UK

Minister Robert Jenrick hints weddings WON’T be ramped up to allow 30+ plus guests

Weddings with more than 30 guests will likely not be allowed from June 21, cabinet minister Robert Jenrick hinted today, amid calls to push back the final unlocking by at least a month.

Asked whether long-awaited events were set to be permitted on England’s ‘Freedom Day’, the Communities Secretary said: ‘I wouldn’t make plans until you have heard from the PM if that is important to you, but weddings can go ahead right now but just with the maximum of 30 guests.’

‘We have always said that the roadmap is subject to review of the data. That is what is happening right now, so whether it is weddings or international travel or any of these other important topics, you always have to wait until the judgement is made on the basis of the data at the decision point.’

Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure from some jittery scientists to delay the reopening amid the rapid spread of the Indian variant, with the Government’s top scientists Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance reportedly saying the date must be pushed back. A decision is set to be announced in five days time. 

But other experts have called on the Prime Minister not to delay the unlocking, saying people must learn to live with the virus and the NHS is expected to be ‘able to cope’ with hospitalisations sparked by the Indian variant.  

Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s special envoy on Covid, said ‘life has to go on’ when asked whether the Government should stick to its roadmap on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘The last thing any of us want is to have people needing to go on restricting their lives but this virus has not gone away,’ he added. 

And Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers which represents hospitals across England, said if hospitalisations sparked by the mutant strain — which is now dominant in the country — follow Bolton, the NHS will likely ‘be able to cope’ with any added pressure from the virus. Bolton’s Covid admissions are falling, with many patients in its hospitals being un-vaccinated or suffering only a mild disease.

It comes as sources revealed Rishi Sunak could reluctantly accept an extension to lockdown — but for no longer than ‘a week or two’ — however The Guardian today claimed the Chancellor was willing to accept a delay of up to four weeks. Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said yesterday he would ‘bet on a relaxation’ of the Covid rules on June 21 — if he were a ‘betting man’.

Ministers yesterday ramped up support for Greater Manchester — which is being hit by a large outbreak of the Indian variant — to back surge testing and boost its vaccination drive, which Matt Hancock said ‘is known to work’ against outbreaks of the virus.  

Andy Burnham, the region’s mayor, said there was ‘every reason to believe’ the extra support will successfully curb the spread of the mutant strain. 

Ministers are considering delaying the final stage of the road map out of lockdown following jittery warnings from scientists about the spread of the Indian variant. Some are pushing for restrictions to remain in place until as late as the start of English school holidays on July 23. 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick hinted today that long-awaited weddings for more than 30 guests could be delayed beyond June 21 as the Prime Minister comes under increasing pressure to delay lockdown easings

The Indian variant is now dominant in more than two thirds of England's local authorities, and has spread to 85 per cent of the country, according to the latest surveillance data from Britain's leading centre for tracking the virus the Sanger Institute

The Indian variant is now dominant in more than two thirds of England’s local authorities, and has spread to 85 per cent of the country, according to the latest surveillance data from Britain’s leading centre for tracking the virus the Sanger Institute

Rishi Sunak could reluctantly accept an extension to lockdown – but for no longer than 'a week or two'. But The Guardian today reported he would be prepared to wait up to four weeks. He is pictured at Oswald's Club in London last night

Michael Gove has said he would 'bet on a relaxation' of the coronavirus rules on June 21 - if he were a 'betting man'

Rishi Sunak (left, pictured at Oswald’s club in London last night) could reluctantly accept an extension to lockdown of ‘a week or two’ following calls to delay the final stage of the roadmap out of lockdown. Michael Gove (right) has said he would ‘bet on a relaxation’ of the coronavirus rules on June 21 – if he were a ‘betting man’

All over-50s could be fully vaccinated by July 1st – two weeks after ‘freedom day’ 

All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after 'freedom day on June 21 — but it will take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis can reveal

All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after ‘freedom day on June 21 — but it will take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis can reveal

All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after ‘freedom day on June 21 — but it will take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis can reveal.

The figures will boost calls for the Government to delay opening up all restrictions on June 21 for a fortnight in order to ensure the most vulnerable members of society have all had time for both doses to have had an effect.

And it comes amid claims that science chiefs Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance have spooked No10 into pushing back plans for June 21’s ‘Freedom Day’ total unlocking citing fears of a third wave.

Experts say the vaccine forecast supports the case for a delay in reopening because one dose of vaccine can be as little as 30 per cent effective against the Indian coronavirus variant that is now dominant in the UK.

Cases are currently rising by around 40 per cent a week and new infections will be well above 15,000 a day by June 21, although it remains to be seen if the full vaccination of older Britons will keep hospital occupancy low.

But opponents of a postponement believe the vaccines have successfully broken the link between cases and hospitalisations, and argue the economic cost of a delay would be greater than that caused by a third wave this summer.

MailOnline analysis of official figures shows all people aged 50 and above could all of had their second vaccine dose by June 17, with a full immune response coming two weeks later.

But over-16s will not have received by their final inoculation until September 14, fueling concerns a surge in Covid infections caused by the Indian variant will result in a spike in deaths and hospitalisations among the unvaccinated. 

And experts today told MailOnline the figures suggest the Government would be right to delay by two weeks in order to ensure all over-50s have had their second dose and are protected

The final batch of restrictions are due to be relaxed on June 21, which would also see night clubs allowed to reopen and people in England again allowed to invite more than six people into their homes.

But there has been growing debate over whether the last round of easings should go ahead amid the rapid spread of the Indian variant which is at least 40 per cent more transmissible than the previously dominant Kent variant.

Ministers shortened the gap between doses for over-50s to get more people jabbed faster, and have been watching the data. 

But Mr Jenrick hinted to Sky News June 21 could be delayed. Asked whether he thought it could be pushed back, the Communities Secretary said: ‘I am not going to give my view, obviously those views are made privately within the Cabinet.

‘But what I do think it is important is that we don’t throw away the gains that we have made.

‘So we are going to take a cautious approach but if we can proceed with that reopening on the 21st of June of course all of us would love to see that, for our own lives and for the livelihoods that depend on that further reopening.’

The minister was also grilled on whether Britons would be able to holiday abroad this year, saying people should stick to the ‘admittedly relatively small number of countries’ on the ‘green’ list, and not travel to ‘amber’ or ‘red’ areas unless absolutely necessary.

‘You shouldn’t be booking holidays to countries that are currently on either the amber list or the red list,’ he told the programme.

‘You can go to the admittedly relatively small number of countries on the green list.

‘Even there be aware that this isn’t a normal summer for holidays, we are reviewing that list every three weeks and so I would advise people to look for travel operators who can offer flexibility, would be able to offer rescheduling or repayments if something changes.

‘We would like to open up that green list to more countries but we have obviously got to do so cautiously.’

Only 11 countries and territories are on the green list, which includes no major travel destinations in Europe.

The Prime Minister was yesterday reported to be considering delaying June 21 by about two weeks to give extra time for all over-50s — who are most at risk of hospitalisation and death from the virus — to get their second dose of the Covid vaccine, and for it to take effect.

But some experts have called on him not to delay the unlocking. Asked whether June 21 should go ahead, Dr Nabarro suggested ministers should stick to the roadmap.

‘It can’t be just about restrictions – the future for humanity is going to require that we adapt our lifestyles so that we make it hard for this virus to spread,’ he said.

‘We know that the virus is constantly changing, which means that although vaccination is a marvellous marvellous asset, it’s not going to be enough.

‘We are going to have to continue to behave as though the virus is an ever present threat.

‘So by all means, let the restrictions be released, but at the same time could I encourage everybody, everywhere to go on behaving carefully.

‘At school, at the university, in the pub, in the restaurant, in the social club, the virus is still going to be around and it can come back with a huge surge, very, very quickly.’

Mr Hopson has also suggested the latest round of easings could go ahead, because the NHS may be able to cope with the higher pressure if hospitalisations follow Bolton.

The Greater Manchester boroughs hospitalisations are falling after cases also began to drop, following efforts to ramp up vaccinations in the community and surge testing to root out every case.

The NHS Providers chief executive told Times Radio: ‘And if, and it is a big if, if Bolton has gone through its complete cycle and if others areas follow Bolton, the view from the hospital there was that they were able to cope with the level of infections.’

‘It’s important not to just focus on the raw numbers here…you also do need to look at who’s being admitted into hospital and how clinically vulnerable and what level of acuity they’ve got.

‘What chief executives are consistently telling us is that it is a much younger population that is coming in, they are less clinically vulnerable, they are less in need of critical care and therefore they’re seeing what they believe is significantly lower mortality rate which is, you know, borne out by the figures. So it’s not just the numbers of people who are coming in, it’s actually the level of harm and clinical risk.’

Cases in Bolton have begun to fall amid surge testing to root out every case of the Indian variant. Bolton was the first area in England to experience a major outbreak of the mutant strain

Cases in Bolton have begun to fall amid surge testing to root out every case of the Indian variant. Bolton was the first area in England to experience a major outbreak of the mutant strain

Department of Health data shows its Covid hospitalisations are also now falling, and did not reach the peaks during either the first or second wave. NHS officials in the area say they are confident they will not be overwhelmed

Department of Health data shows its Covid hospitalisations are also now falling, and did not reach the peaks during either the first or second wave. NHS officials in the area say they are confident they will not be overwhelmed

In the two weeks to May 29, the latest data available, the variant was dominant in 201 of 317 local authorities, or two thirds of England

In the two-week period to May 22 the variant was dominant in 102 areas

DARK RED/PURPLE = MORE INDIAN VARIANT CASES. Variant-tracking data from the Wellcome Sanger Institute shows that the now-dominant Indian ‘Delta’ strain is hotly focused in the North West of England, where the new restrictions are coming into place

Debate about the lifting of lockdown has intensified at the top of government following a surge in Covid cases. Pictured: People line up to receive their Covid vaccination in Stanmore, London

Debate about the lifting of lockdown has intensified at the top of government following a surge in Covid cases. Pictured: People line up to receive their Covid vaccination in Stanmore, London

Doctors in India claim highly-infectious ‘Delta’ variant is giving people gangrene and hearing loss 

Indian doctors claim the new Covid variant is giving people gangrene and hearing loss that older strains of the virus didn’t.

The country was battered by the new variant, known as B1617.2 or ‘Delta’, in the spring with millions of people getting infected and hospitals spilling into the streets.

Scientists say the variant appears to be the most infectious one discovered to date and medics now suggest it might be more dangerous, too.

As well as typical Covid symptoms, some in India say they have seen a rise in patients coming in with deafness, or gangrene caused by blood clots, Bloomberg reported.

Health chiefs in the UK have already warned that there seems to be a higher risk of ending up in hospital with this variant than with the previously dominant Kent strain.

But doctors in Britain have not reported gangrene or hearing loss, despite tens of thousands of cases of the variant.

This suggests that they may be extremely rare and only found in India so far because millions of people got infected in a short space of time, or that they happened by chance in people who had Covid and aren’t caused by the variant at all.

Concerns about how fast the variant is spreading and the possibility that it makes vaccines less effective are piling pressure on Boris Johnson to delay ending lockdown on June 21, with scientific advisers urging him to push it back to buy time to roll out jabs.

One doctor said the arrival of new symptoms more than a year into the pandemic showed how unpredictable the virus was.

Dr Abdul Ghafur, an infectious disease expert at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, told Bloomberg: ‘We need more scientific research to analyse if these newer clinical presentations are linked to B.1.617 or not.’

There had not been any obvious signs that the Brazil or South African variants, the first mutants to worry scientists, were causing different symptoms to other strains.

But a number of doctors are now reportedly seeing unusual problems in people diagnosed with the virus.

As well as typical symptoms like lost appetites, stomach pains, diarrhoea and joint pain, some were also developing gangrene or hearing loss.

Mr Gove made the comments on Monday during a ministerial meeting, as the Prime Minister got ready to decide whether to go ahead with the June 21 ‘freedom day’, the Huffington Post reported. His comments appear to leave open the chance of either a full or partial lifting of measures. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is among a string of Cabinet ministers pressing Boris Johnson to stick to the target date, arguing there is a pressing need to get key sectors such as hospitality firing on all cylinders.

A Whitehall source said Mr Sunak could live with a delay of ‘a week or two’ but would resist any further slippage as this could involve extending the furlough scheme.

‘I don’t think he’s in principle against a short delay if that is what is necessary,’ the source said. ‘If it is more than a week or two then that is problematic.’ 

Treasury sources said there were no plans to extend the furlough scheme, which continues in full until the end of this month. From July, employers will have to make a gradually increasing contribution until the scheme ends in September.

Debate about the lifting of lockdown has intensified at the top of government following a surge in Covid cases. 

Government scientists are understood to have warned ministers that daily cases are on course to be running at well over 10,000 a day by June 21.

Yesterday, daily cases topped 6,000 for the second time since mid-March. And there is concern that those who have had only one jab are at risk from the virulent Indian strain.

Matt Hancock told MPs on Monday that only three of the 126 people hospitalised by the Indian variant in the UK had been fully vaccinated. But a further 28 in hospital – just over a fifth of the total – had received one jab.

Mr Hancock and the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty are said to have argued that a short delay would enable many more to gain the extra protection of a second jab. But Michael Gove, who is also urging caution, is said to believe Mr Johnson will press ahead with lifting at least some restrictions on June 21.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister wanted to see more data before announcing the decision on Monday. 

Tory MPs urged Mr Johnson to overrule the scientists. 

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘Scientists have got themselves into a frightened state where none of them want to be the one who says unlock because they are fearful they will be blamed if something goes wrong, even though there is no evidence that it will.

‘They are drifting towards a zero Covid goal, which is unattainable, and the politicians have to take back control.’

Former Cabinet minister David Jones also warned against further delay. ‘We cannot continue to live as we have for the last 15 months,’ he said. At some stage we have to take our courage in our hands and start getting back to normal, and that stage is now.’ 

It comes after MailOnline analysis yesterday revealed all over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after ‘freedom day on June 21.

The figures will boost calls for the Government to delay opening up all restrictions on June 21 for a fortnight in order to ensure the most vulnerable members of society have all had time for both doses to have had an effect. 

Experts say the vaccine forecast supports the case for a delay in reopening because one dose of vaccine can be as little as 30 per cent effective against the Indian coronavirus variant that is now dominant in the UK.

Cases are currently rising by around 40 per cent a week and new infections will be well above 15,000 a day by June 21, although it remains to be seen if the full vaccination of older Britons will keep hospital occupancy low.

But opponents of a postponement believe the vaccines have successfully broken the link between cases and hospitalisations, and argue the economic cost of a delay would be greater than that caused by a third wave this summer.

MailOnline analysis of official figures shows all people aged 50 and above could all of had their second vaccine dose by June 17, with a full immune response coming two weeks later.

But over-16s will not have received by their final inoculation until September 14, fueling concerns a surge in Covid infections caused by the Indian variant will result in a spike in deaths and hospitalisations among the unvaccinated. 

Experts told MailOnline the figures suggest the Government would be right to delay by two weeks in order to ensure all over-50s have had their second dose and are protected.

SIX MILLION people are told to stay outdoors: A tenth of the UK’s population gets tough new ‘advice’ to curb Indian ‘Delta’ variant in the North West of England

By Sophie Borland for The Daily Mail 

Nearly six million residents in the North West were yesterday told to meet other people outdoors and keep travel to a minimum to curb the spread of Covid’s Indian variant.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said restrictions currently in place in Bolton would be expanded across the rest of Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

People will be urged to avoid meeting others inside where possible, cut back on travel in and out of the region and maintain social distancing.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said restrictions currently in place in Bolton would be expanded across the rest of Greater Manchester and Lancashire

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said restrictions currently in place in Bolton would be expanded across the rest of Greater Manchester and Lancashire

The 22 councils in the region will be given military support to help with Covid testing and health chiefs will have the power to enforce mandatory face masks in secondary schools. Local leaders last night insisted the measures do not amount to a North West lockdown, but ‘guidance and advice’ for residents.

Although people in Greater Manchester and Lancashire have been told to minimise travel, they are still allowed to go on holiday. However, ministers are urging the 5.7million covered by the guidance to be cautious about social interaction in the face of high rates of the Indian variant.

Mr Hancock described the measures, which affect nearly one in ten of the UK population, as a ‘strengthened package of support’. He also admitted the Government faces a ‘challenging decision’ in working out whether ‘Freedom Day’ – the final step in lifting lockdown – can go ahead as planned on June 21.

He told the Commons: ‘We know that this approach can work. We’ve seen it work in south London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.

‘This is the next stage of tackling the pandemic in Manchester and Lancashire and, of course, it’s vital that people in these areas, as everywhere else, come forward and get the jab as soon as they are eligible because that is our way out of this pandemic together.’

He added: ‘We face a challenging decision ahead of June 21. These are difficult judgments.’

Mr Hancock also stressed that ‘conclusive data’ on the effectiveness of the vaccine against the Indian variant would not be available for at least two more weeks.

He said Public Health England officials were trying to determine the crucial figure which would show how effective the jabs were at reducing serious diseases and hospital admissions. He added: ‘It’s obviously an absolutely critical figure and I’ll report it to the House as soon as we have it.’

The areas affected by the measures – which cover ten council areas in Greater Manchester and 12 in Lancashire – all have particularly high cases of the Indian variant, which has since been renamed the Delta variant.

The 22 councils in the region will be given military support to help with Covid testing and health chiefs will have the power to enforce mandatory face masks in secondary schools

The 22 councils in the region will be given military support to help with Covid testing and health chiefs will have the power to enforce mandatory face masks in secondary schools

But Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham insisted the measures were guidance rather than a regional lockdown.

He said it was ‘very important to keep a sense of proportion’, adding: ‘This is guidance – it is advice to the public. It is not a lockdown. It is not a ban.

‘This is not about telling people to cancel their plans – it is about asking them to be careful in setting any new ones, to minimise non-essential travel.’

He urged ministers to release extra vaccine stocks, saying: ‘We are not asking for any more vaccine here than our fair share. What we are asking for is the bringing forward of Greater Manchester’s supplies so that we can run a surge vaccination programme over the next three weeks.’

Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: ‘We remain hopeful that with these measures in place Step Four of the roadmap on June 21 will go ahead.

‘However, we must not allow a disregard for the guidance now to affect those chances.

‘We must all continue to work as one to help prevent a surge of infections delaying our exit from this crisis – from those taking the time to discuss vaccine concerns with friends and family to the thousands of businesses who have worked hard to implement measures to aid the reduction in transmission.’


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button