a person sitting on a table: There is a long road to normality - AFP

There is a long road to normality – AFP

Conservative MPs have raised the alarm over suggestions that hospitality and tourism industries could face restrictions until July, ahead of Boris Johnson’s roadmap being published next week. 

Craig Tracey, MP for North Warwickshire & Bedworth, told the Telegraph that Boris Johnson must set out a “clear timeline next week” – amid growing concerns that it will be fudged following Nadhim Zahawi’s  emphasis on “data not dates” yesterday. 

He added: “The vaccine programme is brilliant, but there needs to be light at the end of the tunnel. With the success of the scheme, which looks like continuing, July seems way too late for leisure and tourism”.

Karen Bradley, MP for Staffordshire Moorlands and former Northern Ireland secretary, added: “It will be OK if there is limited hospitality from April, but if there is nothing until July the sector is doomed.”

However a fellow Tory warned that the country would “have a collective nervous breakdown” if the country re-entered lockdown again, urging the Prime Minister to act cautiously after schools reopen. 

Restrictions are expected to be lifted gradually, starting with self-catered holidays at Easter and outdoor-only hospitality in May, before tourism gets”broadly” back to normal by July, the Daily Mail reported this morning.

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10:32 AM

Alexandra Phillips: Is Guy Verhofstadt the only Remainer willing to confront the EU’s failings?

With his curtained coiffure and signature smirk, Guy Verhofstadt is the Europhile Brexiteers love to hate. His foam-flecked fanaticism and fist banging polemics made many Remainers cower behind the couch during the Referendum.

Somehow the inimitable Guy represented everything they wanted to come to pass; centralised Euro-government with all the trappings of statehood. Yet it was his overt commitment to the Neo-Empire of Europa that pragmatic campaigners realised would scare not only little children, but anyone with a sane grasp of democracy. Pointing at the former Belgian Prime Minister with his bright yellow B*ll*cks to Brexit merch was a gift to Brexiteer campaigners.

Yet, as Alexandra Phillips points out, Verhofstadt’s is the only voice on the inside that has come out to criticise the Commission’s blinding ineptitude. 

10:12 AM

‘Classic triad’ of Covid symptoms missing a third of cases, King’s College study suggests

The “classic triad” of cough, fever and loss of smell (anosmia) – the symptoms that qualify for a Covid-19 test through the NHS – may be missing around a third of positive cases, a study suggests.

The findings, published in the Journal of Infection, are based on data from 122,000 UK adult users of the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app who underwent PCR swab testing.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “We’ve known since the beginning that just focusing testing on the classic triad of cough, fever and anosmia misses a significant proportion of positive cases… By inviting any users who log any new symptoms to get a test, we confirmed that there are many more symptoms of Covid-19.

“This is especially important with new variants that may cause different symptoms.

“For us, the message for the public is clear: if you’re feeling newly unwell, it could be Covid and you should get a test.”

09:42 AM

Mass testing to play a ‘key part’ in Boris Johnson’s roadmap, says Dominic Raab

Mass testing will be a crucial element of Boris Johnson’s roadmap, the Foreign Secretary said today.

Boris Johnson has previously suggested tests would be used to reopen parts of the economy that have struggled during lockdown such as nightclubs and theatres. 

However it seems likely they will be used much more widely, as a “key part” of the strategy to unlock the country.  

Noting the success in places like Liverpool, Dominic Raab told Sky News that mass testing would be deployed so that “when you do have upticks of the virus, we can come down on it like a tonne of bricks”.

“It’s only one part of the strategic jigsaw,” he added. “There is a range of measures, but testing and rapid lateral flow testing is a key part of that.” 

09:41 AM

People to be deliberately infected with coronavirus in first human challenge study

The world’s first coronavirus human challenge study will begin in the UK within a month, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) has announced.

Healthy people will be deliberately infected with coronavirus, as part of a study to establish the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection.

It will involve up to 90 carefully selected, healthy adult volunteers being exposed to Covid-19 in a safe and controlled environment,  following approval from the UK’s clinical trials ethics body.

This will give doctors greater understanding of Covid-19 and help support the pandemic response by aiding vaccine and treatment development.

09:21 AM

Mass testing is way to make life after lockdown ‘sustainable’, says Dominic Raab

Mass testing is the way to make life out of lockdown “sustainable”, Dominic Raab has said. 

The Foreign Secretary revealed that ministers had “ambitious targets”, amid reports of 400,000 lateral flow tests being posted out to homes per day.

“And we are absolutely doing everything we can to meet those targets,” he added. “They are obviously designed to be challenging, because we want to get people out of the current lockdown as soon as possible.

“The only way to do that is responsibly, safely – that’s the way we make it sustainable.”

Boris Johnson had been “cautious” on easing lockdown to ensure that there would be no “yo-yo-ing in and out of lockdown”.

He added: “We have got the tools in place, we are delivering on it, but of course it is a challenge.”

09:12 AM

July ‘far too late’ to lift tourism restrictions, says Tory MP

July would be “far too late” to lift restrictions for leisure and tourism, a Conservative MP has said. 

The Daily Mail this morning suggested that restrictions would be lifted gradually, starting with self-catered holidays at Easter and outdoor-only hospitality in May, before tourism getting “broadly” back to normal by July. 

Craig Tracey, MP for North Warwickshire & Bedworth, told the Telegraph that Boris Johnson must set out a “clear timeline next week” – amid growing concerns that it will be fudged following Nadhim Zahawi’s  emphasis on “data not dates” yesterday. 

He added: “The vaccine programme is brilliant, but there needs to be light at the end of the tunnel. With the success of the scheme, which looks like continuing, July seems way too late for leisure and tourism”. 

'Normality' still feels a long way off - AFP

‘Normality’ still feels a long way off – AFP

08:59 AM

Easing lockdown will not be determined by ‘one particular indicator, says Foreign Secretary

Easing lockdown will not depend on any single indicator, such as case numbers, Dominic Raab has said, amid growing concern that the goalposts have been shifted. 

Boris Johnson will publish the path out of lockdown on February 22, but has been petitioned by NHS Providers to wait until cases come down much lower before restrictions are lifted. 

This morning The Telegraph revealed that this could mean lockdown isn’t lifted until cases fall below 1,000.

The Foreign Secretary told LBC radio: “The number of cases is important, and so is the R level – it is good to see the R level is below 1, there’s pressure on the NHS, there’s the rollout of the vaccine.

“There’s no single cast iron formula or one particular indicator above all other considerations that can decide this.”

08:52 AM

UK cannot ‘willy-nilly’ impose sanctions over Princess Latifa kidnapping

Dominic Raab said sanctions cannot be applied “willy-nilly”, in light of the reports of Princess Latifa Al-Maktoum’s kidnapping.

BBC Panorama has broadcast footage of the daughter of  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is one of the richest heads of state in the world, the ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in which she claims to have been drugged by commandos and held “hostage”, following a failed escape attempt. 

Asked about what actions the UK would take, the Foreign Secretary told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not as simple as saying: ‘Well, we could apply sanctions.’

“There is a very strict legal threshold. So for example, on the Magnitsky sanctions, which I introduced, they can be applied, asset freezes, visa bans, where there is evidence of torture, or forced labour, or an extrajudicial killing of some description.

“But it’s not simply the case that we can willy-nilly, if you like, just slap sanctions on individuals.”

08:42 AM

Exclusive: Covid lockdown to continue until cases drop below 1,000 a day

Lockdown is unlikely to be eased significantly until daily Covid cases are in the hundreds, compared with more than 10,000 a day now, The Telegraph understands.

Boris Johnson is due to publish a roadmap out of the restrictions next week, beginning with the reopening of schools from March 8, but the plan is unlikely to commit to a clear timetable for the coming months, instead promising a series of reviews which would see the reopening of shops, pubs and restaurants deferred until cases reach a low not seen since August.

Covid cases have fallen significantly in recent weeks and could reach less than 1,000 a day by early April if they continue to decline at the current rate. However, this is likely to be delayed by the impact of the return of schools. 

A senior Whitehall source said: “For any significant relaxation of lockdown, household mixing and reopening pubs, case numbers have to be in the hundreds, not thousands.”

Read the full story here.

08:36 AM

MP creates APPG on one punch assaults after father’s death

A Tory MP whose father was killed with a single punch when she was 13 has set up a parliamentary group to look at sentencing in such attacks.

Dehenna Davison, the Bishop Auckland MP, said the punch which killed her father hit him in exactly the wrong spot, causing an artery to burst, and he died almost instantly.

Speaking last year in Parliament about what happened, she recalled her family’s horror that his attacker was released from prison after just 18 months.

Writing in the Northern Echo today, she said: “Alongside trying to process the grief and shock of losing dad so suddenly, there was also the pressure and uncertainty of the court case, which took 10 months to complete, and ultimately left us with a burning sense of injustice.”

The All Party Parliamentary Group for One-Punch Assaults (APPG) is seeking to make a formal inquiry into sentencing and to make a report with proposals to make sure the courts “provide a fairer sense of justice”.

Ms Davison said the group will also look at educating people about the true impact of violence.

08:30 AM

Dominic Raab defends Government action on children 

Dominic Raab has insisted that the Government has “looked out at every stage” for disadvantaged children, as the outgoing Children’s Commissioner accused the Treasury of a bias against children.

In a speech later today, Anne Longfield will describe the £1bn pupil catch-up fund as demonstrating the Treasury’s “institutional bias against children” when compared with the £350bn in lost earnings that could result from school closures. 

She will also claim that “many” decision-makers in Whitehall “seem to view [children] as remote concepts or data points on an annual return”.

But the Foreign Secretary claimed that children were at the “heart of everything the Government does”, adding: “That is why of all the temptations for March 22 [sic], the one commitment the Prime Minister has made is to get children back to school because of the moral imperative, but also social impact that has.

He added: “This Prime Minister is the one who most believes we must reverse the decline in social mobility – I have not heard a Prime Minister talk as passionately about that as this Prime Minister.”

08:18 AM

UK ‘still some way’ from lifting lockdown, says NHS Providers boss

The UK is “still some way away” from being able to start relaxing restrictions, an NHS boss has said.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the NHS Providers organisation, has written to Boris Johnson calling for him to meet four tests before easing lockdown: getting case numbers down, reducing pressure on the NHS, further strides in the vaccination programme and an effective strategy to control future outbreaks – which must be met first.

He told the Today programme: “I think if you look at where we are against those four tests, each one of them tells you that we’re still some way away from being able to start relaxing restrictions.”

This morning The Telegraph revealed that lockdown is unlikely to be eased significantly until daily Covid cases are in the hundreds, compared with more than 10,000 a day now.

Mr Hopson said he did not want to speculate what level case numbers should reduce to before restrictions were lifted but he cited Office for National Statistics data which estimates that 695,400 people in England have Covid-19, adding: “I think there is a pretty clear view is that number needs to come down to around 50,000.”

08:14 AM

Princess Latifa kidnapping ‘concerning’, says Dominic Raab

The kidnapping of Princess Latifa Al-Maktoum is “concerning”, but the UK will just be monitoring the situation for now, Dominic Raab has said. 

“You can only watch the footage shown and see that there is very distressing pictures, a very difficult case. I think it is concerning,” he told Sky News. 

“We always raise human rights issues with all of our partners, including the UAE.

“We have seen that the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights will be following up on what we have seen and we’ll be watching and monitoring that very closely indeed.”

The “proper course” of action was to follow the developments from the United Nations “quite closely”. he added.   

Asked if he would support seeing “proof of life” of Princess Latifa, he said: “I think given what we have just seen, I think people would just at a human level want to see that she is alive and well, of course.

08:11 AM

Foreign Secretary calls for ‘vaccine ceasefire’

The Foreign Secretary has called for a “vaccine ceasefire” to ensure the world’s most vulnerable people can be protected against Covid. 

Dominic Raab said that “we need a global solution to a global pandemic” when asked about the UK redistributing its vaccine supply to other countries.

“It’s true as well if we have got excess supply, in due course, when we know not just the amount of vaccines we need, but the timing, we would then want to think again whether there is an additional route of support that we might be able to provide,” he told Sky News.

“We are not there yet but we are already stepping up to the plate in the way I described by putting money in and using our convening power to get other countries to match it.

“That is the way we will support the most vulnerable countries, the most vulnerable people, around the world and show that we need a global solution to a global pandemic.”

08:02 AM

Exclusive: PM urged to appoint Cabinet minister for Union

Boris Johnson has been told in a private report to create a new Cabinet position for the Union and make it as important a job as other “great offices of state” to help keep the UK intact.

The Telegraph can reveal details of a report by the former Scottish minister Lord Dunlop, which was submitted to the Prime Minister in November 2019 but has not yet been published.

The report – an attempt to preserve the Union in the decades to come and counter the possibility of Scottish independence – is understood to give a detailed outline of the proposed role, which would be titled Secretary of State for Intergovernmental and Constitutional Affairs and is designed to be given to one of the “big beasts” in the Cabinet.

Lord Dunlop suggests the position be on a level with the other traditional great offices of state – the Foreign Office, Treasury and Home Office – to underscore the minister’s seniority.