Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick insists bars will stay open

NO plans to shut England’s pubs: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick insists bars will stay open despite Chris Whitty warning they may have to close so schools can restart in September

  • Robert Jenrick this morning said the Government has no plans to shut pubs
  • He added that schools would definitely return to full capacity in September
  • It comes after Chris Whitty warned that if schools are reopen in September some restrictions may have to be reimposed 

There are no plans to shut England’s pubs the Housing Secretary said today despite England’s Chief Medical Officer warning that they may have to close so schools can restart in September.

Robert Jenrick, this morning was asked on Times Radio whether the Government would look to close pubs after a rise in coronavirus transmissions and said: ‘We don’t have any plans to do that.’

He added that schools would definitely return to full capacity in September and confirmed it would be the priority should there be a second spike of infections.

It comes just days after Chris Whitty warned the country had ‘probably reached near the limit or the limits’ of what can be done to return to life as normal for now.

He suggested trade-offs would have to be made if schools are to reopen in September, with some restrictions being reimposed. 

The packed Westbourne in west London on Friday night. Mr Jenrick has denied pubs will close

Families could be asked to avoid using public transport or meeting other households under one option. 

But Mr Jenrick said said the government had no plans to close pubs or another nationwide lockdown.

He said:  ‘I think you’re right to say that reopening schools and getting our children back into the classroom with that direct face-to-face contact with their teachers will be a priority for the Government when we have to make those tough choices,’ he said.

He said any fresh restrictions were unlikely to apply wholesale, adding: ‘We don’t want to do anything that is a blanket approach across the country.

‘Our strategy is to manage this in a localised way with targeted action as we’ve done in Leicester, as we’re doing now in the north-west.

‘We will follow the data and look at options if we have to but that approach is the way we restrict in certain areas – it is difficult for those who live there but it provides greater freedom for the rest of the country, for businesses to reopen and for people to get on with their daily lives, and that has to be the way forward if we can.’

Robert Jenrick, this morning was asked on Times Radio whether the Government would look to close pubs after a rise in coronavirus transmissions and said: 'We don't have any plans to do that'

Robert Jenrick, this morning was asked on Times Radio whether the Government would look to close pubs after a rise in coronavirus transmissions and said: ‘We don’t have any plans to do that’

It comes as shutting pubs again to allow schools to reopen risks putting millions out of work, shattering confidence and costing the economy dear, Ministers have been warned.

A top Government adviser yesterday said the move might be necessary as a ‘trade-off’ to stem a possible rise in coronavirus cases caused by 10 million children returning to the classroom.

Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said most people would prioritise ‘the health and wellbeing of children’ over going to the pub.

Kate Nicholls, of Hospitality UK, which represents pubs, restaurants and hotels, said shutting down ‘large chunks of the economy’ was a short-sighted strategy. 

‘We need to be focusing on collective efforts to drive down and control infections,’ she said, adding that the hospitality industry directly employs 3.2 million, with another two million reliant through supply chains. 

‘It’s simply too big to just switch off. We would be talking about millions of people unemployed, a major loss of economic activity.’  

Senior Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith said it was a ‘false choice’ to say pubs should close to allow schools to open. The former Tory leader pleaded for Ministers to ensure both are kept open.

He told The Mail on Sunday that impending ‘economic Armageddon’ was a far greater risk than Covid-19. He said: ‘Of course, we must protect the vulnerable. 

We must protect people with co-morbidities.’ But he added: ‘The rest of us should be back at work by now and schools should be opening. 

‘If we don’t get this economy moving, more people will die because the economy collapsed than will ever die of Covid.’

What trade-offs are likely to be needed to keep the virus under control?

At a gloomy Downing Street press conference yesterday, Boris Johnson was unable to deliver to usual good news of a slight relaxation of lockdown rules, moving the country a step back to normality.

After seeing spikes in infection rates across the country, and having to reimpose some measures on Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire, the Prime Minister conceded any further easing would face a delay of at least two weeks.

The government’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, went a step further by warning: ‘We have probably reached near the limit or the limits of what we can do in terms of opening up society.’

He instead explained that the Government and the public would have to decide on some ‘difficult trade-offs’ to keep the virus under control and still be able to do things like reopen schools.

So, what are these future trade-offs likely to be?

Face masks: Tightened

Already mandatory on public transport and in retail stores, the rules on wearing a face covering is to be expanded to almost all indoor public spaces.

Wearing one will become mandatory in cinemas, museums and places of worship from August 8, on top of supermarkets, banks, takeaway outlets, and post offices where it is already being enforced.

Offices, which are deemed private indoor spaces, will be exempt along with bars and restaurants. 

Boris Johnson yesterday promised that the police will be would be playing a much bigger role in enforcing the rules on face masks, as well as breaking up large gatherings.

But both the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, and the National Association of Police Chiefs said they expected shop owners and local councils to enforce the rules in the first instance  

Those who flout the rule face a fine of up to £100.

Already mandatory on public transport and in retail stores, the rules on wearing a face covering is to be expanded to almost all indoor public spaces

Weddings: Cancelled

Wedding receptions of up to 30 people – which could have been held from today – cannot take place. Ceremonies can go ahead, with restrictions, but there will be no party afterwards.

Any celebration after the ceremony must be limited to six people outdoors or the members of two households indoors.

Mr Johnson apologised but added: ‘We simply cannot take the risk.’

Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said the infection data suggests ‘we have probably reached near the limit of what we can do in terms of opening up society’.

Graham Podesta said his daughter Jamie, whose wedding is today, was in floods of tears following the announcement. ‘We have to tell people who are travelling not to travel, people who have booked into Travelodge, not to do that, it’s just a whole nightmare,’ he said. 

Beauty services: Postponed

Close-contact beauty services, such as facials, make-up application, eyebrow shaping and eyelash treatments, have been banned for another two weeks. 

Hair dressers are allowed to remain open. 

Beauty salons were allowed to open on July 13 but only for treatments away from the face, such as manicures and body massages.

Close-contact beauty services, such as facials, make-up application, eyebrow shaping and eyelash treatments, have been banned for another two weeks

Close-contact beauty services, such as facials, make-up application, eyebrow shaping and eyelash treatments, have been banned for another two weeks

Casinos and bowling alleys: Postponed

Casinos and bowling alleys, which were due to open their doors for the first time in months tomorrow have been told to remain closed.

It is feared that playing items such as poker chips and bowling balls would be difficult to clean thoroughly and regularly enough.

However, Boris Johnson urged workers to return to work as planned from next week. 

Return to offices: Yes

Mr Johnson has in recent weeks moved away from the Government’s work from home advice, encouraging people to return to the office where possible.

From today people will no longer be told to work from home where possible, and are instead being advised to take a decision jointly with their employers.

However, a Mail audit found hundreds of thousands of civil servants are still working from home two weeks after Boris Johnson urged workers to get back to the office to help save the economy. 

Ministerial departments in Whitehall are said to be ‘ghost towns’ with some seeing just 2 per cent of staff arriving at work this week.

Just a few dozen staff were seen entering the offices of the Department for Education and Department for Work and Pensions each day. The once bustling offices can hold a total of 3,500 employees. 

Reopening schools for the next academic year in September 'should be a national priority', according to the prime minister

Reopening schools for the next academic year in September ‘should be a national priority’, according to the prime minister

Back to school in September: A priority

Reopening schools for the next academic year in September ‘should be a national priority’, according to the prime minister, even if that means sacrificing other freedoms.

Teaching unions and MPs have raised concerns over the crucial months of learning that pupils have missed out on.

Professor Whitty said that decisions would have to be made about what to prioritise: for example, by allowing schools to reopen in September at the expense of other things. ‘The idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong,’ he said. ‘We are at the outer edge of what we can do and therefore choices will need to be made.’

Staycations: To the beach!

Mr Johnson denied he had ‘cancelled summer’ and encouraged people to book domestic holidays.

There are concerns the new restrictions in the north and the increase in infections in the southwest of England will scupper people’s holiday plans and deliver a further blow to Britain’s tourism industry. ‘I would encourage people still to think of wonderful staycations here in the UK,’ Mr Johnson said.

Mr Johnson denied he had 'cancelled summer' and encouraged people to book domestic holidays

Mr Johnson denied he had ‘cancelled summer’ and encouraged people to book domestic holidays

Winter

The public is being warned there will be major challenges during the winter ‘where everything is against us’.

Professor Whitty said the summer was being used to ‘test how fast we can open up’, with the advantage that people can gather outside. ‘There are clearly big disadvantages to opening things up in the winter months where everything is against us,’ he added.

Boris Johnson unveils the Government’s latest Covid slogan

Boris Johnson has urged people to remember the slogan ‘hands, face, space’ in combating Covid-19.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that it was important to keep the advice being issued as simple as possible.

It comes after the Government was accused of creating confusion around new rules issued late on Thursday for parts of northern England. 

Mr Johnson said today: ‘The only real utensil we have (in) controlling the spread of this new virus is human behaviour, and the only way we can encourage people to behave in one way or the other is through advice.

‘And so you’re totally right, we need to keep it as simple as we possibly can and that’s why, to sum it up in a nutshell, is: hands, face, space.

‘Wash your hands, cover your face in the settings that we had mentioned and keep your distance from other people where you don’t know them, you’re coming into contact with them for the first time, and of course get a test and self-isolate if you have symptoms.

‘I hope that was pretty… you know, that was pretty punchy I think – hands, face, space, and get a test.

‘I think everybody can more or less remember that.’

Mr Johnson and his Government have often attempted to use snappy phrases to get their messages across.

In March, people were told to wash their hands whilst singing happy birthday, while the ‘stay at home’ messaging was used during the early months of the pandemic before being dropped for ‘stay alert’.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson also said that despite progress being made in combating the virus, the UK cannot think that it is exempt from a rise in cases.

He said: ‘I’ve also consistently warned that this virus could come back and that we would not hesitate to take swift and decisive action as required.

‘I’m afraid that in parts of Asia and in Latin America, the virus is gathering pace and some of our European friends are also struggling to keep it under control.

‘As we see these rises around the world, we can’t fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble.’ 

Professor Chris Whitty warns ministers have pushed lockdown easing measures ‘to their limits’

Coronavirus cases are rising in the UK because ministers pushed lockdown easing measures ‘to their limits’, England’s chief medical officer warned today.

Professor Chris Whitty poured cold water on Boris Johnson‘s plan to get the UK back to normal by Christmas, warning that relaxing rules further would ‘absolutely, inevitably’ lead to a resurgence of the virus. 

The CMO said lockdown loosening measures had to be ‘stopped now’ and maybe even ‘pulled back a bit’ because they risk allowing another large-scale outbreak int the future.

Mr Johnson had planned to reopen casinos, bowling alleys and allow crowds at live sporting events by August 1. But that has been pushed back to August 15 ‘at the earliest’ amid an uptick in infections across the country. 

Standing alongside the Prime Minister at a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, Professor Whitty said Mr Johnson was the right decision to squeeze the brake on the plans.

He said: ‘This is a situation where if we go beyond a certain point, in terms of people getting together, linking up households, the rates of this virus will start to increase.

‘We have probably reached the limits of that and if people continue to increase the number of people they meet, increase the number of social interactions they have, then the virus rate will go up, absolutely, inevitably.

‘So this is really within our hands as a society for how we’re going to respond to this. We either say, “actually, we’ve probably taken this to the limit, we’ve got to stop now and we may have to pull back a bit to keep this under control” or we do not. 

‘If we do pull back then we should be able to hold the line, and if we do not pull back and we start having further interactions, then we can expect to see an increase in cases with all the consequences that go with that.’ 

Professor Chris Whitty said coronavirus cases are rising in the UK because ministers pushed lockdown easing measures ‘to their limits’

Professor Whitty stood alongside the Prime Minister today at a Downing Street press conference where he announced he was ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on easing lockdown.

Mr Johnson warned that Covid-19 cases have started to ‘creep up’ and as a result the Government has no choice but to delay planned further casings. 

The PM also revealed that the mandatory wearing of face coverings will be extended to include galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

The announcements came after the Government last night revealed it was reimposing partial lockdown measures on 4.5 million people living in Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The new rules mean that people are banned from mixing with any other households indoors or in a garden as the Government tries to slow the spread of the deadly disease following a spike in cases.

The decision to launch the crackdown at midnight prompted community leaders to accuse the Government of ‘an appalling abuse of power’ because it came at the start of Eid.

Coronavirus cases in England rise to seven-week high with 4,200 people getting infected every day 

Government statisticians today admitted there is ‘now enough evidence’ to prove Covid-19 infections are on the up, estimating that 4,200 people are now catching the virus each day in England alone.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which tracks the size of the outbreak by swabbing thousands of people, said the number of new daily cases was just 1,700 a fortnight ago.

One in 1,500 people currently have the coronavirus – 0.07 per cent of the population. The figure does not include care homes and hospitals.

Boris Johnson today said they ‘can’t ignore this evidence’ as he announced he was ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on easing the coronavirus lockdown. 

Number 10’s scientific advisers today also upped the R rate in the UK, saying they now believe it stands between 0.8 and 0.9. It had been as low as 0.7 since May.

SAGE also revealed the growth rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – may have jumped to above one in the South West, home to the stay-cation hotspots of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

And they said it was likely to be equally high in the North West. Matt Hancock last night announced tough new lockdown measures in Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.  

 

Me Johnson said: ‘With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.

‘On Saturday August 1 we had hoped to reopen in England a number of the higher risk settings that remained closed. Today I am afraid we are postponing those changes for at least a fortnight.

‘That means until August 15 at the earliest casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and the remaining close contact services must remain closed, indoor performances will not resume, pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will not take place and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted but ceremonies of course can continue to take place in line with Covid secure guidelines’.

He added: ‘I know that he steps we are taking will be a real blow to many people, to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted or cannot now celebrate Eid in the way that they would wish and I am really, really sorry about that but we simply cannot take the risk.’

Mr Johnson said the the new rules on face coverings will apply from August 8, with the police being tasked with increasing enforcement in order to ensure members of the public comply.

He said: ‘We will also extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

‘We now recommend face coverings are worn in these settings and this will become enforceable in law from August 8.’ 

The announcement came as it was revealed Covid-19 cases have risen to a seven-week high in England and the R rate could now be above the dreaded level of one in both the North West and South West amid growing fears of a second wave.

Government statisticians today admitted there is ‘now enough evidence’ to prove Covid-19 infections are on the up, estimating that 4,200 people are now catching the virus each day in England alone.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which tracks the size of the outbreak by swabbing thousands of people, said the number of new daily cases was just 1,700 a fortnight ago.

One in 1,500 people currently have the coronavirus – 0.07 per cent of the population. The figure does not include care homes and hospitals.

Boris Johnson today said they ‘can’t ignore this evidence’ as he announced he was ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on easing the coronavirus lockdown. 

Number 10’s scientific advisers today also upped the R rate in the UK, saying they now believe it stands between 0.8 and 0.9. It had been as low as 0.7 since May.

SAGE also revealed the growth rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – may have jumped to above one in the South West, home to the stay-cation hotspots of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

And they said it was likely to be equally high in the North West. Matt Hancock last night announced tough new lockdown measures in Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.  

The government is tracking the ‘R number’ – how many people someone with Covid-19 is likely to spread the virus to – across the country to see the impact of easing lockdown restrictions.

If the R rate is below 1, the spread slowly decreases. But above 1, there is the potential for cases to spiral out of control – as was seen in March. Anything above one could lead to restrictions being reimposed. 

SAGE does not have confidence that R is currently below 1 in England. 

It comes as separate data released today revealed the coronavirus outbreak in England is growing, with an additional 1,400 people are catching the disease every day compared to last week.

The data, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is considered to be some of the most accurate available. It estimates how many people have the coronavirus infection in the community, and not hospitals and care homes.

The figures are far higher than those reported by the Department of Health every day, as this data only reports Covid-19 cases confirmed with a lab-read test.

ONS collect data from swab tests sent regularly to people’s homes to test whether they are infected with the virus at the time. The people are chosen to be representative of the UK population. 

The organisation follows trends over a six-week period. This week’s update was based on the results of 116,026 swab tests collected over six weeks. During these weeks, 59 individuals from 58 households tested positive.  

Only very small numbers of people test positive in any given period, which creates a wide range of possible estimates for the ONS to choose from about how many people in the community have the virus. 

During the most recent week (July 20 to July 26), ONS estimates that around 4,200 people became newly infected with Covid-19 per day. It could be as low as 2,200 or as high as 8,100 based on their calculations.  

The possible range in this week’s estimate is between 23,700 to 53,200 – up from the 18,500 to 39,900 reported last week, and the 15,000 and 34,000 a fortnight ago. This does not include patients in hospitals or care home residents, who cannot be tested at home.  

‘There is now evidence to suggest a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive on a nose and throat swab in recent weeks,’ the report today said.

It follows a low point of cases in June, when 0.06 per cent of the population were infected in the week ending June 18, a drastic drop from the 0.25 per cent measured in mid-May.

The statement came after several weeks of saying the evidence was not strong enough to confirm the outbreak was growing.  

Seven days that led to lockdown of 4.5m people in north of England

Reimposing lockdown measures on 4.5 million people in the north of England is the culmination of a week of warnings from the Government’s top health experts about the risk of rising infection. 

Matt Hancock announced last night that people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire are now banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in cases.

The move represents an exclamation point on a seven day period when the Government has moved quickly to take action in numerous areas in order to combat the spread of coronavirus

It started with reimposing quarantine restrictions on travellers returning to the UK from Spain on Saturday night after Professor Chris Whitty warned ministers that ‘doing nothing isn’t an option’ as infection levels increased on the continent. 

Meanwhile, Sir Patrick Vallance is said to have warned Downing Street on Monday that the UK could be just two or three weeks behind Spain’s second wave trajectory.

Ministers then confirmed yesterday that the self-isolation period for people with symptoms has been increased from seven days to 10.  

The rapid action has prompted accusations – denied by ministers – that they are over-reacting to expert advice in order to avoid repeating the mistakes made at the start of the outbreak. 

Here is how the last seven days panned out as the Government’s response to the virus became noticeably more aggressive.  

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, announced last night that partial lockdown is being reimposed on the north of England

The lockdown announcement came after a week of growing warnings from Government experts. Professor Chris Whitty pushed for quarantine to be reimposed on Spanish travel on Saturday

The lockdown announcement came after a week of growing warnings from Government experts. Professor Chris Whitty pushed for quarantine to be reimposed on Spanish travel on Saturday

Meanwhile, Sir Patrick Vallance is said to have warned Number 10 on Monday that the UK could be just two or three weeks behind the spike seen in Spain

Meanwhile, Sir Patrick Vallance is said to have warned Number 10 on Monday that the UK could be just two or three weeks behind the spike seen in Spain

Saturday: Ministers reimpose quarantine measures on Spain after Chris Whitty warns ‘doing nothing isn’t an option’

Ministers announced on Saturday evening that quarantine travel restrictions were being reimposed on Spain at just five hours’ notice because of surging cases.  

The Government’s Covid-O committee met on Saturday afternoon after Mr Hancock raised concerns about a spike in Spanish infections on Friday. 

The group of six senior ministers, which included Michael Gove, Grant Shapps and Priti Patel, were apparently told by Prof Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, that the situation in Spain had deteriorated significantly in the last 48 hours. 

Ministers were told there had been an increase in infection in 15 of Spain’s 19 regions but the ‘clincher’ was the fact that 10 Britons had recently tested positive after coming back from the country. 

Prof Whitty described the number as ‘statistically significant’ and said ‘doing nothing isn’t an option’ as ministers took the controversial decision to reimpose quarantine, plunging holidaymakers and the travel industry into chaos.

Monday: Sir Patrick Vallance warns Number 10 the UK could be just a matter of weeks behind Spain’s second wave trajectory 

The Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser is said to have delivered a stark warning to Downing Street at the start of the week. 

Sir Patrick reportedly told No10 that the UK could be just two or three weeks behind Spain in terms of a surge in case numbers.

His warning came as the travel industry pushed for quarantine restrictions on Spain to be eased. 

But in reality the Government actually toughened its travel advice on Spain as it moved to ban all non-essential travel to the Canary and Balearic Islands, bringing them into line with the Spanish mainland. 

Meanwhile, ministers were also actively monitoring the situation in countries like Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia amid suggestions they could also face quarantine. Travel to Luxembourg was banned yesterday evening.

Tuesday: Boris Johnson ramps up his rhetoric and warns there are ‘signs of a second wave’ in Europe

The Prime Minister defended the UK’s decision to reimpose 14-day quarantine on Spanish travel as he warned cases were ‘starting to bubble up again’. 

The Prime Minister insisted the Government had to act quickly to respond to what it believed are threats to the domestic fight against coronavirus. 

He said: ‘What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again.

‘Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.’ 

Thursday morning: Boris Johnson says the UK must not ‘delude’ itself that the crisis is over as ministers increase self-isolation period to 10 days 

The Prime Minister struck a pessimistic tone on a visit to North Yorkshire as he said the UK must not abandon efforts to stop the spread of the virus. 

He warned there were ‘between ten and 30 places where you are seeing it bubbling up a little bit’. 

He said ‘tough local lockdowns’ would be used to ‘get it under control in those towns’. 

‘It is absolutely vital that as a country we continue to keep our focus and our discipline and that we don’t delude ourselves that somehow we’re out of the woods or that this is all over, because it isn’t all over,’ he said.  

‘The most important thing we can do is stop a second wave, a really damaging second wave, which will have real consequences.’ 

On the same day ministers confirmed that the self-isolation period for people with coronavirus symptoms had been increased from seven days to 10. 

The hardening of the rules came amid fears that people are actually infectious for longer than previously thought as the rolling average of daily cases was shown to have been rising since earlier this month.  

Meanwhile, Mr Hancock denied suggestions that ministers were fuelling ‘hysteria’ by warning of a second wave in Europe.

Blackburn with Darwen – the worst-hit authority in the country – will be subject to the new rules, as will Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees as well as all of Greater Manchester

Thursday evening: Matt Hancock announces reimposition of partial lockdown on north of England at 9.16pm

The results of a review of a local lockdown in Leicester had been expected to be set out yesterday afternoon but the announcement was delayed. 

Mr Hancock then took the nation completely by surprise as he announced on Twitter that 4.5 million people across the north of England would face tougher restrictions from midnight. 

The new restrictions mean that people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire are banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in virus cases. 

The timing of the announcement, and the fact that the full details of the rules were only published after 11pm, sparked a furious backlash as critics claimed it represented a ‘new low’ for government communications during the crisis. 

The decision to tighten the rules came after figures from Public Health England showed the rate of infection is increasing across 13 of the 19 local authorities in the areas where the new measures are being imposed.

In Blackburn with Darwen, the rate has risen from 83.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to July 20 to 89.3 in the seven days to July 27. A total of 133 new cases have been recorded.

Leicester has the second highest seven-day rate despite it falling from 67.8 per 100,000 people to 60.2 over the same period, with 214 new cases.

Over the same period the rate has also increased in Manchester, Burnley, Pendle, Bradford, Calderdale, Oldham, Bury, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan, but fell in Hyndburn, Rossendale, Kirklees, Bolton and Rochdale.

Rochdale, Oldham, Blackburn and Pendle have been on a PHE watchlist as an ‘area of concern’ after elevated rates of infection.

Chris Whitty ‘DEMANDED ministers put Spain back onto the UK’s quarantine list’

Ministers decided to reimpose quarantine travel restrictions on Spain after it emerged 10 Britons had returned from the country with coronavirus and Professor Chris Whitty said ‘doing nothing isn’t an option’. 

The Government’s Covid-O committee met on Saturday afternoon after Health Secretary Matt Hancock raised concerns about a spike in Spanish infections on Friday. 

The group of six senior ministers, which includes Michael Gove, Grant Shapps and Priti Patel, were apparently told by Prof Whitty, the chief medical officer, that the situation in Spain had deteriorated in the last 48 hours. 

Ministers were told there had been an increase in infection in 15 of Spain’s 19 regions but the ‘clincher’ was the fact that 10 Britons had recently tested positive after coming back from the country. 

Prof Whitty described the number as ‘statistically significant’ as ministers took the controversial decision to reimpose quarantine on Spanish travellers at less than five hours notice. 

The account of the meeting came as Mr Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said he will return early from his holiday in Spain tomorrow amid growing fears that holidays in France and Germany could also be axed because of rising infection rates.

Meanwhile, local government minister Simon Clarke said today that the British public will just have to accept there is a ‘degree of uncertainty’ around foreign travel at the moment.  

Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, is said to have told ministers on Saturday that ‘doing nothing isn’t an option’ after a spike in coronavirus in Spain

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to have raised concerns on Friday about the situation in Spain

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to have raised concerns on Friday about the situation in Spain

UK and Spain in war of words over quarantine decision

Ministers today risked worsening a war of words with Spain over the UK’s decision to reimpose quarantine travel restrictions. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedor Sanchez said the move by Britain was an ‘error’ and is ‘unjust’. 

But local government minister Simon Clarke hit back this morning as he said the UK does not agree with the Spanish claim that Britain has miscalculated the data on rising coronavirus infections. 

Mr Clarke told BBC Breakfast: ‘We respectfully disagree with the Spanish government’s position on this.

‘We obviously continue to work closely with them and we wish them every success in managing this outbreak, but we’ve seen a very sharp increase in cases in Spain.

‘A 75 per cent increase in cases reported between the middle of last week and the end of last week. That’s why we took the action that we have.

‘Clearly, you do have to make decisions on a country-wide basis. There is going to be internal transfer within Spain and it’s important that we do our utmost to protect the public.’ 

The decision to ban all but essential travel to Spain and to enforce quarantine on all arrivals coming back to the UK has sparked widespread fury among holidaymakers and travel firms. 

The Government faced accusations of presiding over chaos after it initially banned travel to the Spanish mainland but said people could still go to the Canary and Balearic islands – but everyone returning to Britain from anywhere in Spain would have to quarantine. 

The Foreign Office then moved last night to toughen the travel advice relating to the Spanish islands to bring it into line with the rules applying to the mainland. 

The quarantine decision has been described as an ‘error’ by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez who said: ‘In most of Spain, the incidence is very much inferior to even the numbers registered in the United Kingdom.’ 

The decision to reimpose quarantine on Spanish travellers came as a shock to many in Westminster but a source briefed on the crunch call between ministers on Saturday said the numbers in Spain showed immediate action was required. 

The source said someone on the call had said ‘if we had seen this level of infection in a region of England we would have put it straight into lockdown’.

A Government source told The Telegraph that Prof Whitty was instrumental in guiding the decision on reimposing quarantine. 

They said: ‘Ahead of the meeting Chris Whitty had already made it clear that he was going to say that doing nothing wasn’t an option. 

‘It wasn’t so much that the rate of transmission had increased over the previous three days, it was that there were quite a few cases of Brits coming back from Spain with the virus, so that was the clincher.’ 

Mr Shapps saw his own holiday plans ruined by the decision after he had flown to Spain with his family. 

The Transport Secretary has come under fire for failing to have already returned to deal with the crisis in person. 

He told The Times he will be back in the UK tomorrow: ‘I’ve been in constant contact with officials and industry representatives since I arrived. 

‘I think it’s right to get back to work in the UK as soon as possible in order to help handle the situation. 

‘The sooner I get back from Spain myself, the sooner I can get through quarantine.’

Mr Clarke told the BBC this morning the UK Government must reserve the right to take action to keep the British public safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The reality is people travelling abroad will have to accept that there is a degree of uncertainty,’ he said. 

‘As the situation changes on the ground, we have to reserve the right to take action to keep the British public safe. That’s what we’ve done in the case of Spain.’

Mr Clarke also said ministers ‘very strongly encourage employers to take a sensible and compassionate approach to people who find themselves’ having to quarantine following a trip to Spain amid fears some will not be able to work from home. 

He said people in ‘genuine crisis’ can access Universal Credit but that ‘we really do hope that employers will be supportive and put sensible steps in place to accommodate people who are affected by this’.

Britons make up over a fifth of foreign visitors to Spain, which relies heavily on tourism, and Madrid has said the UK government gave it no warning that the quarantine move was coming last weekend.

Travel firm TUI UK cancelled all holidays to the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands after the Foreign Office updated its travel advice last night.

TUI’s decision runs from Tuesday July 28 up to and including Friday July 31. Holidays to Spain’s mainland were were already cancelled from Sunday July 26 up to and including Sunday August 9.  

Jet2 also said that it was cancelling flights to a raft of destinations in Spain from Tuesday after the FCO announcement.

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: ‘This is the third announcement we’ve heard from the Government regarding travel to Spain in the last three days. Hundreds of thousands of UK holidaymakers in Spain or about to fly are utterly confused.’

France’s new coronavirus cases are also starting to rise – prompting fears that it will be the next country to be subject to a lockdown with no notice. Belgium and Germany are also starting to see a rise in new coronavirus cases

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is expected to return back to the UK tomorrow after a family holiday to Spain

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is expected to return back to the UK tomorrow after a family holiday to Spain

Britons arrive at the Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, and face quarantine on their return to the UK

Britons arrive at the Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, and face quarantine on their return to the UK

Labour said the Government must abandon its one-size-fits-all approach and introduce sectoral support for struggling businesses to ensure that public health measures like the change in quarantine rules for people returning from Spain do not lead to mass job losses. 

The announcement of the Government’s new Spanish travel warnings came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said decisions on border measures and travel advice ‘can be changed rapidly if necessary to help stop the spread of the disease’.

He went on: ‘Unfortunately no travel is risk-free during this pandemic and disruption is possible and so anyone travelling abroad should be aware that our travel advice and exemption list is under constant review as we monitor the international situation.’

The announcement happened amid fears more European holidays could be thrown into disarray this summer with reports of potential new coronavirus lockdowns in France and Germany.

Meanwhile, the Government has refused to comment on reports that quarantine for people arriving from Spain or other countries with high coronavirus levels could be cut to ten days under plans being looked at by ministers.

Returned travellers would need to quarantine for eight days before being tested, and then only remain in quarantine for another two days should they test negative.