Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak this Wednesday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow morning.
1. PM: ‘We must act’
Boris Johnson has been setting out what he calls the “rule of six”, which limits how many people can meet up in England from Monday. At a Downing Street briefing, he said there would be a few exemptions, including weddings and funerals, and enforcement would be stepped up. Pubs and restaurants could face fines if they don’t take people’s details and marshals will enforce social distancing in city centres. The prime minister apologised for taking these steps, but insisted they were necessary. So what exactly are the new rules? At the briefing, the PM also outlined a “moonshot” plan to control the virus with a mass programme of tests that could give results in under 20 minutes.
2. Symptom-free people ‘misusing tests’
In recent days, we’ve reported the struggles people have had to get a test. Now Health Secretary Matt Hancock says an increasing number of people are using Covid tests inappropriately making it harder for people who need tests to get one. He gave examples of a school which sent a whole year group for tests and people seeking tests before their holiday. It comes after labs reached capacity and testing system bosses apologised to people struggling to get one. The free tests are available to people with symptoms – check here to see what they are.
3. Quarantine policy ‘defective’
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is the latest travel industry leader to weigh in to the row over quarantine rules for travellers, telling the BBC the policy is “lumpy and defective”. He accuses the government of a “shambles of mismanagement” and says the only way forward is testing at airports. The government insists quarantines are vital because testing can be unreliable. See which countries are currently on the quarantine list here.
4. And they’re off… but not for long
The four-day St Leger festival at Doncaster racecourse was supposed to be a government pilot for spectators at sporting events. But while hundreds gathered there on day one on Wednesday, local public health teams decided the rest of it should be held “behind closed doors”. Race organisers had put in place temperature checks and social distancing measures but mayor Ros Jones called it a “major risk”.
5. Lockdown woods for lost loved ones
Volunteers in Berkshire are to plant hundreds of trees over the coming months to create living memorials to those who died during the pandemic. Environmentalist Dr Susan Millington said the three new woodlands would become somewhere beautiful for people to relax while coming to terms with their loss.
And don’t forget…
Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.
Plus, as the rules change again, we’ve been answering your questions as best we can, including whether universities will be exempt from the new rules.
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