Covid-19: PM set to announce month-long England lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce a second national lockdown for England as the UK passed one million Covid-19 cases.

Non-essential shops and hospitality will have to close for a month, sources told the BBC.

But unlike the restriction in the spring, schools and colleges are to be allowed to stay open.

It comes as documents suggested the UK was on course for a much higher death toll than during the first wave.

The lockdown is also expected to include restrictions on travel and is due to come into force on Thursday, lasting until 2 December, BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley said.

The prime minister is due to lead a news conference later, after holding a cabinet meeting to discuss the coronavirus response.

He is set to be joined by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance for the briefing.

The UK recorded another 21,915 confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 1,011,660.

Another 326 people were reported to have died within 28 days of a positive test.

The UK is the ninth country to reach the milestone of a million cases – after the US, India, Brazil, Russia, France, Spain, Argentina and Colombia.

But the true number of infections is expected to be higher due to a lack of widespread testing at the start of the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the UK, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said the 17-day “firebreak” there will end as planned on 9 November.

He said that his cabinet will meet on Sunday to “discuss any potential border issues for Wales in light of any announcement by No 10”.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has issued new advice that people should not travel to or from England, except for essential purposes, ahead of the nation’s five-level system of restrictions coming into force on Monday.

Documents seen by the BBC, understood to be part of a presentation by the government’s pandemic modelling group SPI-M shown to Mr Johnson, show projections by several different groups of the likely course of the disease.

All models predict that hospitalisations are likely to peak in mid-December, with deaths rising until at least late December before falling from early January.

A separate document circulating in government – based on NHS England modelling from 28 October – warns that the NHS would be unable to accept any more patients by Christmas, even if the Nightingale hospitals are used and non-urgent procedures cancelled.

It warns that south-west England and the Midlands will be the first to run out of capacity, potentially within a fortnight.

These latest papers come after a statement from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) revealed that Covid is spreading much faster in England than the predicted “worst-case” scenario.

West Midlands PCC: No appetite to break up minor Christmas parties

There is “no appetite” for the police to break up minor Christmas parties over the festive period, a police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said.

David Jamieson, PCC for West Midlands Police, said he would be “very surprised” if police broke up “minor infringements”.

Earlier in the week a government minister warned people might not be able to get together in larger groups.

Mr Jamieson said “discretion” is needed in policing.

Speaking at the weekly West Midlands Combined Authority’s media briefing, he said: “The policing is always proportionate, and there has to be discretion.

“Is there an appetite, or the resources, to be breaking up Christmas parties and minor infringements of the law? I very, very much doubt it, and I’d be very surprised if that was happening.”

Mr Jamieson said he would expect police to “step in and enforce the law” where there are larger gatherings of about 30 or 40 people who are “clearly, flagrantly ignoring” the rules.

“So for the minor infringements, there just will not be the time or scope to do it – that’s not what the police do in this country,” reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“But we are very clear, where people are ignoring the laws and putting themselves and the community at risk, we will step in and take action.”

He added that he did not want “heavy-handed policing” and wants people to enjoy Christmas.

Steam engine bought for £50 sells for more than £900k

A 1930s two-tonne steam engine which was bought for £50 in 1950, has sold at auction for £911,000.

The Lion was one of four showman’s road locomotives built by agricultural engineers Fowler for the West Country travelling fair Anderton and Rowland.

Built in the final days of steam, it powered fast and popular fairground rides until it was retired in 1946.

With a price guide “either side of £1m”, auction house Bonhams said it was sold to Saunders Steam Collection.

Steam enthusiast Mr Saunders said it was a “late birthday present” to himself.

Tim Schofield, from Bonhams, said the ornately painted locomotive had “put on quite a show” when it steamed in to New Bond Street earlier in the week.

“It was delivered at 4 o’clock in the morning and two engineers lit the boiler and after two hours it had got to operating temperature,” he said.

“At 7am it drove the correct way down New Bond Street, down into Brook Street and did a two-point turn to reverse into the saleroom’s yard.”

He said the Lion had only had “three owners from new” and had spent the last 70 years in Salisbury in Wiltshire.

“It worked with Anderton and Rowland up until the Second World War and in 1950 it was acquired by its second owner Ernie Lucas of Salisbury for £50,” he said.

In the 1990s it passed to its third owner – Arthur Thomson of Salisbury – who spent two-and-a half-years restoring it.

The auctioneers said following a “lively bidding battle between bidders from the UK and the USA” the 1932 10hp B6 Showman’s Road Locomotive had been sold to the Bedfordshire-based Saunders Steam Collection.

“It’s one of the largest steam collections in the UK,” a Bonhams spokeswoman said.

“The new owners are looking forward to showing the Lion at steam fairs and shows next year.”

Covid: What are the rules in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Scotland is moving to a five tier system of coronavirus restrictions from Monday, as tighter rules are being brought in around the UK.

Several areas are currently under England’s highest level of restrictions, while Wales and Northern Ireland are in the middle of temporary lockdowns.

From Monday, each area of Scotland will move into one of five levels:

More than half of Scotland’s 32 local authorities are under level three restrictions, including Edinburgh and Glasgow. All the rest will start off on levels one or two.

Schools will stay open in all levels. The decision is based on factors including number of cases per 100,000 people, the ratio of positive test results, projections of new cases and the capacity of local hospitals and intensive care units.

Scotland’s current restrictions include tougher rules imposed on 3.4 million people in the country’s central belt.

Until Monday, all licensed premises – except hotel bars for residents – must close indoors and outdoors, although takeaways are permitted. Cafes can stay open until 18:00 daily, but must not serve alcohol.

Wales is under lockdown until 9 November, during which:

In addition, supermarkets and food shops remain open, but are not allowed to sell “non-essential goods”.

However, the Welsh government has now clarified which non-food and drink items can be sold.

Every area of England is now in one of three categories – medium (tier one), high (tier two) or very high (tier three), depending on the local infection rate.

Areas with the most rapidly rising transmission rates are placed in tier three.

Extra measures can be introduced for individual areas.

Areas in tier one are subject to the basic national rules previously in force.

Northern Ireland is in the middle of four weeks of restrictions. Schools have closed for a two-week extended half-term break and will reopen on 2 November.

Other measures include:

Covid-19: Eleven more coronavirus-related deaths in NI

Eleven more people have died in Northern Ireland after contracting Covid-19.

That brings the Department of Health’s daily toll, based on a positive test result being recorded, to 708.

Seven of the deaths happened in the last 24 hours, and another four were outside that time.

On Saturday, the department reported 649 new cases of coronavirus bringing the number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland to 38,431 .

There are 346 inpatients with coronavirus, eight fewer than Friday.

Hospitals in Northern Ireland are operating at around 96% occupancy, with 11 ICU beds available and 128 general beds available.

There are 48 patients in ICU, up five on Friday. Some 41 of them require ventilation support, an increase of three compared to Friday.

New restrictions aimed at combating the spread of Covid-19 in NI began on Friday 17 October and are due to be reviewed in two weeks.

Covid: Wales firebreak to end – even if England locks down

A two-week firebreak in Wales will still end on 9 November, regardless of a potential lockdown in England, insists the Welsh Government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding a press briefing later, as speculation mounts he will impose tougher restrictions across England.

UK scientific advisers warn Covid is spreading faster in England than predicted “worst case” scenarios.

The Welsh Government meets on Sunday to finalise it post-firebreak rules.

First Minister Mark Drakeford took to social media on Saturday to state the all-Wales restrictions will come to an end on Monday, 9 November.

He said any announcement by Downing Street “will relate to England”.

The first minister’s view on the firebreak was echoed by Health Minister Vaughan Gething, during a series of radio interviews on Saturday.

He told Times Radio: “We are committed to that ending on Monday.”

But he said the Welsh Government “still want to know and understand how the rules in England will work”.

“So again, we have as common a message as possible for people who live and work on both sides of the border,” he added.

At a Downing Street press conference, set to be held at 17:00 GMT on Saturday, the prime minister will be joined by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, following a cabinet meeting to discuss the government’s coronavirus response.

Mr Johnson has so far resisted pressure to introduce nationwide restrictions, opting instead for a three-tiered system targeting local areas in England.

Elsewhere, Scotland’s new tiered system of restrictions will come into force at 06:00 on Monday.

In Northern Ireland, pubs and restaurants were closed for four weeks on 16 October with the exception of takeaways and deliveries. Schools were closed for two weeks.

The Welsh Government’s cabinet is set to meet at 13:00 on Sunday to discuss the outcome of the prime minister’s latest announcement for England, and also to agree the rules in Wales when the firebreak ends.

Welsh ministers have already said there will be no return to hyper-local lockdowns, which were in force in most of Wales before the two-week all-Wales measure was brought in.

Mr Drakeford told Friday’s coronavirus briefing there would be a set of “national rules” across Wales.

“I hope that that will help people in Wales, just to be clearer about what they are being asked to do,” he said.

“Because we have had evidence of people wanting to do the right thing, but not always being certain what the right thing is, because the rules have been more difficult to follow than we would have liked.

“We’re going to simplify. We’re going to clarify.”

Chessington: Murder arrest after woman found dead

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a woman was found dead in south-west London.

Police were called at 01:18 GMT to concerns for the welfare of a woman at a residential address in Ranyard Close, Chessington.

A 48-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 71-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody at a south London police station.

Officers believe both were known to each other.

A post-mortem examination will be held and the areas remains sealed off as a crime scene.

Supt Richard Smith, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “Firstly, my thoughts are with the woman who has lost her life, and her friends and family.

“This is being treated as an isolated incident and we don’t believe there to be any wider risk to people living and working in the area.

“Local officers from our neighbourhood policing teams will be on duty throughout the weekend, working hard to keep the people of London safe.”