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2020-09-14T19:20:00.000Z

New Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey says respecting the rule of law has never been more precious due to the pandemic

Sir Ed said: “If we are to beat this dreadful virus people need to obey the law, even when some of the emergency Covid laws are amongst the most draconian the British people have faced for centuries.

“So the rule of law has never been more precious to the health of our nation. And yet this Prime Minister has chosen this moment to trash the rule of law.

“This House must stop him, tonight.”

2020-09-14T19:05:44.000Z

People should report their neighbours to the police if they breach the new “rule of six” coronavirus restrictions, a Home Office minister said

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse suggested that people should ring the non-emergency 101 number if they have concerns that the laws are being breached.

Any social gathering of more than six people in England is against the law, with people facing fines of up to £3,200 if they do not abide by the new measure, which applies to both indoor and outdoor settings.

Mr Malthouse said if people saw “that kind of thing” they should consider calling the police.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are in discussions about what reporting mechanisms there might be, but there is obviously the non-emergency number that people can ring and report issues they wish to.”

Pressed on whether that would involve reporting a gathering of seven or more in a neighbour’s garden, Mr Malthouse said: “It is open to neighbours to do exactly that through the non-emergency number, and if they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing, then absolutely they should think about it.”

2020-09-14T18:51:42.060Z

Six people arrested as police break up 405 house parties across Scotland at the weekend in alleged breaches of coronavirus regulations

Just one fixed penalty noticed was issued following the incidents between Friday and Sunday with police giving advice while dispersing party-goers.

Two officers were allegedly assaulted at one such incident in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, with the windows of two police cars also smashed at around 5.35am on Sunday.

After the incident two men aged 47 were arrested and expected to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday. Elsewhere, a 21-year-old man was arrested and charged for allegedly obstructing officers as they responded to another reported house party at a tower block in Muirhouse, Motherwell, at around 11.30pm on Friday.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: “The figures from this weekend show that we will use the powers we have to disperse parties which breach the regulations and will enforce where necessary.

“We will not tolerate blatant disregard for the legislation which is there to help stop the spread of the virus. I’m extremely disappointed to learn that two officers were allegedly assaulted while responding to a party in Edinburgh.

“Our officers find themselves dealing with situations on a daily basis to protect the people and communities we serve, and are trained to a high level to deal with violent and confrontational situations. However, being assaulted is not simply part of the job and it cannot be tolerated.

“The Chief Constable made it clear that assaults against officers and staff is utterly unacceptable in his public pledge made to tackle this last month.”

2020-09-14T18:25:00.000Z

Stricter lockdown restrictions which have been imposed on the Greater Glasgow area will continue for another week, the Scottish Government has announced

The measures on meetings in indoor household settings will remain in place across seven regions until the next review on Tuesday September 22 after being recommended by the National Incident Management Team chaired by Public Health Scotland.

Originally the tougher restrictions were put in place in the Glasgow City Council area as well as West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire.

Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in west central Scotland meant they were later extended to Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and North and South Lanarkshire.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “clearly regrettable that these restrictions need to continue”.

She added: “I understand that this will not be welcome news for people living in these areas but given the continued worrying increase in cases we continue to see, we must act to get more control over the virus in these areas.

“But while cases remain on the rise, early indications show these measures are working.

“I would ask everyone in the affected areas to continue being extra vigilant, to follow all guidance and to isolate and book a test if they have any symptoms. Do not lose ground now.”

2020-09-14T18:15:00.000Z

Government’s chief scientific adviser claims he received a “telling off” from other senior officials after calling for lockdown restrictions earlier in the pandemic

In an email obtained by the BBC, Sir Patrick Vallance said he “argued stronger than anyone for action for lockdown”.

His message, sent in May, claimed this prompted a rebuke from chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and then cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.

A full lockdown was introduced on March 23, but some scientists have since argued that more lives could have been saved if restrictions had been imposed earlier.

The Government has insisted there was “no delay” to lockdown, with its actions being “guided by the advice of world-renowned scientists”.

According to the minutes of a March 16 meeting of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), scientists said there was “clear evidence to support additional social distancing measures be introduced as soon as possible”.

2020-09-14T17:50:00.000Z

Council chiefs in Bolton urge the Government to treat “major flaws” with the online booking system for Covid-19 tests as “a matter of the utmost priority”

A number of residents in the borough, which has the highest infection rate in England, have complained of long delays in trying to book a test and then in some cases being offered appointments in other areas of the UK.

Conservative leader of the council, Councillor David Greenhalgh, said: “We completely understand how frustrating it is for people who are finding it difficult to book a test. This is an unacceptable situation, and myself and senior officers have escalated the issue to the highest levels.

“In our experience, there are major flaws with the online booking system but this is a nationally run site which is not locally run and is out of our control.

“We as a local authority have done everything asked of us. Our teams have been working hard to increase testing capacity in Bolton – two new test centres have opened in the borough and a third is due to open this week. And yet we know these two new sites are currently operating below capacity, and our own residents cannot access a local test.

“This is unacceptable and it needs to get sorted and the issues resolved, and I urge Government to treat this as a matter of the utmost priority.”

2020-09-14T17:20:57.990Z

No new coronavirus deaths reported in Ireland

Another 208 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team said. Of these, 108 were in Dublin.

2020-09-14T17:15:59.000Z

Cafe owner puts up a poster saying customers wearing masks would be banned from entering his premises

Michael Schneider, who runs the J Voke Vintage Tearoom in Chichester, West Sussex, says masks are a “government muzzle” which have no effect in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

The sign – entitled Con-A-Virus Notice Government Muzzles! – says: “Masks offer you ‘NO PROTECTION’ against a ‘VIRUS’. Will a chain link fence protect you against a mosquito? Well, will it?”

It also says that consenting to Government demands by wearing a mask will lead to “suppressing your immune system”, “reducing your oxygen intake”, “raising your cortisol level (stress hormone)”, “breathing back in your own carbon dioxide and bacteria (that your body is trying to expel)”.

It adds: “Turn off your Television and engage your brain before you spend the rest of your lives living on your knees… OWNED BY THE STATE!

“The reason you’re being ordered to stand two metres apart and wear a muzzle is nothing to do with a virus… it’s Applied Behavioural Psychology to ‘CONTROL YOU’.”

A notice on the floor says: “Stand here until you realise your government is brainwashing you! (You may be here sometime).”

2020-09-14T17:00:00.000Z

Arlene Foster urges Stormont political colleagues to “wise up” and end hostile briefings about coronavirus

Health Minister Robin Swann said he enjoyed the full support of Northern Ireland’s First Minister and Deputy First Minister in a concerted approach to slowing the spread of infection.

He dismissed senior Democratic Unionist Sammy Wilson’s claim that the DUP leader had reined in health department “technocrats” who wanted to impose more severe restrictions in limited areas with high virus rates.

Mrs Foster told the Stormont Assembly: “Everybody should wise up. We are dealing with huge issues in the Executive.”

She said the country had reached a tipping point in the battle against Covid-19.

“People should stop briefing against each other. We are supposed to be in a five-party coalition dealing with all of these issues and that is what I hope we do moving forward.”

On Thursday, ministers resolved to introduce localised limitations on people socialising in Belfast, Ballymena and other areas with high infection rates.

2020-09-14T16:21:40.286Z

Yorkshire university says it will be taking a “softly, softly” approach to enforcing the so-called rule of six

Students at the University of Hull have been moving on to the Cottingham Road campus over a four-day period and attending events – virtually and in person – as part of “WelcomeFest”.

Academics assured the new intake this will be “a year we will never forget for all the right reasons”, despite coronavirus restrictions.

The university said it will take a “blended” approach to teaching, with many lectures online, and students are being asked to attend some events on campus within their household bubbles. But it said it would not take a hard-line approach to anyone breaching the rule of six.

A spokeswoman said: “I think we would take a softly, softly approach, we would deal with noise from parties on campus, we would take each situation as it comes and then think about what the measure would be, what measures would be appropriate in each.

“We’re not taking a hard-line approach of fining students. We feel that the students we’ve talked to already are quite cautious themselves.”

2020-09-14T15:33:02.546Z

The number of pupils who have to self-isolate could increase and more schools may have to close as winter approaches, says a head teachers’ union

Downing Street says 99 per cent of schools in England have reopened this month, with only a “very small” number remaining closed due to coronavirus outbreaks.

But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said disruption to pupils’ education could worsen in the months to come.

Schools have been hit with Covid-19 cases since pupils returned to class over the past fortnight. Some have closed their doors days after reopening, while others have told whole classes and year groups to self-isolate for two weeks following confirmed cases.

Heads are facing a “very difficult situation” because of Covid-19 transmission in the community, a “lack of sufficient capacity” in the testing system, and difficulties in getting timely advice from health teams, Mr Barton said.

He added: “While only a small number of schools have had to close because of outbreaks, we are regularly hearing reports of groups of pupils and staff having to self-isolate in response to positive cases.

“The concern is that this disruption will worsen as winter approaches. It is essential that the Government improves the capacity of the testing system, and ensures that local health protection teams have the resources they need to provide prompt advice to schools.”

2020-09-14T15:17:21.500Z

UK coronavirus death toll rises by nine

Public Health England said that as of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 2,621 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. Overall, 371,125 cases have been confirmed.

PHE also said a further nine people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday. This brings the UK total to 41,637.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,400 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

An issue with Microsoft’s Azure cloud service meant the dashboard could not be updated, PHE added.

2020-09-14T15:15:00.000Z

More than half of coronavirus breach fines are unpaid

More than half of the 19,171 fines issued for alleged breaches of Covid-19 laws in England and Wales have not been paid, according to the Attorney General.

In a letter to the Justice Committee, Suella Braverman revealed just 8,930 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) – 7,375 in England and 1,555 in Wales – have been paid.

Figures published in the letter, dated August 25, show 8,954 FPNs – 8,325 in England and 629 in Wales – have not been paid in time and can be considered for prosecution.

Another 1,287 unpaid FPNs are still within the 28-day payment period.

Police were given powers to fine people for breaching coronavirus restrictions from March 27. Criminal proceedings can be initiated against people who fail to pay tickets they have accepted within 28 days, or immediately where the FPN is not accepted.

2020-09-14T15:00:00.000Z

Bolton firm of solicitors closes after it was linked to 18 cases of coronavirus

Accident Injury Solicitors, on Blackburn Road, was ordered to close immediately on Friday by environmental health officers and will remain shut until improvements have been made, a spokesman for Bolton Council said.

Family members of employees at the business had contacted the authority to report that staff were not being informed of Covid-19 cases in the workplace and were being forced to work alongside others who had tested positive, the spokesman said.

An investigation by the council and Public Health England (PHE) revealed 18 cases linked to the firm and when officers visited they found seating arrangements were not far enough apart and cleaning arrangements were unsatisfactory.

Bolton was made subject to tighter restrictions last week as it recorded the highest number of cases in the country.

The council’s cabinet member for environment regulatory services Councillor Hilary Fairclough, said: “The restrictions are clear – and in the case of this firm we had no choice but to take action.

“The firm clearly showed a disregard for the health of their staff and the wider community. We are indebted to members of the public for letting us know about these unsafe practices. I urge anyone who has concerns about their place of work, or any business, to let us know so we can investigate.

“This council takes a zero-tolerance approach to those flouting the Covid-19 rules.

2020-09-14T14:46:07.190Z

Further support for mortgage borrowers struggling financially due to coronavirus

Mortgage borrowers who continue to face payment difficulties due to the impact of coronavirus will be able to get further support tailored to their needs in the coming months, the City regulator has confirmed.

Current guidance, which will expire after October 31, allows mortgage holders to ask lenders for payment holidays if they are struggling to meet their regular payments due to their finances being temporarily affected by Covid-19.

On Monday, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published additional guidance for firms so they can target those most in need with help which will be based on individual circumstances.

Some customers may still be facing payment problems, while others may be struggling for the first time.

Depending on a customer’s circumstances, this could mean short or longer-term support.