UK coronavirus live: Nicola Sturgeon to announce five-tier lockdown plan as Scotland passes 50,000 cases

By Andrew Sparrow


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A police chief has said breaches of Covid regulations have become “another version of antisocial behaviour” for the service, adding “it’s a very difficult area for us to police”.

Andy Rhodes, the chief constable for Lancashire Constabulary, told MPs on the home affairs select committee that calls relating to coronavirus breaches made up around 4% of the force’s calls and were similar to anti-social behaviour calls with residents complaining about neighbours’ behaviour.

But he said the shift from tier 2 to tier 3 had seen some residents have a “last blast” and triggered a surge in incidents over the weekend.

Rhodes said the force was only deploying officers to serious scenarios such as “150 people in a marquee”, adding the force was “genuinely not knocking on people’s doors and asking how many people you have round for supper tonight”.

He went on:

That is not the policing style of British policing. Covid has become like another version of antisocial behaviour for us. That’s what people are ringing us about.

Some of the Covid calls we’re getting our normal antisocial behaviour calls - there are 20 people in the park and they shouldn’t be there because of the Covid regulations.

We are putting in the same policing response to those things as we’ve always done to some degree ... It’s very difficult area for us to police.

But he said it was important and legitimate to have an enforcement element to the policing response.

Over the weekend, because we went into tier 3, it was almost like some people thought we’ll have a last blast. Our Covid incidents went up 25% and so we issued significantly more tickets over the weekend.

We’ve got 150 people hiring a marquee to have a wake. That hasn’t from day one been an area for confusion. That will attract a £10,000 fine if we can find the organiser. There needs to be a deterrent for people who are clearly and blatantly putting other people’s lives at risk in our view.

ACC Owen Weatherill, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for the Covid policing response, told the committee it was “inevitable” there will be a “level of fatigue” with the restrictions.

Police officers in masks in London.

Police officers in masks in London. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters


Scotland records 28 Covid deaths - highest daily figure since May

Scotland has surpassed 50,000 cases of Covid-19 after recording 1,739 positive cases in the last 24 hours, with 28 deaths of people confirmed to have the virus, the highest daily figure since 21 May.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, said the continuing surge in cases led her government to extend the restrictions on pubs and cafes, on unnecessary travel and on contact sports across central Scotland for a further week.

She said Scotland had now recorded 50,903 positive cases since March, with the numbers in hospital rising again by 49 to 873 and the numbers in intensive care up by three to 73.

The data came as National Records of Scotland, the government public records agency, said that 75 deaths with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate last week, up by 50 on the previous week, and the highest weekly figure since early June.

Sturgeon added, however, that the latest data suggested the rate of increase in cases was slowing, giving her “cautious optimism” the existing restrictions were having an impact on the latest surge in cases.


The Welsh health minister has criticised people who spread false stories about coronavirus via social media and called for platforms to do more to stop lies being disseminated.

Vaughan Gething spoke after a tweet falsely claiming one Welsh hospital was so empty that its doctors were able to take time off to play golf gained traction and made headlines. Gething said:

It’s incredibly frustrating to see direct lies being told about what is taking place within our health service, Our health service is under significant pressure.

He said people had to think before sharing wrong and damaging information but also said social media platforms needed to take responsibility. “We are not in a game here. We are in a really serious position.”

Speaking at the Welsh government’s press conference, Gething said it was not possible to say what Christmas would look like in Wales, calling such a prediction a “mug’s game”.

Gething said there were 894 people in hospital with Covid – up 26% on the same time last week and the highest number since June.



MPs debate Labour plan for economic support for areas under Covid restrictions


Greater Manchester is no longer a city region united after the only Conservative-run council announced it was willing to consider a bespoke deal for its hospitality workers.

David Greenhalgh, the leader of Bolton council, said he was “willing to look at” a Bolton-only package, breaking away from the rest of the cross-region negotiating block and distancing himself from Andy Burnham.

He said he had spoken to Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, this morning, after hearing that the £60m offered by government to Greater Manchester on Tuesday was still up for grabs for individual councils.

Greenhalgh said:

It is clear the amount on the table, which is what has been accepted in Liverpool, Lancashire and now South Yorkshire, and I am not prepared for Bolton businesses to miss out on this extra financial help.

This is not the time for posturing and politics. This is about getting the best deal available for Bolton business, and those who work in the sectors worst affected.

I hope to have further discussions later today with government officials and ministers, and progress as a matter of priority to enable a scheme to be worked up that targets those most affected.

Unsurprisingly, his Labour counterparts are fuming.


Government invites Greater Manchester council leaders, but not Burnham, to discuss allocation of £60m

Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, has written to all 10 Greater Manchester council leaders inviting them to come forward individually to claim their share of the £60m still on offer.

The move appears to be a deliberate attempt to cut Andy Burnham, the Greater Manchester mayor, out of the discussions following the dramatic breakdown of talks on Tuesday.

In the letter, seen by the Guardian, Jenrick says it was “with regret” that he had to inform the prime minister that they had been unable to reach a deal. But he adds:

Though our discussions with the mayor were unable to reach agreement, the government remains committed to providing people and businesses in Greater Manchester with the support they need as we move into the next phase of action against coronavirus.

I am therefore writing to restate our offer of business support to your areas. This funding of £60m is for the people and businesses of Greater Manchester and with your help, we will ensure it reaches them as swiftly as possible and ensure this support can go to those who need it. Our officials stand ready to work quickly and closely with their counterparts to ensure this can happen - starting today.

I have valued the conversations I have had with you in recent days. I do not underestimate how challenging it is to lead your councils and communities through this period. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss further.

Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday)

Here's the letter from Robert Jenrick. Clear deliberate attempt to cut Andy Burnham out of the picture.

October 21, 2020