Coronavirus in UK: Total number of people in lockdown rises above 10 million

Tough new restrictions come into force in north-east of England, hours after Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland was also considering new lockdown rules.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 7:37 am
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 10:51 am

Following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that the Scottish Government was “carefully considering” whether new lockdown rules were required “for all or parts of the country”, tough new measures to control the spread of coronavirus have come into effect in the north-east of England.

This takes the total number of people across the UK in lockdown to more than 10 million.

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At present, seven councils in the west of Scotland have local rules in place banning social gatherings indoors, but Ms Sturgeon said at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday that this could be extended to the rest of the country.

The new restrictions south of the border cover Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham and began at midnight.

Residents are banned from socialising in homes or gardens with people outside their own households or support bubble, food and drink venues are restricted to table service only and leisure and entertainment venues must close at 10pm.

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The changes run alongside the England-wide six-person limit on social gatherings.

The total number of people in lockdown in the UK has risen above 10 million.

It takes the total number of people under in areas under additional restrictions across the UK to more than 10 million, covering parts of Scotland, south Wales, the north west and north east of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Labour warned months ago that unless the Government spent the summer fixing the testing regime then we would face a bleak winter.

“The Government ignored that advice, the testing regime is collapsing and so it is not surprising national restrictions are back on the table.”

Meanwhile, the Government is expected to announce tighter restrictions on care home visits in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases.

Care homes in areas subject to local lockdowns may be advised to temporarily restrict visits in all but end-of-life situations, it is understood.

For parts of the country where there is no local lockdown, but where community transmission is a cause for concern, an option officials are considering is advising that visits are restricted to one designated visitor per resident.

The Government will set out further details on Friday in its social care action plan to help fight the spread of coronavirus over winter.

The Financial Times reported that leading scientists advising the UK Government have proposed a two-week national lockdown in October to tackle the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The experts, from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-m), have suggested a lockdown to coincide with the October school half-term, it added.

It comes as the head of NHS Test and Trace denied it was “failing”, and a senior minister hit out at people for “carping” about its flaws.

Baroness Dido Harding – head of NHS Test and Trace – acknowledged demand was significantly outstripping capacity.

But she said the size of the system had been based on modelling by the Government’s scientific advisers, and suggested the problems were exacerbated by people without symptoms seeking tests for which they were ineligible.

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