Cabinet at war over the rule of six

Cabinet at war over the rule of six: Almost every minister on Boris Johnson’s Covid committee argued against the stringent limit – and even the PM himself was ‘cautious’- but Matt Hancock got his way

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a fierce Conservative backlash over the contentious ‘rule of six’ 
  • String of senior ministers opposed the measure at a meeting, with Rishi Sunak among those to speak out
  • Cabinet source said rule of six was opposed by every member of strategy committee apart from Hancock

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Boris Johnson‘s Covid clampdown has divided his Cabinet, it emerged last night.

He faces a fierce Tory backlash over the contentious ‘rule of six’ that bans gatherings of seven or more from Monday.

A string of senior ministers opposed the measure at a crunch meeting, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak among those to speak out.

A Cabinet source said the rule of six was opposed by every member of the Prime Minister’s coronavirus strategy committee on Tuesday apart from Matt Hancock. The Health Secretary is said to have driven the decision, supported by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

‘Everyone apart from Hancock wanted to set the limit on groups at eight or more,’ the source said.

‘Even the PM was initially cautious about taking the limit all the way down to six. The majority view was that this level of social distancing will have a huge impact on people’s lives and the economy. But Hancock got his way.’

Announcing the crackdown on Wednesday, Mr Johnson insisted it was needed to keep virus cases under control even though it ‘broke his heart’ to keep families apart.

Boris Johnson's Covid clampdown has divided his Cabinet, it has emerged. He faces a fierce Tory backlash over the contentious 'rule of six' that bans gatherings of seven or more from Monday

Boris Johnson’s Covid clampdown has divided his Cabinet, it has emerged. He faces a fierce Tory backlash over the contentious ‘rule of six’ that bans gatherings of seven or more from Monday

A string of senior ministers opposed the measure at a crunch meeting, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak among those to speak out

Mr Sunak is said to have pushed for the limit to be at least eight and Business Secretary Alok Sharma is thought to have argued for a higher figure

Rishi Sunak is said to have pushed for the limit to be at least eight and Business Secretary Alok Sharma is thought to have argued for a higher figure

Coronavirus hospital admissions could start to rise in the UK in three weeks, data from other European countries suggests. When Spain, France and Belgium hit 18 cases per 100,000 (which the UK did on Sunday) they then saw admissions increase by up to four-fold

Coronavirus hospital admissions could start to rise in the UK in three weeks, data from other European countries suggests. When Spain, France and Belgium hit 18 cases per 100,000 (which the UK did on Sunday) they then saw admissions increase by up to four-fold

Theresa May leads Tory backlash over airport testing farce: Former Prime Minister wants end to ‘dragging feet’ 

Theresa May yesterday led a Tory backlash over the failure to introduce virus tests at airports.

The former prime minister said Britain is ‘lagging behind’ the rest of the world and accused No10 of ‘dragging its feet’ on plans to reopen the skies and save the economy.

Her intervention came as British Airways announced plans to cut 60 per cent of flights until Christmas, blaming the disastrous 14-day quarantine rules.

And in another crippling blow, the International Air Transport Association warned Britain is set to lose its ‘coveted’ position as the third-biggest global aviation market unless immediate action is taken on testing.

IATA chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: ‘820,000 jobs will be vaporised by quarantine and they may never come back. The answer is a Covid-19 testing regime that manages the risk to keep people safe from the virus. And it will avoid apocalyptic unemployment that is sure to devastate society and the economy.’

As Tory anger erupted in a Commons debate on aviation, Mrs May told MPs: ‘I’m certain testing has to be the way forward in the foreseeable future, but at the moment airports aren’t even permitted to trial tests on passengers. Far from leading the world, the UK is lagging behind.’

She added: ‘So my message is to No 10, it’s to the Department for Business, it’s to the Treasury and it’s to the Department of Health and it’s a very simple one – if you want to get the economy moving, get planes flying again.

‘Stop the UK dragging its feet, let’s lead the world and set the standard to restore world travel and world trade.’ 

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Downing Street last night denied the Prime Minister had been steered into the decision by Mr Hancock and the scientific advisers. ‘The PM wasn’t talked round by anyone,’ said an insider.

But multiple sources confirmed that ministers on the high-powered committee had disagreed about how far to cut the 30-person legal limit on gatherings. ‘I wouldn’t characterise it as a row, but it’s fair to say there was a vigorous debate,’ said one.

Mr Sunak is said to have pushed for the limit to be at least eight and Business Secretary Alok Sharma is thought to have argued for a higher figure. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is also said to have raised concerns. A source close to Michael Gove denied claims that he wanted the limit at eight.

The clampdown row came as:

  • Mr Hancock faced a backlash over his ‘Moonshot’ mass testing strategy which scientists said was fundamentally flawed;
  • Tens of thousands of British tourists faced a race to escape Portugal after the country was returned to the quarantine list;
  • Theresa May led a Tory revolt over the failure to introduce coronavirus tests at airports, saying Britain was ‘lagging behind’ the rest of the world;
  • NHS figures showed that more than 2.1million patients have been waiting 18 weeks or more for operations or other procedures – the most in 12 years.
  • Birmingham was braced for a local lockdown as early as today;
  • Data suggested there had been no significant rise in the numbers returning to the office since June;
  • MPs urged the Chancellor to extend the coronavirus furlough scheme for certain industries; 
  • A major Lancet study said Britons had become increasingly likely to refuse a coronavirus vaccine;
  • Care homes announced they were closing to visitors just weeks after families were finally allowed to see their relatives.

The rule of six has angered MPs, alarmed business and put hopes of a traditional family Christmas on hold. It replaces a raft of complex guidelines and laws which police said were impossible to enforce. The new rule means groups of more than six people can be broken up by police, who will have the power to hand out £100 fines.

The law applies indoors and outdoors, including in private homes. Only workplaces, schools and a small number of events such as weddings and funerals are exempt.

The coronavirus committee’s membership comprises the Prime Minister, Mr Sunak, Dominic Raab, Mr Gove, Mr Hancock, Mr Sharma, and Priti Patel. Mr Shapps also attended the meeting on Tuesday

Grant Shapps also attended the meeting on Tuesday

The coronavirus committee’s membership comprises the Prime Minister, Mr Sunak, Dominic Raab, Mr Gove, Mr Hancock, Mr Sharma, and Priti Patel. Grant Shapps also attended the meeting on Tuesday

The data presented at the press conference show that cases are still low relative to some other European countries - but emphasised the impact of higher testing among the younger generation

The data presented at the press conference show that cases are still low relative to some other European countries – but emphasised the impact of higher testing among the younger generation

Slides presented at the press conference tonight show that younger people are driving the increase in Covid cases

The weekly incidence per 100,000 people

Slides presented at the press conference last show that young adults are driving the increase in Covid cases – but the incidence among young children and the older generation remains very low

The rate of infection per 100,000 people in the UK has remained very low among younger children, despite rising among teenagers and young adults

The rate of infection per 100,000 people in the UK has remained very low among younger children, despite rising among teenagers and young adults 

Although cases have risen, the positive test rate - how many people test positive out of all those tested - has not reached levels seen during the pandemic. This gives an indication that some cases are due to more focused testing in hotspots

Although cases have risen, the positive test rate – how many people test positive out of all those tested – has not reached levels seen during the pandemic. This gives an indication that some cases are due to more focused testing in hotspots

At the same time, cases in over 80 year olds have dropped drastically since the height of the pandemic, when they made up the majority of Covid-19 cases, and have halved since July. Infections have stayed stable among those in their 60s and 70s, while very slightly increasing in those between the ages of 40 to 59 years old

At the same time, cases in over 80 year olds have dropped drastically since the height of the pandemic, when they made up the majority of Covid-19 cases, and have halved since July. Infections have stayed stable among those in their 60s and 70s, while very slightly increasing in those between the ages of 40 to 59 years old

Children are included in the rule, making most family get-togethers impossible. A source close to Mr Hancock last night said it was ‘wrong to say he was the main driver’ of the clampdown. An ally added: ‘He believes the worst thing you could do to the economy is let this virus get out of control again.’

The coronavirus committee’s membership comprises the Prime Minister, Mr Sunak, Dominic Raab, Mr Gove, Mr Hancock, Mr Sharma, and Priti Patel. Mr Shapps also attended the meeting on Tuesday.

A source close to Mr Sharma played down reports he had fought the rule of six, saying he accepted the decision. Treasury sources said the Chancellor supported the restriction. But both men are known to have repeatedly pushed for a faster reopening of the economy in a bid to head of the risk of an even deeper recession. 

Ministers fear that without tight restrictions now the epidemic could spiral out of control again.

A Government source said: ‘We are four weeks behind France. They didn’t take strong enough measures immediately and now they are screwed. We are not going to let that happen here.’

Tory MPs yesterday voiced their frustration over the setback to the recovery. Former minister Steve Baker said the ‘authoritarian reaction’ was disproportionate to the danger posed by a recent spike in Covid-19 cases.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 committee, accused ministers of acting arbitrarily and demanded young children be exempt.

Business also raised concerns. Mike Cherry of the Federation of Small Businesses said: ‘This fresh round of responsibilities will take time, money and manpower away from day to day business activity at an incredibly challenging time.’ 

Boris hit for six as Sturgeon swoops in to ‘save Xmas’

By Daniel Martin Policy Editor for the Daily Mail 

Boris Johnson’s ‘rule of six’ was savaged last night after Nicola Sturgeon made a bid to save Christmas north of the border by exempting children.

Tory MPs and business groups lined up to accuse the Prime Minister of a gross overreaction to the virus threat and disproportionate restrictions on family life.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced social gatherings of more than six would be banned by law. With the restrictions likely to last until Spring, it risks spoiling Christmas for millions of families.

Boris Johnson’s ‘rule of six’ was savaged last night after Nicola Sturgeon made a bid to save Christmas north of the border by exempting children

Boris Johnson’s ‘rule of six’ was savaged last night after Nicola Sturgeon made a bid to save Christmas north of the border by exempting children

Yesterday, business groups warned that the new rule – which takes effect from Monday – would hit profits and could seriously jeopardise the drive to get more people to return to the office. 

Coronavirus antibodies may only last a MONTH: Cells ‘decline significantly’ within just four WEEKS of hospital discharge, Chinese study finds 

Signs of immunity vanish quickly from seriously-ill coronavirus patients in less than a month after they are discharged from hospital, a study has found.

Researchers looking at antibodies – substances in the blood that develop immunity against the virus – have found they drop off sharply once a patient as recovered.

The finding is worrying news for hopes that people will become immune to Covid-19 after having it for the first time.

Most people who were sent home from hospital after having the disease did show signs of antibodies – suggesting their bodies had learned to protect themselves from the virus – but they were not strong.

Some 81 per cent of patients had the antibodies, the Chinese study found, but only a ‘small portion’ of them had any with the ability to neutralise – or kill – the virus.

Whether people become immune to Covid-19 after having it remains a mystery.

There are signs that the body learns to fend it off but also growing numbers of ‘credible’ cases where people get reinfected.

If the body cannot retain antibodies over the long-term it could mean that a vaccine may not offer permanent protection, as scientists and politicans around the world are hoping one will.

Scientists at Nanjing University Medical School in China monitored 19 non-severe and seven severely ill Covid-19 patients for a month and three weeks to determine the progression of their antibody response.

They found that the patients had a varying level of antibody responses, with only a ‘small portion’ developing a potent level of neutralisation activity. The scientists did not say exactly how many people had this.

The study indicates that three to four weeks after hospital discharge, the neutralising activity of antibodies from recovered patients declined significantly.

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Pub chiefs said the draconian rules could lead to a ‘cooling of confidence’ at a time when many were facing a struggle to break even. 

And Tory MPs warned Health Secretary Matt Hancock that the restrictions could end up being ‘worse than the disease itself’.

Even some scientists who backed the ‘rule of six’ suggested that younger children could have been safely exempted.

But anger was intensified after Miss Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, said she would exempt children under 12 from a similar law north of the border – because they are at lower risk of transmitting the disease.It means grandparents will be able to spend the festive season with their grandchildren in Scotland, but not in England.

People in Wales will also only be able to meet in groups of six or under indoors from Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford will confirm on Friday. The rule will not apply to children aged 11 and under and people will also still be able to meet up in groups of up to 30 outdoors, as long as they maintain social distancing.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful backbench 1922 committee, accused ministers of acting ‘arbitrarily’ by not holding a vote in Parliament before changing the rules. And he demanded that young children be exempt to prevent grandparents facing the ‘appalling choice’ of which grandchildren to spend Christmas with.

Fellow MP Steve Baker suggested voters may refuse to obey, saying: ‘Given the rules in Scotland, it becomes even more difficult to sustain the rules the Prime Minister has chosen in England. We have got to get out of this dystopian nightmare as soon as possible.’ But last night the Government was not backing down, with one source asking how the Scottish police would be able to differentiate between children aged 11 and 12.

In the Commons yesterday, Mr Hancock said the restrictions would not be kept in place ‘any longer than we have to’.

Sir Graham said England should follow Scotland’s example.

‘Exempting young children who are far less likely to catch the virus or spread it is a sensible mitigation and one which could have important benefits for families who are otherwise faced with appalling choices such as which set of grandchildren to see at Christmas,’ he said.

Tory MP David Jones said: ‘There is certainly an uptick [in cases]. But it is not an uptick across the country as a whole.

‘There are some parts of the country such as Devon, Dorset, where there is very little virus activity at all.’

Christopher Snowdon of the Institute for Economic Affairs said the Government had ‘over-reacted’. He added: ‘Local lockdowns or local restrictions are still the best way forward.’

Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: ‘The rule of six could knock consumer confidence and trust in public transport, which will have an impact on many firms.’

Mike Cherry, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘This fresh round of responsibilities will take time, money and manpower away from day to day business activity at an incredibly challenging time.’

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘This restriction comes at a delicate point in our pub recovery after a steady start this summer.’

Here we go again: British tourists face weekly mad scramble to get home by 4am Saturday as Portugal and Hungary are taken off quarantine exemption list… but no-lockdown Sweden is now ruled SAFE

Portugal and Hungary have today been removed from the quarantine exemption list, meaning holidaymakers must now rush home or face two-weeks in isolation. 

Those arriving in England from French Polynesia and Reunion must also self-isolate for 14-days from 4am on Saturday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.    

A travel corridor between Portugal and the UK had only been opened on August 22, but the popular holiday destination has now been removed after a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores are exempt from the new rule, under the Government’s plan to impose regional travel corridors.

Both Portugal and Hungary have seen daily cases rise above 20 per 100,000 people, figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show.  

Portugal and Hungary have today been removed from the quarantine exemption list, meaning holidaymakers must rush home or face a two-week quarantine. Pictured: The Algarve

Portugal and Hungary have today been removed from the quarantine exemption list, meaning holidaymakers must rush home or face a two-week quarantine. Pictured: The Algarve

Those arriving in England from two further countries must also now self-isolate for 14-days from 4am on Saturday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said. Pictured: Budapest

Those arriving in England from two further countries must also now self-isolate for 14-days from 4am on Saturday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said. Pictured: Budapest 

Portugal has seen a steady rise in cases since it was removed from the quarantine list three weeks ago, now reporting a total of 1,852 deaths amid 62,126 confirmed infections. 

It saw 646 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, the nation’s highest figure since April.         

Wales and Scotland had already imposed their own self-isolation rules on Portugal, with Nicola Sturgeon also recently mandating 14-day isolation for arrivals from Greece and Wales adding six Greek islands to its list.

Downing Street’s switch-up of the quarantine exemption list comes after Mr Shapps last week insisted there would be no changes to English travel corridors.   

Sources told MailOnline at the time that although Portugal was above the ‘trigger’ threshold for cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period, that appeared to be because they were carrying out more tests.

Portugal has seen a steady rise in cases since it was removed from the quarantine list on August 22, now reporting a total of 1,852 deaths amid 62,126 confirmed infections. Pictured: Arrivals at Heathrow

Portugal has seen a steady rise in cases since it was removed from the quarantine list on August 22, now reporting a total of 1,852 deaths amid 62,126 confirmed infections. Pictured: Arrivals at Heathrow

A travel corridor between Portugal and the UK had only been opened a few weeks ago, but the popular holiday destination has now been removed after a rise in coronavirus cases

A travel corridor between Portugal and the UK had only been opened a few weeks ago, but the popular holiday destination has now been removed after a rise in coronavirus cases

The Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores are exempt from the new rule, which also imposes two-week quarantines for those arriving in England from Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion

The Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores are exempt from the new rule, which also imposes two-week quarantines for those arriving in England from Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion

Just 34 fines issued for travel quarantine breaches, new figures show 

A total of 34 fines have been issued to travellers for breaching quarantine rules after arriving in the UK, new figures reveal.

Police forces have handed out 20 fixed penalty notices in England, while the Border Force has given out 14 across the UK up to September 7, according to the data released by the Home Office on Thursday.

The 14-day self-isolation policy for UK arrivals was introduced on June 8 for people returning to or visiting the UK from countries not on the exemption list.

In England, people can be fined £1,000 for failing to self-isolate and up to £3,200 for not providing accurate contact details.

Figures show 1,966,394 spot checks have been carried out on passengers to ensure they have filled out passenger locator forms, including contact details, passport number and address while in the country.

Public Health England (PHE) carries out further compliance checks on a random sample of travellers, resident in England and Northern Ireland, to check they are self-isolating.

The service has made a total of 149,579 calls and text messages – each person can be called up to three times on subsequent days and sent a text.

Successful contact, where the traveller has been spoken to or responded to a text, was made 66,773 times with 64,800 people confirming they were self-isolating.

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‘The rate of positives per test has actually gone down,’ one senior source said.

The Government also announced yesterday that Sweden has been added to the ‘safe’ travel list.

The new air bridge will come into force at 4am on September 12 after the Scandinavian nation saw a drop in cases – despite not enforcing a lockdown. 

Stockholm’s strategy of ‘herd immunity’ – once backed by Downing Street – to allow the disease to spread through the population, was criticised as reckless but new data increasingly vindicates the decision.

Sweden currently has 13 patients in intensive care, by comparison the United Kingdom has 843 patients in hospital, 80 of them on ventilators.

Furthermore, Sweden has had an average of just one death per day for the last 10, compared to 9.3 fatalities each day in the UK over the same period.

Announcing the changes on Twitter today, Mr Shapps said: ‘Data shows we need to remove PORTUGAL (minus the AZORES and MADEIRA), HUNGARY, FRENCH POLYNESIA and REUNION from the Travel Corridor list to keep everyone safe. 

‘If you arrive in England from these destinations after 4am Saturday, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.  

‘Through enhanced data we now have the capability to assess islands separate to their mainland countries. If you arrive in England from the AZORES or MADEIRA, you will NOT need to self-isolate for 14 days. 

‘This week, SWEDEN has been ADDED to the Travel Corridors list. If you arrive In England from Sweden, you will NOT need to self-isolate for 14 days.’  

Mr Shapps added that all travellers returning to the UK must now complete a Passenger Locator Form to ‘protect public health’ and ensure self-isolation rules. 

‘It is a criminal offence not to complete the form and spot checks will be taking place,’ he said.  

It comes after the Portuguese government today agreed tougher infection control restrictions against the coronavirus ahead of the start of the school year. 

Ministers agreed on new rules which will come into force next week, including limiting gatherings to 10 people rather than 20 previously – a cap already in force in the capital Lisbon since late June.

Downing Street also announced yesterday that Sweden has been added to the travel corridors list, after its seven-day case rate fell to 11.6 per 100,000 people. Pictured: Stockholm

Downing Street also announced yesterday that Sweden has been added to the travel corridors list, after its seven-day case rate fell to 11.6 per 100,000 people. Pictured: Stockholm

Sales of alcohol will also be banned from 8pm onwards alongside drinking in public places. Meanwhile, sporting venues will remain closed to fans ahead of the football championship kicking off next week.

‘We’ve been seeing a sustained rise in the number of new cases since the beginning of August,’ Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.

But most new cases were among asymptomatic people aged 20 to 39, Costa added.

He urged companies to allow for remote working or other infection control moves wherever possible. 

Ridiculous rule of 6 poses a real danger: Britain losing its faith in its leaders, writes Professor KAROL SIKORA

Commentary by Professor Karol Sikora for the Daily Mail 

KAROL SIKORA: It is illogical and merely invites ridicule and disobedience from an increasingly sceptical and weary public

KAROL SIKORA: It is illogical and merely invites ridicule and disobedience from an increasingly sceptical and weary public

Expert advisers have deep and very specific areas of knowledge, but can only offer a selective view of the facts – in this case a recent and modest rise in coronavirus infections in young people – to ministers.

The ultimate decision, based on a balanced assessment of the competing opinions, has to be a political one that convinces the public.

And I am afraid that the ‘Hands Face Space’ slogan, crowned with the Rule of Six – a ban on gatherings of more than six people indoors or outdoors – fails miserably on that count.

Of course it is much safer for 20 people to meet, socially-distanced, in a park than have six people gathered in a crowded living room – but the new restriction makes no provision for this.

It is illogical and merely invites ridicule and disobedience from an increasingly sceptical and weary public who are confused and disillusioned by repeated stop-start initiatives, be it testing or quarantine or a return to the workplace, over the past six months.

And certainly the latest gimmicks do nothing to address the fear factor that holds so many in its grip.

Yet what an opportunity Boris Johnson had to change the mood of the nation on Wednesday night as he addressed us from the Downing Street lectern.

First, he might have saluted school teachers for coming together to end the social isolation of millions of children and kick-start their education again.

This is a crucial step forward in safe-guarding the mental health of children whose short lives have been upended in 2020.

Next he should have urged university and college students to start the new term with optimism.

Then he should have acknowledged that uptick in infections (as you’d expect when people start to mingle again) in the healthy young who are largely invulnerable to coronavirus, while emphasising another critical statistic: last week ten times as many people died in England of flu and pneumonia as of Covid.

Fourthly – and I speak as a cancer specialist – I would have rejoiced to hear the Prime Minister acknowledge the tens of thousands of people out there who, because of the impact of Covid-19 on routine NHS screening programmes and the restrictions under which many GP surgeries are operating, are failing to seek diagnosis or treatment for worrying symptoms.

For be in no doubt, these are the next wave of Covid-19’s collateral damage.

What an opportunity Boris Johnson had to change the mood of the nation on Wednesday night as he addressed us from the Downing Street lectern

What an opportunity Boris Johnson had to change the mood of the nation on Wednesday night as he addressed us from the Downing Street lectern

I wish Mr Johnson had told the nation to cajole or bully our loved ones to demand to be seen by their GP, via Zoom if necessary – because that really will save lives.

I doubt that the Rule of Six will make any material difference to the reinfection rate, but one thing is absolutely certain. Thousands more people will die in the coming months and years because of undiagnosed cancers, cardiac disorders and other treatable conditions than will succumb directly to Covid-19.

And the lack of urgency – acknowledgement – surrounding this growing crisis makes me truly despair.

The rationale of the initial lockdown was to ‘Protect the NHS’. Well, the NHS coped fine, essentially by shutting itself down to all but Covid admissions, A&E, and maternity care.

But we ignored the human health cost of this, and it will be very high indeed.

Basic modelling predicts at least 30,000 extra cancer deaths as a result of the hobbling of the UK’s diagnostic services. Take prostate cancer: as the Mail reported this week, referrals have halved since lockdown began.

As for routine bread and butter operations, it will take years for the NHS to recover, if ever. Waiting times for knee and hip replacements are the longest in 12 years, with 2.15million patients on the lists.

The trends are even more terrifying in cardiac care. Figures suggest a nearly 50 per cent drop in the number of heart attacks in the UK in the first three months of the shutdown.

This would be a jaw-dropping figure if it were true, but unfortunately it is not. What it really means is that thousands of people who suffered symptoms of a heart attack at the milder end of the spectrum were too scared to go to hospital for treatment.

If you are not treated for a mild heart attack, you might convince yourself you’ve recovered, but your heart muscles will have been weakened. You are much more likely to suffer gradual heart failure and sudden death in the next couple of years.

Psychologically, the fundamental problem with the Rule of Six is that it reverses the tide towards the return to normality which, as a nation, we desperately have to cling to.

Worst of all, it undermines any effort to get people back to work, particularly via public transport. Any sensible person will wonder how it can be safe to get on a busy bus or train if it is deemed dangerous to gather their extended family in their own home.

And as for the ‘moonshot’ mass population testing plan, well I wish I could get excited about it.

There is one obvious problem here. Even if it can be achieved, testing on this level will throw up hundreds of thousands of false positive results, which would require those people, plus all their contacts, to self-quarantine. This is impractical, and will not happen.

I worry that Boris and his ministers and advisers have squandered so much political capital with policy shifts, U-turns, meaningless slogans and gimmicks that the nation – and especially young people – are beginning to dismiss everything they hear.

People will even stop obeying the sensible rules, like handwashing, wearing a mask in public and keeping a distance. I am currently on holiday in North Wales and I noticed when I went out for curry last night that an implausible number of people had registered under the name of Smith in the restaurant’s test and trace book.

This open defiance, I suspect, will become the norm, and the plan to employ Covid Marshals to enforce restrictions will, I fear, bring the authorities into further ridicule.

This Government has been very successful in the business of spreading fear about Covid, but in not much else.

What people desperately need now is belief that things can, and will, get back to a state of being that they recognise. Above all, they crave that most human of emotion – a sense of hope.

Karol Sikora is professor of medicine at University of Buckingham Medical School and Chief Medical Officer at Rutherford Health.

What’s the rate of coronavirus cases in your area? 

The rate of coronavirus cases in local areas across England has been revealed in official data.

It places Bolton at the top, with a rate of 131.1 per 100,000 after it recorded 377 new cases in a week, followed by Bradford, with 78.4 after seeing 423 new cases, and Birmingham, with 77.1 after it recorded a further 880 additional cases.

As many as 110 local authority areas recorded an infection rate above 20 cases per 100,000 in the past week, the level at which the Government starts considering travel restrictions for foreign countries.

But at least 200 have rates below 20 per 100,000, yet will still be subject to the Government’s draconian restrictions.

And, when the data is broken down by postcode, 75 per cent of areas have a coronavirus infection rate below 20 per 100,000. 

Below is a list of local areas by rate of cases per 100,000.

Local areas with a rate above 20 per 100,000

The rate of new cases in the seven days to September 6th and the number (in brackets); and rate of new cases in the seven days to August 30th, and the number (in brackets).

Bolton 131.1 (377), 72.0 (207)

Bradford 78.4 (423), 52.8 (285)

Birmingham 77.1 (880), 31.2 (356)

Tameside 72.0 (163), 38.9 (88)

Preston 71.3 (102), 37.0 (53)

Salford 70.7 (183), 40.6 (105)

Sunderland 69.1 (192), 8.6 (24)

Blackburn with Darwen 66.8 (100), 50.8 (76)

Manchester 64.9 (359), 43.8 (242)

Rochdale 63.4 (141), 44.1 (98)

Bury 62.3 (119), 27.8 (53)

Burnley 61.9 (55), 38.2 (34)

Hyndburn 61.7 (50), 21.0 (17)

Leeds 61.7 (489), 33.3 (264)

Solihull 59.6 (129), 9.7 (21)

Oldham 58.2 (138), 64.9 (154)

Leicester 56.7 (201), 26.0 (92)

Wirral 55.6 (180), 30.2 (98)

Pendle 55.4 (51), 77.1 (71)

Gateshead 54.4 (110), 17.8 (36)

South Tyneside 54.3 (82), 46.4 (70)

Blaby 52.2 (53), 14.8 (15)

Hertsmere 51.5 (54), 32.4 (34)

Oadby and Wigston 50.9 (29), 12.3 (7)

Liverpool 50.2 (250), 17.3 (86)

Hartlepool 50.2 (47), 16.0 (15)

Warrington 49.0 (103), 13.8 (29)

Middlesbrough 47.5 (67), 28.4 (40)

Selby 46.3 (42), 6.6 (6)

Corby 45.7 (33), 54.0 (39)

Newcastle upon Tyne 44.9 (136), 17.2 (52)

Knowsley 43.1 (65), 11.3 (17)

St. Helens 42.1 (76), 6.6 (12)

Calderdale 41.6 (88), 21.8 (46)

Kirklees 40.0 (176), 28.7 (126)

Lincoln 39.3 (39), 9.1 (9)

Sandwell 38.1 (125), 27.4 (90)

Rossendale 37.8 (27), 65.8 (47)

Wolverhampton 37.2 (98), 13.3 (35)

Broxtowe 36.8 (42), 14.9 (17)

Scarborough 34.9 (38), 3.7 (4)

North Tyneside 33.7 (70), 10.6 (22)

West Lancashire 33.2 (38), 7.0 (8)

Kensington and Chelsea 32.7 (51), 28.8 (45)

Harrogate 32.3 (52), 10.6 (17)

Sheffield 32.3 (189), 20.9 (122)

Sefton 32.2 (89), 16.6 (46)

Wigan 31.9 (105), 13.1 (43)

Northampton 31.6 (71), 20.0 (45)

South Ribble 31.6 (35), 8.1 (9)

Trafford 31.2 (74), 39.2 (93)

Spelthorne 31.0 (31), 16.0 (16)

Havering 30.8 (80), 15.8 (41)

Barnsley 30.8 (76), 8.5 (21)

Redbridge 30.5 (93), 12.1 (37)

County Durham 30.0 (159), 12.3 (65)

Worthing 29.8 (33), 7.2 (8)

Nottingham 29.1 (97), 10.2 (34)

Barking and Dagenham 29.1 (62), 13.2 (28)

Newham 28.9 (102), 13.3 (47)

Hounslow 28.0 (76), 13.6 (37)

Halton 27.8 (36), 7.7 (10)

Stoke-on-Trent 27.7 (71), 15.2 (39)

Stockport 27.6 (81), 10.9 (32)

Melton 27.3 (14), 0.0 (0)

Redcar and Cleveland 27.0 (37), 22.6 (31)

Watford 26.9 (26), 22.8 (22)

Barrow-in-Furness 26.8 (18), 0.0 (0)

East Staffordshire 26.7 (32), 23.4 (28)

Malvern Hills 26.7 (21), 2.5 (2)

Rugby 26.6 (29), 7.3 (8)

Kettering 26.5 (27), 33.4 (34)

Hammersmith and Fulham 26.5 (49), 22.7 (42)

Coventry 26.4 (98), 17.5 (65)

Mansfield 25.6 (28), 6.4 (7)

Tower Hamlets 25.6 (83), 15.1 (49)

Bromsgrove 25.0 (25), 8.0 (8)

Barnet 25.0 (99), 16.7 (66)

Peterborough 24.7 (50), 21.3 (43)

North Somerset 24.6 (53), 11.2 (24)

Harrow 24.3 (61), 21.5 (54)

Test Valley 23.8 (30), 11.1 (14)

High Peak 23.7 (22), 14.0 (13)

Luton 23.5 (50), 10.3 (22)

Rotherham 23.4 (62), 11.3 (30)

Wakefield 23.3 (81), 11.8 (41)

South Staffordshire 23.1 (26), 2.7 (3)

Walsall 23.1 (66), 10.2 (29)

Oxford 23.0 (35), 9.2 (14)

Craven 22.8 (13), 1.8 (1)

Lambeth 22.7 (74), 17.2 (56)

Elmbridge 22.7 (31), 14.6 (20)

Newcastle-under-Lyme 22.4 (29), 21.6 (28)

Cheshire East 22.4 (86), 10.9 (42)

Stockton-on-Tees 22.3 (44), 14.7 (29)

Uttlesford 21.9 (20), 8.8 (8)

Haringey 21.6 (58), 12.3 (33)

Dudley 21.5 (69), 10.9 (35)

North Kesteven 21.4 (25), 5.1 (6)

Islington 21.0 (51), 11.1 (27)

Rushcliffe 21.0 (25), 14.3 (17)

Blackpool 20.8 (29), 7.9 (11)

Slough 20.7 (31), 11.4 (17)

New Forest 20.5 (37), 6.1 (11)

Enfield 20.4 (68), 11.7 (39)

Westminster 20.3 (53), 15.3 (40)

Harborough 20.3 (19), 19.2 (18)

Ealing 20.2 (69), 12.6 (43)

East Northamptonshire 20.1 (19), 12.7 (12)

Wychavon 20.1 (26), 5.4 (7)

 

Local areas with a rate below 20 per 100,000

The rate of new cases in the seven days to September 6th and the number (in brackets); and rate of new cases in the seven days to August 30th, and the number (in brackets). 

Hillingdon 19.9 (61), 11.1 (34)

Northumberland 19.8 (64), 9.0 (29)

Chiltern 19.8 (19), 17.7 (17)

Stafford 19.7 (27), 5.8 (8)

St Albans 19.5 (29), 12.1 (18)

Chorley 19.5 (23), 7.6 (9)

Wandsworth 19.4 (64), 19.4 (64)

Windsor and Maidenhead 19.2 (29), 13.9 (21)

Wellingborough 18.8 (15), 8.8 (7)

Ashfield 18.8 (24), 4.7 (6)

Cheshire West and Chester 18.7 (64), 7.9 (27)

Epsom and Ewell 18.6 (15), 13.6 (11)

Reading 18.5 (30), 13.0 (21)

Southwark 18.5 (59), 11.3 (36)

North Warwickshire 18.4 (12), 3.1 (2)

Staffordshire Moorlands 18.3 (18), 6.1 (6)

Hackney and City of London 18.2 (53), 18.2 (53)

Three Rivers 18.2 (17), 10.7 (10)

Bracknell Forest 18.0 (22), 6.5 (8)

Woking 17.9 (18), 6.0 (6)

Wyre 17.8 (20), 4.5 (5)

Charnwood 17.8 (33), 5.4 (10)

South Derbyshire 17.7 (19), 7.5 (8)

Brent 17.6 (58), 14.6 (48)

Croydon 17.3 (67), 10.6 (41)

North Hertfordshire 17.2 (23), 4.5 (6)

Wiltshire 17.2 (86), 3.6 (18)

Richmond upon Thames 17.2 (34), 15.2 (30)

Great Yarmouth 17.1 (17), 36.2 (36)

Bristol 17.0 (79), 9.9 (46)

Tunbridge Wells 16.8 (20), 7.6 (9)

Waverley 16.6 (21), 16.6 (21)

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 16.4 (65), 6.3 (25)

Lewisham 16.3 (50), 7.5 (23)

Welwyn Hatfield 16.3 (20), 22.8 (28)

Bath and North East Somerset 16.0 (31), 7.8 (15)

Swale 16.0 (24), 6.7 (10)

Stevenage 15.9 (14), 10.2 (9)

North East Derbyshire 15.8 (16), 5.9 (6)

West Lindsey 15.7 (15), 3.1 (3)

Surrey Heath 15.7 (14), 7.8 (7)

Tamworth 15.6 (12), 27.4 (21)

Brentwood 15.6 (12), 15.6 (12)

Castle Point 15.5 (14), 14.4 (13)

Reigate and Banstead 15.5 (23), 10.8 (16)

Bromley 15.3 (51), 9.0 (30)

South Lakeland 15.2 (16), 1.9 (2)

Brentwood 15.6 (12), 15.6 (12)

Castle Point 15.5 (14), 14.4 (13)

Reigate and Banstead 15.5 (23), 10.8 (16)

Bromley 15.3 (51), 9.0 (30)

South Lakeland 15.2 (16), 1.9 (2)

Cambridge 15.2 (19), 16.0 (20)

Bolsover 14.9 (12), 12.4 (10)

Wycombe 14.9 (26), 23.5 (41)

Ribble Valley 14.8 (9), 21.4 (13)

Kingston upon Thames 14.6 (26), 13.5 (24)

Runnymede 14.5 (13), 6.7 (6)

West Suffolk 14.5 (26), 6.1 (11)

West Oxfordshire 14.5 (16), 9.9 (11)

Waltham Forest 14.4 (40), 15.5 (43)

Bedford 14.4 (25), 16.7 (29)

Swindon 14.4 (32), 20.3 (45)

Broxbourne 14.4 (14), 11.3 (11)

Derby 14.4 (37), 7.8 (20)

Lichfield 14.3 (15), 13.4 (14)

South Bucks 14.3 (10), 12.8 (9)

Chichester 14.0 (17), 1.7 (2)

Basildon 13.9 (26), 9.1 (17)

Newark and Sherwood 13.9 (17), 7.4 (9)

Arun 13.7 (22), 3.7 (6)

Bassetlaw 13.6 (16), 6.0 (7)

Fylde 13.6 (11), 5.0 (4)

Tandridge 13.6 (12), 9.1 (8)

Gedling 13.6 (16), 9.3 (11)

Dover 13.5 (16), 3.4 (4)

North West Leicestershire 13.5 (14), 5.8 (6)

York 13.3 (28), 8.1 (17)

Vale of White Horse 13.2 (18), 14.7 (20)

Darlington 13.1 (14), 10.3 (11)

Stratford-on-Avon 13.1 (17), 6.9 (9)

Norwich 12.8 (18), 16.4 (23)

Daventry 12.8 (11), 7.0 (6)

South Oxfordshire 12.7 (18), 4.9 (7)

South Kesteven 12.6 (18), 5.6 (8)

Camden 12.6 (34), 14.1 (38)

Merton 12.6 (26), 6.8 (14)

Mid Sussex 12.6 (19), 12.6 (19)

Warwick 12.5 (18), 6.3 (9)

Chesterfield 12.4 (13), 1.0 (1)

Wealden 12.4 (20), 6.2 (10)

Lancaster 12.3 (18), 2.7 (4)

Dacorum 12.3 (19), 20.7 (32)

Telford and Wrekin 12.2 (22), 3.3 (6)

Epping Forest 12.1 (16), 19.7 (26)

Erewash 12.1 (14), 6.1 (7)

Guildford 12.1 (18), 8.7 (13)

Brighton and Hove 12.0 (35), 9.6 (28)

Milton Keynes 11.9 (32), 7.1 (19)

Plymouth 11.8 (31), 13.4 (35)

South Northamptonshire 11.6 (11), 8.5 (8)

Sutton 11.6 (24), 6.3 (13)

Sevenoaks 11.6 (14), 9.1 (11)

South Gloucestershire 11.6 (33), 9.1 (26)

Hinckley and Bosworth 11.5 (13), 10.6 (12)

Thurrock 11.5 (20), 5.2 (9)

East Hampshire 11.4 (14), 12.3 (15)

Herefordshire 11.4 (22), 2.6 (5)

Eden 11.3 (6), 5.6 (3)

Allerdale 11.3 (11), 8.2 (8)

Greenwich 11.1 (32), 12.5 (36)

Carlisle 11.0 (12), 8.3 (9)

East Devon 10.9 (16), 7.5 (11)

Southend-on-Sea 10.9 (20), 11.5 (21)

Cannock Chase 10.9 (11), 2.0 (2)

Adur 10.9 (7), 4.7 (3)

Worcester 10.9 (11), 8.9 (9)

Ryedale 10.8 (6), 5.4 (3)

Hastings 10.8 (10), 15.1 (14)

Nuneaton and Bedworth 10.8 (14), 4.6 (6)

Eastbourne 10.6 (11), 6.7 (7)

East Riding of Yorkshire 10.6 (36), 4.1 (14)

North Lincolnshire 10.4 (18), 7.5 (13)

Mendip 10.4 (12), 5.2 (6)

Cheltenham 10.3 (12), 12.9 (15)

Dorset 10.3 (39), 2.4 (9)

Doncaster 10.3 (32), 3.2 (10)

Shropshire 10.2 (33), 7.7 (25)

Chelmsford 10.1 (18), 9.0 (16)

Cherwell 10.0 (15), 4.7 (7)

Wokingham 9.9 (17), 8.2 (14)

Lewes 9.7 (10), 5.8 (6)

Rushmoor 9.5 (9), 4.2 (4)

West Berkshire 9.5 (15), 6.9 (11)

Fareham 9.5 (11), 5.2 (6)

Redditch 9.4 (8), 17.6 (15)

Amber Valley 9.4 (12), 0.8 (1)

Gravesham 9.4 (10), 15.0 (16)

Portsmouth 9.3 (20), 7.4 (16)

Gloucester 9.3 (12), 8.5 (11)

South Hams 9.2 (8), 11.5 (10)

Mole Valley 9.2 (8), 14.9 (13)

Horsham 9.0 (13), 4.2 (6)

South Somerset 8.9 (15), 5.3 (9)

Folkestone and Hythe 8.8 (10), 5.3 (6)

Torbay 8.8 (12), 2.9 (4)

Maidstone 8.7 (15), 1.2 (2)

Babergh 8.7 (8), 7.6 (7)

Central Bedfordshire 8.7 (25), 7.6 (22)

Breckland 8.6 (12), 32.9 (46)

Hull 8.5 (22), 3.5 (9)

Bexley 8.5 (21), 12.9 (32)

Exeter 8.4 (11), 6.8 (9)

Rother 8.3 (8), 1.0 (1)

North Devon 8.2 (8), 4.1 (4)

South Cambridgeshire 8.2 (13), 7.5 (12)

East Hertfordshire 8.0 (12), 13.4 (20)

Wyre Forest 7.9 (8), 9.9 (10)

Hambleton 7.6 (7), 13.1 (12)

North East Lincolnshire 7.5 (12), 3.1 (5)

Richmondshire 7.4 (4), 3.7 (2)

Torridge 7.3 (5), 0.0 (0)

Ipswich 7.3 (10), 3.7 (5)

Canterbury 7.3 (12), 3.0 (5)

Hart 7.2 (7), 6.2 (6)

Somerset West and Taunton 7.1 (11), 0.6 (1)

East Lindsey 7.1 (10), 2.8 (4)

Derbyshire Dales 6.9 (5), 12.4 (9)

Medway 6.8 (19), 3.6 (10)

Cotswold 6.7 (6), 4.5 (4)

Aylesbury Vale 6.5 (13), 5.0 (10)

Sedgemoor 6.5 (8), 4.9 (6)

South Norfolk 6.4 (9), 10.6 (15)

Southampton 6.3 (16), 7.9 (20)

Basingstoke and Deane 6.2 (11), 5.1 (9)

Mid Devon 6.1 (5), 7.3 (6)

Eastleigh 6.0 (8), 3.0 (4)

Stroud 5.8 (7), 4.2 (5)

Mid Suffolk 5.8 (6), 9.6 (10)

Forest of Dean 5.8 (5), 3.5 (3)

Rochford 5.7 (5), 3.4 (3)

East Suffolk 5.6 (14), 3.6 (9)

Winchester 5.6 (7), 17.6 (22)

Crawley 5.3 (6), 7.1 (8)

Tonbridge and Malling 5.3 (7), 1.5 (2)

Teignbridge 5.2 (7), 3.0 (4)

Colchester 5.1 (10), 5.6 (11)

Rutland 5.0 (2), 15.0 (6)

Isle of Wight 4.9 (7), 2.1 (3)

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 4.7 (27), 1.9 (11)

Maldon 4.6 (3), 4.6 (3)

Broadland 4.6 (6), 3.1 (4)

Dartford 4.4 (5), 8.0 (9)

Boston 4.3 (3), 5.7 (4)

Tewkesbury 4.2 (4), 9.5 (9)

King’s Lynn and West Norfolk 4.0 (6), 2.6 (4)

Braintree 3.9 (6), 3.3 (5)

Ashford 3.8 (5), 1.5 (2)

West Devon 3.6 (2), 0.0 (0)

Gosport 3.5 (3), 2.4 (2)

Harlow 3.4 (3), 4.6 (4)

South Holland 3.2 (3), 1.1 (1)

Copeland 2.9 (2), 5.9 (4)

Thanet 2.8 (4), 8.5 (12)

Huntingdonshire 2.8 (5), 5.6 (10)

Havant 2.4 (3), 2.4 (3)

Tendring 2.0 (3), 2.0 (3)

Fenland 2.0 (2), 2.0 (2)

North Norfolk 1.9 (2), 1.0 (1)

East Cambridgeshire 1.1 (1), 3.3 (3)

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