Coronavirus: NI Executive fails to reach decision on restrictions

The NI Executive has failed to reach a decision on whether to extend or change Covid-19 restrictions regarding the hospitality sector.

Ministers held a series of meetings throughout Monday but were unable to agree what steps to take.

One option being considered would be to allow cafes to open but licensed premises would remain closed.

It is understood hairdressers and beauticians would be allowed to open with certain restrictions in place.

Ten further coronavirus-related deaths were reported by Stormont’s Department of Health on Monday, along with 471 more cases.

Of the 10 deaths, nine occurred within the most recent 24-hour reporting period, while one happened prior to it.

In the Republic of Ireland, one further coronavirus-related death was reported on Monday and there have been 270 new confirmed cases.

The Republic’s death toll now stands at 1,948 since the pandemic began and a total of 65,659 cases of the disease have been diagnosed.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes across Northern Ireland closed their doors to sit-in customers on Friday 16 October under stricter Covid-19 restrictions.

Hair and beauty salons also had to shut for four weeks.

The first minister had said the current coronavirus restrictions would end at midnight on Thursday.

It had been expected that ministers were going to agree a partial reopening of the sector, allowing restaurants to open but unable to serve booze and keeping alcohol-only pubs shut for another fortnight.

On Sunday, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the sale of alcohol was a factor in reaching a decision because “defences come down when alcohol is taken”.

Ms O’Neill said cafes and coffee shops were a different matter.

In other coronavirus developments on Monday:

Belfast restaurant owner Michael Deane said he was appalled at the idea not to allow premises to serve alcohol,

He appealed to the executive to “stop making us the bogeyman”.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme that his business had lost close to £2m.

“I think they should just tell us to close until this is all over, fund the hospitality business and leave it at that,” he added.

Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill urged the first and deputy first ministers to “make the right call to save thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses” by allowing licensed premises to reopen on 13 November.

“We really need the executive to make sure that the focus is on getting the entire hospitality sector back up and running again this Friday to save a significant amount of jobs and businesses,” he said.

“We now face a really important part of the year and although we are live to the fact that this will be an extremely challenging trading period, we need to have the doors open.

“Hundreds of businesses are struggling and now in debt as they try to keep staff in the face of mounting bills and a lack of financial aid from the government, which covers very little in reality.”

Simon Hamilton, chief executive of Belfast Chamber, urged ministers to reconsider their decision to give businesses “a fighting chance” to remain open.

Speaking to Good Morning Ulster, he said: “Suggesting that alcohol will not be allowed to be sold in premises is one which no logic or evidence has been offered for, and would suggest there is a lack of understanding around the viability of businesses like restaurants.”

He said he has spoken to many businesses that do not believe it will be viable to open with the new restrictions.

He added that grant support launched by the executive several weeks ago has not been paid to businesses yet and many that were forced to close will not be able to avail of it.

Meanwhile Justice Minister Naomi Long is self isolating after developing a persistent cough.

The Alliance leader took to social media to say she had booked a test for Covid-19.

She said on Twitter: “Hopefully, with a clear test and 10 days isolation, we’ll be able to get it back on track next week. Still, very frustrating but has to be done.”

Ms Long said she was following the official advice she had received.

Department of Health guidance says if a person has a negative test, they are not required to self-isolate, as long as everyone they live with who has symptoms has tested negative; they feel well enough; and are not a close contact of a confirmed case.

Ms Long is the latest executive minister to self isolate and follows assembly members including Conor Murphy, Pam Cameron, John Stewart and Michelle O’Neill who have all had stay at home in recent weeks.

How intra-African trade is progressing amid the pandemic

Last year African countries signed an agreement aimed at increasing trade between them. If implemented successfully, they believe it could create a single African market of over a billion consumers.

The plan is that services and goods should be flowing freely in and out of the participating countries, making the continent the biggest free trade area in the world.

The free trade initiative could create an integrated market with a total GDP of over $3 trillion (£2.3 trillion), according to US think tank Brookings.

Currently, Africa lags behind other regions of the world in terms of continental trade. According to the African Development Bank (ADB), intra-Africa exports amount to only 16.6% of total trade.

Unfortunately, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) did not kick off on 1 July as originally scheduled, due to the coronavirus crisis, but there are other reasons for the stall.

According to Trudi Hartzenberg, executive director of the Trade Law Centre (Tralac) in Stellenbosch, South Africa, negotiations between African nations are ongoing virtually, but they have now hit “some sensitive issues”.

“The negotiations are pretty complex because the countries who are negotiating would lose tariff revenues. Reducing the tariffs means the import duties are lower so they would be gathering less revenues than before,” she explains.

“For some countries, the tariff revenues they get from trade taxes amounts to 25% or more of their total fiscal tax revenues. The easiest taxes to collect are import duties.”

A t-shirt imported from China into any of the nations in the Southern African Customs Union can be taxed by up to 45%, and there isn’t an easy way to replace this income, says Ms Hartzenberg. Plus, countries are keen to protect their domestic economies and jobs.

Another sticking point are the rules of origin – the criteria needed to determine the national source of a product – which Ms Hartzenberg says are “extremely complex”.

Despite this, officials from the various nations are persevering.

“The virtual negotiating process started on Zoom in May, but the problem is connectivity across the continent is really uneven so it’s been really hard to maintain momentum,” she says.

“We’ve literally got negotiations happening every single day. There is a rush and there is commitment, but time really is running out now.”

Poor communication and a lack of adequate transportation infrastructure between African nations is another problem affecting intra-African trade. Add a pandemic, and it becomes chaos.

“Most intra-African trade goes by road and there have been delays at border posts with queues that were literally several kilometres long during lockdown, as all countries have adopted some kind of border restrictions,” says Ms Hartzenberg.

Trucks from South Africa that import products into Zambia have to first pass through Botswana, which is making life challenging for truck drivers like Likando Mwiya.

“Wherever we go, whichever country you cross in, you have to be swabbed, then you wait for the results that might take about a day or two, and in other circumstances there’s a 14-day quarantine given where they observe you,” he tells the BBC.

“The other challenge is that most of the time you have to move in convoy…so you have to move from your normal schedule and [follow] the schedule of those you are moving with.”

In order to ensure a faster, smoother transit of goods, the nations have had to discuss ways to standardise customs and border management, as well as transit trade.

Ms Hartzenberg says that these negotiations have been concluded, but the changes have yet to be implemented.

When they are implemented, these will include:

Another challenge that needs solving to enable intra-African free trade across the continent is improving payments.

“The digital economy is absolutely critical,” says Kevin Njiraini, regional director of International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector arm.

“We have to further develop financial platforms, mobile telephony, allowing money to flow digitally a lot smoother and a lot quicker.”

Nigerian entrepreneur Shola Akinlade co-launched Paystack in 2016 as a solution for merchants in Nigeria and Ghana to get paid by anyone, anywhere in the world.

Paystack now processes over 50% of all web payments in Nigeria, as well as payments for over 60,000 organisations, including FedEx, UPS, South African mobile operator MTN and many others.

“I think Africa is the most under-penetrated payments market in the world – like, digital payments have to work. That is a very simple way to unlock the economic potential of the continent,” he says.

“How is it easier for me to buy something from somebody in California, than from somebody in Bamako, Mali?”

Ms Hartzenberg agrees: “A payment and clearing system on the continent could save time and costs. It would be particularly important for smaller businesses and small traders – the majority of whom are women – to be paid more quickly.”

There are still many challenges that need to be solved to enable an African free trade zone, such as the fact that nations need to be exporting products, rather than unprocessed commodities, in order for other nations to want to buy more African-made goods. But this will still take some time to achieve.

“It will happen incrementally – ACFTA can attract interest from global sources to come and produce in African nations, and that will help countries to expand their capacity to produce goods and services,” she says.

“What Africa needs to do is improve its productive capacity and that’s another lesson learned due to the coronavirus crisis.”

You can tune into In Business Africa every Friday at 18:30 GMT on BBC World News.

Covid-19: Husband of test and trace boss to self-isolate

The husband of NHS Test and Trace chief Baroness Dido Harding has been told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app

Tory MP John Penrose said he was alerted by the app, part of the operation overseen by his wife.

The Weston-super-Mare MP said on Twitter: “It never rains but it pours… my NHS app has just gone off, telling me to self-isolate, which I’m doing.”

Lady Harding has not been told to self-isolate, Mr Penrose said.

People are told to self-isolate after potentially coming into contact with someone who has coronavirus.

Mr Penrose said on Twitter that he had no symptoms as yet.

Asked if he had spoken to his wife about it, he told the Press Association: “We are trying to make sure we are doing it by the book, if I can put it that way.

“Her NHS app has not gone off, so it’s someone I have been in contact with rather than her.”

In response to a suggestion that it showed the system worked, Mr Penrose said: “I suppose it does.”

Covid: Hope for quarantine-free air travel – minister

The UK is making “good progress” in developing a testing regime to reduce the quarantine period for international arrivals, the transport secretary has said.

The “test and release” programme could allow a “much reduced” self-isolation period, Grant Shapps said.

It is currently 14 days for many international arrivals.

Mr Shapps also said rapid tests being used in Liverpool could “open the way” for quarantine-free air travel.

He told an airport industry conference that the government aimed to launch the “test and release” programme after England’s lockdown ends – currently due to be 2 December.

“Beyond the lockdown, this should encourage many more people to book flights with confidence knowing there is an option that allows them to shorten self isolation,” the transport secretary said.

The tests would be paid for by passengers arriving in the UK but the Department for Transport would not comment on how much they might cost.

In other developments:

Mr Shapps said the government was working with other countries to help establish an “international standard” for self-isolation and testing to be carried out before travelling to and from the UK, to stop passengers having to quarantine on arrival in their destination country.

And he said quick-turnaround tests being trialled in Liverpool gave “some hope for optimism” as they could “open the way for non-quarantine air travel”.

The air travel industry has been hit hard by the drop in passenger numbers since the start of the pandemic, with airlines such as British Airways and EasyJet cutting thousands of jobs.

Airline and airport groups have called on governments around the world to provide financial support for the struggling industry.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon told the conference it was “inconceivable” the government had not taken more action to limit job losses across the aviation industry, adding that Mr Shapps’s “warm words” needed “to be translated into action”.

Anyone arriving into the UK must self-isolate for 14 days unless travelling from a country listed by the government, with some exceptions for certain occupations.

The mass coronavirus testing programme launched in Liverpool last week is the first trial of whole-city testing in England. All residents are being offered regular Covid-19 tests – whether or not they have symptoms.

Children aged 11 and over will be tested in schools as part of the scheme, the city’s council has said.

The pilot includes a mix of existing swab tests and the new lateral flow tests – which can provide a result within an hour without the need to use a lab.

Earlier, Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast the new “lateral flow” test was available to everyone in Liverpool and could be a “major breakthrough” if successful.

“A test is only as good as the speed with which you can turn a result around,” he said.

“What we’ve really been focusing on more recently is a faster test, so that people can act more quickly to prevent the spread of the virus so this, if we can make it work, is a major breakthrough.”

BBC health and science correspondent James Gallagher said rapid or “lateral flow” tests needed high levels of the virus in the body to work. It is not yet clear how good they are at catching people in the early stages of the infection, when the virus is still taking hold.

They are similar to pregnancy tests and are easy, cheap and fast.

Fluid from a nasal swab or saliva goes on to one end of the test, then a marking appears if the person is positive.

The prime minister said last month that he shared “people’s frustrations” at the turnaround times for results, following criticism of England’s test-and-trace system.

Mr Johnson’s comments came after figures for the week ending 14 October showed that just 15.1% of people who were tested received their result within 24 hours.

Last week, the government said it had hit its target of having the capacity to carry out 500,000 coronavirus tests a day across the UK by the end of October.

The data for 31 October showed just over 525,000 tests could be done – a doubling of capacity in two months. However, just under 300,000 tests were actually carried out.

Mr Johnson previously said mass testing had “the potential to be a powerful new weapon in our fight against Covid-19”.

However, some health experts have criticised the Liverpool trial, with Allyson Pollock, professor of public health at Newcastle University, warning that plans to test asymptomatic people went against advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) to prioritise tests for those displaying symptoms.

Meanwhile on Sunday, another 156 people in the UK were reported to have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, with a further 20,572 cases of the virus.

Covid vaccine: Wales will decide how to use it once it is available

How any future Covid vaccine will be used in Wales will be decided when it becomes available, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Pfizer and BioNTech have announced the development of an effective Covid-19 vaccine but Boris Johnson cautioned it was “very, very early days”.

Mr Drakeford said the UK government would buy the vaccine on behalf of the whole of the UK.

“We will get our population share,” he said.

“That’s what’s already been agreed and when the vaccine comes to Wales, it’ll be the Welsh Government’s responsibility to store the vaccine and then to distribute it so that it can be used for the Welsh population.”

He told BBC Wales Today: “We then decide how to use it, and make sure that it’s done in the best possible way.”

Earlier, Mr Drakeford welcomed the breakthrough but cautioned it was unlikely to represent a “magic bullet”.

Speaking at Monday’s Welsh Government press conference, he said: “It is good news, of course, if any of the vaccines in trials are making progress.

“[But] I think you would always want to read carefully what a particular competitor in this field says on their own behalf.

“I’m not going to be tempted today, as I’ve tried not to be tempted throughout coronavirus, to suggest that this somehow means that there is a magic bullet on the horizon and coronavirus is about to disappear out of our lives.”

John Major: Brexit set to be more brutal than anyone expected

Brexit may be “even more brutal than expected” due to the UK’s negotiating “failures”, Sir John Major has said.

In a speech in London, the ex-prime minister said the UK’s “inflexibility” and “threats” towards the EU would make future trade “less profitable”.

And he warned of the “corrosive” impact to the UK’s reputation of a proposed law giving ministers the power to over-ride aspects of the Brexit Agreement.

Peers will vote shortly on whether to amend the Internal Market Bill.

They are expected to remove a series of clauses which would give the UK the right to disregard obligations in the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU in relation to Northern Ireland, a move that Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has conceded would break international law.

Ministers have said they do not intend to use the powers but they are needed as a “safety net” in case disputes over the agreement’s implementation cannot be resolved by other means.

But Sir John, who was an outspoken critic of the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January, said this “was a slippery slope down which no democratic government should ever travel”.

In a pre-recorded lecture at Middle Temple, Sir John – who led the UK from 1990 to 1997 – urged Parliament to resist measures in the bill which he said threatened essential liberties and could place ministers above the law.

“This action is unprecedented in all our history – and for good reason. It has damaged our reputation around the world,” he said.

“Lawyers everywhere are incredulous that the UK – often seen as the very cradle of the rule of law – could give themselves the power to break the law.”

Sir John said he was not optimistic about the prospects for trade talks between the UK and EU, which resumed in London on Monday, saying the UK was not being “frank” about the possible outcomes.

The UK and EU are in a race against the clock to secure an agreement before 31 December, when the UK will leave the single market and customs union at the end of the post-Brexit transition period.

The UK has said it is hopeful of securing a comprehensive deal modelled on the EU’s arrangement with Canada, but Sir John said it was “disingenuous” of ministers to pretend they were not seeking far deeper commitments in key areas, such as energy and aviation.

He said he feared, as a result, the process would end up either with no deal or a “flimsy and bare-bones” agreement that created new barriers to trade and would be a “wretched betrayal” of the promises made to British voters during the 2016 referendum.

“These costs and complexities are the certain legacy of Brexit,” he said. “This is as a result of our negotiating failure – and it is a failure.

“Because of our bombast, our blustering, our threats and our inflexibility – our trade will be less profitable, our Treasury poorer, our jobs fewer, and our future less prosperous.”

He added: “It now seems that on 1 January next year, Brexit may be even more brutal than anyone expected.”

Sir John also warned that Brexit divisions increased the risk of the United Kingdom breaking up.

While he remained an avowed unionist, he said the UK government could find it difficult to stave off demands for another independence referendum in Scotland and should consider a two-stage process, where a vote on the principle of independence was followed by another on the terms of separation offered to the Scottish people.

In his speech, recorded before Joe Biden’s election as US president was confirmed on Saturday, Sir John also warned that the UK’s departure from the EU made it “less relevant” to its oldest and strongest ally.

While the UK had enormous strengths and assets, he said it was “no longer a great power” in a world dominated by the US, China and the EU and was struggling to “punch above its weight” on the international stage.

“Our hefty international influence rested on our history and reputation, buttressed by our membership of the European Union and our close alliance with the United States.

“Suddenly, we are no longer an irreplaceable bridge between Europe and America.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is looking forward to working with President-elect Biden to uphold the two countries “common values and interests”.

On post-Brexit trade talks, he said on Sunday that the “outlines” of an agreement were clear and a deal was “there to be done”.

Covid: NHS staff helped through crisis by wobble room

In small room in the Royal Derby Hospital, there’s a table bearing a laminated sign. “You are not alone,” it says.

It continues: “Kindness will get you through. Embrace the challenge. Look after each other. You are stronger than you think.”

This is the “wobble room”, set aside not for patients but for front-line staff to get them away – briefly – from the intense pressure and strain experienced in the first wave of Covid-19.

“We made a wobble room because that’s what we needed,” Kelly-Ann Gurney, an intensive-care nurse, told the BBC.

“It’s a room where staff could just go and sit and cry if they needed to and get it all out and then come back and ‘put their face on’ and get back into it again.”

Now the second wave is hitting the hospital, and the need for the room is just as great.

Concerns are growing about the physical and mental health of front-line NHS staff. There has been no lull since the April peak of the virus as normal treatments and operations, postponed during the crisis, have returned to hospitals.

The second wave is now breaking on them, but this time there has been no widespread clearing of beds and cancellations of non-urgent work to create capacity for Covid patients.

To add to the pressure, winter with all its additional health challenges is not far off, and some staff are wondering whether they can cope.

Caroline Swan, a senior sister and manager of the intensive care unit at the Royal Derby, says she is ready to face what is ahead but feels very tired.

“I am also very concerned. My staff are very tired and stressed out. We have a lot of sickness either due to burnout or they are unwell.

“A lot of staff have to self-isolate at home – and that puts a lot of strain on staffing here.”

Dr Magnus Harrison, medical director of the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Trust, says managing rotas is getting harder due to staff sickness and the need for some to self-isolate if family members are infected.

“It is worth acknowledging what staff did in the first wave. They behaved tremendously and worked incredibly hard, and we’re expecting them to do it again in winter – and Covid numbers could be higher than in the first wave. People are tired out.”

The Royal College of Nursing has said it has “grave concerns” about how services will be safely staffed this winter with the NHS in England back at the highest alert level.

It argues that even with an increase in newly trained nurses and those returning from retirement, there may not be enough staff to cope with the second Covid wave.

Sir Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, said at a recent Downing Street media conference that about 30,000 NHS staff were either off with coronavirus or having to self-isolate.

He added that controlling the spread of the virus in local communities was essential if the NHS was to be fully staffed.

A Department of Health spokesman said it was committed to ensuring the NHS in England had “the funding and resources it needs, including front-line staff”.

He added: “We are on our way to delivering 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament – with already over 14,000 more in the NHS over the last year.”

Dr Greg Fletcher, an intensive-care consultant, has worked at Royal Derby for 12 years. He points to the unprecedented strain of caring for very sick patients in critical-care beds, some of whom will not survive because there is no cure for the coronavirus.

“I’ve seen more people die seemingly needlessly or unexpectedly in the last six months than I have seen in the whole of my career. It’s been despite trying everything we could to save life. It does take its toll on an emotional and psychological level.”

The mood at the Royal Derby is stoical. Staff know what to expect after their experience of the first wave. But this time the days are shorter and colder, and there is no opportunity to take a break in the sunshine.

Kelly-Ann Gurney says “a lot of staff are struggling”. But she adds: “We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. We just have to support each other through it.”

Greg Fletcher adds that there will be no let-up and no holidays to look forward to.

“We go into the next few months with a significant degree of trepidation.”

Covid-19: At-risk groups in NI could get vaccine by end of year

Vaccination for those at most risk from Covid-19 could begin by the end of the year, the NI health minister has said.

Robin Swann spoke after preliminary analysis showed the first effective vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting it.

The developers – Pfizer and BioNTech – described it as a “great day for science and humanity”.

Their vaccine was tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

However the minister reminded people in Northern Ireland not to “let down their guard”.

“We are in for a hard slog this winter – in terms of intense pressures on our health service and unavoidable restrictions on our daily lives,” he said.

He urged the public to “redouble” efforts and to continue to limit contacts, social distance, wear face coverings when required and keep washing their hands.

“We have been waiting a long time for positive news,” he said.

“While there are very important regulatory and safety assurance hurdles to still be cleared, today represents a step forward.

“While there are no guarantees, there is a possibility that vaccination of at-risk sections of our community could begin by the end of this year.”

Mr Swann reminded people it was “likely be well into 2021” before a vaccine is generally available to the population.

“Not least because mass global vaccination is a huge logistical challenge,” he said.

He said the public could look towards next spring with “some hope.”

First Minister Arlene Foster said the news was “much-needed hope”.

Covid-19: Fines issued over Manchester anti-lockdown demo

The organiser of an anti-lockdown demonstration attended by 600 people in Manchester has been fined £10,000.

The protest in Piccadilly Gardens was condemned by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as “irresponsible” after new Covid rules came into force.

Police officers suffered minor injuries at Sunday’s event, which included protesters who had travelled from Cumbria, said GMP.

The force said the organiser ignored its pleas to call off the event.

The 40-year-old man from Trafford was issued with a £10,000 fixed penalty notice.

Three men, aged 40, 32 and 30, and a 23-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of public order offences have all been fined £200 and 25 protesters have been issued with £200 fines.

GMP’s Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain, said: “Ahead of Sunday, officers attempted to engage with the person organising this gathering – warning him of the likely consequences and advising, for his and everyone else’s sake, to abandon his plans.

“However, he decided to ignore this advice and pressed ahead with a reckless and completely irresponsible course of action.”

Mr Hussain said during the protest officers also tried to engage with the organisers and attendees to “explain the restrictions and encourage compliance”, but this was ignored, too.

“Whilst responding to this gathering, a number of officers were injured,” he said.

“This is unacceptable behaviour towards officers who were simply doing their job and protecting people.”

He said work was continuing to identify other people in attendance who blatantly breached government restrictions.

GMP Federation chairman Stu Berry said: “The scenes witnessed in Manchester this weekend were simply a stupidity contest with approximately 600 participants.

“Those individuals have increased the risk of this disease for themselves, the wider public and my colleagues despite the scientific advice and legislated lockdown.”

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Stakes too high to delay Martyns Law

The mother of a Manchester Arena bomb victim has urged the government to move forward with its promised consultation on so-called Martyn’s Law.

Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett died in the attack, wants to speed up talks to step up security in crowded public spaces and venues.

The government backed the plans but work has stalled due to Covid-19.

Ms Murray told the public inquiry into the bombing that “the stakes are too high” for further delay.

“We just cannot wait for Covid-19 to end and then do the consultation because we don’t how long Covid-19 is going to be with us,” she said.

Mr Hett, 29, was one of 22 people killed in the suicide bombing in May 2017, which left hundreds more injured.

Sir John Saunders, chairman of the inquiry, praised Ms Murray for her efforts,

“We think it is wonderful that you are doing so much to make something constructive come out of this tragedy by campaigning to introduce Martyn’s Law to save others from suffering in the way you and other families have,” he said.

“I know other families are also working to make other positive outcomes for the benefit of others as their response to the tragedy they have suffered.”

Ms Murray told the inquiry she was inspired to take action after going to a concert in Manchester in December 2018, where she decided to take her smallest handbag to make the “bag search easy”.

But she said she was shocked to discover she was able to walk straight in without being searched.

“I was foolish; I assumed that since the Arena attack security in public areas is now a common thing and I was shocked that it wasn’t,” she said.

Among her plans are the introduction of free counter-terror training for event staff, assessments of locations to see how vulnerable they are, and the need for venues and local authorities to have counter-terror action plans.

She said there were more than 650,000 crowded spaces, including street markets, bus stations and churches.

The inquiry heard Ms Murray had a 25-minute phone call with Home Secretary Priti Patel, who she said expressed support for Martyn’s Law.

Ms Murray said: “When the next attack happens, if the government haven’t acted, if something happens and people are killed, the families of those people who died may ask the question – why hasn’t something been done if nothing’s been carried out?”

The inquiry continues.

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