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2020-09-16T19:55:26.000Z

End of furlough will bring ‘big challenge’ for childcare providers

Crippling financial pressures on childcare providers are “by no way over” – and the big challenge will be when the furlough scheme ends, MPs have been told.

Some early years and childcare providers have already been forced to close after reopening over summer, said Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association of Childminders and Early Years (Pace).

Others are having to temporarily shut their doors and turn children away for a week at a time as they wait for Covid-19 tests and results, the Women and Equalities Committee heard.

The big challenge will come when the Government’s job retention scheme ends in October, Ms Bayram said, warning of a further loss of income from parent-paid fees.

She told the Committee: “I think the evidence of how many settings have closed is hard to see yet.

“We are firmly of the belief that the big challenge will come in October and November, where furlough ends and families that are currently able to pay for their childcare are facing redundancy and are having to make choices about what they do or don’t do in terms of childcare.”

2020-09-16T19:37:40.310Z

State of coronavirus pandemic in Ireland has “deteriorated nationally”, warns chief medical officer

As well as a surge in cases in Dublin, Dr Ronan Glynn also warned of “particularly concerning trends” in counties Louth, Waterford and Donegal.

The latest figures included three further deaths and 254 new cases of the virus confirmed in the last 24-hour reporting period – 136 of which were in Dublin.

With the reproduction number at between 1.3-1.7 nationally, Dr Glynn urged the public to follow public health messages.

Professor Philip Nolan of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said he is “more concerned than at any point since late April”.

He said if the the R-number remains at 1.4, by October 14 there is likely to be 500-600 cases a day, and if it is 1.8 there would likely be 1,300 cases a day by October 14.

“If the reproduction number does not come back below one, we will not be able to control this disease and case numbers will continue to rise over the coming weeks,” he said, and urged the changing of behaviour among the public, reducing contacts and “radically reducing” contacts between households.

2020-09-16T18:37:58.153Z

Local lockdown will be enforced in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area of south Wales following a “rapid rise” in Covid-19 cases, the Welsh Government has confirmed

Under the new restrictions, which come into force at 6pm on Thursday, people must not enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse.

Meetings with other people indoors will not be allowed, including for extended households. All licensed pubs, bars and restaurants in the area, which has a population of around 240,000, will have to close at 11pm.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said the lockdown followed two “significant” clusters of Covid-19 cases in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.

One is associated with a rugby club and a pub, while the other was linked to a group of people aged in their 40s and 50s who took a coach trip to Doncaster races, Mr Gething said.

2020-09-16T17:53:56.900Z

Public health officials investigate coronavirus cluster at Scottish university student accommodation

NHS Lothian said a number of people have tested positive at Edinburgh Napier University’s Bainfield student accommodation.

The health board’s health protection team is tracing contacts and advising them to self-isolate for two weeks but has stressed the university remains open.

NHS Lothian said in a statement: “NHS Lothian’s health protection team are investigating a cluster of cases who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Edinburgh Napier University’s Bainfield student accommodation.

“To respect and maintain patient confidentiality, no further details will be released. The health protection team are contacting individuals and any close contacts living in university accommodation.

“Appropriate advice and guidance to self-isolate is being provided. Enhanced cleaning and safety measures are already in place in the university in line with national guidance.”

2020-09-16T17:33:21.146Z

Government announces it is extending a ban on business evictions until the end of 2020

Measures were put in place at the start of the pandemic to protect struggling firms, such as retailers and restaurants, from being evicted from premises, but were due to expire at the end of September.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed the eviction ban will now continue until the end of the year in a move the Government hopes will stave off potential job losses.

Earlier this week, restaurant bosses urged the Government to extend the ban or risk further widespread closures and redundancies.

The extended support will benefit many firms who have received other subsidies, such as the business rates holiday for the current financial year for retail and hospitality businesses.

The Government said it will also extend the ban on landlords using bailiffs to enforce unpaid rent on these commercial leases until the end of the year.

It called on landlords and tenants to work together to agree rent payment options for the rest of the year if tenants are struggling.

2020-09-16T17:15:00.000Z

Funeral directors urge Government to clarify rules surrounding wakes after social gatherings of more than six people were banned

The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) said it was unclear if wakes and receptions were exempt from the rule of six coronavirus restrictions, leading to “confusion” among funeral directors and families.

The legislation, imposed on Monday, does not apply to funeral services unless specified in areas with local restrictions. A maximum of 30 attendees are allowed to attend a funeral in England and Wales, while no more than 20 are permitted in Scotland.

But the laws apply to wakes or receptions held in private homes or gardens in England, unless attendees are all from the same household or support bubble.

In Wales, it applies to wakes or receptions held inside – but not outside – while in Scotland, the maximum number of attendees is 20.

NAFD chief executive Jon Levett said: “While the rule of six seems straightforward, when it comes to funerals it has created confusion for families and funeral directors.

“This is partly because funeral services (the act of burial or cremation) are largely exempt from the rule, but it is not clear whether other funeral gatherings (e.g. wakes) are too.”

2020-09-16T17:00:05.000Z

Latest Public Health England data also shows that more than 300 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Leicester in the seven days to September 13

A total of 318 new cases were recorded – the equivalent of 89.8 cases per 100,000 people, up from 60.7 in the previous week.

Other cities continuing to see increases in their weekly rate include Bradford (up from 82.8 to 93.6, with 505 new cases); Salford (up from 75.3 to 89.6, with 232 new cases); and Sunderland (up from 73.5 to 82.1, with 228 new cases).

2020-09-16T16:50:05.000Z

Bolton continues to record the highest weekly rate in England

The weekly rate of new cases of Covid-19 in Bolton has risen above 200 per 100,000 people, new data shows.

A total of 587 cases were recorded in Bolton in the seven days to September 13 – the equivalent of 204.1 cases per 100,000, up from 152.0 in the previous week (the seven days to September 6).

Eleven other areas of England now have weekly rates between 100 and 200 cases per 100,000 people, including Liverpool where the rate has jumped sharply from 56.8 to 106.4 with 530 new cases recorded.

All figures are based on Public Health England data published on Wednesday.

2020-09-16T16:40:18.323Z

PM says R value is ‘single most important fact’

Boris Johnson told the Liaison Committee that the “single most important fact” in determining the state of coronavirus in the UK is the R value.

The Prime Minister said: “At the moment, alas, alas, alas, the R – having been under one for so many months after the fantastic efforts of the British people – the R is above one.

“That’s the most important thing we have to look at.”

The R number indicates the number of people that an infected person will pass the virus on to. A value above one suggests the virus is spreading exponentially.

2020-09-16T16:00:54.470Z

Bolton hospital boss pleads for people to avoid A&E for coronavirus tests

The plea came as admissions of patients with coronavirus increased over the weekend and the infection rate across the borough – the highest by far in England – continued to rise sharply.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which is based at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Farnworth, said on Tuesday morning there were three coronavirus patients in critical care and a total of 20 on wards.

It added an increased number of patients under 65 are being admitted, with some in their 40s and 50s.

The trust’s medical director, Dr Francis Andrews, said: “We are seeing more people being admitted with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 as a result of the very high rate of infections in Bolton. This is not a shift we want to see.

“The situation at the hospital is under control and we were well prepared for this.

“However, the rate continuing to rise is of concern and we continue to urge the people of Bolton to consider others when making decisions that could jeopardise their safety.”

2020-09-16T15:48:14.370Z

Boris Johnson responds to queries on ‘pregnancy-style test’

Asked about his aim of having a “pregnancy-style test” in place within months, Boris Johnson said: “I am going to be cautious and say that I can’t sit here today and say that we have such a ‘pregnancy-style test’… today.

“It is right for Government to invest in such a project.”

2020-09-16T15:42:15.393Z

Here’s today’s number of cases added to a graph showing the trends since early July

2020-09-16T15:39:25.740Z

Coronavirus cases surge by nearly 4,000

The Government said that as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 3,991 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. Overall, 378,219 cases have been confirmed.

It also said a further 20 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday. This brings the UK total to 41,684.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,500 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

2020-09-16T15:31:52.486Z

A second national lockdown would be likely to have “disastrous” financial consequences for the UK, Boris Johnson has said

He was asked by Conservative MP and chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Julian Knight, whether the country could afford another national lockdown.

Mr Johnson replied: “I don’t want a second national lockdown – I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it.

“And can we afford it? I very much doubt that the financial consequences would be anything but disastrous, but we have to make sure that we defeat the disease by the means that we have set out.

“So when I see people arguing against the rule of six or saying that the Government is coming in too hard on individual liberties and so on – I totally understand that and I sympathise with that, but we must, must defeat this disease.”

2020-09-16T15:25:00.000Z

Hours of operation at the most used Covid-19 community test site in Lancashire are being reduced with immediate effect

The facility in Burnley town centre opposite the bus station – with no booking required – was open seven days a week from 10am to 3pm but will now be closed on Thursdays and Fridays.

A Burnley Council spokesman said: “The Burnley testing station is in high demand from local residents. It has dealt with, on average, 300 tests a day since it opened on August 10 – the highest number of any community testing facility in Lancashire.

“But as reported in the media, the national testing system is stretched.”

2020-09-16T15:15:00.000Z

William Wragg asks Boris Johnson when a minister should resign rather than their officials

The Prime Minister replied: “I believe that ministers should of course be responsible and indeed I as the Minister for the Civil Service and Prime Minister take responsibility for everything the Government does.”

Asked if ministers can dismiss civil servants, Mr Johnson said: “I think a minister is entitled to make it clear if he or she believes that the operation of the department would be better if things were different.”

Boris Johnson gives evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee in the Boothroyd Room in the House of Commons (PA)