Tuesday, March 2, 2021
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No 10 considers a tougher lockdown ‘with curfews, exercise limits, compulsory masks outside, no support bubbles and nurseries shut’ if Covid cases keep rising’ – amid suggestion ‘people may only be allowed to leave home ONCE a week’

  • The Cabinet Office refused to deny that the draconian new laws were incoming after UK’s streets were busy
  • They instead pointed to Matt Hancock’s vague statement on rules earlier today: ‘Follow the rules we’ve got’
  • Hancock refused to speculate when asked if harsher measures coming, such as curfews and closing nurseries
  • Whitehall source said potential changes included introducing ban on people leaving their homes more than once a week

Boris Johnson met cabinet colleagues last night to discuss an even-tougher lockdown with limits on exercise, compulsory mask-wearing outdoors and a ban on social bubbles all being considered by ministers, sources claim.

The Cabinet Office refused to deny that draconian new laws were coming – and instead pointed to Matt Hancock’s vague statement earlier today.

The Health Secretary refused to speculate when directly asked if harsher measures – including curfews and nursery closures – might be brought in, and instead said Britons should ‘follow the rules that we’ve got’.

One Whitehall source told MailOnline that the changes discussed today even included introducing a ban on people leaving their homes more than once a week. Under current rules, Britons can exercise with one other person or with their household or support bubble.

But a Government source said the rule is ‘being used as an excuse for people to go for a coffee in the park with their friends’ and could be tightened, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The UK announced a further 573 coronavirus deaths yesterday in the highest Sunday rise since April, and the third-deadliest Sunday of the entire pandemic as it emerged as many as one in five of all people in England may have had coronavirus, new modelling by Edge Health claims. It could be as high as one in two people in some areas of east London and Essex, the research says.

Infections also continue to be high, with 54,940 announced on Sunday – the thirteenth day in a row they have been above the 50,000 mark.

Crowds of people were seen flocking to beaches and town centres today despite Boris Johnson's pleas for families to stay at home as coronavirus hospital deaths hit 563 - the highest Sunday toll in eight months. Pictured: Visitors on Tynemouth Longsands beachCrowds of people were seen flocking to beaches and town centres today despite Boris Johnson’s pleas for families to stay at home as coronavirus hospital deaths hit 563 – the highest Sunday toll in eight months. Pictured: Visitors on Tynemouth Longsands beach

Big crowds were seen walking through Victoria Park in east London yesterday

Big crowds were seen walking through Victoria Park in east London yesterday

Boris Johnson (pictured) held a meeting to discuss an even-tougher lockdown with limits on exercise, compulsory mask-wearing outdoors and no more social bubbles all being floated by ministers, sources claimBoris Johnson (pictured) held a meeting to discuss an even-tougher lockdown with limits on exercise, compulsory mask-wearing outdoors and no more social bubbles all being floated by ministers, sources claim

The source said the two-person from 2-households ‘rule is there for exercise, for people’s mental health, particularly for older people who are not going to be going for a run to see someone’.

But many are using their ‘imaginations’ to make it what they want.

Their concerns came as hordes of people were seen flocking to beaches and town centres over the weekend – despite Boris Johnson’s pleas for families to stay at home and help control the mutant Covid variant spreading rapidly through the country.

Officials are also set to encourage shops and workplaces to improve on their social distancing.

Supermarkets will be a key focus of the Government’s latest push, with many worried that lax enforcement of the rules means shoppers are at risk.

Tougher punishment for rule breakers is also being considered.

A senior Government science advisor yesterday said it would become clear whether the current lockdown was lowering the spread of coronavirus cases – with deaths now above 80,000 – within a fortnight.

Professor Peter Horby, the chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), said: ‘If there’s any sign that they’re not then we’re going to have to be even stricter, I’m afraid.’

The UK announced a further 573 coronavirus deaths on Sunday, the highest Sunday figure since April.

Mr Hancock appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Programme yesterday morning, where he was asked about a range of measures that could be brought in.

Mr Marr asked: ‘Are you considering things like curfews, closing nurseries, ending some of those support bubbles, going back to only an hour of exercise outside and telling people in crowded outdoor spaces to wear masks? Are those the kind of things that you could consider if you don’t get this under control very quickly?’

But Mr Hancock replied: ‘Well, I don’t want to speculate, because the most important message is not whether the government will further strengthen the rules, the most important thing is that people stay at home and follow the rules that we’ve got. ‘

Professor Peter Horby, the chairman of virus advisory group NERVTAG, said: 'If there’s any sign that they’re not then we’re going to have to be even stricter, I’m afraid.'
Professor Peter Horby, the chairman of virus advisory group NERVTAG, said: ‘If there’s any sign that they’re not then we’re going to have to be even stricter, I’m afraid.’

Professor Horby told the same programme that the new variant discovered in Kent, that appears far more transmissible than older strains of Covid, has made the situation ‘more risky’.

Asked what being ‘even stricter’ meant in practice he said: ‘Well I think the principles haven’t changed. There’s no evidence that this virus is being transmitted in any different way, it’s just that people when they’ve got it have got more virus so every contact is more risky.

‘So the same principles apply. It’s about decreasing social contacts and if there are unavoidable social contacts then being as strict as you can about distance and facemasks and hand hygiene and ventilation, etcetera.’

Mr Marr asked: ‘So thinking back to March and the spring I can remember you could only go out for an hour for instance for any kind of exercise and there were much stricter rules about meeting other people. Are those are the kind of things we might see coming back if we don’t get this under control now?’

To which he said: ‘Yes, that’s right. You know we have seen in the past very strict measures do work and if the current measures aren’t strict enough then it’s clear what we have to do.’

Meanwhile Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned that lockdown rules may need to be made tougher if they do not arrest a surge in Covid cases – as he demanded nurseries be shut down immediately.

He attacked ‘mixed messages’ from ministers over the lockdown restrictions as he urged Boris Johnson to front daily press conferences until the lockdown is lifted.

The UK’s Covid death toll passed 80,000, after a further 1,035 deaths were recorded yesterday, increasing fears that the total will surpass 100,000 by the end of the month.

But appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Sir Keir said: ‘They are tough and they’re necessary. They may not be tough enough.

‘In a sense, I think the most important thing is people get that message about stay at home.

‘And it’s up to the Government to put that message out there the whole time. We’ve had mixed messages I’m afraid for the last nine months which is why we’ve got a problem.

‘I would like to see the Prime Minister out there every day with a press conference making sure that message is absolutely getting through.’

It comes as:

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the rollout of two million fast-result ‘lateral flow’ tests for anyone in England who needs to leave their home for work, in a bid to identify the estimated one in three asymptomatic ‘silent spreaders’;
  • Downing Street is expected to delay local elections from May until the autumn because of the disruption caused by the pandemic;
  • An expert study concluded there is no clear evidence that closing schools can reduce the spread of coronavirus, despite the Government’s claim on Tuesday that it had no choice but to shut the education system down;
  • Some state school heads were revealed to be blocking live online lessons on the grounds that it was an invasion of teachers’ privacy, as Tory MPs called on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to emulate Margaret Thatcher’s tough approach to striking miners in the 1980s in dealing with militant teaching unions;
  • Scientists advising the Government claimed that lockdown measures in England need to be more strict – with some calling for ‘Asian-style’ curbs – as current rules were ‘still allowing a lot of activity which is spreading the virus’;
  • But ‘Professor Lockdown‘ Neil Ferguson has said high infection rates and the UK’s mass vaccine rollout could see herd immunity against the coronavirus achieved before the end of the year – meaning a return to normal by autumn;
  • Tory MP Andrew Bridgen called on Derbyshire Police to rescind the £200 fines handed out to friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, who drove five miles to take a walk at a beauty spot;
  • British holidaymakers were warned that they face having to quarantine abroad for up to a fortnight if they fail a Covid test when they prepare to fly home;
  • Experts said travellers from South Africa are taking indirect flights to Britain to dodge the travel ban.

Hordes of visitors were spotted having a stroll on Tynemouth Longsands beach in North Tyneside. Car parks in the area were packed as families descended on the coastal beauty spot for a Sunday walk

Hordes of visitors were spotted having a stroll on Tynemouth Longsands beach in North Tyneside. Car parks in the area were packed as families descended on the coastal beauty spot for a Sunday walk

Flocks of people descended on to the beach in Tyneside. New Government guidelines dictate that daily exercise must be taken in one's local area - but it is unclear how far today's visitors traveled for a welcome breath of fresh air

Flocks of people descended on to the beach in Tyneside. New Government guidelines dictate that daily exercise must be taken in one’s local area – but it is unclear how far today’s visitors traveled for a welcome breath of fresh air

The Health Secretary refused to speculate when directly asked if measures like curfews, limits to time allows outside homes and making masks compulsory outdoors might be brought in.

The Health Secretary refused to speculate when directly asked if measures like curfews, limits to time allows outside homes and making masks compulsory outdoors might be brought in.

The Labour leader attacked 'mixed messages' from ministers over the lockdown restrictions as he urged Boris Johnson to front daily press conferences until the lockdown is lifted

The Labour leader attacked ‘mixed messages’ from ministers over the lockdown restrictions as he urged Boris Johnson to front daily press conferences until the lockdown is lifted

Sir Keir Starmer said nurseries 'probably should be closed', telling the BBC: 'I think there is a case for looking at nursery schools, we're talking to the scientists about that'

Sir Keir Starmer said nurseries ‘probably should be closed’, telling the BBC: ‘I think there is a case for looking at nursery schools, we’re talking to the scientists about that’

Priti Patel defended police as they began strict application of Covid rules that includes £200 fines and less tolerance for rule-breakers.

The Home Secretary warned that officers ‘will not hesitate’ to take action because the increasing number of new Covid-19 cases proved there was a need for ‘strong enforcement’ in cases where people were clearly breaking the rules.

Mr Hancock told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday more people were obeying the rules than in the November lockdown, but added: ‘Absolutely I’m going to back the police. The challenge here is that every flex can be fatal.

‘You might look at the rules and think ”well it doesn’t matter that much if I just do this or do that”, but these rules are not there as boundaries to be pushed, they’re the limit of what people should be doing.’

Asked about the prospect of tighter restrictions later on Marr he added: ‘I don’t want to speculate because the most important message is not whether the Government will further strengthen the rules.

‘The most important thing is that people stay at home and follow the rules that we have got.

‘And that, in terms of the scale of the impact on the cases, that is the most important thing we can do collectively as a society.’

Mr Hancock, who gave the interview from his own home via video link, added: ‘It is hard, it is not easy. But if you can do something from home and you don’t need to go outside of home to do it, then you should.

‘People need to not just follow the letter of the rules but follow the spirit as well and play their part.’

Sir Keir said nurseries ‘probably should be closed’. Primary and Secondary schools have been closed during the lockdown but pre-schools remain open for younger children.

He told the BBC: ‘I think there is a case for looking at nursery schools, we’re talking to the scientists about that.

‘I think people are surprised that primary schools were closed but nurseries aren’t.’

He added: ‘I think they probably should be closed, I do want to talk to the scientists about that.’

He said delivering on the vaccine programme targets was the best way of reopening schools.

Pictured: People queue for pancakes in Hampstead, North London despite London Mayor Sadiq Khan declaring a state of emergency in the capital due to a rapid rise in cases

Pictured: People queue for pancakes in Hampstead, North London despite London Mayor Sadiq Khan declaring a state of emergency in the capital due to a rapid rise in cases

But he said opening classrooms again did not need to be contingent on vaccinating teachers.

‘We’d have to look at all the criteria but the most important thing is that vaccination programme,’ he said.

‘It is very difficult to see how we can start lifting restrictions in any meaningful way until the vaccine programme, at least that first part of it is rolled-out successfully.’

Pressed on whether reopening was contingent on inoculating teachers, he added: ‘No, I don’t know that it necessarily is, although if that can happen that would be a good thing.

‘This argument that there are sectors where there is a very strong case for vaccination for obvious reasons, and I understand that and we are going to have that to accommodate that, quite frankly.

‘But at the moment, we do need to focus on those who are most likely to go into hospital and tragically to die.’

So much for staying at home! Crowds of people head to beaches and town centres despite Boris Johnson begging families to stay at home as Covid deaths hit 563 – the deadliest Sunday in eight months

By DAVID WILCOCK and JEMMA CARR for MailOnline

Hordes of people were seen flocking to beaches and town centres yesterday despite Boris Johnson’s pleas for families to stay at home as Britain records 563 deaths – the highest Sunday toll in eight months.

Weekend walkers were spotted strolling along a packed Tynemouth Longsands beach in North Tyneside this afternoon, leaving carparks full to the brim.

New Government guidelines dictate that daily exercise must be taken in one’s local area – but it is unclear how far today’s visitors traveled for a welcome breath of fresh air.

On Merseyside, football fans packed together behind barriers to catch a glimpse of the players heading into the Marine AFC v Tottenham Hotspur match.  Many of the crowd were not socially distanced, despite police officers watching on.

Fans show their support with no social distancing as they wait outside the stadium as the Spurs team coach arrives

Fans take photographs in front of police officers as they wait outside Rosset Park stadium ahead of the Marine AFC v Tottenham Hotspur match today

Mounted police control the crowds outside Rossett Park stadium on Merseyside for the Emirates FA Cup third round match

In Liverpool, police were pictured looking on as football supporters who had gathered outside the Marine v Spurs FA Cup blatantly ignored social distancing rulesIn Liverpool, police were pictured looking on as football supporters who had gathered outside the Marine v Spurs FA Cup blatantly ignored social distancing rules
Police said the 'vast majorty' of those outside the stadium were adhering to social distancing measures and those who were not were advised by officers

Police said the ‘vast majorty’ of those outside the stadium were adhering to social distancing measures and those who were not were advised by officers

Superintendent Andy Rankine from Merseyside Police told MailOnline: 'Officers are in Crosby this afternoon ahead of Marine FC's FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur. A small gathering (pictured) took place ahead of the arrival of the team coaches, and road closures were put in place to facilitate this arrival safely'

Superintendent Andy Rankine from Merseyside Police told MailOnline: ‘Officers are in Crosby this afternoon ahead of Marine FC’s FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur. A small gathering (pictured) took place ahead of the arrival of the team coaches, and road closures were put in place to facilitate this arrival safely’

And Dovestones Reservoir in Oldham was ‘swamped’ with visitors, leaving drivers forced to park on the double yellow lines landing them with fines.

Photos shared to social media showed a traffic officer slapping yellow notices on a number of cars parked on the side of the road.

And in London masses of people were seen taking to Hampstead high street.

Long queues of people wrapped up warm were seen coming from food stalls and cafes in the area.

Meanwhile in Derbyshire, mountain rescue had to save a group of plane-crash enthusiasts who got stuck in deep snow on a five-hour walk.

The group – all from Manchester – broke lockdown to hunt for the B-29 crash site in Bleaklow Moor when one member became too tired to carry on.

And in Prestatyn, Wales, police stopped a learner driver who’d driven an uninsured car 60 miles from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, to go to the beach in North Wales.

Under the current rules in England, people must not leave their home unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ – which includes exercise.

Citizens are allowed to exercise with one other person or with their household or support bubble, but not outside their local area.

It is unclear whether everyone who flocked to Britain’s countryside hotspots live locally or had to drive from afar.

Dovestones Reservoir in Oldham was 'swamped' with visitors as drivers were slapped with fines for parking on double yellow lines as they flocked to see the beauty-spotDovestones Reservoir in Oldham was ‘swamped’ with visitors as drivers were slapped with fines for parking on double yellow lines as they flocked to see the beauty-spot

Car parks near the beach in Tyneside were at full capacity - although it is unclear whether all visitors were from the local area

And in London, masses of people were seen taking to Hampstead high street. Long queues of people wrapped up warm were seen coming from food stalls and cafes in the area

And in London, masses of people were seen taking to Hampstead high street. Long queues of people wrapped up warm were seen coming from food stalls and cafes in the area

People queue up for crepes in freezing temperatures on Hampstead high street
People queue up for crepes in freezing temperatures on Hampstead high street 

It was also revealed police arrested a 19-year-old for planning to hold a suspected unlicensed music event.

The teenager advertised a ‘Bristol Freerave’ on social media at an undisclosed location.   He has since been released under investigation.

Avon and Somerset police said 38 fixed penalty notices for breaches of Covid regulations were issued, while around 30 minors were given advice by officers.

A further arrest was made in connection with a drink driving offence and a vehicle was seized for having no insurance.

A police officer talks to a man sitting on a bench in Hyde Park

A police officer talks to a man sitting on a bench in Hyde Park 

Police speak to people who had been seated on a bench in Hyde Park

Police speak to people who had been seated on a bench in Hyde Park  

A policeman cycles through Hyde Park as people take their daily exercise

A policeman cycles through Hyde Park as people take their daily exercise 

Police officers talk to a cyclist in Greenwich on Sunday

Priti Patel today defended police as they began strict application of Covid rules that includes £200 fines and less tolerance for rule-breakers.

The Home Secretary warned that officers ‘will not hesitate’ to take action because the increasing number of new Covid-19 cases proved there was a need for ‘strong enforcement’ in cases where people were clearly breaking the rules.

Police tactics have come in for scrutiny after Derbyshire Police handed out £200 fines to two women who drove separately to go for a walk at a remote beauty spot situated around five miles from their homes.

It comes as footage emerged showing three police officers surrounding a woman for allegedly leaving her house more than once in a day.

Forces across England have urged people to stay home and avoid travelling as they continue to fine Covid rule-breakers.

Ms Patel said: ‘Our police officers are working tirelessly to keep us safe. Not only are they continuing to take criminals off our streets, but they are also playing a crucial role in controlling the spread of the virus.

‘The vast majority of the public have supported this huge national effort and followed the rules.

‘But the tragic number of new cases and deaths this week shows there is still a need for strong enforcement where people are clearly breaking these rules to ensure we safeguard our country’s recovery from this deadly virus.

People in Hampstead queue outside a cafe while taking their daily allowance for exercise

‘Enforcing these rules saves lives. It is as simple as that. Officers will continue to engage with the public across the country and will not hesitate to take action when necessary.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday more people were obeying the rules than in the November lockdown, but added: ‘Absolutely I’m going to back the police. The challenge here is that every flex can be fatal.

‘You might look at the rules and think ”well it doesn’t matter that much if I just do this or do that”, but these rules are not there as boundaries to be pushed, they’re the limit of what people should be doing.

Police on Horseback in Hyde Park in central London today amid a police clampdown on lockdown rule breakers that could see them fined up to £200

Police on Horseback in Hyde Park in central London today amid a police clampdown on lockdown rule breakers that could see them fined up to £200

Lots of people in Hampstead, north London, decided to take exercise and shop for essential items at the same time

Lots of people in Hampstead, north London, decided to take exercise and shop for essential items at the same time

In North Tyneside car parks were jammed and huge queues formed outside cafes selling takeaway hot drinks.

One local resident said: ‘It’s crazy. I can’t believe how busy it is. It’s actually busier than usual.

‘These people are putting themselves and their families at risk by being here.

‘The Government’s message is clear. You should act like you have the virus.

‘I saw a police van earlier, but it just drove along the seafront, it didn’t stop.

‘There doesn’t seem to be any enforcement of the rules at all.’

The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s new guidance, issued on Wednesday according to the Sunday Telegraph, said: ‘Officers should continue to engage members of the public and explain changes. If necessary they should offer encouragement to comply.

‘However if the individual or group does not respond appropriately, then enforcement can follow without repeated attempts to encourage people to comply with the law.

‘We police by consent. The initial police response should be to encourage voluntary compliance.’

The previous guidance from December 9, said: ‘We police by consent. The initial police response should be to encourage voluntary compliance.’

A Home Office source told the Telegraph police are set to ‘move through the gears’, warning: ‘We are going to see more rapid movement to enforcement.

‘Over 1,000 people died yesterday. It is important that everyone sticks to the rules. The rules have been around for long enough.

‘If there was a gunman who killed 1,000 people yesterday running around the country and the Government said “stay at home” everyone would say “OK I’ll do that, I won’t go for a coffee with some friends and walk around the park”.’

In Liverpool, police were pictured looking on as football supporters who had gathered outside the Marine v Spurs FA Cup blatantly ignored social distancing rules.

Football fans were packed behind barriers outside the Rossett Park stadium in Crosby to catch a glimpse of players in the Marine AFC v Tottenham Hotspur match on Sunday.

MailOnline asked Merseyside Police if any action had been taken for breaches of Covid laws.

A spokesman said it was ‘factually incorrect’ to describe the crowds as ‘huge’, adding police were there ‘as a planned response to manage road closures, public safety and coach arrivals as well’.

‘It isn’t a simple case of clearing an area of people,’ he said.

Superintendent Andy Rankine from Merseyside Police told MailOnline: ‘Officers are in Crosby this afternoon ahead of Marine FC’s FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur.

‘A small gathering took place ahead of the arrival of the team coaches, and road closures were put in place to facilitate this arrival safely.

‘The vast majority of people present were adhering to social distancing measures and those who were not were advised by officers.

‘As we have done throughout this pandemic, we will always strive to encourage people to disperse and go home peacefully.

‘But where we face blatant breaches of legislation, people ignoring the restrictions and even obstructing police from carrying out their duty, our officers will not hesitate to take enforcement action.

‘Those attending have now left the area and we hope everyone enjoys the occasion safely at home.’

Police in Wales have blasted ‘selfish Covid rule-breakers’ who are ‘blatantly’ defying the law and wasting police time.

Their criticism came after more than 100 cars were turned away from Moel Famau – on the border between Flintshire and England – by Saturday lunchtime.

A Wales police and crime commissioner vowed to clamp down on rule breakers – and focus on ‘enforcement’ rather than engagement.

North Wales Police’s rural crime team wrote: ‘Another day wasted dealing with Covid rule breakers. So frustrating that we have to deal with these people who simply don’t care whilst the vast majority of us do the right thing and stay at home We are seeing people from England and various areas of Wales… so selfish.’

The force said people were arrested overnight and taken to custody for failing to provide their details for breaching Covid restrictions.

Superintendent Nick Evans said: ‘Wales is under Alert Level 4 restrictions and infections are dangerously high. Our teams will therefore continue to target those who are blatantly breaching the rules, placing others at risk and putting further demand on our over-stretched NHS.

‘Level 4 restrictions state that exercise should start and finish from home and that nobody should be travelling unless essential.

‘The restrictions are in place to prevent the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. They apply to every single one of us and it’s disappointing to think that some do not believe the restrictions apply to them.

‘The restrictions are all about nudging back the infection rate, so rule breaking, however small, could cost the life of yours or someone else’s loved one. ‘

On Friday, two people had to be rescued by the North East Wales Search and Rescue team after becoming ‘disorientated’ in severe weather conditions during a walk up Moel Famau.

The pair had gone for a walk from home but they raised the alarm by phoning the policing after losing their bearings as conditions deteriorated rapidly due to snow and poor visibility.

Welsh rules allow for fixed penalty notices to be issued ranging from £60 to £10,000. But the region’s police and crime commissioner

Welsh police and crime commissioner Arfon Jones said it is time for a tougher approach. He said: ‘I would like to commend most people for behaving responsibly at this difficult time but those who choose not to can expect to be held to account.

‘Unfortunately, there are far too many selfish people who are flouting the guidelines and they are turbo-charging the spread of this deadly virus.

‘Their actions are totally irresponsible and life-threatening. If they have no regard for their own health, they should think of their loved ones.

‘It is now time to forget the mantra of engage, encourage and educate and focus on enforcement so we can clamp down on the Covid rule breakers and prevent this reckless behaviour. The stay home and stay safe message is all more important because the new mutant strain of Covid-19 is even more infectious.

‘This has inevitably ramped up the threat of community transmission, with 70 per cent of cases in north Wales linked to the new variant. As a consequence, the people of north Wales are at risk like never before.’

A National Police Chiefs Council spokesman said: ‘We’ve been guiding officers since October to move more quickly to issuing a fine where people are clearly breaching Covid regulations and not listening to encouragement.

‘This approach continues in this dangerous stage of the pandemic. There is no specific rule on the number of warnings officers should give – officers continue to use their judgement.’

Elsewhere key workers became some of the first to be vaccinated against coronavirus at a mass vaccine hub in Newcastle as the government ramps up distribution of the jabs in the hope of ending lockdown by spring.

It comes after Boris Johnson pledged to vaccinate hundreds of thousands people per day by Friday with the aim of giving 13million the jab before Easter, allowing lockdown restrictions to be significantly loosened.

The mass vaccination hubs – located in Newcastle, Manchester, London, Stevenage, Surrey, Bristol and Birmingham – can treat up to four people per minute and will work alongside GP surgeries and other facilities to try and hit the Prime Minister’s ambitious target.

The crackdown comes amid calls from scientists for even stricter restrictions, while No10 pushes an intimidating new ad campaign to try and arrest the spiralling number of coronavirus cases across the country.

In a hard-hitting article in the Sunday Times England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty blasted coronavirus rulebreakers for being the ‘link in a chain’ that will allow the deadly virus to infect a and kill the elderly and vulnerable.

‘We must stay home except for work, exercise and necessary activities. Every unneccesary interaction you have could be the link in the chain of transmission which has a vulnerable person at the end,’ he wrote.

The country has two weeks before hospitals are likely to be completely overwhelmed, Prof Whitty added, as the nation is plunged into the ‘most dangerous situation’ in living history.

 While former WHO director Anthony Costello said Britain must go into an ‘Asia-style’ lockdown now with nurseries and places of worship closed, hotels commandeered as isolation centres and masks worn in every public space, experts have warned.

 On Friday, Derbyshire Police faced criticism for taking the lockdown crackdown too far after officers swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot.

As a result, the ‘intimidating’ force is reviewing its Covid operations after getting clarification about the rules, with West Mercia Police also mocked for threatening to fine people £200 for playing in the snow.

Nevertheless, the message from Government sources this week is that police should be focusing more on enforcing rather than explaining rules, now nearly 10 months since the very first restrictions came into effect.

In Lincoln, police yesterday fined a man from Chesterfield who it emerged had set a personal goal to try and visit every football ground in the country, despite clear stay-at-home rules.

The driver was pulled over by officers on Friday, close to the cathedral, after a system check revealed the vehicle was registered to an address outside of Lincolnshire.

But when asked what he was doing, police were left bewildered by his response.

Sgt Mike Templeman wrote on Twitter: ‘The vehicle was stopped as it was registered in Chesterfield.

‘The driver stated he was having a road trip to football grounds around the country.

‘You simply couldn’t make it up. Covid-19 penalty ticket issued along with the strongest words of advice.’

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has appeared in adverts urging us to stay at home as the new variant of the virus rips across the country.

Two terrifying new posters also show a patient dying in hospital and a healthcare worker wearing full PPE, warning Britons: ‘If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’

In Lincoln, police fined a man from Chesterfield who it emerged had set a personal goal to try and visit every football ground in the country, despite clear stay-at-home rulesIn Lincoln, police fined a man from Chesterfield who it emerged had set a personal goal to try and visit every football ground in the country, despite clear stay-at-home rules

Three police officers wearing face masks question a man sitting on a bench in St James's Park in central London this morning

Three police officers wearing face masks question a man sitting on a bench in St James’s Park in central London this morning

All car parks in Snowdonia National Park have now been closed to visitors. Pictured is a police car patrolling the beauty spot last night

Police and Covid marshals patrol the seafront in Bournemouth this morning to spot any people breaking the rulesPolice and Covid marshals patrol the seafront in Bournemouth this morning to spot any people breaking the rules 

One MailOnline reader sent a picture of these taped off benches in Ely, Cambridgeshire, claiming they are not allowed to be used because of the pandemic

The race to vaccinate the UK out of lockdown: Everything you need to know as the first ‘super-vax’ centres – capable of inoculating up to 3,000 a day – prepare to open their doors

The UK’s vaccination programme will take a major step forward tomorrow as the first ‘super-vax’ centres, capable of inoculating up to 3,000 people a day, open their doors.

Already 1.5million people have been vaccinated, mostly with the Pfizer jab. Now the mass rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine heralds a blitz of inoculations.

With more than 1,300 people dying each day, and the pandemic raging across the country, health workers are locked in a race to protect as many vulnerable people from the deadly virus as quickly as possible.

And with a huge acceleration planned this week, tomorrow could mark the start of a fightback that finally suppresses Covid-19 and, eventually, allows our lives to return to normal.

 THE SPRING OFFENSIVE

After the plan to inoculate the 15 million most vulnerable people by February 15, the UK’s vaccination programme will target the remaining groups who are most at risk of dying from the virus.

NHS bosses hope this second cohort of more than 16 million people will receive the jab by Easter. If so, it will mean that between 90 and 99 per cent of those at risk of dying from Covid-19 will have been protected. The rest of the population – those under 50 – will then be vaccinated.

Those in the second cohort who will receive the jab during the Spring Offensive are:

  • All people aged 65 and over (3.4 million)
  • All individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  • Everyone aged 60 and over (3.7 million)
  • Anybody aged 55 years and over (4.3 million)
  • All aged 50 years and over (4.7 million)

HOW THE TARGET WILL BE MET

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) has set the target of offering vaccination to the UK’s 15 million most vulnerable people by February 15. So far, almost 1.5million have received the vaccine

Boris Johnson has set the hugely ambitious target of offering vaccination to the UK’s 15 million most vulnerable people by February 15 – in 36 days.

The latest figures, from Thursday, show the NHS had administered 1,468,000 vaccinations over 30 days, or 48,933 daily.

The PM has vowed that this will rise to more than 200,000 a day by Friday.

But to hit his 15 million target, the daily rate needs to be almost 347,000. Every day this is missed, the daily requirement goes up.

WHO IS FIRST IN LINE FOR THE JABS?

Those due to receive the jab in the next five weeks include: Care home residents, frontline NHS and social care workers, those aged 70-plus and those considered to be ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.

Of those who have died of Covid-19, 88 per cent are in these groups, All 420,000 elderly social care residents in England and Wales are at the front of the queue and should receive their vaccination by January 31.

One in four people aged over 80 have received at least one dose.

THE STORY SO FAR 

On December 8, Margaret Keenan, then 90, pictured, became the first person in the world outside clinical trials to be given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Within a fortnight, an estimated 500,000 people had been given the jab, and the UK has ordered a total of 40 million doses.

Margaret Keenan, then 90, pictured, became the first person in the world outside clinical trials to be given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 8

Last Monday, Brian Pinker, 82, became the first patient to receive the ‘game-changing’ vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which can be kept in a fridge. The UK has 100 million doses on order.

Another 17 million doses of the newly approved Moderna vaccine are expected in the spring.

The UK has outstripped the EU: Four times as many people have been vaccinated here than in Germany, and 300 times more than in France.

 

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