Coronavirus update

Bullet points from this evening:

  • No responsible PM can ignore the message of the figures.
  • No one wants to be imposing these kinds of measures anywhere.
  • We didn’t want to be shutting businesses, pubs and restaurants in one part of the country, where incidence was very low, when the vast bulk of infections were taking place elsewhere.
  • In this country alas as across much of Europe the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst case scenario of our scientific advisers.
  • Unless we act we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day, a peak of mortality alas far bigger than the one we saw in April.
  • Even in the South West, where incidence was so low, and still is so low, it is now clear that current projections mean they will run out of hospital capacity in a matter of weeks unless we act.

Action:

  • From Thursday until the start of December, you must stay at home.
  • You may only leave home for specific reasons, including: for education; for work, if you cannot work from home; for exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household or on your own with one person from another household; for medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm; to shop for food and essentials; and to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.
  • Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed – though click and collect services can continue and essential shops will remain open, so there is no need to stock up.
  • Pubs, bars, restaurants must close except for takeaway and delivery services.
  • Workplaces should stay open where people can’t work from home – for example in the construction or manufacturing sectors.
  • Single adult households can still form exclusive support bubbles with one other household, and children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated.
  • If you are clinically vulnerable, or over the age of 60, you should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with others.
  • those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should minimise their contact with others, and not to go to work if they are unable to work from home.
  • Extension of the furlough system through November. The furlough scheme was a success in the spring. It supported people and businesses in a critical time. 
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a month with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked and further economic support announced.
  • Business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Also, £1.1 bn is being given to Local Authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.
  • To give homeowners peace of mind too, mortgage holidays will also no longer end today.

Differences:

There will be some differences compared to March.

  • These measures above all will be time-limited, starting next Thursday 5 November.
  • They will end on Wednesday 2 December, when government will seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends.
  • Christmas is going to be different this year, very different, but it is hoped that by taking tough action now, government can allow families across the country to be together.
  • Priority, remains keeping people in education – so childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be.
  • Unless your clinicians tell you otherwise, you should continue to use the NHS, get your scans, turn up for your appointments and pick up your treatments. If at all possible, we want you to continue to access these services, now and through the winter. Indeed it’s only by taking this action that we can protect the NHS for you.

Timetable: 

  • On Monday the plans are set before parliament. On Wednesday, parliament will debate and vote on these measures which, if passed, will  come into force on Thursday.
  • Government has updated the devolved administrations on the action in England, ready to work with them on plans for Christmas and beyond.
  • Our friends in Belgium, France and Germany have had to take very similar action.
  • We now have the immediate prospect of using many millions of cheap, reliable and above all rapid turnaround tests, tests that you can use yourself to tell whether or not you are infectious and get the result within ten to 15 minutes.
  • The army has been brought in to work on the logistics and the programme will begin in a matter of days
  • Working with local communities, local government, public health directors and organisations of all kinds to help people discover whether or not they are infectious, and then immediately to get them to self-isolate and to stop the spread
  • We are not going back to the full-scale lockdown of March and April
  • It is less prohibitive and less restrictive
  • But from Thursday the basic message is the same. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. And save lives.

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