Boris Johnson: Rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions are flashing like 'dashboard warnings in a passenger jet'

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Boris Johnson has warned the UK's coronavirus data is flashing like "dashboard warnings in a passenger jet," with case numbers and transmission rates rising in all areas.

The Prime Minister's words came as he introduced a new three-tier lockdown system for England, with "medium", "high" and "very high" alert levels.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has already suggested the capital could see a "high" level imposed within days, which would prevent households mixing indoors.

Mr Khan said London's alert level, which is currently at "medium", could be escalated "very quickly - potentially even this week".

"The virus is now spreading very quickly in every corner of London," his spokesman warned.

The Liverpool City Region faces the toughest local lockdown restrictions in England, while Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Leicester are among those to have escaped the worst of the new lockdown measures by being placed on the Tier 2 under the new traffic lights system.

You can view the restrictions in your local area using our interactive tool, here.

07:13 PM

That's all, folks

We're going to leave our politics blog there for the day.

The main news from Westminster was the introduction of a new lockdown system for England, and you can read everything you need to know about that here.

You can also put your postcode into our restrictions tracker and see what lockdown rules are for you here.

We asked you whether you thought the virus would be under control by Christmas.

More than 500 of you voted, and here are the results:

  • 72 per cent said: "No, it'll be lonely and cold this Christmas."
  • 18 per cent said: "It'll be enough for a short break."
  • 10 per cent said: "Yes, it's going to be a good one."

That's it from us - here's Matt:

Matt's take on the day's news

07:04 PM

What did we learn from today's Downing Street briefing?

Boris Johnson struck a sober tone as he said case numbers and transmission rates were rising across the UK  - Toby Melville

This was the first Downing Street briefing since Boris Johnson announced a new three tier lockdown system for England.

  • Mr Johnson used his opening remarks to warn that a variety of metrics now showed the UK's coronavirus rate was heading in the wrong direction. 
  • The Prime Minister then explained how his new system would work, and why very high risk areas like Merseyside must be subject to tier three restrictions, preventing household mixing and closing many pubs.
  • But Prof Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, said the restrictions alone will not be enough - and local leaders will have to agree additional measures to prevent exponential levels of transmission. 
  • Boris Johnson was unable to promise that the world would be back to normal by Christmas, telling a member of the public that the Government would do all it can, but needs the support of the public.
  • Following the suggestion that a vaccine might not be developed in the next 12 months after all, Mr Johnson said progress in medical science would nonetheless reduce the number of people who were placed on a ventilator or killed by Covid-19.
  • Prof Whitty said the evidence held by the Government suggested that people overwhelmingly are following Government guidance.

06:56 PM

Read Boris Johnson's speech in full

Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Chris Whitty - PA/Toby Melville

That is the end of today's Downing Street press conference.

You can read Boris Johnson's opening address in full here.

Mr Johnson warned that the UK was staring at data that was "flashing like a dashboard in a passenger jet," urging the Government to do more to tackle the virus.

06:53 PM

Furlough wasn't sustainable for more than eight months, Chancellor warns

Asked why the Government will not extend the furlough scheme for people in locked-down areas, Rishi Sunak says the Govenrment is "in a different phase now".

The furlough scheme was expected to last three months and lasted eight, and the new job support scheme is "sustainable and affordable for the long term," he says.

"This scheme will start on Nov 1 and it will run all the way through to the Spring...that's a level of support that in absolute terms will protect a lot of people's incomes and livelihoods but is also sustainable."

06:50 PM

We don't have evidence closing bars and pubs works, says Whitty

Mr Johnson and the CMO are asked what evidence there is that lockdown restrictions on bars and restaurants work.

Professor Chris Whitty says the UK will not have "grade A" evidence of the efficacy of interventions for a long time.

There are only two things the Government can be sure of, he says: "A full lockdown works, and letting it go will lead to very substantial numbers."

Everything else is something of an experiment.

Mr Johnson adds that bars have been closed in France and Germany too, so the UK is not an outlier.

06:46 PM

Scientific progress will continue even if there is no vaccine, says PM

Boris Johnson

The Telegraph's Gordon Rayner asks Boris Johnson what will happen if there is no Covid vaccine early next year.

"That does not mean that there's not going to be the kind of scientific, technological progress that will make a real difference," Mr Johnson replies.

"Already you're starting to see how drugs are changing for the better, the mortality rates in ICUs, treatments and understanding of the disease is helping to reduce the number of people who go from hospital admission into ICU.

"We are making progress fighting this disease and we will continue to make progress.

"For now, this is the best utensil we have to fight the virus collectively together - strong local and national measures combined," he said.

06:41 PM

People are following the rules set for them, says CMO

People across the country are overwhelmingly following the rules set by the Government, the Chief Medical Officer said.

"I see no evidence that the people of evidence that the people of Bradford are flouting the rules," Prof Whitty said.

"Inevitably, very occasionally people will, but the evidence over the country as a whole is that the great majority of people intend to follow the rules and do follow the rules because the great majority of people want to protect their neighbours and their family."

06:37 PM

Ministers must balance harms to economy and health, says Prof Whitty

The Chief Medical Officer said any action will cause harm, and the Government must balance between too much action and not enough.

"The idea we can do this without causing harm is an illusion," he said.

"Every country in the world is struggling with this. I am confident we will get through it, but it is a balancing act between two harms: a harm for society and the economy on the one hand and a harm for the health on the other hand."

Prof Whitty said the Government was "trying to find the balance, the middle way" between both harms.

06:34 PM

Tier three will not be enough to save Liverpool, says Whitty


Professor Chris Whitty says the base level of tier three lockdown will not be enough to keep the virus under control in those areas.

Additional measures on top of the base level will be needed - such as the additional closure of betting shops and sports facilities in Liverpool.

"I am not confident and nor is anybody confident that the tier three proposals for the highest rates, if we did the absolute base case and nothing more, would be enough to get on top of it," he said.

"That is why there is a lot of flexibility in the tier three level for local authorities, guided by the directors of public up that range. The base will not be sufficient and that is very clearly the professional view."

Prof Whitty added that the Government needs cooperation from the public and local leaders.

"The central thing is that these only work if people buy into them," he said. 

"Everybody has got to buy into them..and therefore that is important that we have local as well as national agreement."

06:26 PM

Will there be another national lockdown?

Laura Kuenssberg asks the Prime Minister whether there will inevitably be another national-level lockdown

"I really hope that we will not have to go back into a national lockdown of the kind that we did in April and March," Mr Johnson said.

"I really hope that with the package of measures we've got, we can get the R down.

"These measures do work, remember, the R was coming down in this country before we went into full lockdown in March because people had already started to follow guidance...this package depends on public support."

"We could now go for another national lockdown. I think many people would think that was extreme," he said.

06:24 PM

Government trying as hard as possible for normal Christmas, says Johnson


A member of the public asks Boris Johnson what the restrictions are likely to be at Christmas. 

"We will do our absolute best to try to make sure that we get life back as close to normal for Christmas, but that is going to depend, I'm afraid, on our success in getting this virus down," he replies.

"I've said it before and I'll say it again - it will mean that in those local areas we are talking about, we are not only going to have to intensify those measures but enforce generally the social distancing, the rules, the guidance," he said.

06:24 PM

Government trying as hard as possible for normal Christmas, says Johnson


A member of the public asks Boris Johnson what the restrictions are likely to be at Christmas. 

"We will do our absolute best to try to make sure that we get life back as close to normal for Christmas, but that is going to depend, I'm afraid, on our success in getting this virus down," he replies.

"I've said it before and I'll say it again - it will mean that in those local areas we are talking about, we are not only going to have to intensify those measures but enforce generally the social distancing, the rules, the guidance," he said.

06:21 PM

The Chief Medical Officer's 'optimistic message'

Prof Whitty says the rates on these graphs would be "substantially higher" if people had not taken measures against the virus.

People and businesses have made a difference to the spread of Covid-19, he said.

Prof Whitty said he had a "more optimistic message" or the public, before adding: "We need to go further or these rates will continue inorexably to rise."

This chart shows the regional differences in coronavirus transmission that mirrors that used by Prof Whitty in this press conference.

06:18 PM

The UK's infection rates mapped

Prof Chris Whitty showed a graph that demonstrates the geographical spread of the virus.

The transmission is "high" in parts of the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber, at a "moderate rate" in the Midlands and London, and a much lower rate in the South West, East of England and South East.

Prof Whitty warned against being "lulled into a false sense of security" and suggested the transmission rate could change rapidly in areas where it is currently low.

06:15 PM

Type your postcode in to see what your restrictions are

The Prime Minister announced that people will "shortly be able to type in your postcode to and see exactly what restrictions apply where you live".

The Telegraph already has an interactive tool that allows the public to do this. Access it here.

06:13 PM

UK case number back up to levels last seen in May, says Whitty

The Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, is now showing a graph that shows how many people in the UK are estimated to have coronavirus.

The UK is now back up to the level of the beginning of May, he says.

Here is his graph:

Estimated case numbers

06:11 PM

Sunak explains Government's plan for keeping the economy alive during winter

Rishi Sunak is now outlining the Government's "winter economic plan" to keep the UK economy afloat during the lockdown restrictions this winter.

The new Job Support Scheme means that if businesses are forced to close and people cannot work at all for one week or more, employers will pay two-thirds of salaries and be reimbursed for up to £2,100 a month.

The Government will also allow people and businesses to defer VAT and self-assessed income tax payments.

Mr Sunak says this plan will "protect the job and livelihoods of the British people".

"This national programme will benefit people the same wherever they live and whatever job they do," he said.

Businesses legally required to close in England will be able to claim cash grants of up to £3,000 per month, he said, which will never need to be repaid.

He announced an extra £1.3 billion of funding for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland administrations "if they choose to do something similar".

06:07 PM

Boris Johnson outlines new tier system

Mr Johnson explains the three new categories of lockdown the Government has introduced.

You can read a full explainer of the rules here.

Mr Johnson says the Government has given more money to local councils to help them deal with the virus, especially in areas like Merseyside that are now in the "very high" category.

06:05 PM

Warnings 'flashing like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet' -PM

Boris Johnson is joined at this evening's conference by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the Chief Medical Officer.

Mr Johnson begins by saying the UK is entering a "new and crucial phase" of the fight against the virus.

The data available to the Government is "flashing like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet," he says.

That includes: 

  • Cases have increased by four times in four weeks
  • The virus is "once again spreading among the elderly and the vulnerable," he says.
  • There are now more cases in the UK than there were when the UK went into lockdown.

05:56 PM

Boris Johnson live at 7pm

The Prime Minister's statement to the nation will be live at 7pm.

You can watch the statement at the top of this blog.

05:49 PM

Will Labour back Boris Johnson's Covid lockdown scale?

Sir Keir said he would study the 'small print' before announcing any support for the measures - Getty Images/Dan Kitwood

Labour has refused to commit to supporting Boris Johnson's new lockdown scale, calling the Prime Minister "several steps behind the curve" in his coronavirus response.

Christopher Hope reports that Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, says he will not make any decision on his party's support for the measures until he has studied the "small print" of Mr Johnson's statement in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Labour's rhetoric signals a shift from the party's handling of the crisis at the beginning of the pandemic, when Mr Starmer said he would support the Government as much as possible.

05:40 PM

Minister warns universities over 'outrageous' cost of food for isolating students

Students at the University of East Anglia were charged more than £250 for a fortnight's worth of food - Matthew Horwood/Getty

Universities should not profit from self-isolating students, the higher education minister has warned, as she says that charging £18 for food parcels is “simply outrageous”.

Michelle Donelan said she will write to vice-Chancellors to say that no university should “seek to profit” from students by forcing them to sign up to over-priced meal deliveries.

Students who are self-isolating in catered halls of residence should be provided with food free of charge, she said, while others should be given food packages which are either free or priced at a level which is affordable for students.

Her remarks come after claims that universities are “cashing in” on self-isolating students by charging hundreds of pounds for basic food deliveries.

The University of East Anglia initially charged the students living in its self-catered accommodation halls £252 for two weeks' worth of supplies, but dropped the price to £168 following an outcry.  

05:19 PM

Pubs in Liverpool can only open if they serve food

The latest restrictions for Tier 3 areas mean that pubs and bars can only open if they serve food, the Government has announced.

The restrictions say pubs will be able to function as if they were a restaurant - which means they must serve "substantial meals".

Nuts and pork scratchings will not be enough to allow pubs to stay open.

The restrictions will begin on Wednesday.

The rules also mean:

  • Indoor gyms, casinos, leisure centres, betting shops and sports facilities must close.
  • Wedding receptions are banned.
  • People should not travel outside their area except for work, education or to fulfil care responsibilities.
  • Overnight stays outside of the Very High region are discouraged.

05:14 PM

Liverpool mayors welcome boots on the ground to fight Covid

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool's metro mayor, city mayor Joe Anderson and the leaders of Liverpool City Region's six local authorities have said they "welcome the opportunity" to get support from the armed forces to halt the spread of coronavirus after the area was placed on the "very high" local Covid alert level.

Boris Johnson's announcement that England would be split into three categories of lockdown saw Merseyside plunged into the most draconian restrictions.

The Army has been deployed to free up local police capacity, making enforcement of the restrictions easier.

05:01 PM

Have your say: Will coronavirus be under control by Christmas?

Oliver Dowden this morning said the measures being implemented this week are designed to get coronavirus under control by Christmas. 

Previously Boris Johnson has indicated that he wanted to "protect" the festive season - presumably not just because of its social and cultural significance, but because the economy hinges on a forth quarter splurge. 

But with many parts of the North under lockdown for many weeks with no sign of transmission abating, is this realistic - or are ministers trying to feed us false hope? 

Have your say in the poll below. 

05:00 PM

Which tier do you live in? Use our tool to find out

The Prime Minister has unveiled his three tier system to simplify the patchwork of rules in place across the country.

The new system - dubbed "Local Covid Alert Levels" - divides England into "medium", "high" and "very high" risk areas depending on the current rate of Covid-19 infections - though the government has not released the exact thresholds for triggering lockdown.

Most of the country is covered by the "medium" alert level which consists of the current national measures for England, including the Rule of Six and 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, while the additional "high" level reflects the restrictions already in place in many areas as part of local lockdowns.

Explore the interactive tools below to see what restrictions will apply in your area and go to this article for more.

04:47 PM

Restrictions 'too late' and circuit breaker still needed, Sage scientist warns

The new restrictions had come too late and a "circuit-breaker" could be needed within weeks, Sage scientist Professor Calum Semple has warned.

Asked if the level of response announced for London is sufficient for the threat, the University of Liverpool academic told BBC Radio 4's PM: "I'm going to be difficult and say no, I think we're a little late to react."

He said there is a three-to-four-week delay before interventions see benefits in hospitals.

"I and other people who were advocating for quite stringent severe local interventions where necessary three to four weeks ago, our fear is now that we're in another place now," he said.

"And that we're going to need a much firmer intervention perhaps, the so-called circuit-breaker, in the matter of weeks.

"The outbreak is a bit like a super-tanker, you put the brakes on but it takes a long time before you see the effect."

04:45 PM

Government support for Liverpool's hospitality sector 'doesn't cut it', says metro mayor

The support being offered to Liverpool's hospitality sector "doesn't cut it", metro mayor Steve Rotheram has said.

The area is due to come under the most draconian of the three tiers, meaning pubs and bars will be forced to close. 

Speaking about the support package being offered by the Government, Mr Rotheram told the BBC: "I'm afraid 67 per cent of [hospitality workers'] wages doesn't cut it. They can't pay two-thirds of their gas or electricity, or when they go to a shop, they can't say 'can you cut that by a third'.

"We need the Government to work with us so we can provide a package of support that, one, secures the likelihood that our businesses can come out of this at the other end.

"Two, it ensures that people stay in jobs, and three, that our overall economy is not severely impacted post-pandemic by the measures taken by Government today."

04:42 PM

London could move into higher tier of restrictions this week, Sadiq Khan warns

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned the capital could move into a higher tier of coronavirus restrictions "potentially even this week".

The city will initially be "medium" on the new scale, meaning there will be no change to restrictions for the capital's nine million residents. 

But a spokesman for Mr Khan said: "The mayor met with London leaders today to examine the latest data on the spread of the virus in the city and to discuss the Government's new national alert system.

"The virus is now spreading very quickly in every corner of London. The number of cases is rapidly increasing and all the indicators we look at are moving in the wrong direction.

"As of today, London is at 'medium' in the Government's new alert levels. However, Londoners should understand that this could change very quickly - potentially even this week."

04:23 PM

Spring will bring 'very different environment', says Boris Johnson

Michael Fabricant, the Conservative MP for Lichfield, asks what the Prime Minister can do for people in the country who are fearing that these new measures will "go on and on and on", warning this mindset will affect compliance. 

Boris Johnson says come spring "we will be in a very different environment"  - although it is not clear whether he means the weather or treatment. 

He adds that he does have "high hopes" of the new technologies, but "for the time being we have to concentrate on the tools we have at hand", which includes restrictions and social distancing. 

"That is what we have to do for the time being", Mr Johnson says in an uncharacteristically glass-half-empty tone. 

04:14 PM

Restrictions will not be lifted until R-rate falls below one, says Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister has suggested that restrictions will not be lifted until the R-rate is below one. 

Flick Drummond, the Conservative MP for Meon Valley, asks if restrictions will be lifted "flexibly when transmission reverts to a low level".

Boris Johnson replied: "As soon as transmission is obviously down, as soon as the R is down below one, things will change very much indeed".

Asked a similar question by Andy Carter, the Conservative MP for Warrington South, says there are "a number of different measures" including hospital admissions but the main criteria is the R-rate. 

"When the R comes down, then that changes it," he adds. 

04:09 PM

Alas: Boris Johnson rules out review of pub curfew

Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, asks the Prime Minister to review the pub curfew in areas with lower rates of transmission. 

Boris Johnson gives the Commons another "alas", adding "We have to make restrictions in the overall volume of transmission that is taking place in our society, that is an obvious place, and that is what we are doing". 

04:07 PM

Boris Johnson rules out 'floor' for minimum wage workers' income cut

Boris Johnson is asked to consider a "floor" for people on the minimum wage, who Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle says will struggle to live with a third reduction on their pay. 

The Prime Minister says there is other support, such as Universal Credit, which acts as a "safety net and to help people, precisely because as their incomes go down, Universal Credit goes up". 

04:05 PM

Boris Johnson promises to look into scan ban for partners

Boris Johnson is asked about the ban on partners attending scans during pregnancy, a slightly separate issue to the one about birthing partners.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour's MP for Bristol West, tells the Prime Minister about one of her constituents who has lost two out of three triplets, but was still not allowed to bring her partner to the scan. 

After intervention from the mayor and Pregnant then Screwed, her partner was allowed to attend. 

He promises to look into the matter.

03:56 PM

Labour MP inadvertently provokes mirth with sincere pub question

Toby Perkins, Labour's MP for Chesterfield, provokes a light smattering of laughter when he tells the Commons that Boris Johnson "will be as aware as anyone that people don't generally go to the pub to meet with their own wife". 

I don't think he was making a joke, as he continued with great sincerity about the lack of support for pubs who are able to stay open but cannot make a living under restrictions. 

The twice-divorced Prime Minister did not rise to the bait, but stressed there was support for firms who are open but cannot trade as normal. 

03:50 PM

Boris Johnson hits back at Labour's 'ideological scorn of private sector'

Geraint Davies, the Labour MP for Swansea West, asks if Boris Johnson will allow remote voting again - which the Prime Minister says he defer to the Speaker. 

Lee Anderson, the Conservative MP for Ashfield, says it is "not a fair reward" for his constituents' hard work to have them added to Tier 2.

The Prime Minister says it will be reviewed on a regular basis. 

Then Clive Efford, Labour's MP for Eltham, picks up on Track and Trace again, criticising the Government for putting money in the pockets of outsourcers.  

Mr Johnson bemoans the return of "the ideological scorn of any private sector work, which I thought had left the Labour party these days". 

03:44 PM

Boris Johnson told to 'get back from the moon' over testing

Yvette Cooper, Labour's MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford and Home Affairs Committee chair, says people are waiting six days for their test results. 

She asks him to "get back from the moon [an allusion to his so-called 'moonshot' project] and start worrying about what is happening on Earth". 

Boris Johnson then says the turnaround time has come down and by the end of the month there will be capacity for 500,000 tests a day.

But he doesn't engage with the question - although to be fair, it was really more of a statement. 

Asked by Vicky Foxcroft, the shadow minister for disabilities, if there will be a sign language interpreter at this evening's press conference, he says he doubts there will be time to find one "but your point is taken". 


03:42 PM

Boris Johnson warned that he will 'look back in shame' over how mothers have been treated

Catherine McKinnell, the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North and chair of the Petitions Committee, asks him to allow women to take a birth partner into hospital with her. 

This is something she has been asking him for months, and warns he will "look back in shame" at how mothers were treated in this period. 

Boris Johnson says he "wholly shares" her feelings, and that guidelines have been changed to make that possible, but urges her to write to him if she has particular cases where it is still not happening. 

Earlier in the debate, he had provoked laughter by saying "tell me about it" when asked about the availability of childcare in the areas subject to restrictions.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak during today's debate - AFP

03:40 PM

Labour MPs challenge Boris Johnson over Test and Trace - but he's not biting

Labour MPs have been challenging the Prime Minister over one thing again and again - local test and tracing. 

Boris Johnson told Kevan Jones he had answered his point "about four times already", saying you need both a local and centralised approach. 

Neil Coyle, Labour's MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, then picks up on the theme, asking him to "get a grip". 

The Prime Minister says that is "why we are investing massively in Test and Trace and a coordinated localised effort". 

"Rather than continually knocking NHS Test and Trace lets work together to support it," he says - to the sounds of jeers from opposition MPs. 

03:33 PM

Boris Johnson dodges question about university town lockdowns

Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter, asks about areas with university towns that have a high rate among students, but not a high transmission within the community. 

Boris Johnson says the differentiation made between the two is "sometimes overdone", and says students are playing "a heroic role". 

But he doesn't deal with the substance of the question. 

03:31 PM

Boris Johnson defends 'highly competitive' financial support

Hilary Benn, the Labour MP for Leeds Central, asks about support for people on minimum wage, noting that French and German support is more generous than the UK.

He wants a guarantee that people will not be evicted from their homes if they cannot pay rent. 

Boris Johnson challenges his claim that the UK is not as generous as other countries, saying it is "a highly competitive scheme". The general public certainly seem to agree - which is why Rishi Sunak is so popular right now (see chart below).

He adds that "nobody wants to see anybody evicted", which is why they have extended the period that evictions have been banned for six months. 

03:28 PM

Boris Johnson dampens optimism on vaccine

Steve Baker, the MP for Wycombe, asks when there will be a vaccine. 

Boris Johnson gives him an "alas" (there have been more than a few already). He adds he cannot give a specific date, although there are some "very hopeful signs". 

However he notes that there is still no vaccine for Sars, which broke out 18 years ago. 

"I don't wish to depress him but we must be realistic about this. There is a good chance of a vaccine but it cannot be taken for granted."

03:26 PM

Boris Johnson defends change in coronavirus response

Derek Twigg, Labour's MP for Halton, asks Boris Johnson about all the restrictions that have gone before. 

He questions whether this is an example of the lack of planning and asks why Halton is in the highest restriction level when its infection rates are lower. 

Boris Johnson says the measures must evolve to the task, but the objective remains the same. 

He doesn't answer the specific question. 

Asked by Sir Graham Brady what reassurances he can give "that this isn't going to be a permanent state", Mr Johnson says "nothing could be more attractive to the Government than moving the whole country out of the restrictions we are in". 

He says that requires everyone to follow the guidance. 

03:22 PM

Manchester avoided Tier 3 because of local authorities, Boris Johnson suggests

Boris Johnson has suggested that Manchester has not been placed into Tier 3 because local authorities have refused. 

Greater Manchester is being added to Tier 2, according to multiple local MPs.

The Prime Minister was asked by Sarah Dines, the Derbyshire Dales MP, about Labour's "flip-flopping" and "political point scoring". 

Mr Johnson said: "I hope members opposite who are calling on me to do more for Greater Manchester will prevail on the authorities in Greater Manchester to come into Tier 3 and to help us to get there."

03:19 PM

Boris Johnson urged to act on 'turning point'

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the Commons: "We know we're at a tipping point, so today must be a turning point.

"A turning point where we must once again act collectively and get back to the absolute priority of suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and saving lives."

He warned against delays in Covid-19 testing and suggested a U-turn should come via an extension of the full furlough scheme to help workers.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said British people have made sacrifices but require clear communication and "basic competence" from the Government.

He went on: "It seems their sacrifices have been squandered by the Government's failure to build a robust test, trace and isolate system or even communicate competently.

"Can the Prime Minister promise that the new sacrifices he's asking from people today will not be squandered this time?"

03:16 PM

Boris Johnson signals jobs support for those who cannot trade as normal

Jane Stevenson, the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton North East, asks the Prime Minister to "urgently look" at why her region has been added to Tier 2 "despite the protestations" of all the local leaders. 

She says pubs and restaurants now face "no financial support at all and a devastating effect on their viability". 

But Boris Johnson says they will qualify for the jobs support scheme if "they are not able to trade as they normally would". 

03:12 PM

Boris Johnson rules out handing over Test and Trace to local communities

Boris Johnson has said both a national and local approach is needed, ruling out passing control of the centralised approach to individual areas. 

Amid calls for him to hand over Test and Trace to the local communities, he said "you need a national approach because otherwise the local Test and Trace operations simply do not join up". 

He says there are other countries who have had that experience, which is why the UK will not go down that route. 

02:58 PM

Boris Johnson accuses Labour of 'flip-flopping' on support for lockdown measures

Boris Johnson responds with his usual claim that Labour supports the Government one minute and then changes its mind. 

He asks if he does support the new tier, saying there is "a stunning silence" from Sir Keir Starmer. 

The Government is working with local leaders to drive the virus down, and tells him to stop "flip-flopping". 

02:56 PM

Sir Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson is several steps behind coronvirus curve

Sir Keir Starmer says we are "at a tipping point" - and goes onto blame the Government for failing to bring rates down. 

The Labour leader says the real test will be whether the restrictions can "bring the country back from the bring" and give businesses confidence through the next few weeks. 

He says he will look at the small print of the restrictions and the support. 

But he says he is "deeply sceptical" about what the plan is. "It feels like the Prime Minister is several steps behind the curve that he lost control of long ago," he adds. 

"There is a pattern here," he says, pointing to the unsuccessful whack-a-mole strategy, the Test and Trace operation, the failed 24-hour turnaround on test results. 

This has "eroded public confidence just when we need it most", Sir Keir claims. He calls on the PM to hand-over Test and Trace to local communities, and that they will be involved in future decisions. 

 Sir Keir Starmer responds after Prime Minister Boris Johnson  - House of Commons

02:52 PM

Boris Johnson: Together we will succeed

Boris Johnson then strikes an upbeat note, saying with "all the mountains of PPE" and treatments that have been developed, the country is in a better place than it was before. 

"I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed," he concludes. 

Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to give his statement about coronavirus - Shutterstock

02:49 PM

Boris Johnson: Liverpool to move into very high restrictions from Wednesday

Liverpool city region will move into the "very high" level of restrictions from Wednesday. 

As well as the base line of restrictions, gyms and leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos will also close, says Boris Johnson, 

He thanks local leaders including mayor Steve Rotheram. 

The Prime Minister urges other local leaders to "work with us" in return for more help in other areas. 

"Not to act would be unforgiveable so I hope rapid progress can be made in the coming days."

02:47 PM

Highest restrictions could see further closures beyond pubs and bars, says Boris Johnson

Turning to the highest level of restrictions, Boris Johnson says this is where the NHS could be "under unbearable pressure", and will involve closing pubs and bars as well as banning household mixing indoors and outdoors. 

It is understood that pubs will be able to continue operating if they do so as a restaurant. 

People will also be advised against travel in and out of the areas.

The Government will work with local leaders on further measures, which could include hospitality, leisure, entertainment and personal care, he says. 

But retail, schools and universities will remain open. 

The Government will expand support to assist those affected by the decisions, he notes. 

There will be assistance from the armed forces for local services "if desired", the Prime Minister says. 

02:44 PM

Most of the country will be under medium restrictions, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson says he does not want to stop people enjoying themselves, but he "must act" to save lives. 

"Between us, our actions are saving lives," he adds. The current R-rate is between 1.2 and 1.5 "so we are already suppressing that R-rate to well below its natural level, which is why it is not spreading as quickly as it was in March," he adds. 

The local approach has "inevitably" created a complex set of restrictions, he says. So that will now be standardised to the three tiers - medium, high and very high. 

Most of the country will be under medium, which will consist of the current national measures including the rule of six and the pub curfew, he says. 

The high level will prevent all household mixing, although the rule of six can still apply to outdoors gatherings. 

Those already in local restrictions will automatically move into this level, as will Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire. 

02:39 PM

Boris Johnson rules out a second national lockdown

Speaking in the Commons, Boris Johnson says the Government is taking the best approach that will save lives and protect the NHS while keeping children in schools and the economy running. 

He points to the briefing given by Jonathan Van-Tam this morning, repeating the fact that there are more Covid patients in hospital than at the start of the spring lockdown in March. 

The Prime Minister says it would not be "the right course" to impose another full-blown lockdown. 

But to those saying "we should stand aside and let nature take her course", he says he understands the frustrations and sacrifices made "but the bleak mathematics dictate" that this is not an appropriate course of action either. 

"It is no answer to say we could let the virus take hold among the young and fit... because the virus would spread with such velocity among the general population, there would be no way of stopping it spreading among the elderly," he says. 

02:25 PM

Government to provide further 250,000 laptops and tablets for remote learning

The Government has announced it is providing an additional 250,000 laptops and tablets to help children and families access remote education during the pandemic.

Gavin Williamson told the Commons: "As part of £160 million invested to support remote education, over 220,000 laptops and tablets have already been delivered, with 40,000 routers additional to that.

"We're now supplementing this support by making available a quarter of a million additional devices in the event that face-to-face schooling is disrupted.

"This represents an injection of nearly half a million laptops and tablets for those most in need."

In response to a question from Mark Logan, the Conservative MP for Bolton North East, education minister Nick Gibb clarified: "Whilst the vast majority of children are back in the classroom, if face-to-face education is disrupted, we have made 250,000 laptops and tablets available, building on 220,000 already delivered to those most in need."

02:22 PM

Birmingham and Leicester to be in Tier 2

More details are filtering through from local MPs who have spoken to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

MP for Birmingham Edgbaston Preet Kaur Gill confirmed the city will be in Tier 2 on the new alert system. 

She tweeted: "More than 45 minutes notice for the call would be appreciated next time though Matt!"

MP Claudia Webbe said Leicester will be on local alert level two.

She tweeted: "This means there will be a relaxation on private gardens to the Rule Of Six.

"This appears to be in line with the Northern and Midlands MP briefing held last week. Whilst Leicester Covid cases have increased its been at a slower rate."

02:07 PM

South Yorkshire joins Manchester in Tier 2, says local MP

South Yorkshire will also be in the second level of restrictions, joining Greater Manchester, a local MP has confirmed. 

Sheffield City Region mayor and Labour MP Dan Jarvis said on Twitter: "Just spoken to @MattHancock who confirmed South Yorkshire will be in Tier 2.

"We cannot afford this without additional support - otherwise we will languish in local restrictions with no clear way out.

"We've put a plan to Govt and are awaiting more details. Will update asap."

02:03 PM

Further 36 people die with coronavirus in English hospitals

A further 36 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 30,507, NHS England said on Monday.

Patients were aged between 31 and 97 years old. All but two patients, aged 81 and 93, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between October 8 and October 11. Most were on or after October 10.

No other deaths were reported without a positive Covid-19 test result.

There were 14 deaths recorded in both the North West and the North East & Yorkshire, making them easily the worst-affected regions. There were three deaths registered in London, two in the Midlands and one in the South East. 

The South West continues to remain free of Covid fatalities.  

01:57 PM

Boris Johnson's press conference pushed back an hour

Boris Johnson's press conference has been pushed back an hour to 7pm, to make room for his time in front of MPs. 

The Prime Minister had been due to speak to the nation at 6pm. However it seems that Downing Street is anticipating such a large number of questions in the Commons that this has been delayed. 

Mr Johnson will speak alongside Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, who will no doubt seek to reassure people whose businesses are affected by the more restrictive of the three tiered system that they will receive some support. 

The Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty will also be on hand to explain the rationale for the new measures. 

01:48 PM

Warrington North MP invited to call for... Merseyside leaders

It seems it's not just Wigan that ministers and officials can't find on a map (see 2:40pm). 

The MP for Warrington North, Charlotte Nichols, is fuming over the confusion about where her constituency is based - and given that geography is pretty crucial right now, you can understand why.

01:37 PM

Manchester leaders welcome city's lower Tier 2 restrictions

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon confirmed that MPs in the Greater Manchester region had been told their area will be placed under Tier 2 restrictions.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said he was "glad the Government has listened" and avoided putting the region under the harshest lockdown measures.

01:26 PM

Brexit talks to run to the wire, Downing Street says

Brexit talks will run to the wire this week, with Lord Frost and the rest of the UK team back in Brussels this week. 

Boris Johnson has said he wants a deal by the October 15 meeting of the 27 European Union leaders.

"David Frost and the UK negotiating team are in Brussels today for further talks as part of the intensified process that was agreed by the PM and Ursula von der Leyen," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

"These talks will continue until Wednesday. Then the European Council takes place at the end of this week.

"We will work as hard as we can to see if we can get an agreement by October 15."

The spokesman repeated the Government's position that if no deal can be reached then the UK will deal with the EU on "Australian-style terms" without a formal trade agreement.

That appears to be mirrored on the continent, as my colleague James Crisp explains here

01:20 PM

Labour MP missed off Government briefing 'because they don't know where Wigan is'

Labour MP Lisa Nandy has criticised the Government for missing her off an update to local MPs, saying: "I suspect this is because they don’t know where Wigan is." 

The shadow foreign secretary and former leadership contender added: "What an absolute shambles."

01:16 PM

UK reported fourth-highest rise in cases in the world, says WHO

The UK is the fourth in the world in terms of its rise in Covid-19 cases, the World Health Organisation has said, making it the worst country in Europe (but only just). 

Dr Margaret Harris told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "You are certainly not on your own.

"We are seeing very, very large outbreaks around the world - only last week India led the number of new cases, 504,000, followed by the US with 327,000 and then Brazil.

"But the United Kingdom is number four and what we are seeing is that, in Europe particularly, in more and more countries we're seeing a bigger change in the number of cases."

The UK is "essentially on parity with France", she added, with 110,827 cases reported to the WHO from London, compared with 110,065 from Paris. 

"Russia also recorded a large number, as did Spain but we're seeing upticks in many countries across Europe, particularly as I said in France and Spain but also we've seen changes in Italy and more of the eastern European countries."

12:59 PM

Newcastle unlikely to face further restrictions 'for now', says council leader

The leader of Newcastle City Council said it was unlikely any further restrictions will be applied to the north-east of England "for now".

Nick Forbes said on Twitter: "I'm pleased that, for now, it's unlikely any further restrictions will apply in the North East.

"We need a period of stability and consistent rules, so everyone is clear what we all need to do."

The Labour council leader said: "Mass closures of hospitality venues would be counter productive at this stage, as the vast majority of operators are running safe venues with appropriate precautions in place."

Mr Forbes also called for urgent clarification on an economic support package for businesses affected by the current restrictions.

12:57 PM

London 'highly likely' to face new restrictions, says Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan has said it is “highly likely” that further restrictions will be brought in across London ”because cases are rising so quickly across the city”.

It is thought the capital could join Manchester and other cities as Tier 2, meaning there could be a city-wide ban on social mixing between households but pubs and restaurants kept open when new measures come in from Wednesday afternoon.  

"It is highly likely that Londoners will also face more restrictions very soon", Sadiq Khan said today. "The fundamental problem – faced by Londoners as much as people elsewhere in the UK – is the failure of the Government to provide the resources that are needed when new restrictions come into force.

"As a country it is vital we properly support businesses, workers and local authorities to ensure the rules are followed and enforced, but also to avert widespread hardship.  

"I fully support the calls from northern leaders for a more thorough process of consultation and engagement between central and local government on decision making relating to the virus."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan - Getty

12:46 PM

Greater Manchester to be put in Tier 2, says Labour MP

Details of the new three-tiered lockdown system are starting to filter out ahead of Boris Johnson's statement to the Commons this afternoon. 

Labour MP for Denton & Reddish Andrew Gwynne has said that Greater Manchester will be put in Tier 2, something he has welcomed as a "very sensible decision". 

Merseyside is expected to have tough restrictions imposed as part of Tier 3 measures.

12:40 PM

Have your say: Will coronavirus be under control by Christmas?

Oliver Dowden this morning said the measures being implemented this week are designed to get coronavirus under control by Christmas. 

Previously Boris Johnson has indicated that he wanted to "protect" the festive season - presumably not just because of its social and cultural significance, but because the economy hinges on a forth quarter splurge. 

But with many parts of the North under lockdown for many weeks with no sign of transmission abating, is this realistic - or are ministers trying to feed us false hope? 

Have your say in the poll below. 

12:33 PM

Delaying A-levels and GCSEs 'just the tip of the iceberg', says union boss

The Government's move to delay exams is just the "tip of the iceberg" for what needs to be done before next summer, a schools union has said. 

The exams, which usually begin in May, will be delayed to June and July - apart from the English and maths GCSEs which will take place before the half-term, Gavin Williamson announced this morning.

But Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, warned that a "compression" of the exam series may impact student wellbeing.

He said: "Announcing a delay is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the planning that now needs to be done.

"This step does not address the disparity between different student's different levels of disruption to learning; much more needs to be done to ensure that the qualification system takes account of this so that students can have confidence that the grades they are awarded in 2021 are fair."

12:15 PM

Revealed: How Covid cases have fallen far short of the Government's 'doomsday graph'

Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, set the tone for today when he warned that coronavirus cases were spreading south and that infection rates were rising among older individuals who are more at risk of serious complications. 

However what he didn't do was update the country on where we are compared to his colleagues' chart of doom from a couple of weeks ago.  Perhaps that's because the reality is a far way off from Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance said would come to pass by the middle of October (ie now).

 The Government said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 12,872 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, although the figure is likely to be skewed downwards by a weekend lag in reporting. 

According to the worst case scenario, there would have been upwards of 40,000 cases confirmed. Daily infections would need to rise by a further 37,128 on Sunday's total to hit 50,000 by Wednesday October 13, as suggested by the model. Read the full details here

12:00 PM

Boris Johnson accused of failing to act on travel restrictions

Boris Johnson has been accused of failing to act on travel restrictions for areas of England with high levels of Covid-19, despite Wales recording "an importation of coronavirus cases", the nation's health minister has said.

Vaughan Gething told a press conference in Cardiff that he and Mark Drakeford, the First Minister, were "both really disappointed" that the Prime Minister was continuing only to put out "guidance on whether people should or shouldn't travel out of highly infected areas".

"Sadly the Prime Minister has chosen not to act," he added: "This isn't just an issue for Wales, it's an issue for the whole UK - lower prevalence areas in England will be equally affected as lower prevalence areas in Wales.

"We do understand that there has already been an importation of coronavirus cases from contact with some of those high prevalence areas in England."

Mr Gething said the Welsh Government would meet later on Monday and "make choices".

11:48 AM

No political sign-off on Fatima ad- which was taken from 2019 campaign

In case you were wondering, the minor Twitter storm over an advert suggesting a ballerina named Fatima should retrain to do something "in cyber" was taken from a 2019 campaign. 

Government sources are suggesting there was no political sign-off on the ad, which can be traced back to a private training firm called QA in conjunction with National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, which is itself overseen by the Foreign Office.

11:42 AM

Travel restrictions in England 'inadequate', says Wales' First Minister

The UK Government's proposals for travel restrictions in areas of England with high levels of coronavirus are "inadequate", Wales' First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford attended the Cobra meeting on Monday, chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to discuss the proposed introduction of a tiered system of local restrictions in England, the Welsh Government said.

"The First Minister expressed deep disappointment at the inadequate proposals for travel restrictions in high-infection areas in England, and said these would be met with great dismay in many parts of Wales where infection rates are lower," a spokeswoman said.

"He also requested greater clarity on the metrics for placing areas into each tier, and agreed with other devolved leaders that the Treasury's proposals for financial support, while welcome, did not go far enough in protecting the lowest paid workers."

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has been calling for restrictions on people travelling from England - Getty

11:39 AM

Ross Clark : The PM committed to 'levelling up'. Instead his government is targeting the North for oblivion

Due to a printing error in last year’s Conservative manifesto a rogue word ‘up’ appeared.

When Boris and his team wrote that they wanted to ‘level up’ the north’ they really meant that they simply wanted to ‘level’ the north – that is to reduce its economy to a smouldering ruin, in a way that not even the closures of mines and other heavy industry achieved in the 1980s.

It is the only way Ross Clark can think to explain the bewildering gap between stated government ambition and the reality.

As he argues, Margaret Thatcher earned herself a poor reputation in the north for appearing not to care sufficiently about lost livelihoods, but she never threatened to imprison Arthur Scargill’s men in their pit villages.

11:36 AM

A-levels and GCSEs to be delayed by three weeks next year, Gavin Williamson confirms

Most A-level and GCSE exams in England will be delayed by three weeks next year due to the pandemic, Gavin Williamson has confirmed.

The Education Secretary said this would "give students more time to prepare and a chance to catch up on education lost due to Covid-19".

Gavin Williamson said the delay would help students who had missed lessons during the pandemic - PA

11:30 AM

No Brexit tunnel for there to be light at the end of, says Brussels spokesman

Coronavirus isn't the only pressing matter that Downing Street is dealing with this week. Post-Brexit trade talks  resumed this morning in Brussels. 

However any hopes of that negotiators are going into "the tunnel" - Brussels-speak for the pre-deal period in which there is a media blackout - seem far from reality as things stand. 

The European Commission's chief spokesman said: "As far as I know they're not meeting, either in a tunnel or a submarine but in offices and therefore it's a completely normal schedule and format of negotiations.

"Of course, negotiations, as you know, have been intensified over the past weeks as prime minister Johnson and President von der Leyen agreed. "

11:07 AM

Cabinet minister distances himself from 'crass' Fatima advert

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has disowned a "crass" social media advert suggesting a ballerina retrain to go into "cyber".

His post has been retweeted by Allegra Stratton, Rishi Sunak's outgoing director of strategic communications who is leaving to take up the new press secretary post at Number 10.

The offending ad has gone viral and is particularly embarrassing for the Government, after  an interview with the Chancellor last week carried a headline wrongly suggesting he had said musicians should retrain. 

10:48 AM

Coronavirus is a 'nationwide phenomenon', says Jonathan Van-Tam

The spread of coronavirus is a “nationwide phenomenon”, Jonathan Van-Tam has said. 

Addressing a slide shown earlier in the briefing about rates increasing in the South of England, he said: "You have worried me now that I might have presented a bi-polar picture that Covid-19 is a problem in the North and not a problem in the South.

"On the contrary, the epidemic this time has clearly picked up pace in the North of England earlier than it did in the first wave and that almost certainly relates to the fact the disease levels in the North, and certainly in the North West, never dropped as far in the summer as they did in the South.

"But pretty much all areas of the UK are now seeing growths in the infection rate and that extending brown map that I showed you, which is sourced from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, absolutely makes that point.

"This is a nationwide phenomenon now that rates are changing upwards across the UK."

And that is it - the briefing is over.

We will have a lobby briefing at midday, but I suspect most (all) of the detail will now be held over until Boris Johnson's Commons statement at 3:30pm.

10:42 AM

Please keep using NHS Test and Trace, says Jonathan Van-Tam

Jonathan Van-Tam has defended the NHS Test and Trace system, and urged people to "keep using" it. 

He told the press conference it was "always difficult and challenging to build system and run it at the same time", and was particularly challenging "as numbers of infections pick up". 

But he noted we could be "in a worse situation now if we had not had Test and Trace", adding: "Please keep on suing this system, it remains vitally important."

His colleague Steve Powis warned that "as night follows day" hospitalisations would come from more infections, saying it was " a when not if". 

He said the Nightingales had been asked to go onto "a higher state of readiness" in areas of high prevalence, and that other Nightingales would be asked to do the same if and when it was needed. 

10:35 AM

Medical experts 'very confident' that infections increasing in community

The three medical experts are now taking questions from health correspondents. 

Asked about operations being cancelled, as they were during the first wave, Steve Powis says this time they will do as much as they can to avoid that. In different areas different approaches will be used, but broadly private hospitals, and Nightingale Hospitals, will be used.

But "the key thing is to control infection in the community," he says.

Asked what scientific evidence there is to shut hospitality, Jonathan Van-Tam says it would not be right to pre-empt what the PM will announce later.

But he says we know the virus thrives on human contact.

He refers to the Japanese advice about "the three Cs: closed spaces, crowded spaces and close contact" are all factors that help the virus. He says he would add noise too, because it makes people shout. 

Prof Powis says he is "very confident that infection rates are increasing in the community". 

10:28 AM

30pc of Manchester Royal Infirmary's critical care beds occupied by Covid patients

Jane Eddleston, an intensive care consultant from the Manchester Royal Infirmary, stresses that 30 per cent of their critical care beds are occupied by Covid patients.

Some patients need to go on ventilation soon after being admitted.

It is a very serious virus, she says.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam played down the impact of the return of schools on the resurgence of the virus.

England's deputy chief medical officer said: "If you salami slice the infection data very carefully across the school age bands, what you actually see is very low rates of increase in infection up to around the age of 16 and then picking up a bit in the 17-18-year-olds as we drift into that age bracket... of really quite intense transmission.

"The evidence that there is significant transmission in schools is not really borne out by the increased infection rates and indeed we already know that children are not drivers of infection and spread in the community in the same way we know they are for influenza, for example."

10:26 AM

Nightingale Hospitals in North ordered to prepare for influx of patients

Steve Powis says they are not just concerned about hospitalisations, but the "debilitating" symptoms of long Covid. 

"This is not just a problem for the elderly, it is a problem for all age groups," he adds. 

The NHS is well prepared for the second wave, he adds, pointing to the treatments that have been developed, which have helped to improve outcomes. 

And there is enough PPE stockpiled to last four months, he says. Elective and planned care will also be able to continue, he says. Advances in knowledge about asymptomatic transmission is also help to keep on top of the spread, he says. 

But despite this, there are new measures that need to be introduced, Prof Powis says. One is regular testing for staff in high risk areas, even if they don't have symptoms. 

And secondly, Nightingale Hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate have been asked to reopen. 

He notes that there is still no vaccine or cure for Covid and reminds people it will take some weeks for any measures to take effect. 

Measures will take time to have an effect, says Dr Powis

10:20 AM

Steep rises in hospital admissions among older age groups, says NHS boss

Steve Powis then turns to the age issue, with increased admissions in the 65-84 and 85+ age groups. 

There are "steep rises" in these two age groups, he says. 

"The claim without taking further action the elderly can be fenced off from risk is proving to be wishful thinking," he says. 

Hospitalisations by age

 Looking at local hospitals, you can see the steepest increases in Liverpool, Dr Powis says. 

Local hospitalisations

 If they continue to rise at this level, they will be treating more patients than they did during the last peak, he says. 

10:16 AM

More Covid patients in hospital now than pre-March lockdown, says NHS boss

Steve Powis, national medical director of NHS England and Professor of Renal Medicine at University College London, says the NHS Test and Trace is the "vital second line of defence" after hand washing and social distancing. 

There is "renewed growth of infection rates", he notes, which means we are having to make greater use of our third line of defence - hospitals. 

He notes that both the Netherlands and France are in a similar position, with emergency measures being activated in Paris last week, where around 40 per cent of intensive care beds are occupied by Covid patients. 

There is a similar rate in Spain, he says, and we are starting to see "similar pressures" in the UK. 

There are now more patients in hospital than there were before the March lockdown, he adds.

Newly reported hospital cases
Seven day rolling average of hospital patients

10:11 AM

Jonathan Van-Tam warns of 'incremental creep' through age bands

Jonathan Van-Tam then turns to another chart, showing the infection rate was highest in the 16-29 year olds, but there is an "incremental creep" up the age bands. 

The North West experienced all of this first, but that pattern is likely to be followed elsewhere, he says. 

How cases spread through the ages


10:09 AM

Infection rates are spreading south, says Jonathan Van-Tam

Jonathan Van-Tam notes there is "a lag" between hospital admissions and deaths. The hospital admissions now are related to infections from three weeks ago. 

"Already with the cases we know about we have baked in additional hospital admissions, and deaths," he says. 

He turns to the next chart which shows "clearly where things are heating up", and that extends further south than cases currently suggest. 

Cases are extending further south

 It has changed in just a few days, he says, "and that is clearly of great concern to me". 

Prof Van-Tam notes that so far it has been focused on younger people, but of "significant concern" is the chart below, showing the increase in elderly infections. 

Spread among 60+

10:04 AM

There has been a "marked pick up" in cases since September, says Jonathan Van-Tam

Jonathan Van-Tam says today's briefing is focused on preparing for the next stage of the epidemic. 

The deputy chief medical officer begins with the chart below, which shows "very clearly" the spring first wave. 

He says comparing it with the second peak is "apples and pears" because testing has increased so much, but the key point is "having had a very flat summer" from early September there has been a "marked pick up". 

Cases by specimen date in the UK


09:57 AM

Restaurants will not be shut down under most restrictive lockdown tier, says Liverpool Mayor

Restaurants in the most restrictive tier of lockdown will not have to shut completely under the new system being announced today, a local leader has said. 

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said on Twitter that leaders in the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (CA) had been told restaurants would not have to close under the new restrictions.

 This will give some parts of the hospitality sector a much-needed life line - but will prompt questions about what qualifies as a restaurant, with gastropubs treading a fine line between the two. 

09:45 AM

How much will MPs earn next year if the pay rise goes ahead?

Questions are being asked about the appropriateness of a 4.1 per cent pay rise for MPs at a time when many people are losing their jobs. 

The pay rise, which is decided upon by independent body IPSA, would amount to £3,300, taking the annual salary to more than £85,000 from next April. 

This morning Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, suggested that while MPs have no control over the decision, a cross-party group would look to either donate it to frontline workers or have it turned down in some way.

09:40 AM

Too many chiefs? Jonathan Van-Tam arrives ahead of briefing

We will be hearing from Jonathan Van-Tam at 11am this morning, where the deputy chief medical officer is expected to set out the medical rationale for the lockdown restrictions Boris Johnson will unveil this afternoon. 

It's likely we will get an update on national cases and a sense of where we are on the chart of doom set out by the two chiefs - Sir Patrick Vallance and Prof Chris Whitty - a couple of weeks ago.

Jonathan Van-Tam arrives at Downing Street this morning - AFP

The Prime Minister will then announce the new measures in the Commons from 3:30pm today, after which he will hold a televised Downing Street press conference where he will be joined by the Chancellor and the Chief Medical Officer.  

Mr Johnson is expected to announce a new system of “Local Covid Alert Levels” in England. The country will be placed into “medium”, “high” and “very high” alert levels.  

09:32 AM

Margaret Ferrier defiant as she claims she was 'hung out to dry' by SNP

Margaret Ferrier has claimed she was "hung out to dry" by the SNP and said she has no intention of standing down as an MP. 

In an interview with The Scottish Sun the Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP said the infection caused her to act "out of character" and she "panicked" before taking the train trip back to Scotland.

Ms Ferrier told the newspaper: "They were not considering the fact that I had only been diagnosed with Covid and I don't know how that's going to affect my mental state...  Losing the whip was more of a slap in the face because of all the hard work that I have done for the party since I joined it." 

She added: "I felt I was being hung out to dry."

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford defended the party's actions saying she had "breached the trust of her constituents" and removing the whip was the limit of what he could do.

He told BBC's Good Morning Scotland: "The idea that Margaret as an elected politician didn't know what the requirements are is a bit fanciful to say the least."

Margaret Ferrier travelled between Glasgow and Westminster having tested positive for coronavirus - AFP

09:17 AM

Have your say: Will coronavirus be under control by Christmas?

Oliver Dowden this morning said the measures being implemented this week are designed to get coronavirus under control by Christmas. 

Previously Boris Johnson has indicated that he wanted to "protect" the festive season - presumably not just because of its social and cultural significance, but because the economy hinges on a forth quarter splurge. 

But with many parts of the North under lockdown for many weeks with no sign of transmission abating, is this realistic - or are ministers trying to feed us false hope? 

Have your say in the poll below. 

09:06 AM

Darren Grimes hits back at Starmer's 'extraordinary' comments on police investigation

Darren Grimes has hit back at "absolutely extraordinary" comments made by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer over a police investigation into the blogger.

As noted in the post below, Sir Keir told LBC that while there must be "tolerance of free speech, as a general proposition, there is a line.

"When people go over the line it’s right that it’s investigated."

The pro-Brexit blogger said this had "terrifying repercussions for freedom of the press."

08:49 AM

Police should investigate when 'line is crossed', says Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has said it is right that police investigate issues when a "line is crossed", in light of the probe into  pro-Brexit blogger Darren Grimes on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred.

The former BeLeave campaigner has been asked to attend a police station to be interviewed under caution after publishing a podcast in which historian David Starkey said slavery was not genocide because there are "so many damn blacks".

The Labour leader and former Director of Public Prosecutions said "sometimes" the police do have to be involved. 

"When I was DPP there was lot of focus on whether what was said on social media should be policed or not, but a line can be crossed," he told LBC. 

"Journalists have right to ask questions, and has to be tolerance of free speech, but there has to be a line and when that is crossed it is right that investigated."

Darren Grimes has described the investigation as 'an abuse of taxpayers' money'  - Jeff Gilbert

08:40 AM

Downing Street still locked in talks with local leaders over new tiered system

Local officials are still in discussions with the Government as to what restrictions should apply in the area, with just a few hours before Boris Johnson is due to set them out to MPs.

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said they have made the case that Greater Manchester should be placed in Tier 2 rather than the stricter Tier 3 which could mean closing pubs and bars.

"They have not been able to show us any data that connects bars and pubs in Greater Manchester with transmission of the Covid-19 virus. They have not been able to provide any evidence that closing them down will work," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We have far more finely-grained data collected by our own directors of public health that seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of Covid."

The Prime Minister is scheduled to speak in the Commons from 3:30pm, followed by a press conference to the nation at 6pm.

08:33 AM

Back farmers on food standards, says Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has said farmers should be supported and food standards protected after the UK leaves the EU. 

Farmers are taking part in a tractor demonstration today, outside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Parliament Square in Westminster as MPs prepare to vote on an amendment to the Agriculture Bill proposed by peers.

The House of Lords last month amended the Bill in a bid to block the import of foodstuffs produced abroad with lower animal welfare standards, amid warnings over chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef entering the UK market from the US.

The Government is expected to overturn the amendment in the Commons, and has consistently argued that existing protections are already in place and they have no intention of watering them down.

Sir Keir stressed that the National Farmers' Union "are not saying if these products come in will be unsafe. They are saying standards will go down, the way we farm will be affected."

"I think we should back our farmers on this."

The Labour leader told LBC: "I don't want chlorinated chicken, I don't think most people do." 

But asked if he would eat it, he added: "I am a vegetarian - if I did, I would be all sorts of trouble with my family.

08:23 AM

Jeremy Corbyn was 'wrong' to have broken rule of six, says Sir Keir Starmer

Jeremy Corbyn was "wrong" to have broken the rule of six at a recent dinner party, his successor as Labour leader has said. 

Sir Keir Starmer told LBC it was wrong for the MP to attend the dinner party, and that it is right he has apologised.

He also criticised Matt Hancock for having made a tasteless joke at a Commons bar last week. 

The Health Secretary is reported to have arrived at the bar just before a 9.40pm vote, ordered a glass of white wine and joked: "The drinks are on me - but Public Health England are in charge of the payment methodology so I will not be paying anything."

Mr Hancock's alleged reference to Public Health England came after he had addressed the Commons regarding the controversy over the organisation misplacing nearly 16,000 coronavirus test results.

A senior Tory MP told the Mail on Sunday that Mr Hancock remained in the Smoking Room bar until at least 10.25pm, something which he has denied. 

Jeremy Corbyn was wrong to attend a rule-breaking dinner party - AFP

08:20 AM

MPs should not get £3,300 pay rise, says Sir Keir Starmer

MPs should not get the £3,300 payrise - but they do not have any control over whether they do, Sir Keir Starmer has said. 

The pay rise has been proposed from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the independent body responsible for overseeing MPs' pay, pensions and expenses.

Speaking to LBC this morning, he said: "We shouldn't have it. This year of all years, that money should be spent on key workers, those who have been on frontline.

"We don't have any control over it, but I absolutely agree.... this is not the right thing to do."

He suggested there would be a "discussion cross-party" about next steps. 

08:17 AM

Brexit deal 'can be done' in remaining days, says Labour leader

Sir Keir Starmer has ruled out any extension to the transition period, saying that he believes a Brexit deal can be done in the remaining four days. 

The Labour leader, who backed a second referendum as shadow Brexit secretary, repeated his view that the debate between Leave and Remain is over. 

He told LBC he believes a  "deal can be done" and "it's in the national interest to have a deal". 

But the bigger question is about Boris Johnon's understanding of the Withdrawal Agreement, he says. 

"Did he know what he was signing? If he did, why did he mis-sell it? If he didnt' - well, that's just new levels of incompetence," he said. 

08:13 AM

Government has been treating local communities 'with contempt', says Labour leader

The Government has been treating local communities "with contempt", Sir Keir Starmer has said. 

The Labour leader claimed that it had been "a major mistake of Government to have done everything from Whitehall", saying that if there had been better engagement with local leaders problems with measures such as the pub curfew would have been identified before they were brought in. 

Instead the approach had been that "Whitehall knows best, we will tell you what is coming your way," he told LBC. 

"Up until now this has been done to people, particularly in the north, not with them," he added. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer - Getty

08:08 AM

Ministers 'certainly not panicking' over second wave, says Culture Secretary

The Government has not been panicked into imposing unnecessary new coronavirus controls, the Culture Secretary has said. 

Oliver Dowden said the case for new restrictions on the hospitality sector is supported by the Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

"We are certainly not panicking. We are taking reasonable and proportionate measures because we can see the risk coming down the line," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It is sadly the case that the number of deaths tends to lag the number of infections. If you look at the lead indicators - both the number of infections and now sadly the number of people that are in hospitals with Covid - all of those point to a rapidly rising disease. The path is very clear."

"We know there are challenges around hospitality - for example, the obvious point you can't wear a mask when you are sat down and eating, that frequently you are in contact (with people) that you don't normally meet, and we know that the virus thrives on that kind of social interaction."

08:04 AM

What's on the agenda today?

It is going to be another busy day in SW1A, although much of the work will be carried out behind closed doors, with the Prime Minister, his advisers and officials pulling together the final details of the new lockdown approach. 

Boris Johnson held a telephone conference with Cabinet colleagues last night to agree in principle the new three-tiered system, and the closures they will bring. 

This morning, a Cobra meeting was convened at around 8am to finalise the details.

At 11am there will be a public data briefing with the deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, and representatives from the NHS.

The Prime Minister's statement to the Commons is expected at around 3.30pm, and his press conference, alongside Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty will be broadcast at 6pm.

Both the statement and the press conference will be streamed live on The Telegraph's YouTube channel, and we will run it on Politics Live too. 

Standing on the wings: Dominic Cummings arrives at Downing Street this morning - Reuters

07:58 AM

Local leaders 'shouting at the wind' on lockdown, says Liverpool metro mayor

Local leaders can do nothing to prevent a lockdown being imposed - but they can fight for a better support package, the metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region has said. 

"We are told that the order will be placed before Parliament today, there will be some debate tomorrow, but that the orders are likely to be enacted on Wednesday," Steve Rotheram told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"What we are trying to do is to see whether we can get support and the support package for the businesses in our city region that will be affected by the Government's decision."

"We were told we were going into Tier 3, no ifs, no buts. We can either expend energy on that or we can try and get a better deal," he said, in an apparent reference to comments by other local leaders including the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson.

"Some people like to shout at the wind but if they can't change the direction of the wind it is important to shield people from its effects."

07:52 AM

Government accused of 'lockdown by diktat' by Liverpool mayor

The Government has been accused of imposing 'lockdown by diktat' - and blaming local leaders for not getting the virus under control.  

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson is among those involved in the intense discussions over this weekend, although he claimed that rather than having been agreed "we have been told this is what Government intends to do with “no buts”.

This morning, he added:

07:38 AM

Bank of England mulls negative interest rates for first time

The Bank of England is considering introducing negative interest rates for the first time in its history, as it seeks to boost growth amid the pandemic-induced economic crisis. 

Sam Woods, boss of the central bank’s Prudential Regulation Authority, has written to banks asking them to consider what they must do to avoid any disruption from "a zero or negative" base rate next year. 

Mr Woods said:

Responding to this letter and the structured survey questions attached will help us and firms to identify whether there are any technical operational challenges associated with the implementation of a zero or negative Bank Rate, and to consider how best to prepare and prevent any unintended operational disruption that could be associated with a change should the MPC decide it was appropriate.

Members of the committee have said it is months away from making a decision, however.

07:26 AM

Shadow business minister demands evidence for hospitality closures

Shadow business minister and Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell called on the Government to publish proof that hospitality venues such as pubs were associated with high risk of coronavirus transmissions.

Lawyers for the Night Time Industries Association, the British Beer and Pub Association and JW Lees and Joseph Holt, two of the country's biggest brewers and pub operators, along with 10 other organisations, are among those mounting a legal challenge to the restrictions.

Northern leaders have also indicated that they could take legal action over the Government's lockdown plans on Sunday night as they demanded a more generous furlough mark II.

07:21 AM

New lockdown approach will 'empower local leaders', says minister

The Government's new approach will enable local leaders to decide what further restrictions might be needed and what enforcement should be used, Oliver Dowden has said. 

The Culture Secretary said the new tier system would be "empowering local leaders", telling BBC Breakfast: "That is why the Prime Minister and others including the Communities Secretary [Robert Jenrick] have been in intensive discussions with local leaders."

Asked about people in the arts retraining, following comments by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week, he said there will be "retraining opportunities" but emphasised the funding that had been made available within the sector.

He added: "We are working hard to create opportunities within the performing arts and indeed the wider film and creative industries for those freelancers, we're getting in support through various schemes but of course there is also retraining should people need it."

Oliver Dowden was among the ministers to sign off measures at yesterday's emergency Cabinet meeting - Reuters

07:13 AM

New restrictions 'are necessary', says Sage scientist

A Sage scientist has said the new restrictions being imposed this week "are necessary", backing the Government on the need to grapple the spread of the virus in hospitality. 

Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Breakfast: "The science is clear that social distancing is the most effective way of stopping this virus... [and] most of the outbreaks are happening between within and between households and then after that, it's in the retail and hospitality sector.

"So, the major issue here is to focus on the cities and areas with the largest outbreaks and sadly my home city of Liverpool is being hammered at the moment. These restrictions are necessary."

Asked about the specific science underpinning restrictions on hospitality, Prof Semple said: "Alcohol and people's behaviour are well known to be factors that result in relaxation of one's adherence to regulations, let's put it politely.

"And so I can understand why this move is happening."

07:10 AM

Lifting regional lockdown will be 'exactly the same process' as before, says minister

Regions of the country under the tightest level of restrictions will be able to lift those measures once they have got "those numbers down", using "exactly the same process" as was deployed for the national lockdown. 

From Monday the Government will introduce a new system of “Local Covid Alert Levels” in England, a three-tier system that will place regions in different categories dubbed medium risk, higher and highest. There is widespread concern that this could leave some parts of the country under lockdown for the next six months.

Oliver Dowden this morning told BBC Breakfast: "In terms of getting you out [of lockdown], is it getting those numbers down and getting the virus under control - exactly the same process we went through nationwide in March and April. 

"The point of doing this now is to ensure we get the disease under control," he said. "We need to take action because if we don't take this reasonable, measured and proportionate action now we will have to take more action later on."

07:01 AM

Legal threats will be met with 'robust evidence' from Government, minister says

The Government will resist any legal challenge to close down pubs and restaurants under new coronavirus controls, a Cabinet minister has said. 

Northern leaders have indicated that they could take legal action over the Government's lockdown plans on Sunday night as they demanded a more generous furlough mark II.

The Manchester City Council leader, Sir Richard Leese, said there was a "large gulf" between the Government and councils in discussions about new restrictions, adding that its data showed there was "no evidence that closing pubs works".

But Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, told Sky News: "I think they will find that if they challenge the Government we do have robust evidence for doing this.

"The evidence shows that there is a higher risk of transmissions in hospitality settings. There is academic evidence from the United States."

06:57 AM

Local leaders still in the dark about Government's 'judgement calls' on local lockdowns

Local leaders are still scratching their heads over how the latest lockdown will affect hospitality firms, despite "intensive" discussions with ministers and officials this weekend. 

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said they still had not received confirmation of the difference between a restaurant and gastropub is in terms of where will have to close.

He told BBC Breakfast: "That's something that the Government are still working the details of. I think you'd have to ask them for the details of what they believe the difference is because it did confuse some of us."

Asked about the closure of gyms, he said: "It would appear to me that some of these things - we asked for the evidence of course - some of these things are a judgment call.

"Our directors of public health have looked at this and they didn't push back greatly against the list (of places to close) and all we need to do now is if the Government can provide us with that scientific evidence that says that there are some outbreaks in gyms and other things that are on the list then we have to accept that.

"If not of course we'll be asking for them to release those restrictions as soon as they possibly can."

06:46 AM

PM calls last orders for the North in new lockdowns

Boris Johnson will on Monday unveil tough new regional lockdowns that are expected to see hundreds of pubs in the north-west of England closed for four weeks from 5pm on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister is expected to signal that six boroughs in Liverpool, covering 1.6 million people, could be the first to be placed in the highest tier of new restrictions.  Pubs, gyms, casinos, bookmakers and social clubs will be shut for at least a month and up to six months.

The regions deemed at highest risk could also face bans on households mixing indoors and outdoors, on overnight stays outside their area and on all but essential travel for work or education in or beyond the region.

These additional restrictions are not expected to be enforced in Liverpool for the time being.  However, the Army logistics corps has been called up to help with Covid testing and contact tracing in the region through mobile centres staffed by soldiers, and the Government has provided additional funds to pay for officials to help enforce the new rules.