UK coronavirus: Boris Johnson says 'there have been too many breaches' and warns restrictions could go further

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That’s it for our live blog today, thanks to everyone for readi.....ewSparrow.


That’s it for our live blog today, thanks to everyone for reading along on what has been a tumultuous day for the UK and its battle against coronavirus.

Our coronavirus coverage will continue into the night over on our global blog.

Here’s quick recap of all the latest developments:

  • Boris Johnson refuses to rule out second Covid-19 lockdown. The prime minister warned the weary British public to summon their resolve for a tough winter ahead, as he refused to rule out a second national lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Speaking in a televised address, he appeared to suggest “freedom-loving” Britons will be to blame if more draconian restrictions are applied.
  • New restrictions to last ‘perhaps six months’ says Johnson. The UK is at a “perilous turning point” and must act, Boris Johnson told MPs, announcing new restrictions for England including slashing the size of wedding celebrations and bans on indoor team sports, as well as a return to home working.
  • Nicola Sturgeon announces Scotland-wide ban on household visits. Household visiting will be banned across Scotland, as Sturgeon moves to limit a key driver of coronavirus infections before the winter. The same measure was introduced in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.
  • Pubs in Wales to close at 10pm from Thursday. Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales will have to close at 10pm, the Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, announced. Hospitality businesses will have to provide table service only and all off-licences, including supermarkets, will have to stop selling alcohol at 10pm. The move is in line with similar measures announced in England and Scotland.
  • Rishi Sunak weighs up German-style wage subsidies to replace furlough scheme. The chancellor is weighing up plans to replace the furlough scheme with German-style wage subsidies as part of a wider emergency support package to help businesses through a second wave in Covid-19.
  • Local lockdowns failing to stop Covid spread in England, experts warn. Experts said there was little evidence that the piecemeal restrictions introduced in parts of England over the summer had worked, with the infection rate rising sharply in almost all areas where local measures had been imposed.
  • Younger women ‘bearing brunt’ of second wave of Covid in UK. Hospital records reveal a substantial rise in the number of women aged 20 to 40 admitted for serious coronavirus infections since the beginning of August, a country-wide trend that suggests younger women are now more exposed to the virus.
  • Businesses warn Boris Johnson over U-turn on office working. Business lobby groups have warned that the prime minister’s U-turn on encouraging office workers back to their desks is “extraordinarily reactive and extraordinarily disruptive” and risks “derailing an already fragile recovery”.

Interestingly, Boris Johnson said in his speech this evening that the army would be used to “backfill” police enforcement of the new coronavirus rules “if necessary”, just hours after leaders of rank-and-file officers said military help was not asked for or needed.

Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said:

Policing is a unique role and any military support must be assessed very carefully.

At the moment, no military involvement is necessary, nor do we anticipate this will be needed.

John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, backed this up saying:

The announcement from the prime minister has been seized by some as a suggestion that the military will be on streets helping the police to enforce Covid regulations. This is not what policing has asked for and not what it needs.

This is an ever-changing situation and police officers will continue to do an incredible job at adapting quickly.


The latest measures imposed by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus do not go far enough to avoid a second peak, a major medical trade union has warned.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said it was “encouraging” that the government is facing up to the accelerating transmission rate, but said more needs to be done.

Chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

The BMA has consistently argued that it was illogical for staff not to be required to wear facemasks in shops, pubs and restaurants as customers are, so we’re pleased to see this belatedly coming into force.

However, given that the infection is equally like to spread in all indoor settings, these rules should also apply to offices and other workplaces.

Dr Nagpaul called on the government to do more to help employers make workplaces Covid-secure when home working is not possible, and to cut the number of people permitted to meet indoors.

The Prime Minister missed an opportunity today to revise the ‘rule of six’ which, as currently interpreted, allows members of six different household to meet indoors whereas previously members of only two households could do so.

Data suggests that transmission between households is by far the biggest driver of infection and this should therefore be rectified at the earliest possible opportunity.

The BMA also wants to see the public given more information about infection rates in their areas, making it as easy to look up as the weather or pollen count.

Members of the public want to do their bit to keep infection rates down - ministers must empower them with the information they need to take proactive action.

Not only would these additional measures pose no risk to the economy in the immediate term, they could be key to preventing further lockdowns and significant disruption to business and economic activity.

Indeed, putting the right safeguards in place to minimise the risk of infection is crucial to providing people with the confidence they need to go out safely and boost the economy.

The Welsh government should go further than closing the pubs at 10pm in areas where there are more strict coronavirus restrictions, the Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, has said.

Price said that in areas of increased restrictions, including Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, sales of alcohol from off licences should be restricted from 6pm and that the Welsh government should consider closing pubs indoors or temporarily shut pubs that do not serve food.

Price said these steps should be backed up by “sector-specific financial support to affected businesses”.


Speaking after the prime minister’s address, Northern Ireland’s first minister said the virus had “crept into communities” in every county in the region.

Arlene Foster said:

We need to act but I do want to reassure you that despite all of the headlines this is not a second lockdown.

This is a wake-up call, a reminder that we are not out of the woods.

As an executive, we have agreed that your school, your shop, your factory, your business, your college, your local hotel or restaurant will remain open because they have all taken steps to stop the spread of the virus.


Commenting on Boris Johnson’s address to the nation, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the new restrictions “set out our clear plan to protect Britain against coronavirus”.

The PM’s address this evening set out our clear plan to protect Britain against coronavirus.

These new measures will help us to suppress the virus, whilst protecting the economy, education and our NHS.


In her own televised national address, Sturgeon told viewers: “I will never find the words to thank all of you enough for the enormous sacrifices you have made so far,” acknowledging that “today must feel like a step backwards” but stating plainly:

By staying out of other people’s houses for now, we give ourselves the best chance of bringing Covid back under control.

In a statement to the Holyrood parliament earlier, Scotland’s first minister extended the ban on visiting each other’s homes nationwide, as she explained that the measures already in place across the west of Scotland were already reducing the local rise in infections. She also introduced a 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants.

She repeated Scottish government advice to work from home and also encouraged people not to travel overseas during the October half-term holiday.

Emphasising the priorities of keeping schools open and care homes safe, while restarting other NHS services, she urged the Scottish public to pull together: “Let’s keep going, try to keep smiling, keep hoping and keep looking out for each other. Be strong, be kind and let’s continue to act out of love and solidarity.”


Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales will have to close at 10pm, the Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, announced this evening.

Hospitality businesses will have to provide table service only and all off-licences, including supermarkets, will have to stop selling alcohol at 10pm.

The new measures are part of a package of actions to control the spread of coronavirus, which are being introduced across the UK. They will come into force in Wales at 6pm on Thursday 24 September.

To help further prevent the spread of coronavirus, Drakeford also announced:

  • A new £500 payment to support people on low incomes who are asked to self-isolate if they have coronavirus
  • Strengthened regulations to ensure employers support people who need to self-isolate.

Drakeford said:

Once again, we are facing rising cases of coronavirus infections in different parts of Wales and once again we are seeing people being admitted to our hospitals with serious illnesses because of this virus.

In the weeks and months ahead of us, there is a very real possibility we could see coronavirus regain a foothold in our local communities, towns and cities. None of us wants to see that happen again.

In some parts of south Wales, where we have seen the sharpest rises in cases, there are already even stricter local restrictions in place to protect people’s health. We now need to make that difference across Wales.

It was with the help of people across Wales that we got through the first wave in the spring – you followed all the rules and helped reduce cases of coronavirus, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

We need everyone to follow the rules and guidance and to take the steps to protect them and their loved ones. Together, we can keep Wales safe.

The changes come as new local restrictions have come into force for people living in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport.

In Wales, the Welsh government is asking all those who can to work from home wherever possible. This has been in force since late March.

Face coverings are required in all indoor public places, for both customers and staff working in those indoor public areas.

People in Wales can only meet socially indoors with people they live with (their household) and members of an exclusive extended household (known as a bubble). Meetings or gatherings indoors are limited to six people from the same extended household, not including any children under 11.


And that’s a wrap on the prime minister’s speech. You can read the full transcript here:


'There are unquestionably difficult months to come,' Johnson concludes

Boris Johnson concludes his speech by calling on the population to come together for our “collective health”.

We must rely on our willingness to look out for each other, to protect each other. Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour.

If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together. There are unquestionably difficult months to come.

And the fight against Covid is by no means over. I have no doubt, however, that there are great days ahead.

But now is the time for us all to summon the discipline, and the resolve, and the spirit of togetherness that will carry us through.


The prime minister says we must “reserve the right to go further” with coronavirus restrictions, although he does not want to impose a second total lockdown.

I am deeply, spiritually reluctant to make any of these impositions, or infringe anyone’s freedom, but unless we take action the risk is that we will have to go for tougher measures later, when the deaths have already mounted and we have a huge caseload of infection such as we had in the spring.

But if people don’t follow the rules we have set out, then we must reserve the right to go further. We must take action now because a stitch in time saves nine.

He also said the army will be used to backfill the police if necessary to enforce the new rules.

Johnson reiterates Prof Chris Whitty’s message from yesterday that the risks individuals take with this virus are not their own.

The tragic reality of having covid is that your mild cough can be someone else’s death knell.


A quick recap of all the new measures the prime minister has introduced today:

  • 10pm closing for pubs and bars
  • table service only
  • closing businesses that are not covid secure
  • expanding the use of face coverings
  • new fines for those that fail to comply
  • asking office workers to work from home if they can

“I know that this approach – robust but proportionate – already carries the support of all the main parties in parliament,” Johnson says.

Johnson says that while many have followed the rules over the past few months “to the letter”, he also says “there have been too many breaches” - hard to not think about Dominic Cummings’ Durham excursion here.

We followed the guidance to the letter. We stayed at home, protected the NHS, and saved thousands of lives. And for months with those disciplines of social distancing we have kept that virus at bay.

But we have to acknowledge this this is a great and freedom-loving country; and while the vast majority have complied with the rules there have been too many breaches – too many opportunities for our invisible enemy to slip through undetected.

'We must take action now,' Johnson says in televised speech

The prime minister has started his televised address to the nation following today’s announcement of further coronavirus restrictions. He pays tribute to those who have died and their grieving families, and stresses “we must take action now”.

The struggle against Covid is the single biggest crisis the world has faced in my lifetime.

Here in the UK we mourn every person we have lost, and we grieve with their families.

And yet I am more certain than ever that this is a struggle that humanity will win, and we in this country will win – and to achieve what we must I want to talk to you directly tonight about the choices that we face – none of them easy – and why we must take action now.


PM to address nation

The prime minister Boris Johnson is about to address the nation in a televised address following the announcement of further coronavirus restrictions today.

Starting at 8pm, his speech is expected to outline the reasons behind the latest measures and appeal to the nation to follow the rules.

Follow along for live updates.

Pressure is mounting on UK universities to cancel face-to-face teaching and move all studies online as cases multiply on campuses, including the University of Liverpool where almost 90 students and staff have already tested positive.

Students have barely begun their studies at the start of the new academic year, but at the University of Liverpool there have already been 87 confirmed cases over a seven-day period in the week before term began.

Professor Louise Kenny, the executive pro-vice-chancellor for the University of Liverpool’s faculty of health and life sciences, said students and staff were experiencing more Covid-19 cases in line with the wider Liverpool population.

“Our investment in an on-campus testing facility for staff and students displaying symptoms means that we are in a position to report on the numbers in our community who test positive and, importantly, to act quickly to stop the spread.”

Most people with coronavirus have symptoms, while asymptomatic cases may make up around 20% of infections, a new study suggests.

Some people who contract Covid-19 never experience any symptoms, and there remains disagreement about what proportion of total infections these cases represent.

Some infected people may experience severe infections resulting in viral pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome and death, while others remain completely asymptomatic or develop mild, nonspecific symptoms.

Researchers analysed 79 studies reporting empirical data on 6,616 people, 1,287 of whom were defined as asymptomatic, in order to determine the proportion of infected people who did not develop symptoms.

Despite the study, published in PLOS Medicine, being limited by its inability to gauge the impact of false negatives, the researchers estimated that 20% of infections remained asymptomatic during followup.

The researchers argue that accurate estimates of true asymptomatic and presymptomatic infections are critical to understanding transmission of the virus at the population level.

Dr Julian Tang, honorary associate professor in respiratory sciences, University of Leicester, said:

I would interpret this paper’s findings with some caution - and use their estimate of a 20% asymptomatic infection rate as just a lower limit.

Although it addresses an important question, it has several limitations, which are mainly due to the limitations in the source material

Many of the papers included in the review likely did not test for other respiratory viruses when they tested for Sars-Cov-2.

If patients were infected with other respiratory viruses as well as Sars-Cov-2, then the Covid-19 symptoms may have been due to these other viruses (like flu, RSV, parainfluenza, adenovirus, human metapneumovirus, rhinovirus and seasonal coronaviruses).


Less than half of the country supports a second national lockdown, according to a new poll by Ipsos Mori.

The survey found 44% of Britons support a complete national lockdown to contain the virus, while 34% oppose it. 17% neither support nor oppose and 5% say they don’t know.

There is much more widespread support for local lockdowns, however, with 76% in favour and only 9% against.

Other popular measures included banning all travel to other countries (69% support), implementing curfews to prevent people going out at night (59% support) and closing all restaurants and pubs (51% support).

Only a third (34%) support the closing of all schools while 39% support closing universities.

Interestingly, considering today’s developments, over half (54%) of Britons now say that government communications about coronavirus restrictions and protective measures are unclear, up from 40% in June.


Anyone else getting a sense of deja vu ahead of Boris Johnson’s televised speech tonight and feeling just a little bit anxious about the months ahead?

With the prime minister saying the current coronavirus restrictions could be in place for six months, Guardian reporter Archie Bland has spoken to a number of experts about how to get through what could be a difficult winter - get ready to nest, look out for others and, whatever you do, don’t fall out with the neighbours.

Pubs in Wales to close at 10pm from Thursday

Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales will have to shut at 10pm every night as part of new measures to control the rising rate of coronavirus, The Guardian understands.

The measures are to come into force on Thursday. Pubs will also be required to provide table service only and sales of alcohol from off-licences and supermarkets after 10pm will also be stopped.

The first minister, Mark Drakeford, is also expected to reinforce the message that people should work from home if they can.


Hi everyone, this is Jessica Murray taking over the live blog for the rest of the evening. I’ll be covering Boris Johnson’s televised address to the nation at 8pm, when he is expected to lay out his reasons for the tighter coronavirus restrictions introduced today.

Please do feel free to get in touch if you want to share any thoughts or personal experiences.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @journojess_


Glasgow University has said it is dealing with a number of coronavirus cases in student residences.

That’s all from me for today.

My colleague Jessica Murray is now taking over.

These are from John Roberts, a contributor to the work of the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group, on the latest hospital admission figures for England.

Michelle O’Neill, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, has told reporters that the Northern Ireland executive will meet on Thursday to discuss what “tools” it might use to tackle the increases in cases in the region. She said keeping schools open would be a priority. And she went on:

We have an inevitable rise in positive cases, that is going to continue, but the window of opportunity should not be missed. We have a chance now in the next two to three weeks to try and reverse the trend.

The Ministry of Defence has sought to reassure the police that there are no plans for the military to be drafted in to help them with public order work or enforcement. A line in the PM’s speech suggested there might be. (See 3.32pm and 4.56pm.)

How long will latest measures last? Contrasting claims from Johnson and Sturgeon

The claim that the current restrictions might be in place for the next six months was one of the most surprising features of Boris Johnson’s statement. For the record, here is what he said in his opening remarks.

Unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months. For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives and I must tell the house and the country that our fight against it will continue.

(It sounded like “the restrictions I have announced” included the rule of six, although Johnson was not specific. Certainly Age UK has taken it to mean that. See 5.31pm.)

Interestingly, Nicola Sturgeon gave a different prognosis in her speech to the Scottish parliament. This is what she said:

I also want to address talk that there has been in recent days about restrictions being needed for six months or more.

It is certainly the case, that until scientific developments such as a vaccine change the game in the battle against Covid, it will have a continuing impact on our lives.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the new restrictions I am announcing today will be in place for six months.

By acting early and substantially, our hope is that these new measures will be in place for a shorter period than would be the case if we waited longer to act.

This was probably the most political passage in Sturgeon’s speech, and fascinating for anyone interested in London/Edinburgh rivalry. Sturgeon was suggesting that by imposing stricter restrictions than England now, Scotland might be able to bounce back more quickly.

Age UK has said that it will be a “bitter blow” for elderly people if the current coronavirus restrictions, including the rule of six, last for another six months, as Boris Johnson implied. (See 12.46pm.) Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said:

Many older people look forward to Christmas as the one time in the year when their family gets together, including those living far away.

To be deprived of having this to look forward to will be a bitter blow for them, making it all the more important that the rest of us make the effort to keep being in touch.


Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish parliament this afternoon.
Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish parliament this afternoon. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images

The new 10pm closing time rule will not apply to theatres and cinemas, the culture secretary has said. Oliver Dowden used a tweet to clarify the rules.

Only a small number of theatres have been able to reopen because of the financial implications of social distancing.


Covid survivors at risk of PTSD, peers told

People should maintain social contact as much as possible while adhering to coronavirus restrictions, experts have said as they raised concerns over the impact of the pandemic on mental health.

Speaking at a meeting of the House of Lords science and technology committee this morning, researchers said there had been clear impacts of the pandemic on mental health among many sections of society, including among those who have had Covid – in part because of the action of the virus itself – as well as those caring for them, and those who have not been infected but who have been affected by the social consequences of the disease.

“The available data indicates that the risk of PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] amongst health and social care workers and patients who have survived severe Covid is of a similar magnitude as those surviving other mass casualty events, such as terrorist attacks or as are seen in military personal who have returned from war,” said Dr Michael Bloomfield, head of translational psychiatry research group at University College London.

Prof Matthew Hotopf of Kings College London said that socialising is important when it comes to mental health.

“The buffering effect of being able to socialise is very important in times of stress, that is what we do, we are social animals,” he said.

But Hotopf warned the winter months could exacerbate mental health problems with poor weather and reduced daylight hours making socialising outside even more difficult, while Bloomfield added the winter itself is generally associated with an increase in depressive symptoms.


Tory MP says Johnson wrong to say performance of test and trace not linked to spread of Covid

During his Commons statement, as he said Labour criticism of NHS Test and Trace was disgraceful (see 2.10pm), Boris Johnson said the operation of the test and trace system was not related to the spread of coronavirus. He said:

There is a complete hiatus in [Labour’s] logic. They are talking absolute nonsense. Testing and tracing has very little or nothing to do with the spread or the transmission of the disease. The spread and the transmission of the disease is caused by contact between human beings and all the things that we are trying to minimise.

The opposition has criticised Johnson for this. This is from Labour’s Chris Bryant.

But a Conservative MP has also said that Johnson was wrong. When asked to defend Johnson’s comment, Andrew Percy told Sky News that he did not know why the PM said what he did, but that when a minister was responding to hostile questions at the dispatch box, “sometimes the words don’t come out quite as perhaps intended.” Percy went on:

But we do know that testing and tracing and tracking is important ... The prime minister has said that many times, which is why we have increased testing 100 times since the start of this and are now testing more than pretty much every country in Europe. So I think the prime minister does believe there is a link, because there obviously is.

Andrew Percy MP
Andrew Percy MP Photograph: Sky News

Police chiefs reject PM's offer of military support

Boris Johnson’s offer of military support for the police has been dismissed by police leaders. (See 3.32pm.) Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said it would not be needed. He explained:

Policing is a unique role and any military support must be assessed very carefully. At the moment, no military involvement is necessary, nor do we anticipate this will be needed.

The military can be called in to help police via Operation Temperer, used in 2017 after the Manchester terror attacks when the United Kingdom terrorist threat level went to its maximum.

The idea is troops would take over roles that do not involve contact with the police or use of police powers, such as static guard duties outside embassies and iconic sites. That then frees up armed police and other officers to, say, join a terrorist manhunt.

The suggestion that a plan devised to help thwart an imminent and grave national security threat was floated by the PM to clear pubs and restaurants by 10pm and ensure compliance with face mask regulations, may strike some as unusual.

Martin Hewitt at a No 10 press conference in April.
Martin Hewitt at a No 10 press conference in April. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/EPA


The UK government’s coronavirus dashboard also shows that 237 patients were admitted to hospital in England with coronavirus on Sunday. That is an increase of 33 on the previous day. Between mid-July and early September, with one exception, daily admissions were never higher than 100. Now they have been in treble figures for almost three weeks, and above 200 for three days in a row.


UK records 4,926 new coronavirus cases – highest daily figure since early May

The UK has recorded 4,926 new coronavirus cases, according to the government dashboard, which has just had its daily update.

This is the highest daily total since figures staring shooting up again about a fortnight ago and the highest figure since early May (5,614 on 7 May).

Of course, in early May far fewer people were being tested, and so that does not mean the prevalence of the infection is likely to be the same as it was then.

New cases
New cases Photograph: Gov.UK

The dashboard also shows that another 37 deaths have been recorded. That takes the headline total to 41,825. But this figure only includes people who died within 28 days of testing positive. Overall new figures show that 57,636 people in the UK have died from proven or suspected coronavirus. (See 11.10am.)


One of the most curious answers from Boris Johnson during his statement to MPs came when Labour’s Ben Bradshaw asked if he agreed that Germany and Italy had lower rates of coronavirus because they had locally run test-and-trace systems. Johnson said he did not agree, and then he went on to suggest there was a link between the British love of freedom and the performance of test and trace. He said:

I think the continual attacks on local test and trace and what NHS Test and Trace has done are undermining and unnecessary. Actually, there is an important difference between our country and many other countries around the world: our country is a freedom-loving country. If we look at the history of this country over the past 300 years, virtually every advance, from free speech to democracy, has come from this country. It is very difficult to ask the British population uniformly to obey guidelines in the way that is necessary.

It is hard to know quite what Johnson meant by this, although some other countries go much further than the UK by allowing contact tracers to use the police, government databases, phone information and credit card data to track people down. (There are examples in the annex to this report published in May.)


Concerns are growing in Wales that people from Covid hotspots in England are travelling to Welsh resorts and towns.

One extreme example is a coach-load of rock and roll fans from Bolton, where restrictions are in place, who had apparently been due to attend an Elvis Presley festival in Porthcawl, south Wales.

After the festival was called off, it is believed they instead headed to Pembrokeshire.

The Welsh Conservative health spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies, said it was “remarkable” people from a local lockdown area in England were allowed to travel.

He said: “I think it emphasises the need to have a joined up approach between all the countries of the United Kingdom.”

The Plaid Cymru Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts, said an “imbalance” in lockdown restrictions between England and Wales was putting communities at risk.

Saville Roberts called on Boris Johnson to review guidance to ensure people travelling from areas of England where there are high infection rates do not transport the virus to areas across the UK where coronavirus infections are more manageable or in decline. She said:

Over a quarter of the Welsh population now face local lockdowns. As part of these restrictions, people are quite reasonably asked not to travel outside of their local area unnecessarily. This is not the case in England and there are increasing concerns in communities across Wales, about the transportation of the virus from these areas to places where the disease is currently in retreat.

In his reply, Johnson said what Saville Roberts was proposing should be “part of the mix”.


Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has welcomed the PM’s announcement about new coronavirus restrictions, but said they make the case for more support for the retail, hospitality and cultural sectors even more urgent.

He also did not rule out extra measures being needed in London. He said:

With the further restrictions on the opening hours of pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues, the need for extra financial support for these businesses has never been more urgent. It is essential that the government now come forward within days with a targeted package of financial support for the retail, hospitality and cultural sectors who will be hit hardest by further restrictions, alongside an immediate targeted extension of the furlough scheme ...

Londoners have made monumental sacrifices during this pandemic and as I have further meetings with ministers and council leaders in the coming days I will continue to keep Londoners informed about the extra measures that may need to be implemented in the capital.

Boris Johnson in the Commons today, photographed by the official Commons photographer, Jessica Taylor
Boris Johnson in the Commons today, photographed by the official Commons photographer, Jessica Taylor Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

The announcement that restrictions on household visits will be extended across Scotland brings 19.1 milllion people in the UK under social contact restrictions in their own homes.

Previously a third of the population of Scotland were barred from hosting people in their own household or visiting others’ homes. But today’s announcement by Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon brings all 5.5 million Scottish people under the same rules, meaning that, from tomorrow, visiting other households will not be allowed, subject to some exceptions.

It follows a similar announcement in Northern Ireland yesterday, which bars all residents from different households meeting indoors and no more than six people meeting in gardens.

All people living in the UK are now restricted from meeting in groups of six or more (the exact definition changes are different between the four nations).

Today saw England and Scotland announce that pubs and restaurants will have to close before 10pm and both Westminster and Holyrood are encouraging those who can work from home to do so.

The more stringent rules around socialising apply to all of Scotland and Northern Ireland, six areas in Wales and large swathes of England, equivalent to 28.6% of the UK population.

% of population under household restrictions
% of population under household restrictions Photograph: Guardian


And Northern Ireland has recorded 75 more cases, but no further deaths, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland has said.

Public Health Wales has recorded 281 further coronavirus cases, but no further deaths.

And this chart shows how case numbers in Wales (the blue bars) have gone up in the last month.

New cases over the past month
New cases over the past month Photograph: New cases over the past month/Public Health Wales

Nicola Sturgeon announced today’s coronavirus figures for Scotland – 383 new cases, a 7.6% positivity rate, and one new death – in her statement to the Scottish parliament. The full data is here.

And this is from the UK Covid-19 Statistics website, presenting the latest case numbers for Scotland in context.


NHS England has recorded a further 28 coronavirus hospital deaths. The full details are here.

Here is the full text of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the Scottish parliament.

Police Federation expresses concern about PM's suggestion military available to help police

The first formal police reaction to the Boris Johnson’s new tough measures came from John Apter, the leader of the Police Federation, representing 120,000 rank and file police officers in England and Wales. He said the military was “not what policing has asked for and not what it needs”.

The PM in his statement appeared to expect police to take a greater enforcement role, and have an increased presence on the streets to reinforce that the new measures were mandatory and not optional. Also the PM mentioned military support was available to police if required. Police are very wary of any suggestion of the military carrying out law enforcement functions.

Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales,said:

Since the start of this pandemic police and military have been working together on logistics. This has and continues to work well; but the announcement from the prime minister has been seized by some as a suggestion that the military will be on streets helping the police to enforce Covid regulations. This is not what policing has asked for and not what it needs.

This is an ever-changing situation and police officers will continue to do an incredible job at adapting quickly.

The vast majority of the public complied with the restrictions placed on them. These restrictions affect us all, but this is about keeping each other as safe as possible. I would hope the public will carry on doing the right thing to help protect fellow citizens to minimise the spread of the virus.

In his statement Johnson told MPs:

We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police.


The Guardian would like memories and tributes for those who have died from Covid-19 in the UK during the months of June, July, August and early September. If you would like to contribute, please get in touch, using the form here.

Boris Johnson returning to No 10 after delivering his speech to the Commons on coronavirus.
Boris Johnson returning to No 10 after delivering his speech to the Commons on coronavirus. Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Chief statistician Sir Ian Diamond said he is working with the Joint Biosecurity Centre to look at the implications of analysing “waste water”, or sewage, as they attempt to work out localised levels of Covid-19.

“Looking at analyses of waste water at a local level can help us understand changes [in Covid-19]. It could have potential in future environmental modelling,” he told a Commons committee this morning.

Scientists discovered early in the pandemic that infected people “shed” the virus in their faeces. Further research concluded that wastewater sampling could provide a signal of a coronavirus outbreak up to a week earlier than medical testing.


Almost 900 state schools in England not fully open because of Covid, DfE figures reveal

The number of schools in England badly affected by Covid-19 cases among students and staff has quadrupled in the space of a week, according to estimates released by the Department for Education this afternoon.

The DfE’s figures showed that 4% of state schools were classed as “not fully open” last week because of Covid-19, compared with just 1% of schools seven days before. The total included cases where entire year groups had been sent home or where more than 10% of the school’s roll was missing,

That means nearly 900 schools were badly affected, in a week when many head teachers and parents complained they were unable to access coronavirus tests, meaning that those showing symptoms had to be kept away from the classroom. Including independent schools, the figure for England is likely to have been close to 1,000 schools overall.

The number of pupils in school nationally also fell compared with the previous week, which had been the first full week for most schools to have opened after the summer holidays.

More than one in eight pupils were off school last Thursday, with just 87% attending compared with 88% the previous week.

But even in schools classed as “fully open” by the DfE, the overall attendance rate fell from 90% on 15 September to 88% on 22 September.

A further 2% of schools were also not fully open, but not classed as Covid-related by the DfE.


Here is the full text of Boris Johnson’s statement to MPs.

Here is my colleague Marina Hyde’s take on the Boris Johnson announcement.

Here is the end of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the Scottish parliament.

And though it doesn’t feel like it now, this pandemic will pass. It won’t last forever. And one day, hopefully soon, we will be looking back on it, not living through it.

So, though we are all struggling with this – and, believe me, we are all struggling – let’s pull together, let’s keep going, try to keep smiling, keep hoping, and keep looking out for each other.

Be strong, be kind, and let’s continue to act out of love and solidarity.

I will never be able to thank all of you enough for the sacrifices you’ve made so far and I’m sorry to have to ask for more. But if we stick with it, and we stick together, I do know we will get through this.


Sturgeon says she cannot rule out the need for more measures later.

Sturgeon says it has been tough, and it will get tougher.

But people have got through crises like these in the past, without the advantages of modern technology.

She says we will get through this. It will not last forever.


Sturgeon says the Scottish government is acting decisively not to avoid the need for a fuller lockdown later.

Sturgeon says there has been talk of a circuit-break lockdown during half term.

She says the government is not implementing this - but it is not ruling it out either, she says.

She says people should not book trips abroad during half term, unless it is essential.


People in Scotland to be banned from visiting others at home, says Sturgeon

Sturgeon says from tomorrow visiting other households will not be allowed, subject to exceptions.

She says this is the rule already in force in the west of Scotland.

The law will come into force on Friday, she says. But she says the government is asking people to comply from tomorrow.

She says the exemptions will include informal childare and trades people.

The rules for meeting other people in indoor public spaces will remain the same.

She says, outdoors, children under 12 will be exempt from the limit.

And children aged 12 to 18 will be exempt from the two household limit, she says.

Sturgeon says from Friday pubs in Scotland will have to close at 10pm

Sturgeon says in Scotland pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close at 10pm from Friday.

Inspection and enforcement will be increased, she says.

Sturgeon says people on low incomes will get £500 if they have to self-isolate

Sturgeon says she is asking people to work from home.

She says the government is renewing its call for people to follow social distancing advice.

And it is introducing a package of support for people who have to self-isolate.

She says £500 will be on offer for people on low incomes.

(This matches what was announced by the UK government for England at the weekend.)

Sturgeon says these measures do not amount to another full-scale lockdown. They are an attempt to avoid a lockdown, she says.

Sturgeon says that, although it is possible that these measures may have to last for six months, she hopes that that won’t be necessary.

She suggests that imposing tougher measures now could make it possible to reduce them earlier than otherwise.

Here are extracts from the Sturgeon speech.

Sturgeon says Scotland to go further than England by tightening household restrictions

Sturgeon says Scotland will introduce measures for the hospitality industry similar to those introduced for England.

But she says her government’s view is that they need to go further. They will introduce new restrictions on household gatherings, she says.

Nicola Sturgeon's statement to Scottish parliament

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, is giving her statement on coronavirus to the Scottish parliament now.

She starts by saying there have been 383 new cases. And the positivity rate was 7.6%, she says.

(Yesterday the positivity rate was 6.3%. Last Wednesday it was 3.6%.)

She says there has been one further death.

Johnson claims situation will be 'vastly, vastly improved' by spring because of medical advances

It wouldn’t be a Boris Johnson statement if it did not include a dash of super-charged optimism, and Johnson indulged in his final answer, when he said the situation would be “vastly, vastly improved” by next spring. He said:

Science is helping us every day. Dexamethasone, trialled in this country, is now reducing the numbers of death. We have the prospect of a vaccine.

And all the medical guidance I have is that by next spring things will be vastly, vastly improved. I’m not going to deny for a minute that things are going to be tough for our country and for our people for months to come. But we will get through it, and we will get through it well.

In response to the final question, Johnson says he is confident that, by the spring, the situation will be “vastly, vastly improved”.

And that’s it. The statement is over.

Johnson says Labour criticism of NHS test and trace 'disgraceful'

Johnson said the Labour attacks on NHS test and trace were “disgraceful”. He said there was “a complete hiatus in their logic”. They were “talking absolute nonsense”. Labour claim the problems with testing have led to the rise in case numbers, he said, but he said this factor had “very little” to do with the transmission of the disease.


Johnson refuses to deny that people will have to pay for tests under moonshot mass testing plan

Stephen Doughty (Lab) asks if it is true that the problems with the Lighthouse laboratories have been fixed. And is it true, as Dido Harding said, that people will have to pay for coronvirus tests offered under the moonshot plan (the mass testing proposal, that would enable symptom-free people to get quick, easy tests, particularly ahead of attending crowded events).

Johnson says more laboratories are being provided.

And, on mass testing, he says the ambition is a great thing, and the government will support it.

  • Johnson refused to deny that people will have to pay for Covid tests under the proposed moonshot mass testing plan.

Tim Loughton (Con) asks the PM to provide more moments when he speaks to the nation and says he will “level with” people. That is what is needed, he says.

Asked if he will consider a one-off winter fuel payment to support families at risk of poverty over the winter, Johnson says he will consider all sorts of measures.

Johnson says what is happening in Wales bears “an uncanny resemblance” to the measures being implemented in the rest of the UK.

Helen Hayes (Lab) says the government was told it had to act immediately to stop more BAME deaths from coronavirus. But nothing has been done, she says.

Johnson repeats the point he made earlier about how the government is offering more testing for frontline staff, many of whom are BAME. And health messages are being circulated more widely.

Sarah Owen (Lab) asks the PM to justify why every pupil at Eton can get a test, when children at a nursery in her constituency cannot get tested.

Johnson says every child should be able to get a test.

Nav Mishra, the Labour MP for Stockport, asks about a letter he received saying his constituents could attend a new testing centre - 240 miles away in Kent.

Johnson does not seem to know about the letter, but he says on average people only travel a few miles for a test.

Marion Fellows (SNP) asks if the government will make the £20 increase to universal credit permanent.

Johnson says the government will continue to support people.

Stephen Crabb (Con) says working from home is fine for people with gardens. But he says people with less space at home will be dismayed.

Johnson says people should go into work if they need to.

Kim Johnson (Lab) asks what help is being offered to hard-hit councils.

Johnson says the government has already offered them more than £3bn.

Douglas Ross, the new Tory leader in Scotland, asks what help is being offered to businesses in Scotland.

Johnson says the government will stand by the people of Scotland. He quotes figures for the amount of business support already provided in Scotland.

Zarah Sultana (Lab) says the PM calls it NHS test and trace, but it would be more accurate to call is Serco test and trace. Contacts have gone to friends of ministers. She says it would be better for the service to be publicly run.

Johnson says it is right to reach out to the private sector for help. But the army are involved too, he says.


Ben Bradshaw (Lab) asks Johnson if he thinks Germany has a lower death rate because it has locally-run test and trace systems.

Johnson says he does not accept that. He says it is wrong to criticise test and trace. He says the UK is a freedom-loving country, and he implies that limits the restrictions people want to accept.

UPDATE: From HuffPost’s Paul Waugh


Derek Thomas (Con) says Cornwall has had very little infection. What message does the PM have for students who don’t want to wear masks, people who want to go to church, or other people who want a normal life?

Johnson says people can go to church. He says he wants to tackle the virus.

Peter Grant (SNP) says there is a lot of cross-party support for the measures. But there is also a lot of cross-party support for extending the business support measures, he says.

Johnson says businesses in Scotland have been very supportive of what has been done so far. The government will adopt a creative approach to ensuring support continues, he says.

Richard Burgon (Lab) says the UK has one of the highest death rates in the world. Will the PM take responsibility and pursue the zero-Covid strategy that countries like South Korea and New Zealand are pursuing?

Johnson says the government is trying to drive the virus down, while protecting education and the economy.


Lucy Allan (Con) asks the PM to consider targeted measures to protect people at risk, instead of a blanket lockdown.

Johnson agrees. He says measures are being introduced for care homes (where visits are being restricted) precisely because he wants to avoid another lockdown.

Steve Baker (Con) urges the PM to consider innovative measures that could be used to allow MPs to consider and approve these measures. He suggests the “sifting committee” used for Brexit regulations might be a model.

Johnson says he does want MPs to consider these measures.

In response to question from Grahame Morris (Lab) about what can be done to help the coach sector, Johnson says the government will do whatever it can.

Johnson says sport is hugely important to our well being and our national life. He says the culture secretary is looking at what can be done to keep football clubs going.

Munira Wilson (Lib Dem) says Covid cases are rising at an alarming rate amongst the BAME populations, particularly Asians. What good will closing pubs early do? And what has the government done since the PHE report on this was published in June.

Johnson says testing has been focused on frontline workers, many of whom are black, Asian or from an ethnic minority. And the government has been doing more to make sure that minority communities get proper health advice.

Hannah Bardell (SNP) asks why people should follow his laws when Johnson admits he is willing to break international law.

Johnson says all MPs want to tackle the virus.

Johnson says the spread of the virus is more likely late at night in pubs, when people have been drinking. So asking pubs to close at 10pm is a way of driving down infections, while minimising the impact on people.

What Johnson said about why new restrictions needed now

And here is an extract from Johnson’s opening statement where he explained why new restrictions were now necessary.

I am sorry to say that - as in Spain and France and many other countries - we have reached a perilous turning point.

A month ago, on average around a thousand people across the UK were testing positive for Coronavirus every day. The latest figure has almost quadrupled to 3,929.

Yesterday the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and 20 days with the possibility of tens of thousands of new infections next month.

I wish I could reassure the house that the growing number of cases is merely a function of more testing,but a rising proportion of the tests themselves are yielding a positive result. I also wish I could say that more of our people now have the antibodies to keep the virus off,but the latest data suggest that fewer than 8 per cent of us are in this position.

It is true that the number of new cases is growing fastest amongst those aged 20-29,but the evidence shows that the virus is spreading to other more vulnerable age groups,as we have seen in France and Spain where this has led to increased hospital admissions and, sadly, more deaths.

In the last fortnight, daily hospital admissions in England have more than doubled.

Tens of thousands of daily infections in October would, as night follows day, lead to hundreds of daily deaths in November and those numbers would continue to grow unless we act.

And as with all respiratory viruses, Covid is likely to spread faster as autumn becomes winter.

Yesterday, on the advice of the four chief medical officers, the UK’s Covid alert level was raised from 3 to 4, the second most serious stage, meaning that transmission is high or rising exponentially. So this is the moment when we must act.

Mel Stride (Con), chair of the Treasury committee, says a smaller economy will probably have an impact on health. So does the PM accept the need to listen to economists and the Treasury?

Johnson says Stride is “spot on”. That is why the government is acting quickly, he says.


Gerald Jones (Lab) says some holiday companies are refusing to issue refunds to people who cannot go on holiday because of local lockdowns, not national ones. His constituents in Merthyr Tydfil are being affected.

Johnson says he will look into this.

I have updated the post at 12.46pm to include the full quote where Johnson said “unless we palpably make progress we should assume that the restrictions that I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months”.


Liz Saville Roberts, the Plaid Cymru leader at Westminster, says in Wales lockdowns require people to stay in the places they live unless they have a good reason to leave. She suggests the same should apply in England.

Johnson says that could be part of the mix.

Greg Clark (Con), the science committee chair, asks if the six-month timescale is irrespective of what happens. And what criteria will be used to decide when to lift the measures?

Johnson says he will look at the data. If the public can do what they did before, and get the rate of infection down, then of course the government will review the restrictions.

  • Johnson suggests the latest restrictions might not need to last six months if the rate of infection is driven down. (This sounds like a statement of the obvious, but it rather undermines the message that he gave just a few minutes ago. See 12.46pm.)

UPDATE: Here is the quote from Johnson.

Of course we must look at what the data tells us and above all ... there are several important data, but the R is perhaps the crucial one, but we also look at rates of admissions to hospitals and new infections.

And if those facts change, if things turn around and if the British public can do what they did before and get this virus down and get it under control, then of course we will review the measures and review the situation.


Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, says there was one major omission from the statement - an apology. Will the PM apologise now? And what is the plan for businesses at risk?

Johnson says the plan is to keep the economy moving, while suppressing the virus.


Jeremy Hunt (Con), chair of the health committee, says he supports the measures.

He says testing has been transformed. “But we are not there yet.” What can the PM say to a school offered just 10 tests every three weeks if they are worried about asymptomatic cases?

Johnson says the rates of infection and transmission amongst school pupils are much lower than for the rest of the population.

But he says he wants to massively increase testing.

What Johnson said about the new rules

This is what Johnson said about the new rules.

First, we are once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so. In key public services and in all professions where home working is not possible, such as construction or retail, people should continue to attend their workplaces.

Second, from Thursday, all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate a table service only, except for takeaways. Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm.

And to help the police enforce this rule that means, alas, closing not just calling for last orders, because simplicity is paramount.

Third, we will extend the requirement to wear face coverings to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.

Fourth, in retail, leisure and tourism and other sectors, our Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.

Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the rule of six. I’m afraid that from Monday a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, though up to 30 can still attend a funeral, as now.

We will also have to extend the rule of six to all adult indoor team sports.


Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, says if people need to make sacrifices, they should get economic support. He says extending the furlough scheme by eight months in Scotland could save 61,000 jobs.

Johnson promises MPs full debate next week on new restrictions

Dame Cheryl Gillan (Con) asks what the PM says to grandparents who want to live their lives, given his six-month timescale. And she suggests these measures should be debated in parliament first, before being implemented.

Johnson says “parliament should and will debate these issues”. He says there will be a full debate next week.

(He does not say whether MPs will get the chance to vote to change, or abandon, any of the proposals.)

Johnson is responding to Starmer.

He says Starmer’s support seems to come and go.

He says he hopes Starmer will accept this is a “balanced and proportionate” response to the threat.

The measures will keep the vast majority of the economy going, he says. He says that is vital.

Starmer says second national lockdown would be 'failure of government'

Sir Keir Starmer is responding now on behalf of Labour.

He says Labour supports the measures, just as it supported the lockdown in March. But he says that does not mean Labour not offered fierce criticism of its handling of the crisis.

He asks, if further measures are needed, when will they be applied.

What extra help will be available for business?

Does the PM accept that withdrawing the furlough scheme in one go is a mistake?

Starmer says Johnson was warned in the summer that it would have to get the testing system working.

Now the testing system isn’t working just when we need it.

A second lockdown is not inevitable, he says. He says that would be a “failure of government”.

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer. Photograph: Parliament TV


Johnson also told MPs they would be able to get daily briefings on the crisis from Penny Mordaunt, the paymaster general (a minister in the Cabinet Office).

Johnson ends by reminding people of the hands, face, space rules.

Johnson warns people not to be complacent

Johnson says after six months many people may think they are immune.

But that sort of “complacency” is what poses a threat, he says.


Johnson says MPs will get more opportunity to scrutinise these plans.

And they will get more opportunity to question the government’s scientific advisers.

Johnson says new restrictions likely to remain in force for six months

Johnson says if necessary the government will go further.

And he says people should assume the new rules will stay in force for six months.

UPDATE: Here is the full quote.

We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments, new forms of mass-testing but unless we palpably make progress we should assume that the restrictions that I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.

For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives and I must tell the house and the country that our fight against it will continue.


Johnson says these measures will apply in England.

He says the fine for not wearing a mask or breaking the rule of six will double, to £200.

But the devolved administrations are taking similar steps, he says.

New rules on face coverings and wedding attendance

Second, Johnson says, from Thursday pubs and restaurants will have to offer table service, except for takeaways. And they will close from 10pm.

Third, staff in retail and indoor hospitality will have to wear masks. And they will be needed in taxis.

Fourth, Covid-secure workplace rules will become a legal obligation.

Fifth, the rule of six will be amended so that only 15 people can attend weddings from Monday.

And, sixth, from 1 October the plan to ease the rules for sports evens will be suspended.

Boris Johnson addresses MPs
Boris Johnson addresses MPs. Photograph: Parliament TV


Work from home if you can, PM confirms

Johnson says the government is acting “on the principle that a stitch in time saves nine”.

He says he will announce measures for England intend to protect people, while minimising the impact on livelihoods.

First, office workers are being asked to work from home.

But if people need to go to work, they should continue to do so.

MPs will continue to work in a Covid-secure way, he says.


Johnson says he would like to be able to say that the increase in new cases is just driven by more testing. But the positivity rate is going up too, he says.

He says in the last fortnight hospital admissions in England have doubled.

And he says Covid is likely to spread more in the autumn.

Yesterday the Covid alert level was increased to 4.

So this is the moment when we must act, he says.

UK at 'perilous turning point', says Johnson

Boris Johnson is starting now.

He says he will comment on the rising number of cases, and how we must act now.

At every stage the government has struck a delicate balance, he says, between the need to protect people, and the need to allow life to go on.

But the prospect of a second wave was real, he says. He says the UK is at a “perilous turning point”.

He says the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and 20 days.

The Boris Johnson statement will start in three minutes.

Justice questions is over, but the Speaker suspends business for three minutes to allow MPs to leave and enter the chamber in a socially distanced manner.

The proportion of pupils attending schools in England since their full reopening has dropped amid concerns about access to Covid-19 tests, PA Media reports.

And the number of schools that were not fully open on Thursday due to suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus has increased from the week before.

Approximately 87% of students were in school on 17 September, which is down from 88% on 10 September, according to Department for Education statistics.

The number of state schools that were not fully open due to suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases rose to 4% last Thursday, from 1% the week before.


Boris Johnson's Commons statement on coronavirus

Boris Johnson is due to start his Commons statement on coronavirus at 12.30pm.

Some 70 MPs are down to ask him a question. The list of names is here.

Boris Johnson leaving No 10 a few minutes ago, ahead of his Commons statement.
Boris Johnson leaving No 10 a few minutes ago, ahead of his Commons statement. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Seven in 10 of the deaths of working age adults involving coronavirus between March 9 and June 30 were likely to be the result of an infection acquired before lockdown, new figures show.

As PA Media reports, there were 5,330 deaths involving Covid-19 of 20-64-year-olds in England and Wales, according to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report. Of these, some 72%, or 3,839 deaths, occurred on or before April 25 and are likely to be as a result of an infection acquired before lockdown.

The ONS’s assumption is based on evidence that the maximum time from infection to symptom onset is 14 days, and there are around 20 days on average from symptom onset to death.

From Sky’s Joe Pike

From the Labour whips Twitter account

Here is our story about Theresa May’s speech in the internal market bill debate last night, in which she described Boris Johnson’s threat to ignore commitments given in the Brexit withdrawal treaty as “reckless” and “irresponsible” and said it “risked the integrity of the United Kingdom”.

You can read her speech in full here.


From the Times’ Steven Swinford

After Sir Keir Starmer’s speech was over, CCHQ sent out an email to supporters asking for donations which described Starmer as “just more of the same old Labour”. It says:

Sir Keir Starmer proclaimed himself Labour’s ‘new leadership’, in his first conference speech this morning.

But nothing could be further from reality. Sir Keir’s leadership is just more of the same old Labour.

He’s advanced Corbyn’s far-left economic plans and continually shown he doesn’t respect the views of ordinary people on crime, immigration and regaining our independence now we’ve left the EU.

It is not hard to see why the Conservatives are doing this - they need to criticise him over something, and recent efforts to find a plausible attack line have been a failure - but the problem with trying to brand Starmer as a new incarnation of Jeremy Corbyn is that it is obviously not true.

Prof Sir Ian Diamond, who as national statistician is head of the Government Statistical Service, told a Commons committee this morning that coronavirus was spreading nationwide. Giving evidence to the public administration committee, he said:

One of the things that we are definitely seeing is that we, unlike some other European countries, do have a pandemic which is largely nationwide ...

My view is that at the moment we have a national - in England - largely national pandemic but one which is concentrated in urban areas.

He said there is “much better data” now on coronavirus “so the government has the information on which to make early decisions”. He said:

My view, very strongly, is that we are about to enter a rocky road but we have much better information than we had for the first wave on which to plot a route.

As Sky’s Aubrey Allegretti reports, Diamond also said that if nothing was done about the rising number of Covid cases, there would be “major increases” in mortality.

(“Morality” is a typo, but an intriguing one - no doubt the bishops would approve.)

Prof Ian Diamond, speaking at a No 10 press conference in May.
Prof Ian Diamond, speaking at a No 10 press conference in May. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty Images


The Equality and Human Rights Commission has called on ministers to ensure new coronavirus restrictions are subject to review and are open to challenge to protect human rights. Its chief executive, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said she was concerned about the impact of measures on residential care and access to healthcare. In a statement she said:

Blanket approaches may well have other consequences. The virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and we have to make sure that our efforts to live free from coronavirus don’t come at too high a price.

As more restrictions are considered, we’re calling on the government to make sure that protections are proportionate, measured, and rooted in science and the law.

Any changes that restrict our rights must be flexible, with review and end points, and remain open to challenge.

If we want to protect public health and save lives, then changes need to complement or enhance our human rights, not treat them as optional.


UK has now recorded 57,636 deaths where Covid proven or suspected, latest figures show

More than 57,600 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK, PA Media reports.

Figures published this morning by the ONS show that 52,513 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to 11 September, and had been registered by September 19.

Figures published last week by the National Records for Scotland showed that 4,236 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to 13 September, while 887 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to 11 September (and had been registered up to 16 September), according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

As PA Media reports, together these figures mean that so far 57,636 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.


Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that she will be making a statement to the Scottish parliament on coronavirus at 2.20pm. And then she will be making her own address on TV tonight at 8.05pm, presumably just after Boris Johnson’s.

Starmer's speech a 'missed opportunity', says Momentum

Momentum, the Labour group for Jeremy Corbyn supporters, has described Sir Keir Starmer’s speech as a “missed opportunity”. It made the comment in a statement from Andrew Scattergood, its co-chair. He said:

Keir Starmer taking the fight to Boris Johnson today is welcome, but after months of the leadership not commenting on policies, Keir Starmer’s speech was a missed opportunity to show substance. If Starmer wants to appeal to working class voters, his pitch should be based on solidarity with the working class and defending their interests, not just slogans and platitudes.

74% of people want test and trace taken away from private firms yet Starmer was silent on the catastrophic failure caused by the outsourcing of test and trace, including to companies with links to the Conservative party, or of Labour’s opposition to privatisation. Starmer also made no mention of a Green New Deal, Black Lives Matter, and the Tories’ lifting of the eviction ban yesterday, unleashing a tsunami of evictions across our communities.

Boris Johnson chairing cabinet this morning
Boris Johnson chairing cabinet this morning Photograph: No 10

There were 99 deaths due to Covid-19 in England and Wales in the week to 11 September, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

The number of Covid deaths increased from 78 in the previous week, a 27% increase. However, we should be cautious about interpreting this rise and the August Bank holiday fell in the previous week, which led to delays in deaths being registered.

While the number of coronavirus cases is increasing across the UK, the death toll remains low. The latest figure is the second lowest number of Covid deaths since mid-March.

The ONS also reports that deaths in hospitals were below the five-year average in the most recent week, while the numbers of deaths in private homes and care homes were above the five-year average.

Starmer's speech - Reaction from Labour Twitter

And here is some Twitter comment on the speech from Labour figures. Most of the reaction I’ve seen has come from people you would expect to be supportive anyway. I have not seen much response from figures on the Corbynite left.

From Dave Prentis, the Unison general secretary

From Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary

From Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former communications chief

From Andrew Harrop, general secretary of the Fabian Society

From Darren Murphy, a No 10 aide when Blair was PM

From Michael Chessum, a Momentum activist and organiser Another Europe is Possible, the leftwing pro-remain group

From Aaron Bastani from the pro-Corbyn Novara Media

From Ayesha Harika, a former adviser to Harriet Harman and Ed Miliand

From James Mills, a former aide to John McDonald

From Paul Mason, the leftwing activist and former Newsnight journalist

From Ian McKenzie, a former adviser to John Prescott

Starmer's speech - Verdict from Twitter commentariat

Here is some comment on the Starmer speech from journalists and commentators. Overall, the verdict is very positive.

From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg

From ITV’s Paul Brand

From Sky’s Beth Rigby

From the Sunday Times columnist Robert Colvile

From my colleague Jonathan Freedland

From the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges

From HuffPost’s Paul Waugh

From my colleague Patrick Wintour

From Times Radio’s Tom Newton Dunn

From Good Morning Britain’s presenter Piers Morgan

Here is the full text of the Starmer speech.

Sir Keir Starmer arriving at the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in Doncaster to deliver his speech earlier, with former Labour MPs Ruth Smeeth (left) and Jenny Chapman, his political director.
Sir Keir Starmer arriving at the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in Doncaster to deliver his speech earlier, with former Labour MPs Ruth Smeeth (left) and Jenny Chapman, his political director. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/EPA

'We're under new leadership' - Starmer urges ex-Labour voters to take another look at party

Starmer says he wants to close the attainment gap in education, which he describes as something that scars life chances.

He says social care needs reform.

He says he can imagine the sort of country he wants to lead.

It would be a country which is the best place to grow up in and the best place to grow old in.

I can see it. I can describe it. But it’s all just a dream unless we win back the trust of the people. And we’ve got a long road ahead of us.

But he says Labour will only be able to deliver this if it can win back trust.

We’re not going to win back those we’ve lost with a single speech or a clever policy offer. Trust takes time.

It starts with being a credible opposition. With taking the job seriously. That’s what we will do.

So to those people in Doncaster and Deeside, in Glasgow and Grimsby, in Stoke and in Stevenage, to those who have turned away from Labour, I say this: we hear you.

Never again will Labour take you or the things you care about for granted. And I ask you: Take another look at Labour.

We’re under new leadership.

We love this country as you do. This is the country I grew up in and this is the country I will grow old in. And I want it to be the country I know it can be.

And that’s it. The speech is over.

I will post reaction shortly.

Starmer says the Covid crisis has made change even more vital.

The trust of the British people will only be won by a party: that can provide security and opportunity at work, that ends the structural flaws in our economy that mean that working people have barely had a pay rise in a decade, that fixes the housing crisis so that young people finally have the prospect of owning their own home, that understands the need for an economy that’s healing the climate crisis, not contributing to it, that guarantees the security and integrity of this nation, that gives our young people the start in life they deserve, that gives our older people the dignity that they’ve earned and that cherishes our diversity and takes pride in a society where everyone belongs.

We know that Covid affects our black, Asian and minority ethnic communities disproportionately. But the government still hasn’t done anything about it.

That’s why I’ve asked Doreen Lawrence to lead an inquiry. I worked with Doreen to prosecute her son’s killers.

Racial inequality is one of the causes that brought me into politics. And the eradication of structural racism will be a defining cause for the next Labour government.

Covid-19 thrives on inequalities: structural inequalities that we must defeat.

Starmer says Labour has only won elections by seeking to modernise Britain

Starmer says the Labour leaders who won elections were modernisers.

All three of the postwar Labour winners – Attlee, Wilson and Blair – saw it as their task to modernise Britain.

In 1945, Attlee had to build a society fit to reward the sacrifices of the war.

In 1964, Wilson had to make the “white heat of technology” work for working people.

In 1997, Blair wanted to extend the new era of opportunity to everyone.

In the 75 years since the historic victory of 1945 there have only been three Labour winners. I want to be the fourth.

And when you look back to 1945, 1964 and 1997 you learn an important lesson. The lesson is don’t look back, look to the future.

We need to be thinking about the questions of 2024 and the 2030s, not the questions of the past.


Starmer says the best incentive for being serious about victory is remembering why you want to win.

But let’s remind ourselves of what this party can achieve at its best.

This is the party that created the National Health Service and founded Nato.

This is the party of the Equal Pay Act and this is the party of the Open University.

This is the party of the national minimum wage and this is party of the Good Friday agreement.

These achievements show that we inherit a task and a purpose.


Starmer tells Labour it deserved to lose last election and it must 'get serious about winning'

Starmer says he is frustrated that all his spokespeople are shadow ministers, not real ministers.

He says it is pointless being in power if all you can do is “object to endless Tory governments”.

So let’s be blunt. Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves.

When you lose an election in a democracy, you deserve to.

You don’t look at the electorate and ask them: ‘What were you thinking?’ You look at yourself and ask: ‘What were we doing?’

The Labour party has lost four general elections in a row. We’ve granted the Tories a decade of power.

The Tories have had as many election winners in five years as we’ve had in seventy-five.

It’s a betrayal of what we believe in to let this go on. It’s time to get serious about winning.

That means we have to change, and that’s what we’re doing.

This is a party under new leadership ...

I don’t underestimate the work that will be needed. But I can make this promise:

Never again will Labour go into an election not being trusted on national security, with your job, with your community and with your money.

That’s what being under new leadership means.

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer Photograph: Sky News


Starmer contrasts himself with the prime minister.

And this is the big difference between the prime minister and me.

While Boris Johnson was writing flippant columns about bendy bananas, I was defending victims and prosecuting terrorists.

While he was being sacked by a newspaper for making up quotes, I was fighting for justice and the rule of law.

Johnson is 'not up to the job', says Starmer

Starmer says the government has demonstrated “serial incompetence” in its handling of the Covid crisis.

He has learned two lessons from the crisis, he says.

First, if you neglect your public services, you won’t be ready when a crisis hits. Nobody blames the government for the existence of the virus.

But the under-funding of the NHS, the abandonment of social care and the lack of investment in prevention, that’s all on their watch. That’s all down to them.

And it always ends this way with Tory governments:

Public services are neglected, cut-back, and left to decline. For a party called the Conservative party, they don’t seem to conserve very much.

The second thing I’ve learned is that a crisis reveals character like nothing else.

And I think we’ve learnt a lot about this prime minister. Tory backbenchers know it. His cabinet knows it. We all know it.

He’s just not serious. He’s just not up to the job.

Whenever he encounters a problem, Johnson responds either by wishing it away or by lashing out.

He kept wishing away the problems with testing, pretending they didn’t exist. He wished away the problems with the Irish border. Then, when he finally realised what he’d signed up to, he lashed out and decided to break international law.


Starmer says the Covid crisis has shown people the importance of family.

Covid has made us appreciate what we value: that family really does come first. Always.

Starmer says his vision for Britain is simple.

I want this to be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in.

A country in which we put family first. A country that embodies the values I hold dear. Decency, fairness, opportunity, compassion and security. Security for our nation, our families and for all of our communities.

But the incompetence of the government is holding the country back, he says.

Starmer says the desire to make a difference for the country is what motivates him.

This is a country that has given me so much.

I am thankful to the National Health Service that cared for my mum for much of her life. For the chance to be the first in my family to go to university. To go on, to practise the law and to have the privilege of leading the Crown Prosecution Service.

And to be able to give my parents what they said was one of the proudest moments of their lives: to be there, with me, at Buckingham Palace as I was awarded a knighthood for services to criminal justice.

Family values mean the world to me. I was lucky enough to grow up in a loving family and I have the great joy now of a family of my own.

The mission of the Labour party I lead is to extend that same opportunity to everyone.


Starmer starts by talking about the coronavirus crisis.

He says Labour will be a “constructive opposition”. But there should be “nothing inevitable about a second lockdown”, he says.

It would be a sign of government failure, not an act of God. It would take an immense toll on people’s physical and mental health and on the economy. We need a national effort to prevent a national lockdown.

But instead of getting a grip, the government has lost control. Our testing system collapsed just when we needed it most.

He calls for leadership from the government.


Starmer thanks members for putting their faith in him.

When you grow up in a small town in Surrey, you rarely thank your parents for naming you “Keir”. And when, as a teenager, I became the fourth member of the East Surrey Young Socialists, it didn’t seem likely that one day I would stand before you as the second Keir to be Labour leader. But I am, and it’s the honour of my lifetime to lead this great movement.

Sir Keir Starmer starts by thanking Ruth Smeeth. He says he knows how hard the last few years in the part have been for her.

He says he is pleased to be in Doncaster. His wife’s mum was born and brought up new here, he says. And he says this will be the first Labour leader’s conference speech in Yorkshire since Harold Wilson in 1967.

Smeeth is Jewish. She says it has been difficult to be Jewish in the Labour party in recent years. But she says under Starmer’s leadership, that is changing.

Ruth Smeeth is introducing now. She says Labour’s failure to win the 2019 has had dire consequences for the country.

Ruth Smeeth
Ruth Smeeth Photograph: Labour

Keir Starmer's speech to Labour's virtual conference

Sir Keir Starmer is due to start his speech to Labour’s virtual conference in the next few minutes. My colleague Peter Walker has previewed the speech here.

Starmer is speaking in Doncaster. And he he going to be introduced by Ruth Smeeth, who was Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North until she lost her seat in the general election. The speech is largely aimed at voters in seats like that, whom Labour needs to win back.

PM U-turns on 'go to work if you can' advice ahead of major announcement to MPs

Good morning. We are used to regular, far-reaching coronavirus announcements from Boris Johnson - less than two weeks ago it was the rule of six and the moonshot - but today’s is qualitatively different because, for the first time since March, he is going to be announcing a package of measures that effectively tighten regulations at a national level, not loosen them.

That said, the PM is not going as far as some of his advisers or ministers wanted. But it’s still going to be a hard statement to make for someone who seems psychologically averse to delivering bad news. Here is our preview.

This morning Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, has announced another element of the package. In July Johnson started telling people to go to work if they could, but now that advice has been abandoned. Gove told BBC Breakfast.

If people can work from home, they should. But I stress that it’s very important that those people whose jobs require them to be in a specific workplace do so.

He said the same thing on the Today programme. Asked there if this was a change, he replied: “Yes.” More people were now being encouraged to work from home, he said.

Here is the agenda for the day.

8.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet. Then he will chair a Cobra meeting.

9am: Sir Keir Starmer delivers his speech to Labour’s online conference.

9.30am: The ONS publishes its weekly death figures for England and Wales.

9.30am: Sir Ian Diamond, the national statistician and head of the ONS, gives evidence to the Commons public administration committee on coronavirus.

12.30pm: Johnson gives a statement to MPs about coronavirus.

After 2pm: Nicola Sturgeon is due to give a statement to MSPs about coronavirus.

8pm: Johnson delivers a TV address to the nation on coronavirus.

Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, like the Starmer spech, and where they seem more important and interesting, they will take precedence.

Here is our global coronavirus live blog.

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