September 25, 2021

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UK Covid live news: fully vaccinated travellers from US and EU arrive in UK without having to isolate

UK Covid live news: fully vaccinated travellers from US and EU arrive in UK without having to isolate
6.40am EDT 06:40 Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yosaf, has complained to watchdogs and is seeking legal advice, alleging his family was discriminated against when their two-year-old daughter was refused a place at a nursery. Here’s more from the Press Association: Mr Yousaf said he and his wife had contacted the Care Inspectorate and are also…

Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yosaf, has complained to watchdogs and is seeking legal advice, alleging his family was discriminated against when their two-year-old daughter was refused a place at a nursery.

Here’s more from the Press Association:


Mr Yousaf said he and his wife had contacted the Care Inspectorate and are also seeking legal advice on the issue.

It comes after he said the Little Scholars Nursery in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, had said there was no place available for his two-year-old daughter Amal.

The Daily Record newspaper reported that his wife Nadia El-Nakla had emailed nursery bosses in May, asking if there were any available places.

The couple alleged they were told there were “no available spaces in the nursery” – the second time they said they had been turned down.

But they claimed that when a white friend asked if there were spaces for her two-year-old son, just two days later the nursery told her places were available on three afternoons a week.

Mr Yousaf said: “We are fooling ourselves if we believe discrimination doesn’t exist in Scotland. I believe evidence we have proves our case beyond doubt.

“As well as reporting the nursery to the Care Inspectorate we are also seeking legal advice.”

A spokesman for the nursery owners insisted they were “extremely proud of being open and inclusive to all” insisting that “any claim to the contrary is demonstrably false and an accusation that we would refute in the strongest possible terms”.

Decision on third Covid booster jab for over-50s expected within weeks

A decision on whether over-50s will be given a third coronavirus vaccine will be made within weeks.

If it is given the go-ahead, all people in the age bracket, plus the clinically vulnerable, in England are expected to be offered a booster jab before Christmas.

NHS officials are planning for an autumn joint coronavirus and flu jab campaign, but it is yet to be announced whether a booster jab will be required.

Experts advising the government will make an announcement on the booster before 6 September, when the campaign is due to start.

The Telegraph reports that the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has briefed MPs on the plans, including a target of 2.5m third doses per week and a key role for pharmacies in the rollout.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said:


The government is preparing for a booster programme and JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) have published interim advice on who to prioritise for a possible third vaccine from September 2021.

The booster programme – which would ensure millions of people most vulnerable to Covid-19 will have the protection they have from first and second doses maintained ahead of the winter and against new variants – will be informed by the JCVI’s final advice.

Sky News is reporting that an announcement on travel restrictions could come on Thursday or even earlier.

Heathrow CEO urges government to ‘keep things simple’ amid proposals for new amber watchlist

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye has urged the government to “keep things simple” rather than introduce new rules in an attempt to rebuild public confidence in travel.

It comes as ministers are in discussions about creating a new amber watchlist of countries that potentially could be moved onto the red list. Countries reportedly in consideration for the new list (The Times – paywall) are Spain, Greece and Italy.

“Let’s just make it easier now for people to travel,” Holland-Kaye told Reuters. “I think we just need to keep things simple. We need to build confidence in travel.”

Heathrow has forecast that it will be two to three years before levels of travel return to pre-pandemic rates.



The Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals hall this morning.

The Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals hall this morning. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Matt Warman, the minister for digital infrastructure, today defended the proposals, saying a travel watchlist would provide people with more information so that they could make “informed decisions”.

He told Sky News:


The point of the watchlist that you refer to is to try and give people a sense of the direction of travel that a country is going in, it’s to try and provide people with as much information as possible when they make those decisions about where they might want to go on holiday.

He added:


People do have to make common sense judgments and that may involve taking into consideration the fact that a country’s rates may indeed be getting worse … The most important thing that the government can do is make sure that people have as much information as they possibly can, that they have information about which direction a foreign country might be going in so that they don’t inadvertently find themselves having to quarantine when they get back.

Here’s Damien Gayle’s report on Warman’s response to the proposals:

Updated

Leading psychologist accuses government of implying that ‘infections don’t matter’ – potentially putting young people off getting vaccinated

A leading psychologist has accused the government of implying that “infections don’t matter” – in turn potentially putting young people off getting the coronavirus vaccine.

Stephen Reicher, a professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), said the government needed to send out “clear” and “consistent” messaging that getting vaccinated is a matter of both personal and social responsibility.

It comes as a new poll by UNiDAYS of 20,000 students found a third have only had a single dose of the vaccine, while another third have not had any doses.

Prof Reicher told Times Radio:


In many ways the implication has been there that infections don’t matter.

So, if the health secretary can say ‘We’re going to have 100,000 cases a day, that doesn’t matter, we’re still going ahead with our policy’, and when you see reopening everywhere, it does begin to send the message that infections don’t matter.

And in fact there’s some evidence that the young people are beginning to say ‘Well, why should I get vaccinated if it doesn’t really matter, if infection doesn’t matter, why should I do things to avoid infection?’

He added:


I think the messaging is really critical from governments as well – it needs to be consistent, it needs to be clear.

And it needs to be about not only the fact that the pandemic is still there and it’s necessary to do something, but this is a matter not only of personal responsibility, but a social responsibility – of doing things for others, doing things for the community so the community as a whole can reopen safely.

Updated

More from Anneliese Dodds, the Labour party chair, who said she doesn’t support the introduction of vaccine passports for everyday activities.

She told Times Radio:


Really we need to make sure that there isn’t transmission taking place – for example, at mass events – that’s why testing and getting that sorted out is so important, but I would agree with Khalid [Mahmood, the Labour MP] when it comes to, in particular, the suggestions that we had over the weekend that there could be some kind of incentives that this would unlock the issue for young people of getting vaccinated.

She added:


This isn’t rocket science. Government shouldn’t be focused on these kinds of, frankly, attention-grabbing headlines here – they should be listening to the public health services who are already managing to drive up vaccination on the basis of their local knowledge and particularly their local knowledge of where young people are, who they listen to and where they go for the information that they act on the basis of.

Updated

Angela Rayner says ‘We don’t want to be an opposition, we want to be a government’

In an interview with Guardian political editor Heather Stewart, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said her party needed to attract voters because “we don’t want to be an opposition, we want to be a government”.

On Labour’s dip in membership, she said:


Of course we want to attract people to be members of the Labour party, but what we need to do is we need to attract voters as well. And what we’re doing is we’re speaking to the country: we’re saying that actually we don’t want to be an opposition, we want to be a government.

She also talked about being a carer, byelections and how to achieve a “cultural shift” in the workplace.

Rayner said more flexible working would be a “win-win” for staff and employers and that she helped negotiate family-friendly working as a trade union representative.

She said:


It’s about changing the culture in our country. The whole emphasis to me is, yes there’s individual nuggets in here, but it’s about a cultural shift away from people being inflexible, and not looking for new and fresh ideas about how people can engage in the workplace.

Describing herself as somebody who “overshares”, she said the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, “undershares”.

“If you look at Keir’s background, it’s not dissimilar for mine: he looked after his mum, I looked after my mum,” she said. “Keir wasn’t from a privileged background”.

She said he is “very forensic, he’s very intelligent. He’s very passionate about making sure that the country is a better place”.

Updated

New rules for vaccinated travellers from US and EU lead to ‘300% increase’ in bookings but airline industry warns government’s handling of France was ‘total disaster’

Airlines UK today said new rules for fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU have led to a “300% increase” in bookings to American destinations, but warned that government handling of France was a “total disaster” for the industry.

It comes as from 4am on Monday, new rules came into effect meaning that fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU no longer have to isolate when they arrive in the UK. But the rules have not yet been reciprocated for UK travellers.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said he welcomed the change and reported a significant increase in bookings to the US.

He told Times Radio:


I think the announcement this morning is very welcome – there will be an uptick in bookings.

We’ve seen from the US around a 300% increase in bookings to the US – but we’ve got to somehow try to find a way to get more countries on the green list and we absolutely should not be going down the road of adding more tiers to an already very complicated international travel system.

But he said the government’s handling of France, sparking a diplomatic row after putting the country on the “amber-plus” travel list, had badly dented consumer confidence.

He said:


Because of the way the government has looked at things over the past couple of weeks with the France decision, which was a total disaster in terms of consumer confidence because people now think with amber, there’s a good chance that whether there’s a watch list or not, that they will be stranded, and that is a real dampener in terms of bookings.

We’ve now only got six to eight weeks until the end of the summer, and tens of thousands of jobs are under threat in the travel and aviation sector.

Until today, only travellers who had received both doses in the UK were able to arrive from amber countries – including the US and much of the EU – without needing to isolate for 10 days.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said: “We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK.”

Meanwhile, the Labour party chair, Anneliese Dodds, has called on the government to be “open and transparent” about travel rules.

Asked this morning whether an amber watchlist should be introduced, she told Times Radio:


Well, no, we don’t want to see additional confusion and chaos here … We’ve been here before, we’ve been in this chaos before, and yet government seems to be providing just more of the same, more confusion, more extra categories.

What we’ve said for months as the Labour party is that the Conservative government need to be open and transparent, they need to be actually publishing the data that they’re taking their decisions on.

She said the government should be seeking international agreement on vaccine passports, which she said “they’ve said they’re trying to do, but we’ve seen no evidence of progress there”. She also called for “more openness” to “build trust in the system”.

She added:


The problem is, right now holidaymakers just don’t know who to believe and we’ve got … seem to have the chancellor briefing against the prime minister in the Sunday papers. That’s not building confidence, ultimately, in the system.

Hi, it’s Miranda Bryant looking after the blog today. If you have any tips or suggestions, please get in touch: miranda.bryant@guardian.co.uk

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