Coronavirus UK news – Schools face being sued if they close early to halt the spread of coronavirus before Christmas

2 months ago 22
TOUGH LESSON

Live Blog

12 Dec 2020, 23:51Updated: 12 Dec 2020, 23:51

SCHOOLS have been threatened with legal action by government ministers amid fears many will shut early in a bid to halt the spread of Covid among pupils before Christmas.

Secondary schools across London and the South East of England are expected to tell parents that they will be closing early for the holidays.

At least one council has already told some of its schools that it would support them to move to online learning only for the last week of term.

But senior sources at the Department for Education (DfE) have warned schools and councils that it would be prepared to apply for High Court injunctions to force them to stay open.

It comes as mass coronavirus testing is being rolled out at secondary schools in parts of London, Kent and Essex in a bid to keep them open in the coming weeks.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans...

DOZENS OF GPS OPT OUT OF VACCINATION PROGRAMME

Dozens of GP practices in England have decided to opt out of the Pfizer jab rollout reportedly due to workload issues.

Other concerns expressed by GPs include staff shortages and the impact on patients if other services have to be cut back, The Guardian reported.

The newspaper said some 100,000 patients – of the more than 60 million registered at GP practices across England – would not be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine from their family doctor.

You can read more here

IN PICTURES: PIERS CORBYN SPEAKS TO CROWD IN PICCADILLY GARDENS, MANCHESTER DURING ANTI-LOCKDOWN RALLY

Credit: Alamy Live News

OH KNICKERS!

Adele and Michelle Obama will be in despair - their favourite silk firm has gone into administration and Covid has been blamed.

Vanners, of Sudbury, Suffolk, say coronavirus has hit orders, even though the company has been making designer face masks during the pandemic.

The masks, costing £12 for a packet of two, have failed to save the firm, and administrators are hunting a buyer for all or part of Silk Industries Limited, trading as Vanners, in a dramatic turn-round in the firm's fortunes.

Less than a year ago the company, whose customers include top-selling singer Adele and former First Lady Michelle Obama, unveiled expansion plans with the possibility of new jobs.

Administrator James Lumb said: "Vanners had been experiencing difficult trading conditions for some time, which was exacerbated by the severe impact of Covid-19 on the fashion sector."

MAKING LONDON TIER 3 WILL INFLICT 'CATASTROPHIC' DAMAGE WARN TORY MPs

London Conservative MPs have urged Boris Johnson not to inflict "catastrophic" damage on the capital by moving it into Tier 3 on Wednesday.

In a letter seen by The Mail On Sunday, the parliamentarians have urged the PM to spare the capital because a lockdown would hurt "people across the nation" who depend on the "wealth generated by our great city".

A review of the tiered system will take place on December 16.

Six senior Conservatives signed the letter which warned many London Tory MPs could vote against the Government's coronavirus approach when it's reviewed next month.

Credit: Rex Features

KARREN BRADY: CLOSING SCHOOLS HAS HAD A DEVASTATING EFFECT ON CHILDREN OF ALL AGES AND SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN

The full extent of the fallout and legacy of the first lockdown is only just beginning to reveal itself.

But one thing is clear: It has had a huge, detrimental impact on children in a way that is only becoming fully evident now they are back at school.

At the virtual Work and Pensions Committee meeting this week, MPs were told that pupils are having more fall-outs with fellow pupils since returning to school. And they have struggled to get back into routines, many having spent most of lockdown playing video games.

Headteachers said pupils had fallen behind in reading and maths and become physically unfit. I guess that is what nine months with a total loss of routine will do.

The truth is that lockdown has had a devastating effect on children of all ages. New research shows that more than half of parents feel lockdowns have had a detrimental effect on their children’s mental wellbeing.

Read Karren Brady's comment piece HERE.

FLAT OUT

I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!'s AJ Pritchard and his girlfriend Abbie Quinnen appeared to break Tier 2 lockdown rules as they attended a party in London.

The pair, who have been dating since 2018, partied with friends at nightclub JAKO London in High Street Kensington before relocating to AJ's cousin's flat when the enforced curfew kicked in.

They arrived at the cousin's home at around 11pm, with others also spotted entering the building before AJ and Abbie left at around 1am.

Current lockdown rules in London amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic state that different households are not allowed to mix indoors unless there is a very specific reason - such as childcare.

The Sun have contacted AJ's rep for comment.

RELAXING RESTRICTIONS COULD 'TRIGGER THIRD WAVE', NHS BOSSES WARN

Relaxing coronavirus restrictions could trigger a third wave of the virus during the busiest time of year for hospitals, NHS bosses have warned.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts in England, urged "extreme caution" in moving any region to a lower tier.

The tiered system will be reviewed on December 16.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told the BBC: "We're about to hit our busiest time of year so people are really worried that if we relax the restrictions now the NHS simply won't be able to cope with all of the work that it needs to do in late December, January and February."

UK COVID DEATHS RISE BY 516 IN HIGHEST SATURDAY RISE FOR 7 MONTHS

Covid deaths in the UK rose by 516 in the highest Saturday rise in seven months with 21,502 new cases.

The rise in infections now means a total of 124,988 people have now tested positive for the disease.

The latest figures released by the Department of Health puts the total number of people who have died from Covid at 64,026.

The rise is the highest on a Saturday since May 2 when 584 died.

TIGHTENING RESTRICTIONS

Germany will close shops from the middle of next week in a tightening of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, people familiar with the matter have said.

The decision came ahead of a meeting planned for Sunday morning between Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders as Europe's largest economy grapples with a rise in infections.

Germany has been in partial lockdown for six weeks, with bars and restaurants closed, while stores and schools have remained open. 

Markus Soeder, premier of Bavaria, told Bild that the new measures would include schools, kindergartens, contacts and shops.

"We definitely have to take the necessary measures before mid-week," he said.

We must take steps in the coming days that are very far-reaching and very hard-hitting," finance minister Olaf Scholz said.

TESTING FARCE

Rapid coronavirus lateral flow tests pick up just half of all infections, researchers have warned.

The 30-minute tests fail to catch people with low levels of the virus, a new pilot found.

The study of 3,199 people using the Innova test was carried out by the University of Liverpool, the Financial Times reports.

It comes as the government plans to roll out millions of the tests as part of its mass testing programme.

More than one million rapid Lateral Flow Tests were sent to 385 of Britain's biggest care homes in the first phase of the national roll out to allow visiting by Christmas.

But four major care home chains and nine councils have refused to use the rapid tests for visitors over fears about their accuracy, The Daily Mail reports.

A lateral flow test is processed at Swansea university

A lateral flow test is processed at Swansea university

SADIQ KHAN URGES LONDONERS TO 'SHOP SAFE' THIS WEEKEND

Christmas shoppers in the capital this weekend have been urged to follow social-distancing measures and wear face coverings by the Mayor of London.

Sadiq Khan appealed to Londoners to keep a two-metre distance where possible as he said it was "vital" to work together to tackle rising coronavirus cases in the city.

Crowds were out and about in shopping districts of major cities on Saturday, including on London's Regent Street, which had been temporarily pedestrianised to aid with social distancing.

A joint statement from Mr Khan and Cllr Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, said a "key" part of helping businesses recover from the crisis was "ensuring we get this deadly virus under control".

"With cases rising in many parts of the capital, it is vital that we all work together to control its spread," they said.

"Otherwise we may face tougher restrictions, which would greatly harm shops in the West End, our hospitality sector and the whole of London's economy."

IS LONDON GOING INTO TIER 3?

London is on the brink of be plunged into Tier 3 lockdown next Saturday after coronavirus infections in the capital became the highest in England.

All the city's boroughs were placed in Tier 2 when the one-month lockdown in England ended on December 2.

There is a threat London could be moved into Tier 3 as soon as next week due to a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

The capital recorded 191.8 new cases per 100,000 in the week to December 6, according to a report published by Public Health England - 20 per cent higher than the week before.

Health ministers told London MPs that the positive test rate across the UK is 5.9 per cent - but it's more than 7 per cent in the capital.

One MP said: "It feels like they are preparing us for Tier 3. The data is pointing that way."

LANCASHIRE RECORDS ALMOST 500 CASES

Almost 500 new Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Lancashire.

Data from Public Health England reveal that 490 infections have emerged in the past 24 hours.

Preston saw the highest increase, with 75 new cases, while Fylde has the lowest number with six, Lancs Live reports.

There has now been 67,104 recorded cases of coronavirus in Lancashire, although the figure is expected to be much higher due to testing issues in the early stages of the pandemic.

Lancashire is currently under Tier 3 restrictions meaning pubs, bars and restaurants can only operate as takeaways.

A review of the tiered system will take place on December 16.

FOUR CHARGED AFTER ANTI-LOCKDOWN MARCH IN EDINBURGH

Four men have been arrested and charged following an anti-lockdown protest in Edinburgh.

A group of around 70 people marched from outside the Scottish Parliament to Bute House, the First Minister's official residence, on Saturday.

Some of those marching held up signs promoting conspiracy theories about the virus.

Police Scotland say they took appropriate action against the "illegal march".

Four men - aged 37, 31, 53 and 31 - are due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date.

CLIMATE CHANGE 'FAR MORE DESTRUCTIVE' THAN COVID

Boris Johnson has said climate change is "far more destructive" than coronavirus as he opened an environmental conference.

The virtual Climate Ambition Summit was set up to keep pressure on countries to set out ambitious carbon reduction plans, after the planned COP26 climate talks were postponed due to the pandemic.

Many countries set out plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as ratcheting up short-term goals to drastically reduce greenhouse gasses in the next decade.

Boris, who co-hosted the event, warned climate change was far more destructive than Covid-19.

The PM said the world needed “scientific advances to protect our entire planet against a challenge far more destructive even than coronavirus”.

Read our full report HERE.

'DON'T GO CRAZY'

The mum of a nurse who died of Covid-19 has urged Brits to "rethink" their Christmas plans because the disease "is still deadly".

Rebecca Mack, 29, was found dead at her home in Morpeth, Northumberland, in April.

The NHS nurse was self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.

Her parents Marion and Alan have urged families to take care over the festive period and protect both themselves and their loved ones from catching the virus.

Marion, 60, told Chronicle Live: "We are quite concerned that people will go crazy over Christmas.

"You can't stop people meeting at Christmas, but people should try and do that at a distance."

NHS nurse Rebecca Mack died of Covid-19 in April

NHS nurse Rebecca Mack died of Covid-19 in April

MASS TESTING TO BE ROLLED OUT IN KENT

Mass testing will start in all 12 boroughs of Kent from Monday.

They featured in a list of 67 areas where community testing programmes can start as part of the Government's Covid-19 Winter Plan.

More than 1.6 million rapid turnaround lateral flow tests would be delivered for use this month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the enhanced testing programmes follow a successful pilot in Liverpool and will be a “vital additional tool” in finding asymptomatic cases.

Experts have previously suggested relying on rapid tests that give a result in minutes could mean a high proportion of cases are missed with false negative results.

LEWIS SAYS HE'S NOT 100% AFTER COVID BATTLE

Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton said he was still feeling the after-effects of COVID-19 after qualifying third for Formula One's Abu Dhabi season-ender but vowed to give his all in Sunday's race.

The 35-year-old returned to the track after testing positive for the virus and missing the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain last weekend.

"I am not 100%, I still have some feeling within my lungs," he said.

"Normally, I would drive even if one of my arms was hanging off. That's what we do as racing drivers and luckily that's not the case," he added.

"It definitely won't be the easiest of races physically but I will manage and give it absolutely everything I've got."

XMAS DELIVERY

Cards, gifts and letters to Father Christmas must be posted soon to make sure they arrive with loved ones before Christmas day.

Royal Mail is warning that a huge surge in demand because of coronavirus restrictions is likely to cause delivery chaos.

It's best to get ahead and get things posted as early as possible so they arrive in time.

Royal Mail warns customers on its website: "Please post items and gifts for Christmas early, particularly for International deliveries." 

"Ongoing Covid restrictions, reduced air and freight capacity, high volumes and winter weather conditions are all impacting transportation and local delivery across the globe."

Click HERE to find the very last posting days you need to know about so they get there before December 25.

CHILDREN PLAN TO LEAVE HAND SANITISER FOR SANTA THIS CHRISTMAS

A quarter of children in the UK are planning to leave hand sanitiser for Santa this Christmas to keep them and their families safe.

Research carried out by Simplisafe found that kids are now turning to technology – such as home security cameras – to try and catch Santa in the act.

Over a fifth of children will leave a healthy snack for Santa, with one in ten offering him a vegan treat.

But because of concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic, 30 per cent of children are worried Santa may still have to shield this Christmas.

Andrew Thompson, UK Head of Marketing at SimpliSafe, said: “Kids are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and many of them are finding setting up a home security system incredibly easy.

“But despite the new and creative methods children are employing to catch a glimpse of Santa, he has managed to outwit generations of kids, so we’re confident his magic will get him through 2020 too!”

Children are planning to leave hand sanitiser for Santa this Christmas

Children are planning to leave hand sanitiser for Santa this Christmas

JOHN CLEESE CHANNELS BASIL FAWLTY AS HE URGES PEOPLE OF BASILDON TO FOLLOW CORONAVIRUS RULES

Actor John Cleese has channeled his inner Basil Fawlty as he urged residents in Basildon to follow the government's covid guidelines.

The video, posted by Essex Coronavirus Action, comes as Basildon recorded 500 cases per 100,000 in the week ending December 7 - making it the third worst affected area in England.

Cleese, who starred in Fawlty Towers, said he had been asked to make a video "encouraging Basildon people to start following Covid rules, please".

"Now this is a slightly unusual request, because they want me to do sort of Basil Fawlty and I did Basil Fawlty rather well in the 70s. But I'm now incredibly old, I'm nearly dead, I am 81 years of age and I don't have the energy to do Basil Fawlty," the comedian said.

"Listen, nice people from Basildon, just be careful. We are talking about your lives here, you know?

"I know it's a bore, but you're dealing with reality here, not with people trying to order you around."

WELSH GOV ‘PREPARED’ TO SEE ‘RANGE OF PEOPLE IGNORE RULES’ DURING CHRISTMAS

Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government could theoretically break the agreement between Westminster and devolved administrations to relax social distancing rules for five days over the festive period, but added it would cause a loss of trust.

He said: “There are huge issues here about trust in the government.

“If we were to upset those rules we would lose lots of trust from a large number of people who have stuck with us and we would also see I’m afraid a range of people prepared to ignore the rules.

“Even with the agreement in place we’re likely to see a number of people go beyond that anyway.

“That’s why we are anticipating an increase after Christmas and why I expect there will be an increase after New Year’s Eve as well.”

WORLD WILL 'INEVITABLY' BE HIT BY ANOTHER DEADLY WAVE - BUT BRITAIN WILL BE READY

The world will "inevitably" be hit by another deadly virus following the coronavirus pandemic, a top biochemist has said.

Kate Bingham warned a new outbreak could be linked to deforestation and animals moving from their natural environments.

But the expert said that if another virus hit the world, Britain would be ready to tackle it this time.

Ms Bingham, 55, told The Times: “With deforestation you are chopping down environments where these animals are living and they end up co-locating in environments they haven’t before and they spread it to humans.”

The biochemist said she is “hugely optimistic” about the future because after the Covid-19 pandemic it will be easier to combat another outbreak.

IS LONDON GOING INTO TIER 3 LOCKDOWN?

London is on the brink of be plunged into Tier 3 lockdown next Saturday after coronavirus infections in the capital became the highest in England.

All the city's boroughs were placed in Tier 2 when the one-month lockdown in England ended on December 2.

There is a threat London could be moved into Tier 3 as soon as next week due to a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

The capital recorded 191.8 new cases per 100,000 in the week to December 6, according to a report published by Public Health England - 20 per cent higher than the week before.

Health ministers told London MPs that the positive test rate across the UK is 5.9 per cent - but it's more than 7 per cent in the capital.

Read more on the story here.

ENGLISH SCHOOLS COULD FACE LEGAL ACTION IF THEY PLAN TO SHUT EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS

Schools in England planning to allow pupils to learn remotely in the run-up to Christmas could face legal action to force them to remain open.

New powers introduced through the Coronavirus Act allow the Government to issue "directions" to headteachers around education provision during the pandemic.

But should schools fail to comply after being directed to remain open, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson could apply for a High Court injunction forcing them to do so.

The Department for Education (DfE) said directions under the act would only be used as a "last resort", while a court order would be the "final stage" if they were not followed.

It comes as a headteacher in Ware, Hertfordshire, was sent a "minded to direct" letter from schools minister Nick Gibb warning that the emergency powers could be used.

Read Entire Article