All the latest updates on coronavirus from the UK.
Lockdown restrictions remain in place in Bolton and Trafford after another government U-turn
‘Fundamental mistake’ to think algorithm would be ‘acceptable’, Ofqual chair tells MPs
Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer clash over exams controversy at PMQs
Cabinet minister insists ‘improving trends’ in numbers of people returning to work
‘Social gatherings’ to blame for coronavirus spike in Glasgow, says SNPLong-term COVID-19 sufferer tells Sky News virus has left her struggling to walkAnalysis: Why fewer people in the UK are dying with COVID-19
Why countries are added to UK quarantine list
Changes to quarantine lists have caused chaos for many travellers in recent weeks – but how are these decisions made?
Greater Manchester mayor: Councils ‘need to be in driving seat’ on local restrictions
Andy Burnham has compared the government’s weekly announcements on local coronavirus restrictions to “waiting for the white smoke out of the Vatican”.
He said: “National government sitting in Whitehall imposing decisions on local communities has got to stop, we can’t have that anymore. It’s not working, it’s confusing people, it’s causing anger and resentment.
“In my view, it’s local councils that need to be in the driving seat here, working then in consultation with the government.”
Chancellor: No ‘horror show of tax rises with no end in sight’
In a speech to the new intake of Tory MPs in Parliament, Rishi Sunak said: “We will need to do some difficult things, but I promise you, if we trust one another we will be able to overcome the short term challenges.
“Now this doesn’t mean a horror show of tax rises with no end in sight.
“But it does mean treating the British people with respect, being honest with them about the challenges we face and showing them how we plan to correct our public finances and give our country the dynamic, low tax economy we all want to see.
“We cannot, will not and must not surrender our position as the party of economic competence and sound finance.
“If we argue instead that there is no limit to what we can spend, that we can simply borrow our way out of any hole then what is the difference between us and the Labour Party.”
Downing Street photographer snaps glimpse of chancellor’s notes
Boston Dynamics robot dog trialled as way of monitoring patients
The robot dog has been used to measure temperature, rate of breathing, pulse and blood oxygen saturation in healthy volunteers.
Europe COVID-19 infection levels almost back to March levels
The head of the EU’s public health agency has said this week’s data showed that across Europe there were 46 cases per 100,000 people.
“We’re almost back to numbers that we have seen in March,” Andrea Ammon, head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) told MEPs.
Infections in March in Europe began growing steadily to about 40 per 100,000 at the end of the month, according to ECDC data.
They kept increasing to around 70 per 100,000 by the end of April before dipping again.
The current increase of cases is due in part to more testing and Ms Ammon said they are mainly younger people, which has stabilised the numbers of people being admitted to hospital as they are not so badly affected, in general.
In March and April, more older people were hit and as COVID-19 is generally more serious for them, there were more people in hospital.
However, she said more people are being admitted to hospital, signalling a spike in cases among the elderly.
The data, which concerns the 27 EU countries, the UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, varied greatly between states, from 2 to 176 per 100,000 people, Ms Ammon said without citing specific countries.
She added that the reopening of schools in September has not necessarily posed a higher risk of transmissions, as countries in Europe that already reopened them in the spring did not experience spikes.
Latest COVID-19 figures for Wales
There has been an increase of 42 confirmed coronavirus cases in Wales, bringing the total to 18,105, Public Health Wales said.
No further deaths of people who tested positive have been reported, health officials said.
Wales’ total number of COVID-19 deaths is 1,596.
Latest COVID-19 figures for Northern Ireland
A further 71 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said.
Some 463 new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the last seven days, bringing the total in the region to 7,365.
Another two deaths have also been reported, bringing Northern Ireland’s total to 562.
Eat Out to Help Out scheme increased restaurant spending by a third
£336m had been claimed for 64 million diners towards the end of the scheme, HMRC data reveals.
Labour criticise ‘utterly chaotic’ reimposition of restrictions in Bolton and Trafford
“At a time when the prime minister is saying we need an ounce of confidence to get the economy growing, when you see chaos like this it gives people no confidence in the Government’s approach,” Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesman told a Westminster briefing.
“And it’s another sign of their incompetence which is holding Britain back from this recovery.”
Uber to require some passengers submit face mask selfies
If a rider has been reported for not wearing a face mask before, they will be asked to provide a selfie on the app.
WATCH: SNP’s Blackford warns of unemployment surge if furlough scheme ends next month
Group says PM’s claim they are “in litigation with the government” is not true
WATCH: SNP’s Blackford calls for furlough scheme extension
How coronavirus numbers are changing across the UK
WATCH: Starmer accuses PM of ‘avoiding’ answer question over exams controversy
PM drawn into row over ‘political smear’ of his holiday leak
Ian Blackford gets back up once PMQs is over to raise a point of order, complaining that a “senior Tory source” blamed he and the SNP for revealing where the prime minister went on holiday over the summer.
“This allegation and briefing was entirely false” and a “political smear from the PM’s office”, says Mr Blackford.
Despite that fact, “the damage has been done” resulting in serious security implications for him and his family and his family, Mr Blackford adds.
He says he raised the issue in a letter to which he’s had no reply and wants an answer now to ensure these “false briefings are now stopped”.
Johnson says he’s “very happy to accept his assurances and protestations and I think we should leave it at that”.
But he references the tweet below, posted on 17 August from Mr Blackford’s account.
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle also steps in to say he’s “very concerned” about anything that breaches MPs’ security and urges them: “Let’s be very, very careful – let’s learn from this.”
WATCH: First minister says new restrictions in parts of Scotland should be a ‘wake up call’
Oldham MP criticises government’s ‘woeful’ handling of local coronavirus restrictions
WATCH: Starmer tells PM to reconsider refusal to meet with group of bereaved COVID-19 families
Health secretary statement on Bolton and Trafford announcement
FULL STORY: Lockdown restrictions remain in place in Bolton and Trafford after another government U-turn
Tory MP for area hit by lockdown not pleased at announcement
WATCH: Starmer calls for furlough scheme extension
Fresh government U-turn over lockdown measures
Bolton and Trafford will remain under existing coronavirus restrictions “following a significant change in the level of infection rates over the last few days”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
The move marks a fresh government U-turn.
Last week, the areas were urging for the restrictions to remain in place because local political leaders said the number of COVID-19 infections was rising.
But the government said they should be lifted.
In a new statement released a few minutes ago, it seems ministers have now changed their minds.
Read the full story as we get more details here.
Tory MP calls for flexible rail season tickets as people return to work
Damian Green urges Boris Johnson to lobby rail firms to introduce flexible season tickets to allow people to return to the office for a few days a week if they wish.
The prime minister says the government is “working at pace” with rail companies to “try to deliver new products” which will allow people to “get back to work in a flexible way.
Unemployment will plummet to 1980s-levels unless furlough extended, SNP warns
Ian Blackford, leader of the Scottish National Party, is the next opposition leader to ask a question.
He picks up on the PM’s comments in cabinet yesterday, saying he “admitted the government is all at sea”.
After eight U-turns in eight months, Mr Blackford wants a ninth – to see the furlough scheme extended beyond October and he warns if it is not there will be levels of unemployment not seen since the 1980s.
Mr Johnson says 11 million people have been supported but kept in “suspended animation” and what he wants to do is get people “back to work”.
“How much better is that than languishing out of work?”
Mr Blackford hits back, saying the furlough scheme is to “protect people so they can come back to work when the time is right” and that other countries have extended similar projects.
The PM responds that he is getting on with other measures to support people in work.
WATCH: Starmer hits out over exams ‘fiasco’
WATCH: PM accuses Starmer of ‘leaping on bandwagon’ over exams criticism
Starmer raises PM’s refusal to meet with bereaved relatives of coronavirus victims
Sir Keir Starmer raises the prime minister’s refusal to meet with the bereaved families of COVID-19 victims.
The Labour leader urges Boris Johnson to reconsider.
The PM says he “sympathises deeply” with all of those who have lost loved ones to the virus.
He adds that the specific group mentioned by Sir Keir are “currently in litigation with the government” and he will be happy to meet with them once that has concluded.
Starmer tells Johnson to retract attack on his record on Northern Ireland
Sir Keir accuses the PM of “governing in hindsight – that’s why he’s making so many mistakes”.
He gets particularly riled at Boris Johnson’s attack on his integrity, saying he was part of the effort to bring peace to Northern Ireland working as a prosecutor and calls on him to retract it.
The Labour leader then pivots to the furlough scheme, saying it is the government’s “next major decision” and warning the longer a decision on extending it is delayed the more workers are at risk.
Boris Johnson says he’s getting pupils back to school “in spite of all the doubts he’s tried to sow” and instead of furlough scheme being extended the government is launching a “kickstart scheme” for young people.
The speaker calls the PM back up to answer on the point about Northern Ireland.
Mr Johnson says: “I think they would have been more in order throughout the long years in which he supported a leader of the Labour Party” but then trails off and sits down.
Starmer tells PM he needs to ‘get a grip’
Sir Keir Starmer says the government has “wasted” this summer and failed to prepare for the autumn.
The Labour leader says Boris Johnson is guilty of “serial incompetence” and needs to “get a grip”.
The PM says the government has “turned the tide” in the coronavirus pandemic – with pupils going back to school and people returning to work.
Mr Johnson adds that “we are taking this country forward”.
Starmer: PM ‘fooling nobody’
Sir Keir Starmer says the PM is “tin-eared” and “making it up as he goes along”.
The Labour leader says Boris Johnson is “fooling nobody” and even his own MPs have “run out of patience”.
Mr Johnson says Sir Keir is “captain hindsight” and is guilty of “leaping on the bandwagon” when it comes to exams, having done “nothing” to oppose the algorithm before problems came to light.
School return is ‘proving the doubters wrong’
Sir Keir says he’s already congratulated students but accuses the PM of dodging the question, saying he either knew of the problem and did nothing or didn’t know but should have.
So he asks again: When did the PM first know there was a problem with the algorithm?
Boris Johnson says Ofqual made it clear “time and again” of their recommendations and given they are an independent organisation, “credit had to be given to their view”.
He then pivots to the expected full return of schools in England today, saying teachers and pupils are “proving the doubters wrong because they are going back to school in record numbers”.
Starmer begins by slamming exams ‘fiasco’
Sir Keir Starmer begins by raising what he says was the “fiasco” of this summer’s exams.
The Labour leader says the education secretary knew of problems with the algorithm “well in advance”.
Sir Keir asks the prime minister when he first knew there was a problem.
Boris Johnson says he understands “how difficult” it has been for pupils not having the chance to have normal exams during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We did institute a change, we did act,” he tells MPs.
Mr Johnson adds that pupils “now do have their grades” and urges the Labour leader to join him in congratulating pupils.
PM wants ‘right lessons’ learned from fatal train crash
Tory MP Andrew Bowie begins by paying tribute to the three people killed in the “tragic” train crash in Scotland over the summer.
He wants the government’s assurance it will do everything possible to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.
Boris Johnson also offer condolences to the family and says Britain’s railways are among the safest in Europe and “we must ensure we learn the lessons of this tragic event”.
And we’re off – Boris Johnson rises to his feet to start PMQs
Is your MP due to ask a question?
Here’s the list of the 24 politicians expected to be called at this afternoon’s PMQs.
MPs are back – and that means a return for PMQs
Boris Johnson will face Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons at noon for the first PMQs of the new term.
Coronavirus is once again expected to dominate proceedings after a difficult summer for the government that saw a number of COVID-19-related U-turns.
We’ll have the best quotes, video, reaction and analysis from the chamber once proceedings get under way.
Eat Out to Help Out scheme increased restaurant spending by a third
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme increased restaurant spending by more than a third on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, figures have revealed.
The government scheme – which gave diners up to 50% off their bill to a maximum of £10 each – finished on 31 August.
The discount for food and non-alcoholic drinks was introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help boost the struggling hospitality industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read more here.
‘Fundamental mistake’ to think exams algorithm would be ‘acceptable’ – Ofqual chair
The head of exams watchdog Ofqual has told MPs it was a “fundamental mistake” to believe the algorithm initially used for A-level and GCSE results would “ever be acceptable to the public”.
Roger Taylor said the level of accuracy that was fundamentally possible was “too low to be acceptable”.
He told the Education Select Committee that Ofqual first suggested holding exams in a “socially distanced manner” and then suggested delaying exams.
But Mr Taylor said the education secretary decided that exams would be cancelled.
Exams situation ‘rapidly getting out of control’ under Williamson – Ofqual chair
The chairman of exams regulator Ofqual has told MPs that the situation with this year’s school exams was “rapidly getting out of control” under Gavin Williamson.
Roger Taylor said policies were being put forward by the education secretary that “weren’t consistent with our legal duties”.
Ofqual have claimed that Mr Williamson took the decision to cancel exams and implement a system of calculated grades “without further consultation” with the regulator.
Mr Taylor told the Education Select Committee that Ofqual “initially advised against cancelling exams” and told the Department for Education it should not use mock exams for grades but it went ahead anyway.
Over 57,300 COVID-19 deaths registered in UK
More than 57,300 deaths involving COVID-19 have now been registered in the UK.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 52,217 deaths involving the disease had occurred in England and Wales up to 21 August and had been registered by 29 August.
In Scotland, 4,222 deaths involving the virus had been registered up to 23 August.
Meanwhile, 871 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to 21 August and had been registered up to 26 August.
It means a total of 57,310 deaths have been registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.
Hunt calls for weekly COVID-19 testing for secondary school teachers
Secondary school teachers should be tested weekly for coronavirus, a former health secretary has said.
Jeremy Hunt, who now chairs the health and social care committee, told Sky News that regular COVID-19 tests would help reassure parents.
The senior Conservative MP was speaking as pupils in England and Wales continue to return to the classroom for the start of the autumn term amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Read more here.
Deaths in England and Wales above five-year average for second consecutive week
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest data on the number of deaths registered in England and Wales.
A total of 9,631 deaths were recorded in the week up to 21 August – 5.2% above the five-year average and 239 more deaths than the previous week.
It is the second consecutive week that weekly deaths have been above the five-year average, but the ONS said the rise “was not driven by COVID-19”.
The numbers of deaths in hospitals, care homes and other locations were below the five-year average, but the number of deaths in private homes was 825 higher than the five-year average.
A total of 138 registered deaths mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” – the lowest number of deaths involving the disease in the last 22 weeks – which amounted to 1.4% of all deaths in England and Wales.
Of all deaths involving COVID-19 that week, 63.4% occurred in hospitals, 29.6% in care homes, 4.7% in private homes and 1.4% in hospices.
Across the UK, the number of deaths registered in the week ending 21 August was 10,967.
That figure is 572 higher than the five-year average and 390 higher than the previous week.
Of those UK-wide deaths, 149 involved COVID-19 – three higher than the previous seven days, the ONS said.
Dominic Raab on prospect of Greece quarantine for English travellers
“We respect the devolved administrations and what they do,” the foreign secretary said in the wake of Scotland adding the country to its quarantine list.
“Of course we here in Whitehall look very carefully at all the evidence based on the scientific advice and we review the travel advice and the quarantine measures very carefully and regularly.”
School exams should be delayed until end of July, says former Ofsted boss
The former head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw says GCSE and A-level exams should be delayed next year “as late as possible, possibly to the end of July”.
“Youngsters have missed nearly six months of work,” he told Sky News.
“Even now when youngsters are going back it will take time them to adjust to the rigours and routines of school life.
“The longer youngsters have to revise for examinations and be taught by teachers the better.”
Sir Michael says there will be Ofsted inspections of schools over the next year but he expects it won’t be “for some time”.
All secondary school teachers should get COVID-19 tests weekly
Tui temporarily bans flights to Zante resort after spike in cases
Tui will stop holidays to a Zante resort after 16 coronavirus cases were linked to a flight returning to Cardiff from the Greek island.
The holiday firm says it will no longer be offering holidays to the resort of Laganas from Thursday.
It comes after more than 200 people have been asked to self-isolate after 16 COVID-19 cases were linked to passengers on TUI flight 6215.
Read more here.
PM accused of ‘U-turn followed by U-turn’ after declining to meet bereaved group
Boris Johnson has been accused of a fresh U-turn after declining to meet campaigners representing families bereaved during the coronavirus pandemic.
The prime minister said “of course I will meet the bereaved” when questioned last week in an interview about attempts by the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group to secure a meeting.
But the campaigners trying to secure a swift public inquiry into the government’s handling of the crisis shared a letter from Mr Johnson in which he “regrettably” declined to meet with the group.
“It’s a U-turn followed by a U-turn,” said campaign co-founder Jo Goodman, who lost her father Stuart to the virus.
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