Highlights from the UK Government’s daily press briefing

Tuesday, 22 September 2020:

On 22 September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson updated Parliament on new measures and guidelines to combat coronavirus. Below are the highlights from the Prime Minister’s announcement:

  • Johnson announced that schools and colleges will remain open and businesses can stay open in a “COVID compliant way”
  • The Prime Minister stated how the advice is now to work from home if you can, but if people need to go to work, they should continue to do so.
  • Johnson announced that COVID-secure workplace rules will now become a legal obligation and that businesses will be fined and could be closed for breaching the COVID-secure guidelines.
  • Restaurants and pubs will have a curfew from Thursday and will need to close by 10 PM, table service will also be required.
  • Johnson added that more police patrols to enforce restrictions will occur and that the military will be drafted in where needed.
  • The Prime Minister announced that staff in the hospitality and retail sectors will now need to wear masks, as well as passengers that are travelling in taxis. Fines for not wearing a mask or breaking the rule of six will also double to £200.
  • Johnson added how if necessary the government will go further and that “if things don’t improve, the measures could last for six months”.

Monday, 21 September 2020:

Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer - England and Sir Patrick Vallance, UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, delivered the following briefing:

  • From July, cases have increased across all age groups – in addition to increased testing, the testing positivity (percentage of people tested who’s results come back as positive) has also gone up.
  • According to the ONS, 70,000 currently have coronavirus; around 6,000 a day are becoming infected.
  • Sir Patrick said that “speed and action needed” as the epidemic doubles about every 7 days. He added that if the current trend of increased cases continues, by mid-October, we could have 49,000 cases a day. He added that “we need to cut the doubling time and reduce exponential growth”.
  • Sir Patrick said that the antibodies to the virus may “fade over time” and as a result, “vast majority” are still at risk; about 8% of the population – three million – “may be infected and have antibodies” but there are doubts about how long any immunity may last.
  • Prof Whitty said that the high rates of transmission are “highly concentrated”, but there are significant rates of transmission in many parts of the UK, and anywhere where the rate of transmission was falling, is now rising.
  • On vaccines, Sir Patrick said that the UK is making “good progress” and is in a “good position” as it has access to a number of different vaccines going through trials. "Many vaccines have shown that they produce an immune response of a type that ought to be protective. But we don't yet know they will work.” He added that “small groups may have access to them by the end of the year, but wide accessibility is much more likely towards the start of next year”.
  • In the UK, in the last 24 hours, 3,899 have people tested positive for COVID-19, and 18 died. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the UK stands at 394,257. The total number of deaths stands at 41,777.

Thursday, 9 July 2020:

  • DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced that outdoor pools and performances can resume from Saturday with social distancing in place.
  • Dowden stated that beauticians, nail salons, and tattooists will also be able to open on Monday.
  • Dowden added that indoor gyms, sports facilities, and pools will be able to reopen from 25 July and that guidance will be published for team sports to return from Saturday.
  • Dowden explained that scientific studies were being conducted to assess the specific risks in the culture industry.
  • In the UK, 287,621 people (642 new cases) tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 44,602 people have died, an increase of 85 fatalities.