Police visit 260 people in Greater Manchester for breaching quarantine

More than 260 people in Greater Manchester are visited by police for breaching quarantine restrictions after returning from abroad

  • Greater Manchester Police have visited 263 people after failing to respond to quarantine requests from Border Force officials since July 22
  • Superintendent Andrew Sidebotham said people must self-isolate for 14 days 
  • Border Force can contact travellers to check they are obeying self-isolation rules

More than 260 people in Greater Manchester have been visited by police after failing to respond to quarantine requests from Border Force officials.

Border Force can contact international travellers to check whether they are abiding by 14-day self-isolation rules, if required, on their return to the UK.

Details of individuals are then passed to police if there is no response after a number of attempts of trying to make checks.

Since July 22, Greater Manchester Police said they have received 263 such requests from Border Force, and in two cases issued fixed penalty notices over repeated breaching of self-isolation regulations.

Superintendent Andrew Sidebotham said: ‘It’s really important for people to self-isolate for the full 14 days when coming back to the UK as it can take this length of time for symptoms of Covid-19 to develop.

More than 260 people in Greater Manchester have been visited by police after failing to respond to quarantine requests from Border Force officials (pictured: Officers and security guards patrol outside Stalybridge Buffet Bar at Stalybridge Train Station on July 4, 2020)

Border Force can contact international travellers to check whether they are abiding by 14-day self-isolation rules (pictured: Romanian harvest workers heading to the UK on April 30, 2020)

Since July 22, Greater Manchester Police said they have received 263 such requests from Border Force, and in two cases issued fixed penalty notices over repeated breaching of self-isolation regulations (pictured: Police officers speak to a man sitting down in Piccadilly Gardens in the centre of Manchester, north west England on March 27, 2020)

Lockdown decisions should be made on numbers of hospital patients NOT ‘volatile’ counts of new cases alone, senior Tory says because flooding at-risk areas with tests inflates their infection rates 

Hospital admissions should be used as an indicator of whether tougher Covid-19 restrictions are needed in England’s hotspots, not counts of new cases, a senior Tory has said. 

The Government leans towards looking at how infections are going up or down in each of England’s local authorities in order to make decisions on ‘local lockdown’ rules.

But Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee of backbench MPs, said this was a ‘volatile’ measure because it is heavily influenced by how much testing is being done in that area.

When tests increase, so do the number of cases that are found in the community, experts say, which on the surface gives the impression Covid-19 is spreading faster. 

And at-risk areas are often flooded with resources to test more people – in the streets, town centres, and even door-to-door.  

‘During this time you could unknowingly pass the virus on to others, even if you don’t have symptoms.

‘When contacted by Border Force please respond as, once a case is referred to police, it takes up a number of resources in order to visit the address and make contact with the individual.

‘As well as this, officers are putting their health at risk by visiting someone who could potentially be carrying the virus – a risk that is preventable if everyone self-isolates as required.’

It comes after plans to ease lockdown restrictions in Bolton and Trafford yesterday were scuppered by the Government in another embarrassing U-turn.

The move was abandoned at the 11th hour after a furious backlash from local politicians including Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who said coronavirus infections levels were still far too high. 

As the dramatic volte face emerged, Boris Johnson was lashed by Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs for ‘making it up as he goes along’.

‘It’s mess after mess… U-turn after U-turn, it’s a fundamental issue of competence,’ the Labour leader raged. ‘God knows what’s going on, there’s no grip.’

But a clearly stung PM retorted by branding Sir Keir ‘Captain Hindsight’. 

Announcing the latest abrupt change of heart yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Following a significant change in the level of infection rates over the last few days, a decision has been taken that Bolton and Trafford will now remain under existing restrictions.

‘This decision has been made in collaboration with local leaders after reviewing the latest data. We continually monitor outbreaks across the country, and have seen infection rates increase more than three times in Bolton in under a week, and double in Trafford since the last review.’ 

Lockdowns are being lifted in the North West, but will be kept in place in Bolton and Trafford

A chart shows the the different infection rates in each local authority area of the region

A man wears a mask as he walks across Deansgate in central Manchester on April 25, 2020

Pedestrians wearing a face mask or covering due to the Covid-19 pandemic, walks past a tram in Manchester, northwest England on August 3, 2020

Passengers wear face masks as they arrive with their luugage at Terminal 4 of London Heathrow Airport in west London on January 28, 2020

Masks announcement is latest in string of Government U-turns

The last-minute change of heart on lockdown in Bolton and Trafford is the latest in a long line of embarrassing policy shifts since February. 

Face masks in schools 

Ministers initially insisted that there was no need for pupils to wear masks in schools.

However, after Nicola Sturgeon took the opposite view in Scotland, the position changed. 

The government is now advising that face coverings should be worn by secondary school pupils and staff in some areas of England. 

A-level and GCSE results U-turn in England

Following criticism from students, headteachers and a backlash by Tory MPs, the Government announced A-level and GCSE grades would be based on teachers’ assessments rather than a controversial algorithm devised by regulator Ofqual. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson had previously defended the ‘robust’ system, which saw almost 40% of A-level grades reduced from teachers’ predictions.

Government’s coronavirus contact-tracing app plans ditched

A new NHSX app for contact tracing was announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on April 12, pledging that it would be ‘crucial’ for preventing the transmission of coronavirus. It was trialled on the Isle of Wight but was then ditched on June 18 as the Government allowed Apple and Google to take over the project. A national rollout date has still not been set.  

Primary school children to return

In early May, Mr Williamson set out the Government’s ambition that all primary-age children in England would have at least four weeks in school before the summer. But on June 9, he said there was ‘no choice’ but to scrap those plans amid concerns that the two-metre social distancing rule would make a full return impossible. 

Coronavirus testing target

On April 2, Mr Hancock set a goal of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of the month. Tt the Government’s daily briefing on May 1, Mr Hancock said testing figures had hit 122,347 on April 30. However, the figures included the number of home tests (27,497) that had been sent out as well as the number of tests sent out to satellite sites (12,872). It suggested that the number of tests actually processed was closer to around 81,978 – short of the Government’s target. 

NHS surcharge for overseas health and care staff

On May 21 the PM stood by the fee that overseas health workers were being charged to use the NHS. However, just hours later, following mounting pressure from senior Tories, it was announced that foreign health and care workers would be exempted from the scheme. 

School meals voucher scheme

England footballer Marcus Rashford was credited as playing a key part in forcing the Government to U-turn on its decision not to extend the children’s food voucher scheme into the summer holidays. On June 16, Cabinet minister Grant Shapps said that free school meals are not normally extended to cover the summer period. Yet a few hours later, No10 reversed its stance, confirming that it would in fact extend the programme. 

Bereavement scheme to NHS support staff extended

After criticism that care workers, cleaners and porters were being excluded from a Home Office scheme granting families of health workers indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they die of Covid-19, the Government announced an extension of the scheme on May 20. The scheme had been introduced in April to help support families affected by the pandemic. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the extension would be ‘effective immediately and retrospectively’.

It means hundreds of thousands of people in both areas will remain banned from mixing with people from other households, while businesses that were due to open – such as casinos – will need to remain closed.  

Several areas in the North West will still come out of lockdown. They are Stockport, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

Earlier, Greater Manchester Mayor Mr Burnham told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that people in Bolton and Trafford should ‘continue to follow the guidance’ not to have social gatherings in their home.

‘We find ourselves at a completely unsustainable position this morning – that’s the politest way I can put it,’ he said.

‘Overnight we’ve had restrictions released in two boroughs where we’ve got a rising number of cases – in one case in the red zone.

‘And neighbouring boroughs are still under restrictions but with much lower numbers of cases.

‘These restrictions were always hard to explain to the public but they are completely illogical now.’  

His comments echo those of Trafford Council leader Andrew Western, who blasted the ‘chaotic’ way local lockdowns had been handled and accused ministers of making a ‘purely political calculation’ to lift the restrictions even as cases rose. 

It came after his counterpart in Bolton, the Tory councillor David Greenhalgh, insisted an ‘unforeseeable’ rise in infections meant it was necessary to keep the lockdown in place. 

While the ban on mixing households has been lifted in many areas, they remain in others including Oldham, Pendle and Leicester. 

Businesses opened elsewhere on August 15, such as casinos, bowling alleys and indoor concert venues, will also be allowed to reopen.

Meanwhile, a rise in cases in Scotland has seen new lockdowns introduced in Glasgow as well as in East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.

Restrictions have been in place across much of the North West since July 15.

The request to maintain restrictions in Bolton was made following an emergency meeting between officials as the rate of new Covid-19 cases in Bolton surged over the weekend from 44.9 per 100,000 on Friday, to 56.4 per 100,000 yesterday.

Meanwhile, Trafford recorded 170 new cases up to August 29, up from 53 the week before. Its current rate of new cases at 59 per 100,000 residents puts it among the highest in England.

Analysis showed that new cases in Bolton were spread across the borough and not limited to a single area, community, or place of work, said the council.

Infections between different households appear to be the main cause of the spike with people aged 18-49 representing the overwhelming majority of new cases, it added.

The government also faced calls from fellow Tories to keep restrictions in place in Trafford and Bolton before deciding to do so.  

Conservative leader of Bolton Council, Councillor David Greenhalgh, said: ‘It is with a heavy heart that the cabinet and officer team have come to this decision and this will be incredibly disappointing for both residents and business owners.

‘We urged the Government to lift Bolton out of the additional restrictions at a time when infection rates were low.

‘This was the right decision at the time.

‘However, there has been a sudden and unforeseeable rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Bolton.

‘We have always been led by the data, which means we have no choice but to act quickly to keep everyone safe.’

Labour council leader Andrew Western earlier wrote to Matt Hancock to ‘urgently request clarity’ on the Government’s position on Trafford.

In his letter, Mr Western said: ‘Sadly I must highlight to you that Trafford has now returned to the Government’s own amber zone in terms of cases of 100,000 population, and now has a significantly higher rate of cases than some other Greater Manchester boroughs who are not due to see restrictions lifted tomorrow.

‘In short, this decision has caused chaos and confusion that not only impacts potentially on the health of my residents but on the likelihood of compliance in neighbouring boroughs that now have a lower infection rate than Trafford.

‘The proposed arrangements now make little sense.

‘The system has been undermined by the Government’s decision-making processes.’

Andy Burnham blasted the ‘completely illogical’ lifting of lockdowns across the North West

BOLTON’S INFECTION RATE: 18.2 per 100,000 people in week ending July 31; 31.2 per 100,000 people in week ending August 7; 25.6 per 100,000 people in week ending August 14; 18.4 per 100,000 people in week ending August 21; 44.9 per 100,000 people in week ending August 28; 56.4 per 100,000 people on September 1

Portugal is on brink of quarantine as cases spike with Britons facing dash to beat proposed 4am Saturday deadline – as officials in England resist calls to follow Wales and Scotland by putting Greece on ‘red list’

By Rory Tingle for MailOnline

Portugal is on the brink of quarantine amid a spike in cases, with Britons facing a dash to beat the expected 4am Saturday deadline – as officials in England resisted calls to follow Wales and Scotland by putting restrictions on Greece. 

The rate of Covid cases in Portugal has been above 20 per 100,000 for the past three days – the level at which the government considers introducing a quarantine. 

Yesterday the number of new cases rose to 390 from 231 the day before, suggesting the current seven-day average of 22.7 will not decrease. 

Meanwhile, cases in Greece are currently at a similar level to the UK. Paul Charles, boss of travel consultancy PC Agency, said the ‘stable’ situation in the country suggested the Scottish government’s decision to put it on the red list was ‘extreme’.  

He predicted Portugal would be added to the list but Greece and Italy would stay off it.

Any changes to quarantine arrangements are now announced on Thursday nights, with the new rules being imposed at 4am on Saturdays. 

The previous two-week quarantine for travellers returning from Portugal was only lifted two weeks ago. 

The rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 of population in Greece over the past seven days is just 14 – well short of the government’s quarantine threshold of 20

Countries on UK Government’s quarantine list  

Spain

France 

Croatia

Malta

UAE

Jamaica

Switzerland

Belgium

Czech Republic

Austria

Netherlands

Bulgaria

Canada

Singapore 

Pressure is now mounting on England to consider imposing quarantine rules on travellers arriving from Greece amid reports of people returning with coronavirus.

Rising Covid cases prompted the Scottish Government to announce travellers from Greece would have to self-isolate for 14 days from today, while Wales began asking arrivals from the island of Zante to enter quarantine.

The UK’s biggest tour operator Tui has suspended its holidays to the resort of Laganas on Zante.

But Greece has insisted it is doing ‘everything in our power’ to keep UK holidaymakers safe.

There were 14.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Greece in the seven days to September 1, up from 14.1 a week earlier. This is a similar rate to the UK and still below the quarantine threshold. 

It comes as rising cases in Portugal were prompting many UK tourists to pay hundreds of pounds to fly home before Saturday. 

In Buckinghamshire, two groups of people have tested positive for coronavirus after returning from abroad – including a group of teenagers from the Marlow area who are reported to have been on a trip to Zante.

Buckinghamshire Council said some of them were pupils at Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School and all the affected households were self-isolating.

Tour operator Tui also said it was aware of a ‘small number’ of positive Covid-19 test results following a flight from Heraklion in Crete to London Stansted on August 27.

One of Lisbon’s main railway stations largely deserted yesterday as holidaymakers stayed away amid a rise in cases  

Authorities impose new restrictions on the island of Zante as fears grow holiday destinations could become new covid hotspot

  • Local restrictions have been put in place on the islands of Zante/Zakynthos amid fears of a rise in coronavirus cases. These include:
  • Suspension of any kind of live events and celebrations such as parties, trade fairs, religious ceremonies, open markets etc.
  • Prohibition of operation of all food/catering sector-related shops, services and facilities from midnight – 7am the next day.
  • A ban on gatherings of more than 9 people, either indoors or outdoors;
  • A limit of 4 people per table in any restaurant, except for cases where the party consists of family members, where the limit is 6 people;
  • Mandatory use of face masks in indoor and outdoor public spaces.

 

One passenger on the flight, who had been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to self-isolate, complained that ‘hardly anyone’ on the flight had been wearing a mask.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told the PA news agency: ‘Our flight was hideous, hardly anyone wore a mask and the crew didn’t do anything about it.

‘We raised the issue twice with the cabin crew who still didn’t enforce it. My family is okay but we are having to self-isolate.

‘I’m so sad for my son because he has to miss his first week back at school.’

A Tui spokeswoman added: ‘We can confirm that no guests tested positive for Covid-19 in our hotels and no symptoms were displayed before or during the flight home by any of the customers.’

It came after Public Health Wales confirmed at least 16 cases of Covid-19 from three different parties who were on Tui flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff on August 25.

One traveller claimed that the flight was full of ‘selfish ‘covidiots”, with passengers not wearing their masks properly and disregarding the rules.

In a statement, Tui said that cabin crew and other passengers confirmed there were multiple warnings about wearing face masks on the flight.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that officials had not notified Wizz Airline that eight passengers on a flight back from Crete had tested positive for coronavirus.

The teenagers, from Hampshire, were diagnosed after returning to London Luton airport on 25 August, it said.

But the Department of Health and Social Care said that it had taken action to advise the necessary people to self-isolate and its contact tracing team had been in touch with Wizz Air. 

 The UK’s biggest tour operator Tui has suspended its holidays to the resort of Laganas on Zante after an outbreak 

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