Coronavirus news – live: Warning new rules ‘almost impossible’ to enforce amid fears over Easter gatherings

Coronavirus in numbers

Police chiefs have voiced concerns that it could be “almost impossible” to enforce the new coronavirus rules amid fears about large gatherings over Easter.

Martin Hewitt, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chair, told The Independent that the ability of two households to meet up outside makes it “more of a challenge for officers to distinguish between who is and who isn’t breaching restrictions”.

Another senior police official went further, saying that law enforcement figures had “made it very, very clear to government that they have made it almost impossible to enforce the rule of six”.

The source told The Telegraph: “It used to be relatively simple. As long as you can count to six, you can enforce it as seven is beyond the rule. Now you could have 26 people in a group, 13 from each household. That makes it very, very difficult.”

The comments come after mass gatherings in Nottingham on Wednesday led to two parks in the city being closed, with the the city council leader describing the crowds as “frightening”.


Sturgeon announces inquiry into Scottish government’s handling of Covid

An inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of coronavirus should get under way before the end of 2021, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, due to air on Thursday evening, she said a public inquiry would be a priority if she was re-elected as the country’s first minister.

She told the programme: “Well actually, I had met just a number of days ago with the organisation that represents bereaved families.

“And what I said to them, and this has been reported publicly, is that it will be a priority if I am re-elected to set in train the steps necessary to establish a public inquiry.

“I think we’re the only government in the UK that has actually said that.

“Public inquiries do take time to properly establish if they’re to do a proper job. But I want to see a public inquiry get under way later this year.”

Sam Hancock1 April 2021 16:40


Further 51 people die from Covid, figures show

A further 51 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, as of Thursday, according to the latest government figures. It brings the UK’s total to 126,764.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 150,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The stats also show that, as of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 4,479 lab-confirmed cases in the UK – bringing the country’s total to 4,350,266.

Sam Hancock1 April 2021 16:25


Government faces legal action over PPE links to modern slavery

The government could be hit with legal action over links between personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the UK and alleged modern slavery in Malaysian factories.

A case is mounting against the government’s failure to address labour abuses in the NHS supply chain, The Independent understands, despite repeated promises made by the Home Office and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to crack down on suppliers accused of modern slavery.

Our science correspondent Samuel Lovett has this exclusive report:

Sam Hancock1 April 2021 16:20


Hancock says he is ‘very worried’ by effects of Long Covid

Matt Hancock has said he is “very worried” by Long Covid, after data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that 1.1 million people in the UK are suffering from it.

The health secretary told Sky News that he understood how much of an impact it was having on hundreds of thousands of people.

He added: “We’re putting more research money into tackling and understanding Long Covid because it appears to be several different syndromes.

“This is a very strange, very dangerous virus and it’s yet another reason for everybody to be cautious.”

Rory Sullivan1 April 2021 16:05


Pfizer jab produces ‘off the scale’ immune response, study finds

Scientists in England have said that the Pfizer vaccine delivers an “off the scale” immune response among people over 80.

The research shows that the jab not only offers a high level of protection against the virus, but will also work against new variants.

The study, which was carried out by the University of Birmingham and Public Health England’s Porton Down laboratory, discovered that 98 per cent of over 80s built up a large amount of antibodies following their second dose.

Our health correspondent Shaun Lintern has the story:

Rory Sullivan1 April 2021 15:50


UK urges EU to stay in vaccine export talks

The UK has urged the EU to remain in vaccine export talks, after one of the bloc’s top officials said there was “nothing to negotiate”.

Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, said exports of the AstraZeneca jab would be put on hold until the Anglo-Swedish company gave the bloc its stipulated number of doses.

In response, a UK government spokesperson told The Independent that “no single country can face this health emergency alone, and we need to address this challenge through solidarity and cooperation”.

Rory Sullivan1 April 2021 15:33


Excitement and anxiety as shielding ends for millions

From today, almost four million people in the UK are no longer being asked to shield against coronavirus.

My colleague Bethany Dawson spoke to a few of them to hear their thoughts.

Rory Sullivan1 April 2021 15:15


Police chiefs say it could be ‘almost impossible’ to enforce new Covid rules

Police chiefs have voiced concerns about the difficulty of enforcing new coronavirus rules, after the easing of lockdonw measures on Monday.

Martin Hewitt, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chair, told The Independent that the ability of two households to meet up outside makes it “more of a challenge for officers to distinguish between who is and who isn’t breaching restrictions”. 

Another senior police official went further, saying that law enforcement figures had “made it very, very clear to government that they have made it almost impossible to enforce the rule of six”.

My colleague Andy Gregory has the details:

Rory Sullivan1 April 2021 15:05


Coronavirus cases continue to fall in England

The number of people with coronavirus in England continues to fall, with one in 370 people in private households having the virus in the week to 27 March.

This compares with one in 340 the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The latest figure is the lowest since 24 September when the estimate stood at one in 470 people.

In the week to 27 March, Wales had the lowest rate in the UK with one in 570 people infected, while Scotland’s was one in 320 and Northern Ireland’s was one in 220.

Rory Sullivan1 April 2021 14:45


Piles of litter left in centre of Manchester after mass gathering

Piles of litter have been left in the centre of Manchester after a mass gathering on Wednesday night.

The large group that had gathered at the Castlefield Bowl, an outdoor events pavilion, dispersed after an arrest was made at around 10.20 pm.

Jean Davies, a Labour councillor in the city, said: “We want everybody to enjoy themselves but this is beyond a level which is tolerable.

“I think the police have a very, very difficult task, they’ve got to find that balance.”

Bethany Dawson reports:

Rory Sullivan1 April 2021 14:30

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