Matt Hancock has said that it was the public’s job to stop the virus, and that its spread was ‘down to people’s behaviour’.
Speaking this morning about the possibility of a new national lockdown, Matt Hancock told Sky News: “We don’t rule anything out, and we’ve shown repeatedly that we will look at the public health advice and we will take the public health advice in terms of what is needed to control the spread of the disease.
“This new variant is much easier to catch, it is much more transmissible, and we’re now seeing the effect of that in lots of different parts of the country, unfortunately.
“And it means that whereas the old Tier 3 was able to contain the old variant, that is proving increasingly difficult in all parts of the country.”
When asked if Tier 4 restrictions were working, Hancock said: “It is down to people’s behaviour, frankly. What matters is, yes of course, the rules that we put in place, but it is also about how people act.
“And frankly what I would say is this: it is critical that everybody in the country does all that they can to reduce the spread of the virus.”
When his remarks were challenged, he said that his comments were not about ‘blame’, but instead ‘how we collectively as a society keep this under control for the next couple of months until the vaccines make us safe’.
He refused to confirm whether a new national lockdown or school closures would happen, despite teachers revolting over plans to reopen schools.
This week, most of England’s primary schools reopen, with secondary schools remaining closed until January 18th.
Just this morning, the unions representing school staff – the GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite – signed a statement branding the government’s handling as ‘chaotic’.
They said: “Bringing all pupils back into classrooms while the rate of infection is so high is exposing education sector workers to serious risk of ill-health and could fuel the pandemic.”
They called for a pause to reopening for all but vulnerable children and those of key workers, adding they wanted to see a move to remote learning and vaccinating school staff.
Responding to Boris Johnson’s claims that schools were safe, they said: “Instead of casually asserting that schools are safe, the Prime Minister should sit down with unions to discuss a joint approach to ensuring safe working arrangements in all schools and prioritising enabling all pupils have the equipment and access they need to receive a high standard of remote learning until the safety of them and the staff in their school can be guaranteed.”
Mr Hancock, when asked about concerns regarding the safety of schools, stated: “It is also clear that the proportion of teachers who catch coronavirus is no higher than the rest of the population.
“So there is clear public health advice behind the position that we have taken and that is what people should follow because, of course, education is very important as well, especially for people’s long-term health.”
Shadow education secretary, Kate Green, told the BBC on Monday morning that there needed to be a ‘clear understanding’ among the public to ‘stay at home’, calling for a ‘stronger set’ of coronavirus restrictions.
She said: “It is very clear that the Government has lost control of the virus, we’re seeing a really alarming rise in cases and in the spread of the infection.
“And I do think that we will need a stronger set of measures… but also a very clear understanding among the whole of the public everywhere that staying at home, not going out except when it is essential, not mixing socially or unnecessarily is key to getting this virus under control.”
Drivers could soon be fined for parking on the pavement under new rules
Make sure you’re aware of the proposed rule changes
A ban on parking on the pavement could soon be implemented across England, under new laws which are expected to be rolled out this year.
Parking on pavements would be a thing of the past, with £70 penalty fines for offenders coming into effect under the proposed new rules.
According to reports, the new legislation would see a ban on antisocial parking introduced, in a bid to make pavements safer for people with disabilities and visual impairments, as well as families.
The changes to the law which are being considered have already been implemented in London and would be rolled out nationwide.
They come in response to complaints about pavement parking and the risks it brings with it to those whose use pavements, with the Department for Transport (DfT) initially launching a proposal on the subject in September 2020.
The proposals came after a review discovered that almost half of wheelchair users and a third of visually impaired people were less willing to go out on the streets alone due to ‘antisocial’ parking on the pavement.
A spokeswoman from the DfT explained to The Mirror that the government is currently collating responses after receiving ‘overwhelming’ feedback.
The public consultation period for the proposals ended back on November 22nd, and as such a decision on the plan is expected imminently.
However, Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing has said that ‘the guidelines are currently quite confusing for motorists’.
The motoring company conducted a report which discovered that local authorities would have the power to dish out £70 fines if a vehicle was considered an obstruction, even if it was parked outside the driver’s house.
Mr Tongue said: “A pavement parking ban is 100% needed nationwide – anything that puts pedestrians at an increased risk requires action.
“However, the information given so far is slightly confusing for drivers. At the moment, there’s no clear guidelines for those who park on the pavement due to having no room on their own drive. Most households have more than one car, so it will be interesting to see where motorists are expected to park if not on the pavement outside their homes.
“Clear guidance is required for drivers so they know the correct location to park in order to avoid a fine.”
Operation Forth Bridge: the full plan for what happens next after Prince Philip’s death
Buckingham Palace confirmed the sad news of his passing earlier today
Buckingham Palace announced this afternoon that HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh has died.
The 99-year-old, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June, passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle this morning, Friday April 9th.
Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
There were already strict procedures put in place for when Prince Philip died, which have now begun, and they’re known as Operation Forth Bridge.
According to the plan there are several steps that need to be followed, including everything from national mourning to a burial site for the Duke.
Operation Forth Bridge has been around for many years, with Buckingham Palace, in consultation with both the Queen and Prince Philip, regularly updating and reviewing it.
Part one of the operation was the announcement from Buckingham Palace confirming the death of the Duke, which was distributed to the Press Association and BBC first.
Then the country enters a period of national mourning, meaning a set of rules, like flags being flown at half-mast, must be followed.
According to reports, it’s thought newsreaders and other TV presenters must wear black out of respect.
Next, plans for the funeral will be drawn up, and while Prince Philip is entitled to a state funeral he reportedly wanted something more discreet – a private service in the style of a military funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, followed by burial at Frogmore Gardens.
The funeral is still expected to be televised despite the current restrictions, although it remains unclear how many people will be able to attend it.
The Queen’s private secretary and senior adviser, Sir Edward Young, will be on hand to help her during the undoubtedly challenging days ahead.
As well as being responsible for supporting the Queen in her duties, Sir Edward is also the channel of communication between the Queen and the government.
Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99
NEWS JUST IN
Prince Philip has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace has confirmed today.
A tweet on The Royal Family Twitter account announced the news.
The Duke of Edinburgh was born 1921, and was married to Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years – officially the longest-serving consort in British history.
The official announcement read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course.
“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
There’s been no official details about the Duke’s funeral released yet, however it has been reported that he will be given a royal ceremonial funeral rather than a state funeral, in line with his wishes.