England

SNP Tells Scots Not to Dodge Covid Restrictions by Celebrating New Year’s Eve in England

John Swinney, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, has called on Scots not to cross the border into England to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Doing so goes against the “spirit” of the Scottish Government’s Covid restrictions, he says. (No, really?!?) BBC News has more.

Scots have been urged not to travel to England for New Year celebrations to get around the more stringent Covid restrictions north of the border.

There is no travel ban currently in place to stop people going to England, where nightclubs are still open.

But Deputy First Minister John Swinney said doing so would go against the “spirit” of Scottish Covid measures.

He said travelling would be “the wrong course of action” due to the “serious situation” with the Omicron variant.

Case numbers in Scotland hit “alarming” record highs over Christmas and Boxing Day, with the faster-spreading strain now accounting for the majority of all infections.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is to update MSPs in a virtual sitting of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, said she expected the figures to rise even more in the days ahead.

Scots have been encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, and to limit any social gatherings to no more than three households.

Large events such as Edinburgh’s traditional Hogmanay street party have been cancelled, with extra curbs in hospitality settings and nightclubs shut down entirely.

Clubs remain open south of the border, where no new restrictions are being imposed, but Swinney told BBC Breakfast that he would “discourage” anyone from travelling to England to see in the new year.

He said: “People are free to make their own judgments. But what we have got recognise is that Omicron is a serious threat to absolutely everybody within our society and we have all got to take measures to protect ourselves by limiting our social contacts and connections and by complying with the restrictions we have in place.

“I think it is the wrong course of action for people to take because we have a serious situation we have got to manage and we encourage everybody to play their part in addressing that.”

People in England have been urged to be “cautious” while socialising, by taking lateral flow tests and sticking to well-ventilated areas.

Ms Sturgeon is to update MSPs on the latest data and plans when Holyrood is recalled from recess for a virtual sitting at 14:00.

Worth reading in full.

Compliance With Covid Guidelines Fall to Record Low

Earlier this year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that roughly 90% of the English public were adhering to the Government’s Covid laws and guidance, but, according to a recent survey by the ONS, the figure has dropped to 70%, showing that the compliance rate is currently at a record low. The ONS found that 29% of respondents who admitting to expressing Covid symptoms said that they did not self-isolate, with a similar ONS study revealing that the British public are now less concerned about following Covid safety measures, such as wearing masks. RT has the story.

New data released by the ONS show that three in 10 people in England are failing to self-isolate if they develop Covid-like symptoms amid a drop in compliance with coronavirus guidance.

The survey, conducted last month, found that 29% of respondents who’d had Covid symptoms failed to follow the rules requiring them to stay at home after they’d fallen ill. Similarly, a quarter of people violated self-isolation rules between falling ill and receiving their final test result.

Those numbers mark a stark contrast to earlier this year, when the ONS recorded that around nine in 10 people throughout England were abiding by the Government’s health requirements.


The latest figures show record low compliance with Covid regulations in England, suggesting an increasingly lax attitude toward the pandemic across the nation.

Under current official guidance, people in England are told to self-isolate if they have Covid or Covid-like symptoms until they have received test results confirming whether or not they have contracted the virus. However, self-isolation is only legally required if an individual has tested positive, and failing to do so at that stage could result in a fine of up to £10,000 ($13,336).

The latest ONS data backs a similar study last week that showed people in the U.K. are taking a more relaxed attitude to Covid safety measures. According to that study, around a third of people aged under 30 have stopped wearing masks, despite guidance asking people to do so in public places.

Worth reading in full.

Child Vaccination Rates as Low as 3.5% In Areas of England

Covid vaccines have been available for young English teenagers for almost a month but take-up rates are as low as 3.5%. Wokingham has jabbed the highest proportion of 12-15 year-olds in the country (just over 36%) but the figure for the whole of England (15%) lags far behind that of Scotland. MailOnline has the story.

The picture is very different in Scotland, where the rate stands at around 46.5%, with some areas of the country jabbing almost two thirds of their young teens.

The figures come off the back of rising concerns about a surge in coronavirus cases among young teens in England.

Random swabbing data suggests around 8% of secondary school pupils were carrying the virus last week. Separate figures show infection rates in children have reached record highs. …

First doses of Covid vaccine started being rolled out to all the UK’s 3.2 million 12-15 year-olds on September 20th.

But the move was controversial, with concerns over a very rare risk of heart inflammation called myocarditis, estimated to affect 3-17 per million children under the age of 16 after their first Covid jab.

This risk increases to 12-24 per million children when they receive a second dose of the vaccine.

While in most cases the condition is mild, scientists do not know the long term implications. …

More than a third of England’s 149 upper tier local authorities (55) have vaccinated fewer than one in 10 young teens.

The three worst areas for England and the U.K. are in London.

Worth reading in full.

Five Members of England Football Squad Refuse Jab

Five English football players who have been selected for the England squad recently are refusing to have a coronavirus vaccine, threatening their places in the World Cup squad in Qatar. MailOnline has more.

Three senior team members are reportedly among the rebels who believe they are too healthy to suffer Covid or have been pressured by their wives.

One is said to have brazenly declared he was too “young and fit” to be negatively affected by the virus, while another reportedly believes the anti-vaxxer ‘conspiracy theories’ about the jab.

The rest of the players are understood to have been ‘pressured’ not to get the jab by their wives or girlfriends who are against the vaccine.

It will come as a huge blow for England boss Gareth Southgate as World Cup organisers plan to ban all unvaccinated players from Qatar next year.

The Premier League is also struggling to clamp down on stars not taking the vaccine, with almost two-thirds of top-flight players yet to be fully jabbed and many refusing altogether.

Club officials are complaining dressing rooms have been ‘polluted’ by senior players spreading conspiracy theories involving Bill Gates, infertility and the power of vitamins.

But on Thursday night the league received reassurances from the Government that unvaccinated players will remain available for selection if Covid passports are made compulsory at mass events.

Former footballers weighed in on the issue and openly argued on social media over whether vaccines should be forced on stars.

Ex-England player Chris Waddle branded it “embarrassing” and called for a “simple no jab no play” policy. But former Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara hit back, saying “it’s a choice and everyone has a choice in life”.

Worth reading in full.

Almost a Quarter of ‘Covid Inpatients’ in England Are Primarily Being Treated for Something Else

It’s not been a good week for followers of conventional wisdom. The official lines on face masks and long Covid have (once again) been brought into question and now Government figures have shown (also not for the first time) that hospitalisation numbers are being skewed by the fact that almost a quarter of ‘Covid inpatients’ in England are actually in hospital for a different reason.

Given that “increasing Covid hospital admissions” could trigger the Government’s ‘Plan B’ of mask mandates and vaccine passports (and even perhaps ‘Plan C’ of another lockdown), the implications of this distortion of the truth could be huge. MailOnline has more.

Health service statistics show there were 6,146 NHS beds taken up by people who were Covid positive on September 14th, the latest date data is available for.

But just 4,721 patients (77%) were primarily being treated for the virus, with the remaining 1,425 receiving care for other illnesses or injuries. They could include patients who’ve had a fall or even new mothers who tested positive after giving birth.

In NHS hospitals in the Midlands, around a third of Covid patients were mainly being treated for another reason on September 14th.

Separate NHS figures suggest as many as half of daily hospitalisations only test positive after being admitted for a separate condition.

Hospital numbers have become the key metric for ministers and their scientific advisers, now that vaccines have taken the emphasis away from infection numbers.

Boris Johnson has said lockdown curbs may have to be reintroduced if Covid hospital numbers rise sharply as part of his winter blueprint to tackle the virus, which could see masks and working from home mandated again.

But he did not put a firm figure on the threshold that would trigger the return of restrictions when he announced the contingency plans earlier this week.

The latest figures suggest the standard Covid hospital numbers have become a less reliable way of gauging the outbreak and NHS pressure. [Have they ever been reliable?]

Worth reading in full.

Why It’s Not All About the Football

Some people are suggesting that the recent surges and drop-offs in Covid infections in England and Scotland can be pinned on the football. The idea is that infections rose as fans mixed during the Euro 2020 championship and declined once Scotland was eliminated and England lost in the final.

It’s true that the summer surges in England and Scotland broadly coincided with when their teams were active in the tournament. Scotland’s new daily infections dropped off a few days after its exit on June 22nd, and England’s a few days after their loss to Italy on July 11th. Also, the male to female ratio of new infections briefly went up during the tournament.

However, that’s about where the coincidences end. The fact that the decline has continued for weeks in Scotland suggests it’s not a short term effect.

Perhaps more important, though, is the different shape of the curves in the two countries during June when both teams were still in the competition.

Peak of the Delta Surge Elusive for England, While Scotland’s Decline Continues

It appears that the anticipated peak of the current surge in England has not yet arrived, and the recent slowdowns may have been temporary.

U.K. positive Covid tests by date reported

As of today, ZOE data is now beginning to show the uptick in infections that Government data has shown over the past week, reversing what had appeared to be (including to ZOE lead scientist Tim Spector) the early signs of a declining trend.