The UK may impose quarantine on any country with more than 20 cases per 100,000 people, Grant Shapps has said.
The Transport Secretary said once infection rates reach this level it can “trigger” the removal of travel corridors, meaning travellers will have to self-isolate when they arrive in the UK for 14 days.
He told the Today programme: “With France and these other countries, Netherlands and elsewhere, the numbers have now just gone above the threshold, which is about 20 case per 100,000, but measured on a seven day rolling average.
“That is what the Joint BioSecurity Centre will be looking at,” he said, noting France had “breached” the level.
In the week to July 25, when the quarantine for anyone returning to the UK from Spain was announced, the case numbers per 100,000 had risen from 20 to 39. As of yesterday, France’s cumulative 14-day total of Covid-19 cases was 32.1 per 100,000; in the Netherlands that figure is 40.2 and Malta 74.8. The UK’s figure by comparison is 18.5.
“The information came out last night, which is why we had to act last night,” he added. “There is no perfect way to deal with this virus.”
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Fraser Nelson: This A-level fiasco is just the start of lockdown’s betrayal of the young
“We have just had our futures stolen from us,” one student has told Fraser Nelson after yesterday’s exam debacle.
This is true in many ways. The young are the least likely to be affected by Covid but usually the first to be hit by the reaction to it. Schools were closed before lockdown was implemented and kept closed after pubs reopened. Exams could easily have been carried out under social distancing, had anyone thought it important enough to give students the chance.
A study by the Brookings Institute in America has calculated that, even adjusting for online learning, four months out of the classroom cuts future earning power by 2.5 per cent every year. The World Bank reckons that this “lost generation” will, collectively, earn $10 trillion less because of the schooling denied to them.
As Fraser argues, yesterday’s fiasco is just the start of the betrayal of the young.
Government urged to extend furlough for arts sector
The Government is being urged to extend the furlough scheme for struggling sectors of the economy such as the arts and entertainment to prevent “significant” job losses.
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) said workers have returned relatively quickly in areas such as hospitality, including accommodation and food services.
But only 29 per cent of arts, entertainment and recreation workers having returned from furlough, according to the study.
Fabian Wallace-Stephens, senior researcher at the RSA, said: “The return to work is encouraging news for the millions of workers in sectors like hospitality and construction.
“However, for some sectors such as the arts and entertainment, the numbers are worryingly low and may prove to be the warning signs of significant redundancies.
“The Government needs to give continued, focused support for these sectors of the economy, linked to a clear recovery strategy.”
The furlough scheme, which has sustained the jobs of millions of workers, is ending in October.
Moving No 10 advisers into Cabinet Office ‘power’ move by Dominic Cummings, says Bob Kerslake
Number 10’s plans to shake up Whitehall by moving policy advisers into the Cabinet Office is a “power” move by Dominic Cummings, a former head of the Home Civil Service has said.
From next month, the Downing Street policy unit and its chair Munira Mirza will be based in 70 Whitehall, the home of the Cabinet Office. The door which currently connects 70 Whitehall to 10 Downing Street is being removed in a symbolic move that unites the two office complexes.
Theresa May’s former adviser Katie Perrior said it was “just an office move – I don’t think people should read too much more into it”.
But Sir Bob Kerslake said: “In truth it’s about power, the power of the Prime Minister, and his special advisers over Whitehall and actually Dominic Cummings over special advisers”.
Advisers are currently “dotted all over Number 10 – this is a way of keeping an eye on them,” he added.
“In itself it’s not huge… [but] what is it important to see it as part of a wider set of changes going on. My concern there is not so much about change, it’s about transparency and accountability”
PM accelerates easing of lockdown from this weekend
Boris Johnson has taken the brakes off the easing of lockdown as he announced that plans for wedding receptions, sporting events and indoor performances will resume.
The Prime Minister said the changes will allow people to “get back to more of the things they have missed” since the health crisis began after rising infection rates appeared to have “levelled off”.
Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will now be allowed from Saturday, as will the reopening of casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks.
Beauty salons, tattoo studios and spas will be able to offer all close “ services and treatments”.
Read the rest of the changes here.
Grant Shapps rules out compensation for people having to quarantine
Grant Shapps has rejected the idea that travellers should receive compensation for having to quarantine on their return, even if it affected their ability to work.
It has been argued that people who are unable to work from home should be supported for the 14-day period, with critics warning that without this people will have to make an unenviable choice between health and finances.
But the Transport Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that although he sympathised with people caught up in the chaos, they had been warned of possible disruption.
“People this year will have gone away knowing that there was a significant risk, and because of that people will have gone with their eyes open,” Mr Shapps said.
More students from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university overall, stresses Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps has stressed that more students from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university overall.
On BBC Breakfast, it was suggested to Mr Shapps that he was discounting statistics indicating that children from the most deprived areas have been hardest hit by results being downgraded.
Mr Shapps responded: “I don’t (discount it), it’s just that I’m reading an actual statistic – 7.3 per cent more children from disadvantaged backgrounds, 18-year-olds, accepted to university this than last year, to which you’re coming back and saying I don’t agree with that, but you’re not providing me any numbers.
“So yes I do think that more students from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university and overall, as I say, we’ve got more been accepted to university than previously as well.
“So look, those are the figures. If you’ve got up some other figures then tell me, but that’s the numbers I’ve got in front of me.”
Grant Shapps rejects exams ‘inequality’ claims
Grant Shapps has rejected claims that the Government’s exams assessment has been unduly fair on students from deprived backgrounds.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, told BBC Breakfast there was “baked inequality in what’s happened”, with the system benefitting private schools as the expense of those in poorer parts of the country.
“We believe the only option that the Government have got now is to go back to the teacher-awarded grades because they’ve made such a fiasco,” she added.
But Mr Shapps insisted that inequality “is not the upshot” of the assessment, adding: “The standardisation model says there hasn’t been any bias.”
Grant Shapps defends Government’s quarantine approach
Grant Shapps has defended the Government’s approach to quarantine, saying there “has to be a cut-off” in regards to a time period for those being mandated to self-isolate on their return to the UK from abroad.
The Transport Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “I think the truth of this is, as everyone watching realises, there’s no perfect way to deal with coronavirus.
“Unless you were going to have a sliding scale that sort of said if you stay another 24 hours the you must quarantine for X amount of time, another 36 hours for Y amount of time, you know, clearly there has to be a cut-off somewhere.”
Mr Shapps added: “To be clear, the Joint Biosecurity Centre have cleared our approach to this.”
Estimated 160,000 people trying to return from France, Grant Shapps says
Grant Shapps has said an estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are now looking to return from France to the UK.
Challenged as to why people arriving before 4am tomorrow morning would not have to quarantine, while those arriving just after would have to isolate for 14 days, despite the rate being above the threshold now, the Transport Secretary said: “I accept your point”.
He added: “We have to make a decision on it and we have to do that based on science and medicine, and that’s what we’ve done, we’ve taken the advice and implemented on that basis.”
Asked if he would encourage those returning to the UK if they should self-isolate, even if they fall outside of the official quarantine deadline, Mr Shapps said: “That’s not legally required.
“But what I would say to everybody is look out for the signs, everyone knows what we’re talking about – the persistent cough, the high temperature, the change in taste or smell, so everyone should look out for those signs.
“But, no, it’s not necessary to quarantine unless you’re coming back after 4am on Saturday and those are the rules.”
France warns of ‘reciprocal measures’ as UK imposes quarantine
France is planning to retaliate against the UK Government’s late-night decision to impose a quarantine on travellers arriving from the country, a minister said last night.
The move, announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday night, means people travelling from the European country will have to isolate for two weeks if they return to the UK after 4am on Saturday.
The Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and the island of Aruba have also been added to the quarantine list.
But, despite imposing a “red zone” around Paris and Marseille, the decision appears to have upset the Elysee, with French junior minister for European affairs Clément Beaune warning of reciprocal measures.
“A British decision that we regret and which will lead to a measure of reciprocity, hoping that things will return to normal as soon as possible,” he said on Twitter at midnight.
Holidaymakers scramble to get home before quarantine rule comes in
The late night announcement that France was being removed from the UK’s travel corridor list has prompted chaos at the borders as holidaymakers attempt to avoid having to quarantine for 14 days.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, told Sky News: “We have provided a bit more notice than there was in Spain, where I was when I had to come back and quarantine – the rate is a bit behind where Spain was at the time.”
He added there were “The thing with France is there are tree different ways to travel – by air, by sea and by the tunnel.”
However many direct flights to the UK on Friday are sold out, while the cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London is £210, compared with £165 on Saturday.
The cost of taking a car through the Channel Tunnel on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services on Friday morning is £260.
All trains after midday are fully booked.
P&O Ferries has limited availability, but one person travelling with a car from Calais to Dover can buy a ticket for £200.
French government designates Paris and Marseille ‘high risk zones’
Paris and Marseille have been designated as high-risk zones for the coronavirus, granting authorities there powers to impose localised curbs to contain the spread of the disease.
The declaration, made in a government decree yesterday, follows a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections in France over the past two weeks.
France reported more than 2,500 new Covid-19 infections for the second day in a row, levels last seen in mid-April when the country was in the middle of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
The government move gives local authorities in Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone area powers to limit the circulation of people and vehicles, restrict access to public transport and air travel, limit access to public buildings and close restaurants, bars and other establishments.
Paris and Marseille had in recent days already made the wearing of face masks mandatory in busy public areas.
‘Don’t just turn up’ at French border Grant Shapps warns British holidaymakers
The Transport Secretary has told British holidaymakers “don’t just turn up” at French airports, ports and Eurotunnel as they race to get home before the quarantine comes into force.
The Government announced late last night that France was among the countries being removed from the travel corridor, meaning people will have to isolate for 14 days on their arrival in the UK.
Grant Shapps told Sky News people had been given “a bit more notice” than those who were in Spain, noting “I do sympathise with people – I have been there myself and ended up having to quarantine as a result.”
He also defended the decision from criticism by aviation bosses, saying it is a “dynamic situation” and “we have no real choice but to act”.
Boris Johnson to stamp Scottish projects with Union flag
Boris Johnson will stamp major schemes in Scotland that are paid for directly by the UK Government with a Union flag from next year, The Telegraph can reveal.
The flag will replace the European Union symbol, which has been used to denote when a bridge or road has been directly funded by Brussels.
The idea has been backed by the new Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, who said Tories north of the border needed to be “unashamed of our investment in Scotland”.
But it was greeted with dismay by senior SNP politicians, with one accusing Mr Johnson’s Government of “posturing of the worst order” and “trying to force the union flag down people’s throats”.