Police will carry out spot checks and act on tip-offs to enforce strict new Covid-19 self-isolation rules from today.
People ordered to quarantine after they or a contact test positive for the virus face a knock on the door from officers to check they are not leaving their home.
It comes amid a growing revolt by Tory MPs over the way Boris Johnson’s Government is infringing liberties with restrictions to tackle the pandemic.
Signalling a tough crackdown, Home Secretary Priti Patel warned last night that ministers ‘will not allow those who break the rules to reverse the hard-won progress made by the law-abiding majority’.
From today, people across England are required by law to quarantine for ten days if they test positive for Covid-19 or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
Those who do not self-isolate – or employers who force staff to turn up to work – will be hit with fines of up to £10,000.
The police will be used to ‘check compliance’ with the rules and will investigate claims by informers that a person who should be in quarantine is flouting the requirement. In other developments:
- Ministers faced mounting pressure to review their ‘shambolic’ 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants after it caused huge crowds across city centres;
- A Mail poll found that a third of patients have avoided or delayed making a GP appointment in the past six months;
- Three more areas of South Wales were added to the local lockdown list yesterday, meaning two-thirds of the Welsh population are covered by restrictions;
- Labour called for a delay to the new university term in England after 1,700 students locked down in Manchester were unable to find out if they have Covid-19;
- Universities faced mounting pressure to refund tuition fees as thousands of students faced lockdowns, online-only courses, and the prospect of spending Christmas in their halls;
- More than 10 million Britons have downloaded the virus tracing app;
- Ministers promised they would provide four months’ worth of personal protective equipment to frontline health and care staff over the winter.
People ordered to quarantine after they or a contact test positive for the virus could face a knock on the door from officers to check they are not leaving their home. Pictured: Drinkers out in Nottingham around closing time
Signalling a tough crackdown, Home Secretary Priti Patel warned last night that ministers ‘will not allow those who break the rules to reverse the hard-won progress made by the law-abiding majority’. Pictured: Police attempt to disperse crowds gathered in London
The Prime Minister could suffer a hugely damaging defeat within days over his use of emergency legislation to push Covid-19 restrictions through the Commons without proper debate.
Conservative backbenchers are increasingly angry about the imposition of the ‘rule of six’ without debate in Parliament – and believe they have a good chance of winning a vote on Wednesday.
The Government said yesterday there had been a further 5,693 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus. While an increase on last Sunday’s total, this is nowhere near the doubling that chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance suggested last week was on the way.
Last night ministers unveiled the steps they will take to ensure people comply with self-isolation rules. The Government said it would ‘use police resources to check compliance’ in areas of the country with the highest rates of disease, and on people in high-risk groups.
The Prime Minister could suffer a hugely damaging defeat within days over his use of emergency legislation to push Covid-19 restrictions through the Commons without proper debate
Officers will ‘investigate and prosecute high-profile and egregious cases of non-compliance’, and ‘act on instances where third parties have identified others who have tested positive, but are not self-isolating’.
The rules state that if someone receives a positive test result, they are required by law to self-isolate for ten days after they first displayed symptoms, or ten days after the date of the test if they did not have symptoms.
Other members of their household must self-isolate for 14 days after the onset of symptoms, or after the date of the positive test.
Pubs and restaurants have started displaying QR codes to support the app, but punters have complained after they were denied entry for not installing it
If someone is instructed to self-isolate because they have had close contact with someone outside their household who has tested positive, they are legally required to self-isolate for the period instructed by NHS Test and Trace.
Users of the NHS contact tracing app are not covered by the new rules. They are anonymous and the Government cannot force them to self-isolate.
People on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result will be eligible for a new £500 ‘test and trace support payment’.
The legal obligation to self-isolate has exemptions, including for those who need to escape from illness or harm during their isolation.
Tories are urged to call time on ‘shambolic’ 10pm pub curfew as swarms of young people are seen dancing in the streets after kicking-out time
As city centres were swamped with revellers over the weekend, the Government came under mounting pressure to review its ‘shambolic’ 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants last night.
Astonishing footage emerged of swarms of young people singing and dancing in the streets after kicking-out time.
Photographs captured across the country showed drinkers leaving pubs and bars at 10pm – and simply heading to off-licences or supermarkets to purchase more alcohol.
The weekend was the first with the new rule in effect.
MPs, business leaders and publicans condemned the measure as a ‘big mistake’ and ‘another random and arbitrary move’.
Photographs captured across the country showed drinkers leaving pubs and bars at 10pm – and simply heading to off-licences or supermarkets to purchase more alcohol. Pictured: Police speak to a group of young people on Harbourside, Bristol
Officers have been attempting to disperse large crowds of people in London’s West End after pubs were forced to move kicking-out time forward to 10pm
Leading hospitality figures also hit out at the lack of consultation before the curfew came into force.
Speaking to the Mail, Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, which operates 420 pubs, said: ‘You can see from the photographs the problem with dispersing customers at exactly the same time. This creates the wrong signal that the customer is better off socialising at home in people’s houses.
‘I think it was clearly a big mistake and the Government has to be sensible and review their decision.’
Tim Martin, founder of JD Wetherspoon, added: ‘The main problem with the 10pm curfew is that it’s another random and arbitrary move by the Government which lacks logic or scientific credibility.’
Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: ‘It’s very clear across the UK that this ill-thought-out 10pm curfew has pushed everyone out of venues with socially distanced measures into the streets, into off-licences, supermarkets, overcrowded public transport and house parties. Every operator predicted this. Shambolic.’
Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan will be put under coronavirus lockdown from tomorrow
Senior Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood added that the curfew ‘makes no sense’.
The criticism came as Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Sage group advising the Prime Minister on the virus, yesterday revealed scientists had ‘never discussed’ the curfew.
Professor John Edmunds, another member of the committee, added that the 10pm shut-off was ‘fairly trivial’ and ‘will have a very small impact on the epidemic’.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden yesterday insisted that there was ‘definitely science’ behind the measure as he was grilled by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, who suggested the measure was actually making matters worse.
Critics of the curfew said many would simply retire to one household or wander around city centres in groups in breach of Covid-19 guidelines
Mr Dowden said: ‘We are reducing the closing times in order to stop people staying later and drinking. The point about all of this is that everyone has their part to play.’
But critics of the curfew said many would simply retire to one household or wander around city centres in groups in breach of Covid-19 guidelines.
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said he was ‘not clear’ where the science behind the move had come from, adding that it led to people ‘bubbling out of pubs… hanging around towns and they’re potentially spreading the virus’.
A Government spokesman yesterday said all measures were kept under ‘constant review’, adding: ‘These measures strike a balance between saving lives by protecting our NHS and the most vulnerable and minimising the wider impact on the economy and schools.
‘The latest data suggests a considerable rise in the infection rate from within the hospitality sector in recent weeks.’
Backlash over ‘pathetic’ Covid tracing app as pubs and restaurants turn away customers who don’t have it – despite faulty system blocking tens of thousands of users from logging their test results
Pubs and restaurants are turning away customers who don’t have the Government’s ‘pathetic’ tracing app,’ – despite glaring errors that stopped thousands from logging their test results.
The beleaguered app’s latest fiasco came last night when it blocked up to 70,000 users from logging their test results.
The app relies on Bluetooth to determine if someone has been within two metres of an infectious person for 15 minutes, but other Bluetooth devices can interfere with the signal, generating a ‘false positive’.
To compound the problems, it has also transpired that the app doesn’t work on millions of older smartphones.
It also requires a code to register a completed test but it is only given if the test returns as positive.
Those with a negative test are only able to register their result if they booked directly through the app.
Despite the issues, Matt Hancock hailed the app as a success as he revealed more than 10 million people downloaded it since its launch on Thursday.
It comes as a further 5,693 people tested positive for coronavirus in the UK today – marking a 46 per cent rise on last Sunday’s total, with 17 deaths.
Matt Hancock’s new coronavirus tracing app was hit by another fiasco last night after it blocked tens of thousands of users from logging their test results
Pubs and restaurants have started displaying QR codes to support the app, but punters have complained after they were denied entry for not installing it
The Health Secretary said on social media it was an ‘absolutely fantastic’ response so far, and urged more people to download it.
Despite problems, pubs and restaurants are starting to bar customers from entering, unless they’ve downloaded the beleaguered app, with QR codes on display for punters to use.
Government advice tells businesses they ‘must’ display the ‘official NHS QR poster’ and apply for a code to be connected to the app.
One punter wrote on Twitter today: ‘Last night I was denied a meal because I didn’t have a Gvt phone app!!!!
‘You may think I’m being over dramatic but you must now get the point. What else are we soon going to be denied access to unless we have a government phone app. Please, please, please people wake up.’
Development of an earlier version of the app – which cost nearly £11million – stopped in June.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that six million people had downloaded the app the first day it launched, and this had since risen to 10 million by midday on Sunday.
More than 1.5 million venue check-ins were recorded on Saturday while more than 460,000 businesses have downloaded and printed QR code posters that can be scanned by the app to check-in to premises, it added.
Mr Hancock said: ‘The enthusiastic response of over 10m people downloading the app in just three days has been absolutely fantastic.
‘This is a strong start but we want even more people and businesses getting behind the app because the more of us who download it the more effective it will be.
‘If you haven’t downloaded it yet I recommend you join the growing numbers who have, to protect yourself and your loved ones.’
One user, Chloe James, wrote: ‘I’m in a pub and apparently they’ve been told they can’t serve anyone unless they have the track and trace app.’
Brits have encountered problems using the tracing app, while others who refuse to install it say they have been denied entry into pubs and restaurants
Hospitality expert Ollie Vaulkhard wrote today: ‘Perhaps you could also trust hospitality to work alongside the app, rather than the current disaster? No app details being taken by people on the street at 10:30pm.’
Last night, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said of the latest glitch: ‘This beggars belief.’
Other Labour politicians have lent their voice to the criticism.
David Lammy told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show this morning: ‘By Christmas we would have had the coronavirus for nine months, that we couldn’t get a test, track and trace system in place by then has got to be described as pathetic.’
Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens added: ‘The whole point of these local lockdowns, they’re happening because our test and trace system is not effective… the Government needs to get a grip on test and trace and isolate.’
Users, including NHS workers, have pointed out major flaws in the app that apparently drains battery and takes up space
The government’s advice to pubs and restaurants reads: ‘By maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors, and displaying an official NHS QR poster, you will help NHS Test and Trace to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to the virus.
‘You must register for an official NHS QR code and display the official NHS QR poster.
‘The NHS COVID-19 app has a feature that allows users to quickly and easily ‘check in’ to your venue by scanning the code.
‘The information stays on the user’s phone. In England, you do not have to ask people who choose to ‘check in’ using the official NHS QR code to provide their contact details.
‘If there is an outbreak associated with a venue, a message will be sent to the relevant app users with the necessary public health advice.
‘This will help to avoid the reintroduction of lockdown measures and support the country to return to, and maintain, a more normal way of life.
‘In addition to maintaining and sharing records where requested and displaying an official NHS QR poster, you must also continue to follow other government guidance to minimise the transmission of COVID-19. This includes maintaining a safe working environment and following social distancing guidelines.’
The app has come under fire after it emerged that only ‘Pillar 2’ tests – those carried out by commercial testing centres – provide the relevant codes to allow users to enter their results.
Although people tested under ‘Pillar 1’ – the NHS and Public Health England – will still be contacted by NHS Test and Trace if they test positive, they could not log the result on the app and alert everyone they have been in close contact with.
After a flood of complaints yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care said it was ‘urgently’ trying to fix the problem. Hours later it promised that ‘everyone who receives a positive test result can log their result on the app’ by requesting a code from NHS Test and Trace.
The latest official Government figures show that a total of 409,975 people have been tested in England since the app was rolled out on Thursday morning, including 128,960 Pillar 1 and 281,015 Pillar 2 tests.
The blunder means that the results of 31 per cent of the tests carried out on Thursday and Friday have not been logged.
The app relies on Bluetooth to determine if someone has been within two metres of an infectious person for 15 minutes, but other Bluetooth devices can interfere with the signal, generating a ‘false positive’
Although the exact numbers are unclear, it potentially means that hundreds of positive cases uncovered since the app’s official launch have not yet been registered.
The shocking oversight came to light only after a Twitter user asked how he could log his test result if he did not have a code.
In response, the official Twitter page for the NHS Covid-19 app said: ‘If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative.’
The reply was met with outrage online, with many users questioning why it was called an ‘NHS app’ when it did not recognise tests carried out by the NHS.
Last night, Mr Ashworth said: ‘This just beggars belief. How can this app be effective if someone is unable to link up their tests carried out by the NHS or tests carried out for surveillance? We all have an interest in this app working which is why we’ve promoted its uptake.
‘This weekend Ministers have thrown cash at promoting this app across local and national newspapers. They need to outline how they will quickly fix this flaw.’
Technology expert Benedict Evans told The Sunday Times: ‘A contact tracing app is based on people with a positive test entering that into the app. But the English app that just launched is incompatible with tests done by the NHS.
He added: ‘We’re six months into this and the UK still doesn’t have a unified test result system.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We are urgently working to enable positive tests for people who aren’t already given a code to be added to the Covid-19 app.
‘NHS Test and Trace will continue to contact people by text, email or phone if your test is positive advising you to self-isolate and for those who don’t have a code, the contact tracers will shortly be able to provide codes to insert in the app.
‘If you book your test via the app, the results will be automatically recorded and the isolation countdown will be updated.’
The Welsh Government revealed it is an England-only issue. In a tweet yesterday after the Department of Health and Social Care statement, it said: ‘This issue doesn’t apply to Wales. We took the decision to link our all-Wales laboratory testing systems with the NHS Covid-19 app.’
Last week’s launch came after a fourth-month delay beset by technological problems.
A trial on the Isle of Wight had to be abandoned after the initial model failed to detect iPhones.