Housing minister Simon Clarke has said the two-week quarantine period for new entrants to the UK will be enforced from 8 June, despite some backbench opposition.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Clarke described it as a “temporary, time-limited measure” but did not say for how long it might be in place. It has been reported that the government is planning to ease these measures three weeks later in time for the school summer holidays.
Clarke was also asked why the government had not yet published the number of people tested or traced under its flagship programme that got underway this week. He denied the government was “playing silly games” and added:
“These figures are independently compiled, these are not produced by Government ministers. They are published by PHE and all the health service parties who are working with us.
“Nobody here is playing silly games with data. It’s absolutely about making sure that when we do issue it, it is accurate.”
Labour leader urges ministers to publish BAME review
Sir Keir Starmer has told the government to “stop the excuses” and publish its review into the disproportionate number of deaths of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds from the coronavirus.
It emerged last night that the publication of the report by Public Health England had been delayed (see 7:37am).
The return of parliament from recess today will see MPs form a disorderly queue to vote on a government motion that would end the virtual voting system introduced only weeks ago.
How will it work? Your guess is as good as mine, given that many MPs – like Margaret Hodge – will be unable to vote because they are shielding or self-isolating and they can no longer vote online.
It is expected that hundreds of politicians will have to form a kilometre-long queue stretching all the way through parliament, dubbed “the Rees-Mogg conga” after the Commons leader whose motion has prompted this spectacle.
The Commons leader Lindsay Hoyle wrote to MPs last night (email here) to say they must “ration” their time in the debating chamber as only 50 of them will be allowed in at any one time.
The 90-minute debate on the new voting system begins at 1.30pm, with socially distanced voting expected to begin about 3pm.
Remember you can get in touch directly with us to share information, news tips or simply to say hello. We always value your contributions. Any messages will be treated in confidence. You can contact me on:
Twitter: @JoshHalliday (DMs open)
AI firm that worked with Vote Leave wins new coronavirus contract
Here’s a big new story by my colleagues David Pegg and Rob Evans:
An artificial intelligence firm hired to work on the Vote Leave campaign may analyse social media data, utility bills and credit rating scores as part of a £400,000 contract to help the government deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, Faculty, was awarded the contract by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government last month. However the full details of its work for the government are unknown because the published version of the contract was partly redacted.
The disclosure comes amid questions from civil liberties groups as to how private companies hired by the government during the pandemic are using confidential personal data.
Dominic Cummings, the chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign and now chief adviser to Boris Johnson, recruited one of Faculty’s data scientists, Ben Warner, to work with him in Downing Street. In April we revealed that both Cummings and Warner had been attending meetings of Sage, the government’s committee of scientific advisers. It subsequently emerged that Marc Warner, the brother of Ben and the chief executive of Faculty, has also attended.
Read the full story here.
Deaths in care of people with learning disabilities more than doubles
The number of people with learning disabilities dying in care has more than doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the health and social care regulator, said it had found a 134% increase in the number of these deaths compared with last year.
It found that between 10 April and 15 May, 386 people with a learning disability died in care compared with 165 in the same period last year. Of the 386 people who died this year, 206 were as a result of suspected and/or confirmed Covid-19 and 180 were not related to the virus.
Kate Terroni, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said that while the data had limitations it showed a “significant increase” in deaths of people with a learning disability as a result of Covid-19.
“Every death in today’s figures represents an individual tragedy for those who have lost a loved one. We already know that people with a learning disability are at an increased risk of respiratory illnesses, meaning that access to testing could be key to reducing infection and saving lives.
“These figures also show that the impact on this group of people is being felt at a younger age range than in the wider population – something that should be considered in decisions on testing of people of working age with a learning disability.”
Former transport minister Stephen Hammond has continued to call for the plan to quarantine all people arriving from outside the UK to be scrapped.
Hammond said a “blanket set of measures” for a 14-day quarantine would not work. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that a more targeted set of measures was needed, such as so-called “air bridges” permitting travel between two countries.
He said tourists could also be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) on flights and undergo temperature checks at each end of their journey.
The release of an official report into the disproportionate number of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds dying from coronavirus has been delayed, it emerged last night.
The Public Health England review was announced in early May after early data showed that 35% of almost 2,000 patients in intensive care units were black or from another minority ethnic backgrounds, despite BAME people making up only 14% of the population, according to the last census.
On Monday night, Sky News cited unnamed sources in saying that the publication of the report had been delayed because of “worries” about releasing it in “close proximity to the current situation in America” – a reference to the huge demonstrations that have followed the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
The Department for Health and Social Care said it was “not true” that the report had been delayed due to “global events” and said it would be passed to ministers for their consideration today before being published later this week.
However, Marsha de Cordova, the shadow women and equalities secretary, said:
“It is unacceptable that this review should be delayed without a given date for its publication. BAME communities need answers.”
The day ahead
Here’s what we’ve got coming up today:
9.30am ONS coronavirus-related deaths figures
10am Prof Neil Ferguson gives evidence to Lords science committee
11.30pm There will be quite the spectacle in parliament as MPs vote in person to end virtual voting.
12.30pm First minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to host the Scottish government’s daily briefing.
2.30pm Commons justice committee hears impact of Covid-19 on prisons, probation and court services
5pm daily No 10 press conference.
Good morning and welcome to Tuesday’s UK liveblog on the coronavirus pandemic.
Leading the news today is confusion and concern about the government’s plans for a 14-day quarantine period for those entering the UK from abroad.
We revealed overnight that visitors would be able to go food shopping, change accommodation and use public transport under draft plans due to be laid before parliament.
The rules, which are due to be published later today, have prompted cross-party concern about the potentially severe impact on the travel and aviation industry and their relatively limited impact on public health. We’ll have more on that later.
Also today, MPs are returning to parliament to vote on a government motion that means they have to be physically present in Westminster to debate and vote.
The government wants to get back to normal proceedings as soon as possible, saying the virtual voting system has been too restrictive. But many MPs say it is unfair to force those who are shielding or self-isolating to physically return to the Commons and it could threaten the lives of staff.
Stay with us for breaking news on all the day’s main developments.