home staff and residents in England are now eligible for testing. Testing will be prioritised for care homes that look after the over 65s.
See online here
Lord Chancellor announces resumption of jury trials
Following advice from Public Health England and Public Health Wales, the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland MP announced that the judicial system is ready to take “the first steps” towards resuming jury trials. A limited number of trials will take place, observing social distancing rules, at courts including the Old Bailey in London and Cardiff Crown Court. These first trials will help to inform the Ministry of Justice how it might be possible to conduct trials more widely as the situation with coronavirus develops.
See online here
Public urged to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport
The Department of Health and Social Care published a press release confirming that the Government is now advising the public to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. It has sought to make clear that face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular handwashing. The public has also been urged not to buy medical grade masks so they can be saved for frontline health and care workers, but instead make their own face coverings at home.
See online here
30,000 British travellers returned to the UK
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has reported that more than 30,000 British travellers have now returned to the UK on 142 special Government charter flights from 27 different countries and territories since the outbreak of coronavirus.
See online here
Office for National Statistics publishes COVID-19 death breakdown by occupation
The Office for National Statistics has published analysis and data on the breakdown of coronavirus deaths of working age people in England and Wales by different occupational groups. 2,494 people of working age died from coronavirus up to April 20th, with nearly two thirds of these being men. Those working in the ‘lowest skilled occupations’ had the highest COVID-19 death rates, with those working in social care also having ‘significant raised rates of death’. Healthcare workers, such as doctors and nurses, were not found to have higher rates of deaths from coronavirus. Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth MP stated that these figures showed the virus “thrives on inequality”, warning that “health inequalities [were] widening and life expectancy stalling”.
Scottish First Minister’s address to the nation – keep following lockdown restrictions
The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon MSP has delivered an address to the nation this evening in which she thanked the Scottish people for following social distancing regulations, but argued that progress is fragile, too many people are still dying and the risk is too great to ease lockdown measures any further. She repeated that people can now exercise outside more than once a day, but other than this, called on people to continue to follow the previous lockdown advice. She reported that she is working with businesses to produce guidance on safe workplaces, and working on the changes needed on public transport. She stressed that she will not keep the restrictions in place any longer than they need to, but that she “won’t risk unnecessary deaths by acting rashly or prematurely”.
See online here
Second Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill introduced to Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Government outlined the new measures that had been introduced to the Scottish Parliament as part of the Second Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill. This includes an additional £19.2m investment in the Carer’s Allowance Supplement, the introduction of notice to leave periods for students in purpose-built student accommodation and halls of residence, and additional protections for those facing bankruptcy. Constitutional Secretary Michael Russell MSP said that the Bill would enable the introduction of “a wide range of changes necessary to support public services to continue to operate as they were intended during what are exceptional circumstances.”
See online here
New digital hub to support health and social care workforce in Scotland
Organisations from throughout Scotland have come together to create a new platform to support health and social care workers to look after their physical and mental health. The new digital wellbeing hub is being launched today, and will provide a ‘range of self-care and wellbeing resources designed to aid resilience as the whole workforce responds to the impact of coronavirus’. The hub is the first in the UK, and will provide advice on self-care, and support to recognise ‘warning signs.’
See online here
Northern Ireland encouraged to ‘shine a light’ for nurses
People in Northern Ireland are being asked to ‘shine a light’ on Tuesday to mark International Nurses Day and to recognise the work that nurses are doing in the fight against coronavirus. The day coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, with 2020 also designated as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Health Minister Robin Swann MLA expressed his thanks to nurses for their ongoing work, with First Minister Arlene Foster MLA noting their “incredible dedication, professionalism and enormous personal sacrifice”.