Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
8 October 2020
A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.
- Coronavirus restrictions are to be further tightened in parts of England early next week, with the closure of bars and restaurants a possibility, according to leaked reports. There could also be a ban on overnight stays away from home in some areas. A final decision on the time period or extent of potential closures has not yet been made, but the Government is also likely to introduce a three-tier system for local lockdowns . Under the system, different parts of the country would be placed in different categories – although Ministers are still discussing the precise details of the toughest level of restrictions over the next couple of days. A formal announcement is not likely to come until Monday.
- The planned tightening of restrictions in parts of England follows rising infection rates across much of the country, and as medical leaders warned the NHS was at risk of becoming overwhelmed. Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle Upon Tyne have the highest infection rates in the country. A Government source told the BBC the situation in the north-west and north-east of England was “very troubling”, with growing numbers of hospital admissions and more elderly people in intensive care.
- All pubs and restaurants across central Scotland are to be closed under new measures aimed at tackling a surge in coronavirus cases. The new rules will apply to licensed premises across the central belt, and Pubs and restaurants will be able to open in other parts of Scotland – but can only serve alcohol outdoors. The new rules, which will be in force from 18:00 on Friday until 25 October, apply to about 3.4 million people. They cover people living in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian and Ayrshire and Arran health board areas.
- First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the restrictions were “intended to be short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection”. She warned that without taking action, the country risks “returning to the peak level of infection by the end of the month”. But she admitted that the new rules would be disruptive to many businesses and would be unwelcome to many people.
- Reports have suggested that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has agreed a new version of the furlough scheme for local lockdown areas, with wage support for employees that is “more generous” than the Winter Economy Plan announced last month.
- Some GP surgeries and pharmacies are running short of flu jabs due to “supply issues” across Wales, the health minister has said. Vaughan Gething said the supply shortage was not nationwide but added he was “not sure” if there were enough jabs for all people over-50 in Wales. Gething said all over-65s and those with underlying health conditions would have access to the vaccine. The Welsh Government said demand was 10 times higher than in September 2019. The age of eligibility for the free flu vaccine in Wales was lowered from 65 to 50 in July.
- National 5 exams are to be cancelled in Scotland in 2021 and replaced with teacher assessments and coursework. Education Secretary John Swinney said going ahead with all exams during the continuing Covid pandemic was “too big a risk”. Higher and Advanced Higher exams will go ahead as usual – but will start on 13 May, two weeks later than planned.
- Tougher fines for breaches of coronavirus laws are among proposals the Northern Ireland Executive will be asked to approve when ministers meet on Thursday. Justice Minister Naomi Long has been carrying out a review of the penalties. The plans would see Northern Ireland’s fines comparable with other jurisdictions like England, where the minimum fixed penalty notice is £200. Currently, fines in NI start at £60 but can rise to £960 for repeat offenders.
- In France, the Government will put Lyon and Lille on maximum COVID-19 alert, France Inter radio has reported, paving the way for new restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the two cities. Reuters reports that Health Minister Olivier Veran will announce the decision at a news conference on Thursday. Officials at the French Health Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment, the news agency said.
- The President of the United States, Donald Trump, described catching coronavirus as ‘a blessing in disguise’. In a video posted from outside the Oval Office, he described having contracted coronavirus as “a blessing in disguise”. “It was a blessing from God. It was a blessing in disguise that I caught it,” he said. In the video Trump also repeatedly described the treatment he received, Regeneron, as a “cure” for the disease.
- In a sign that restrictions are loosening in Asia, Yomiuri newspaper has reported that Japan plans to lift travel bans on people going to China and 11 other countries, including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, next month. Japan has banned travel to 159 countries and regions.
- Fears for the future of pubs under a 10pm curfew and other restrictions on trading have intensified after Greene King announced up to 800 job losses. The brewer and pub operator said that it had made “the difficult decision” not to reopen 79 sites, but it left open the possibility that two thirds may reopen eventually. The company, which has 38,000 employees, called on the government to step in as a matter of urgency and provide tailored support “to help the sector get through to spring and prevent further pub closures and job losses”