Permits will be needed to enter Kent

The COVID Diaries – 172 23rd September

Lorry drivers will need access permits to enter Kent as the government tries to stop Brexit border chaos, it has been revealed.

Michael Gove said officers will use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras and “other means” to block drivers – in what will be seen as an “internal border” in the UK.

The move would try to ensure “constituents are not inconvenienced”, he told MPs, after warning of 7,000-long lorry queues and two-day delays to cross the Channel.

New Restrictions Announced

The COVID Diaries – 171    22nd September

New measures announced in England today will probably stay in place for six months:

• Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 22:00 BST

• They will also be restricted to table service only

• People should work from home wherever possible

• Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters

• Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15

• Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused • “Rule of six” now applies to indoor team sports

• Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence

There has also been a U-turn on advice from the government about working from home. In July, the prime minister said people should “start to go back to work now if you can” and last month a campaign was launched to encourage people back to the workplace. Today the advice is to work at home if your job doesn’t require you to be in the office.

Virus is “high or rising exponentially”

The COVID Diaries 170 – 21st September

The alert level for Covid-19 in the United Kingdom has been raised to four, meaning the virus is “high or rising exponentially” and prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to introduce significant new restrictions to stem the surge of the virus.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the change “reflects the significant shift in the current threat posed by coronavirus”. He added: “This country now faces a tipping point in its response and it is vital everybody plays their part now to stop the spread of the virus and protect lives.”

The prime minister is expected to formally announce the new measures in the House of Commons on Tuesday. They could include a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and a police clampdown on venues that do not enforce social distancing.

Covid-19 cases continue to rise

The COVID Diares – 169 20th September

The Guardian reports:

“There have been a further 3,899 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UKU, according to government data.

, according to government data.

“A total of 394,257 cases have been confirmed.

“Government figures show a further 18 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Sunday. This brings UK toll to 41,777.

“Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,500 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

“UK cases have risen dramatically in recent weeks, with the prime minister describing it as a ‘second wave’ and London likely to be next in line for stricter lockdown measures.”

England faces new curbs

The COVID Diaries – 168 19th September

Prof Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to Britain’s coronavirus lockdown earlier this year, has said new restrictions will be needed in England “sooner rather than later” if the government is to prevent infections surging again.

Prof Neil Ferguson says the country faces a “perfect storm” after controls were eased over summer.

It is understood that Boris Johnson is preparing to impose nationwide measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 and is considering options including closing pubs and restaurants, or imposing 10pm curfews, and a nationwide ban on friends and separate households socialising.

Number of coronavirus cases doubled

The COVD Diaries – 167 18th September

The number of Coronavirus cases has almost doubled in England in the space of a week, with infections becoming more widespread across all ages, leading one expert to say a second wave has begun.

Almost 60,000 people are thought to have had the virus from 4 to 10 September 2020 – one in every 900 people – with about 6,000 new cases per day, according to the Office of National Statistics survey of randomly selected people in the community.

Testing system barely functional

The COVID Diaries – 166 17th September

The UK’s supposedly world beating coronavirus test and trace system was condemned as “barely functional” today as it failed to deal with demand running at four times its capacity and 90% of tests failed to hit the 24-hour turnaround target.

It appears that tracers are taking up to two weeks to contact friends, relatives and workmates of people diagnosed with Covid-19 – the entire length of the self-isolation period.

However, Dido Harding, head of the NHS test-and-trace programme told MPs “I strongly refute that the system is failing.”  

Trump talks of “herd mentality”

The COVID Diaries – 165 16th September

Last night, Donald Trump took questions directly from uncommitted American voters at a televised “town hall” type event, in an experiment his campaign might not be in a hurry to repeat.

Some regarded the event as a train-wreck performance for Trump, while Trump himself claimed the next day on Twitter that he had won “great reviews”.

Perhaps the worst problem for Trump were his multiple visible descents into confusion on stage, such as when he described how “herd mentality” could defeat the coronavirus – when he seemed to mean “herd immunity”.

Testing crisis

The COVD Diaries – 164 15th September

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that Britain’s testing crisis could take weeks to resolve, as it emerged that Covid tests from hospitals are being deployed for use in the community to plug holes in the system.

In response to increasing anger about the difficulty in getting tests, even for sick people with Covid symptoms – Hancock told parliament there were “operational challenges”.

Schools will grind to a halt

The COVID Diaries – 163 14th September

The government has been warned that schools in England will grind to a halt this autumn because of difficulties in obtaining coronavirus tests when staff and students are forced to stay home following a suspected case.

Thousands of headteachers have written to the education secretary warning of “partial rolling closures” of schools and disruption to pupils’ catch-up studies, because of serious staff shortages just days into the new term.

In some cases, staff have been unable to find any test slots available for days or have been offered tests at sites more than 100 miles away. When they do get a test, it can take days for results to come through.