Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday morning. We’ll have another update for you at 18:00 BST.
1. Crackdown on virus rule-breakers
From today, anyone in England who tests positive is required by law to self-isolate, and those who don’t could be fined £1,000, rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders. It’ll also apply to people contacted by NHS Test and Trace who are told they must self-isolate because a close contact has tested positive. See the rules in detail. Ministers hope Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will bring in similar penalties – although there’s growing disquiet among MPs about how they’ve come about. A possible Commons rebellion looms later this week.
2. Test and Trace concerns
The crackdown comes after research found voluntary compliance with the rules was very low. The government says Test and Trace is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts, is warning the system isn’t ready for the enormous demands of winter and capacity must be greatly increased. The body’s intervention comes as a BBC Panorama investigation reveals the concerns of whistleblowers inside the system. One case worker said she spoke to just one person in four months.
3. Wales lockdown grows further
Nearly two thirds of Wales’ population will be under local lockdown by this evening, when Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan are added to the list. Those covered by the restrictions – including residents of the country’s two biggest cities, Cardiff and Swansea – are banned from mixing with other households indoors and can’t leave their county except for a limited number of reasons. See all of the restrictions in much more detail here.
4. University outbreaks grow
Thousands of students across the UK are also locked down in their halls of residence due to outbreaks at universities. All first year and foundation students – about 1,700 in all – at Manchester Metropolitan University will be taught online only for the next two weeks after a string of positive tests. Some students have complained of feeling trapped and vulnerable, prompting the Scottish government to issue new guidance designed to reassure those at institutions there. Here are some tips if you’re starting your studies in such difficult times.
5. Tom’s Bench
Throughout August, photographer Jim Grover photographed the people who sat on Tom’s Bench on Clapham Common in London. The bench is in honour of the owner of Honest Tom’s, a snack bar that has been there for 30 years, and who passed away last year. Jim asked his subjects what impact coronavirus had made on their lives – the answers ranged from surprisingly rewarding to absolutely harrowing, and everything in between.
And don’t forget…
Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.
Plus, Strictly Come Dancing will be back on our screens soon, but how do you stage a dance competition under social distancing guidelines, and what changes might viewers notice?
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