August 8, 2022

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People will need three jabs to use controversial Covid vaccine passports for entry to large...

People will need three jabs to use controversial Covid vaccine passports for entry to large venues, the Health Secretary warned tonight.
Sajid Javid told the Commons that the Government will update the definition of what it means to be ‘fully-vaccinated’ to include the booster, once all eligible adults in England have had ‘a reasonable chance’ to receive their third dose.
But he refused to indicate when this would be updated, amid confusion over whether the Government has promised that people can all have a jab in their arm by the December 31 deadline, or if they will just have an offer of a future vaccine.
The Health Secretary also pointed out that the incoming rules on Covid passes meant that from Wednesday people will need to show a negative lateral flow test to go to nightclubs or large events.
Mr Javid’s extraordinary statement comes amid murmurings of a large Tory rebellion to the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘Plan B’ restrictions, which include Covid passports as well as orders to work from home and compulsory facemasks for further public spaces.
Under the new regulations, published barely 24 hours before tomorrow’s vote, people could be fined £10,000 if they try to falsify a Covid pass or test result.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021 make it an offence to make, adapt, supply or offer to supply ‘false evidence of Covid status to another person’ which is known to be ‘false or misleading’ and this will be punishable by a fixed penalty notice (FPN).
Other offences under the regulations also could result in fines for breaking the rules. These include a £1,000 FPN in the first instance, reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days, for example for venues who do not comply with the rules or ignore improvement notices issued by councils.
The fines double for the second and third offences (£2,000 and then £4,000), jumping to £10,000 for the fourth or any subsequent offences thereafter.
Tories are particularly opposed to making NHS Covid passes, displaying vaccine status or a negative lateral flow result, mandatory for entry to large venues such as nightclubs. 
The measures are expected to be approved with Labour’s support, but that would be a significant blow to Mr Johnson’s premiership, which has been rocked by a series of scandals. In the past week, his Government has been accused of throwing rule-breaking Christmas parties at Downing Street last year, while gatherings across the country were criminalised. 
Earlier, Boris Johnson said MPs thinking of rebelling against the measures needed to recognise there was ‘no room for complacency’ in dealing with the Omicron variant.
Asked about support among his backbenchers ahead of tomorrow’s vote, the Prime Minister told broadcasters: ‘I think that what everybody needs to recognise is a couple of things, that Omicron is a very serious risk to public health, and that it’s spreading very fast, and I think there’s no room for complacency.’ 

Sajid Javid told MPs that every adult across England could expect to be offered a ‘chance to get boosted by the end of this month’ though he suggested not everyone would get a dose in December



NHS England was put on the highest level of alert for the first time since March. Level four means health bosses believe there is a real threat that an expected influx of Covid patients could start to force the closure of other vital services

Sir Keir Starmer takes dig at Boris Johnson saying ‘we must all stick to the rules… however inconvenient’ as he uses Covid address to describe Labour’s ‘patriotism’ and insist Britain needs ‘leadership we can trust’ 

Sir Keir Starmer has announced he is supporting the Government’s new Covid crackdown and efforts to ramp up the booster jab programme as he urged people to ‘stick to the rules’ to help prevent the NHS from being ‘overwhelmed’ by the Omicron variant.
In a pre-recorded televised address to the nation this evening, the Labour leader accused Ministers of acting too slowly in the face of the threat from the fast-spreading strain and said the country needs ‘leadership we can trust’.
Sir Keir also insisted that people should ‘stick to the rules’ – in what is likely to be regarded as a thinly-veiled refence to allegations of rule-busting Christmas parties at Downing Street last year.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that all eligible adults in England are to be offered a third dose of the vaccine by the end of the month.
In the BBC One broadcast, Sir Keir urged people to get their top-up injections and confirmed that the Labour Party would be supporting the Government’s so-called ‘Plan B’ measures tomorrow, which include orders to work from home, compulsory facemasks and controversial Covid passports for large venues. 
This means the restrictions will sail through the Commons tomorrow despite Tory murmurings of a large rebellion against the Covid crackdown.

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Mr Javid told Parliament that it is the Government’s intention to include proof of a booster jab, once all adults have had a chance to get theirs.
He said: ‘From Wednesday – subject to this House’s approval – you’ll need to show a negative lateral flow test to get into nightclubs and large events, with an exemption for the double vaccinated.
‘Once all adults have had a reasonable chance to get their booster jab, we intend to change this exemption to require a booster dose.’
He said it is ‘misleading’ to say MPs are being asked to vote on ‘vaccine passports’.
He told the Commons: ‘The Government has been absolutely clear about when it talks about access to nightclubs or to very large gatherings… that the requirement is to take a free lateral flow test and make sure it’s negative.
‘And if you don’t want to do that then you can prove your vaccine status. It’s up to that individual. That’s not a vaccine passport and the sooner we get rid of this misleading description of what the Government is proposing, the better.’
The Plan B restrictions also include compulsory mask-wearing indoors in most public places, and guidance for people to work from home where possible.
NHS Covid passes showing full vaccination or a recent negative test will be required for entry to indoor venues containing more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people, from Wednesday.
Mr Johnson’s landslide victory in the 2019 general election left him with a Commons majority of about 80 MPs.
If around 75 Tories who have indicated their opposition vote against the measures rather than abstain, they would deliver an even bigger revolt than was seen against the strengthened tiered system of coronavirus restrictions in December last year, when 55 Tories voted against the measures.
There are expected to be ‘a number of votes’ on the different regulations, Downing Street said.
Conservative MP Marcus Fysh, one of the rebels, was criticised for comparing the plans to the atrocities of the Nazi regime.
‘We are not a ‘papers please’ society. This is not Nazi Germany,’ he told BBC Radio 5 Live. ‘It’s the thin end of an authoritarian wedge and that’s why we will resist it.’
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, responded: ‘It is completely unacceptable to compare the proposed vaccine passports with Nazi Germany.
‘We urge people, particularly those in positions of authority, to avoid these highly inappropriate comparisons.’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We are facing a tidal wave of Omicron and these Plan B measures are a vital part of enabling us to buy time so that we can get more of these booster doses in arms and provide the protection that will protect both lives and livelihoods. 
‘On the issue of certification, as I said, it requires proof of a negative test unless you are double vaccinated, and it allows us to keep some of these settings open, which is vital for hospitality, where otherwise we would have had no choice but to close them, which no one wants to see.’
On Sunday night in a televised address to the nation, the Prime Minister told the public that, in the face of ‘a tidal wave of Omicron’ it is ‘now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need’.
He added that scientists are ‘confident’ that, with a booster, ‘we can all bring our level of protection back up’.
On Monday, Mr Johnson announced the first UK death with Omicron during a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington in west London.
The Prime Minister said: ‘Sadly, yes, Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron. 

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Mr Johnson (pictured visiting a vaccination centre in London today) begged Tories to back his ‘Plan B’ Covid curbs today amid fears more than 70 will rebel in a crunch vote tomorrow

NHS raises alert to HIGHEST level as UK Omicron cases jump 50% in 24 hours to almost 5,000 and Boris confirms first death with mutant strain — but overall daily Covid infections rise just 6% to 54,661 as booster drive descends into chaos on first day 

The entire NHS England was put on the highest level of alert for the first time since March today after the UK’s Omicron outbreak surged by 50 per cent in a day and the first death with the mutant strain was confirmed.
Health service bosses have raised the alert to level four meaning they believe there is a real threat that an influx of Covid patients could start to force the closure of other vital services.
The move comes as the NHS was told to put non-urgent care on the backburner once again and lead the country’s mammoth Omicron-busting booster vaccine drive which aims to offer all 53million adults a third dose by the end of January — a goal that would require the programme doubling its current daily rate.
It came as officials confirmed another 1,576 cases of the highly-evolved Omicron variant over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 4,713 — however this is believed to be a vast underestimate with the true number several times greater because not all positive tests are analysed for variants.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said the best estimate was that there are currently 200,000 overall daily infections across the country, with Omicron expected to become dominant in London by tomorrow and nationally within days.
Yet, the Department of Health’s daily update revealed that there were only 54,661 overall Covid cases in the past 24 hours, marking a rise of just 6 per cent week-on-week. 
No10’s scientific advisers have warned this could rise to an astronomical 1million per day by the end of the month if Omicron continues to spread at its current pace. The DOH also recorded another 926 daily hospital admissions, up 14 per cent in a week, and 38 deaths, down 7 per cent.

‘So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus, I think that’s something we need to set on one side and just recognise the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population. So the best thing we can do is all get our boosters.’
Mr Johnson repeatedly declined to rule out further Covid restrictions ahead of Christmas but stressed the urgency of people getting boosters.
‘Throughout the pandemic I’ve been at great pains to stress to the public that we have to watch where the pandemic is going and we take whatever steps are necessary to protect public health,’ he added.
In England a booster is available to everyone aged 18 or over from this week as long as the second dose was at least three months ago. Over-30s can already book a booster online and, from Wednesday, this will be extended to over-18s.
The NHS will need to exceed 840,000 booster jabs per day in a bid to fight Omicron, which is causing around 200,000 new infections per day, the Health Secretary said.
Mr Javid told MPs that every adult across England could expect to be offered a ‘chance to get boosted by the end of this month’ though he suggested not everyone would get a dose in December.
He said: ‘It is asking a huge amount of our colleagues in the NHS.
‘And it’s our joint view that we can try to offer adults a chance to get boosted by the end of this month.
‘And that does not mean every single person necessarily can get that booster, it requires them to come forward and to take up this offer as well, as well as everything going right in this huge expansion plan.’
It follows confusion over whether the Government has promised that people can all have a jab in their arm by the December 31 deadline, or whether they will just have an offer of a future vaccine.
It comes as the UK recorded its first death involving Omicron, and 10 people are in hospital with the variant.
Most of these 10 have received two vaccines and range in age from 18 to 85, though there are no details on whether they have underlying conditions.
Mr Javid told the Commons: ‘Until now the highest number of jabs that we’ve delivered in a single day in the UK was over 840,000.
‘We’ll not only need to match that but we will need to beat that every day. But we can and we’ve got a plan to try and do it.
‘We’re opening more vaccination sites including pop-up and mobile sites that’ll be working seven days a week.
‘We are training thousands more volunteer vaccinators, we’re asking GPs and pharmacies to do more and we’re drafting in 42 military planning teams across every region of our country.’
Mr Javid said he acknowledge that ‘our national mission comes with some difficult trade-offs’, meaning some non-urgent appointments and surgery in the NHS may be cancelled.
He added: ‘These are steps that no Health Secretary would wish to take unless they were absolutely necessary, but I am convinced that if we don’t prioritise the booster now the health consequences will be far more grave in the months that lie ahead.’
Mr Javid told MPs there are now 4,713 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, adding that the UK Health Security Agency estimates that the current number of ‘daily infections are around 200,000’.
He added: ‘While Omicron represents over 20% of cases in England, we’ve already seen it rise to over 44% in London and we expect it to become the dominant Covid 19 variant in the capital in the next 48 hours.’
Mr Javid also urged people to have boosters as a way of protecting children.
Robert Halfon, Conservative chairman of the Education Select Committee, asked Mr Javid to ‘make sure schools are kept open in January’.
Mr Javid said: ‘One of the reasons to take the measures we’ve said, especially around expanding the booster programme, is to make sure we can prioritise our children.’
Downing Street has indicated schools will be kept open unless there is an ‘absolute public health emergency’ and warned local authorities against deciding to close early for Christmas as a precautionary measure.
‘There are certainly no plans to put in any restriction on schooling, we know how vital education has been and how detrimental the pandemic has been towards children and young people who, in many cases, have borne the brunt of this,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.   

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