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NHS staff and care workers could be forced to have Covid jab under new plans

Officials are said to be looking at whether staff who decline a jab could be compelled by law, but the debate has already thrown up both legal and moral issues - with it also unclear what would happen to continued refusers

By Jonathan Coles

07:11, 3 MAR 2021

Ministers are discussing plans to force NHS workers to have coronavirus vaccines, according to reports.  MPs are said to be looking at whether healthcare staff who decline a jab could be compelled by law, according to the Daily Mail.  But the debate has already thrown up both legal and moral issues, with it also unclear what would happen to continued refusers.  The review by officials is also thought to be considering enforcing a rule on care home workers, the newspaper said.  More than 20million people in Britain have had the first dose of a vaccine, the Government announced on Sunday.  Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was "absolutely delighted" and urged people to keep coming forward for jabs.  But, according to the Daily Mail, 200,000 NHS and care employees have refused the offer of a vaccine so far.  A source told the newspaper: "It is extraordinary that so many people in the health sector appear to have turned down the vaccine."

Care UK, one of Britain's largest care home operators, announced recently that it would be operating a no jab, no job policy for new starters.  The company said: "Everyone applying for a role which requires them to go into a home will be expected to have been vaccinated before they start work."

MP Michael Gove is leading a review into the potential for vaccine passports, which is expected to be published before the final stage of lockdown is lifted on June 21. Ministers are said to believe that forcing NHS workers and care home staff to have a vaccine could help restrictions to be lifted and cut the death toll.  The news comes after a top expert behind the Oxford vaccine has urged Brits not to "obsess" about every new variant of Covid.  Professor Andrew Pollard said the South African and Brazilian variants can still be fought with new jabs in the future, even if the current vaccine proves less effective.  The director of the Oxford Vaccine Group argued more variants will emerge in the future - but in every case, scientists will be working to ensure vaccines can work against them.  It comes after six cases of the P.1 variant from Manaus, Brazil, were found in Britain.  It has also been revealed that jabs given to Brits should be more effective in younger adults than the elderly and could almost completely stop transmission, a top scientist said.  Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), said she expects the vaccines to give stronger protection to younger age groups.  She said the effect, however, would not be as obvious in the data because younger people are less likely to die or fall ill with coronavirus compared with the oldest age groups.  The expert said there were positive signs the jab rollout would cut infection rates across the nation, and she was hopeful that two doses could prevent people passing it on almost completely.  A Public Health England study which shows that use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine dramatically reduces hospital admissions in over 80-year-olds could also see encouraging results for other age groups.  Dr Ramsay said of the study: "We were able to show that even if people did get a case of Covid after having been vaccinated their risk of hospitalisation and of death are markedly reduced."

And, it was claimed yesterday that vaccinated Brits will be able to jump the Covid queue when landing in Greece for their holidays.  Greek officials reportedly intend to let vaccinated tourists use a special 'green lane', which bypasses the longer queue for those who have received a negative Covid test.  Greece hopes to launch the new service by mid-May, making summer holidays even easier for any Brits planning a Mediterranean getaway.  Tourists will have to use an app to prove they have received the jab under the scheme.  A source told The Sun that talks between the UK and Greece are in the 'advance stages'.  They added: "Our objective is to get the system in place by mid-May."

I have a copy of My Struggles by Adolf Hitler as I am curious as to we he was sch an evil man but I haven't read it.  My nanna had friends who were Jewish and lived in Jersey so even as a young child I knew Hitler and the Nazi party were evil people.  So sad anti-semitism still survives. 


'I was told I had cancer after giving birth then I had to say goodbye to my baby'

Charities CLIC Sargent and the Teenage Cancer Trust are joining forces to make sure that every young person has a hand to hold through their cancer journey

By Poppy Danby

12:38, 23 FEB 2021Updated13:40, 23 FEB 2021

Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the most harrowing experiences that a person could ever go through.  Yet due to the current pandemic, this moment is being being made even more devastating, as young people, between the ages of 16 to 25 are receiving the news they have cancer alone.  And young patients are being forced to face treatment, scans and hospital appointments by themselves.  In a poll by charity, CLIC Sargent, it was discovered that 90 per cent of young people had experienced treatment alone in hospital due to coronavirus.  As a result, the charity have teamed up with the Teenage Cancer Trust to launch the Hand2Hold campaign to urge the Government to ensure that all young people have somebody by their side during treatment and beyond.  We spoke to those who had been through it to find out just how important it is.


Hearing the news that his oesophageal cancer had returned for a second time, George Hatfield, 20, from Liphook near Guildford, was over 200 miles away from his family.  The Musical Theatre student was away studying at SLP College in Leeds when he received the devastating news and has since faced all of his chemotherapy treatment on his own.  George says: “It was very very difficult. At the time we were thinking everything was going to be great. I’d just had my scan, I had no symptoms of my disease any more, I wasn’t feeling tired all the time and I had the energy to be back dancing and singing every day. I felt really good.  I had my independence back as I was living away from home again too.  But then I got a phone call to tell me that the scan result wasn’t good news.  I was away from my family during a lockdown and it was really really tough.”

George was first diagnosed with the illness in July 2019 and at the time he was told that he was youngest person to ever have his condition.  He says: “It was really really scary. The view of cancer is often view bleak. And I was more scared about going through chemotherapy than anything else.”

Luckily George was allowed to have people with him through his first bout of chemo between August and December 2019.  However, when he relapsed in July 2020 and again in October 2020, he had to go through treatment alone.  He says: “It’s really hard, as a lot of treatments don’t make you feel great. By the end of the day having chemo, I’m quite weak and unstable on my feet and walking is quite hard.  Walking out of the hospital on your own can sometimes be quite difficult and scary especially when you’ve got covid all around. You feel really vulnerable and anxious at times like that.  I have chemotherapy every three weeks and it’s very difficult taking yourself back into a hospital and into a chair that you know is going to make you feel ill again.  Without a family member of a friend it is quite emotionally taxing.”

And for George, it’s the little things that make a difference.  He explains: “It’s just having a family member or friend to help you with the things you feel bad asking a nurse for.  I feel bad asking a nurse for an extra pillow or a hot drink because my throat feels a bit rough.  They have a lot of other patients to make sure they’re okay and sort their treatment out too.”

George is still undergoing treatment. But he hopes the campaign could make a difference to his future.  He says: “Just to have a family member come to your treatment and sit with you during that day would make a very lonely time much easier.”


Harry Groves, 22, first realised that something was wrong in September 2019, when he lost a lot of weight and developed a large lump on his neck.  Just weeks later and the day after his 21st birthday he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Harry says: “It didn’t sink in immediately when I was told. It was over time and now looking back that I realise what an ordeal it was.  It wasn’t quite the 21st birthday you want to remember.”

Harry was prescribed six months of chemotherapy, which began in November 2019.  However, from the start of March 2020, he had to go to his appointments alone.  Harry says: “I chose to have my treatment at a local hospital but it made me quite isolated as I was the only person under 60 in the unit. Having my mum there made it much less isolating.  It’s such a long day when you’re there by yourself and some of the older people weren’t quite as with it as I was, which was quite scary.  I was sat on my own, feeling embarrassed and poorly. So I would just try and sleep to make the day go quicker.”

And not having his mum with him made it harder for Harry to understand important information.  He says: “My mum had a lot of questions to ask about the follow up after my last treatment but I just went home and hadn’t though about asking questions about medication.  I was so used to her being there and finding things out when I was too poorly to ask. It was really hard.”

Harry Groves, 22, first realised that something was wrong in September 2019, when he lost a lot of weight and developed a large lump on his neck.  Just weeks later and the day after his 21st birthday he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Harry says: “It didn’t sink in immediately when I was told. It was over time and now looking back that I realise what an ordeal it was.  It wasn’t quite the 21st birthday you want to remember.”

Harry was prescribed six months of chemotherapy, which began in November 2019.  However, from the start of March 2020, he had to go to his appointments alone.  Harry says: “I chose to have my treatment at a local hospital but it made me quite isolated as I was the only person under 60 in the unit. Having my mum there made it much less isolating.  It’s such a long day when you’re there by yourself and some of the older people weren’t quite as with it as I was, which was quite scary.  I was sat on my own, feeling embarrassed and poorly. So I would just try and sleep to make the day go quicker.”

And not having his mum with him made it harder for Harry to understand important information.  He says: “My mum had a lot of questions to ask about the follow up after my last treatment but I just went home and hadn’t thought about asking questions about medication.  I was so used to her being there and finding things out when I was too poorly to ask. It was really hard.”

Dragging her suitcase through the Christie Hospital in Manchester, Sophie Mulligan, was in tears as she waved an emotional farewell to her mum in the car park.

The 24-year-old was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in April 2015. But, despite chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, it returned for the third time in February 2020.  And Sophie had to go for specialist treatment 70 miles away from her home in Liverpool.  She says: “My mum drove me from Liverpool to Manchester and literally dropped me off at the door with my suitcase.  I had to walk in and I knew that I wasn’t going to be seeing her for a good few weeks while I had my treatment.  She was crying, I was crying and I was trying to lug this suitcase on my own.  As soon as I was through those doors I knew I was alone and I wasn’t going to see anyone that I knew until I was discharged again.  All kinds of things run through your head. You think, what if things get really bad and I get really ill and I don’t make it through?”

She adds: “The distance made me feel more isolated too because I wasn’t even in the same city as all my family.”

And Sophie’s family weren’t even allowed in to give her clean clothes.  he says: “If I wanted clean clothes or snacks, my mum would have to drive to Manchester, give a bag of clean clothes to a security guard who would bring the bag up to the ward I was on.”

Instead, Sophie had to settle for phone calls and facetimes. But even that was sometimes too much.  She says: “One day I was running a really high fever and had a really bad headache. It was the worst pain I’d had in my life.  I really could have done with someone there because I didn’t want to look at a screen.  I needed someone there to talk to me and have a hand to hold. It would have made all the difference.”

And Sophie is determined that something needs to change.  She says: “You can’t take on cancer alone, you just can’t do it.  Your family and friends are your support network. They are the people that keep you going.  I look back sometimes and wonder how I survived those three weeks completely isolated.”


After being told she had Hodgkins Lymphoma in May last year, Molly Burns had just one hour to plan what was going to happen to her newborn daughter Matilda, as she wasn’t allowed to see anyone during her hospital stay and first round of chemotherapy.  Molly, 25, from Birmingham, says: “I was in pieces. My other half, Declan, rushed me into hospital but because of covid, there was no way that Matilda could come with me, so we needed to figure out what was going to happen especially as Matilda was purely breastfed.  We were given an hour to discuss what was going to happen. It was information overload and stress.  Getting a diagnosis and then also being separated from your daughter all at once is awful. I was a mess.”

Molly was in hospital for a week while they carried out scans, blood tests, a biopsy and she began chemotherapy.  She says: “After Dec left, I didn’t see anyone for a week.  I was on so much medication that they were telling me stuff and I just couldn’t remember.  There were two other people on the ward who had cancer. One was a similar age to me but I just couldn’t talk to her, I didn’t want to know what was coming.  I was sat in bed all day and I couldn’t sleep until 1am every night.  Having someone in the hospital was the only thing I wanted. Even if it was just for an hour a day, just having a bit of normality would have meant the world.”

And Molly couldn’t even video call her little girl.  She explains: “Matilda got very emotional. Even hearing my voice she got a bit teary, so it was really hard.”

Molly finished treatment in October but she’s hopeful that the rules will change so that nobody has to endure the same experience.  She says: “You’re just sitting there with the drugs running through you and there’s nothing else to think about.  But with someone by your side you can have a different conversation.  It sounds like such a small thing but it makes such a big difference. I don’t think its negotiable. It’s needed.”

To find out more about the Hand2Hold campaign visit: or


Grant Shapps ends any hope of holidays foreign OR domestic this year amid backlash at Matt Hancock's 10-year prison sentence for travellers who lie about visiting Red List countries

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has poured cold water on holiday hopes warning no guarantees this year
    Government is facing a backlash over threat of 10-year sentence for lying about visiting countries on 'red list'
    Former Supreme Court justice Lord  Sumption said term is 'extraordinarily high' compared to other offences
    Arrivals from the 33 'red list' countries are being forced to pay £1,750 to quarantine in hotels for 10 days

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline and Luke May For Mailonline

Published: 06:43, 10 February 2021 | Updated: 10:21, 10 February 2021

Grant Shapps today warned people not to book any holidays at home or abroad yet as ministers face a major backlash over threatening to jail travellers for 10 years if they lie about having been to 'red list' countries.  The Transport Secretary made clear there is no guarantee that breaks will be possible at all this year, saying he did not want to 'raise people's hopes'.  The grim comments came amid anger at the extreme border crackdown unveiled by Matt Hancock yesterday in an effort to stop mutant coronavirus strains.  Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption branded the mooted maximum 10-year prison term for travellers who try to hide their movements 'inhumane' pointing out it is longer than for some sex offences.  And ex-Attorney General Dominic Grieve said courts would never impose the 10-year sentence, which he branded 'draconian'.  However, questions were raised this morning over whether the law is going to be changed at all with some Cabinet ministers suggesting Mr Hancock was just pointing to the current provisions in the Forgery Act.  And Mr Shapps insisted the move was 'appropriate'.  It's up to 10 years, it's a tariff, it's not necessarily how long somebody would go to prison for,' he told BBC Breakfast.  'But I do think it is serious if people put others in danger by deliberately misleading and saying that you weren't in Brazil or South Africa, or one of the red list countries, which as you say does include Portugal.  I think the British public would expect pretty strong action because we're not talking now just about, 'oh there's a lot of coronavirus in that country and you might bring some more of it back when we already have plenty of it here'.  What we're talking about now are the mutations, the variants, and that is a different matter, because we don't want to be in a situation where we later on discover that there's a problem with vaccines.'

In other rollercoaster developments in the coronavirus crisis today:

~  There are claims Pfizer and Oxford University's Covid vaccines both cut the risk of falling ill with the disease by 65 per cent after just one dose;
~  Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have been given their first coronavirus jab, Clarence House has revealed;
~  Plans to help school students catch-up from a year of Covid disruption were thrown into doubt last night after teaching unions issued a fresh pay demand;
~  Mr Shapps has revealed his 89-year-old father is fighting for his life in a Covid ward after catching the virus in hospital.

Asked during a round of interviews this morning what the prospects were for the restrictions easing in time for the summer, Mr Shapps said: 'It is a fact that right now it is illegal to leave your home to go on holiday.  At the moment that is off the cards.  I don't want to unnecessarily raise people's hopes. The truth is we just don't know how the virus will respond both to the vaccines and how people will respond...'

Mr Shapps told Sky News: 'I can't give you a definitive will there or won't there be the opportunity to take holidays this next year, either at home or abroad.'

He added: 'I don't know what the situation will be by the middle of the summer. Nobody can tell from the point where we sit right now.'

Mr Shapps also told the BBC: 'You shouldn't be booking holidays right now, either internationally or domestically.  Until we know the route out of lockdown, which we can't know until we have more data, more information on vaccines as well, please don't go ahead and book holidays for something which, at this stage, is illegal to actually go and do - whether it's here or abroad.  And, further down the line, I simply don't know the answer to the question of where we'll be up to this summer.  It's too early to be able to give you that information. You would want to wait until that's clear before booking anything. So the best advice to people is do nothing at this stage.'

Lord Sumption's article in The Telegraph suggested ministers who only considered the positives of the term, without considering the cons, are 'unfit to hold office'.  He then suggested Mr Hancock should lose his position as Health Secretary, which he has held since July 2018.  Lord Sumption said: 'A spell in another department which has to cope with the collateral damage, would do him, and us, a power of good. Try Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, or perhaps Culture, Media and Sport.'

In a comment piece published yesterday, Lord Sumption wrote: 'Does Mr Hancock really think that non-disclosure of a visit to Portugal is worse than the large number of violent firearms offences or sexual offences involving minors, for which the maximum is seven years?'

The measures come amid continuing concerns over home-grown coronavirus strains as scientists advising the Government added one detected in Bristol to its 'variant of concern' list.   Former attorney general Dominic Grieve also told the paper: 'The maximum sentence of 10 years for what is effectively a regulatory breach sounds, in the circumstances, unless it can be justified, extraordinarily high.'

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme he added: 'The reality is that nobody would get such a sentence anyway, the courts are simply not going to impose it.  You certainly shouldn't do it, it's not however proportionate to suggest that someone should be sent to prison for 10 years.  You only have to look at the sort of offences that attract a maximum of 10 years, it's a mistake of the government to suggest something which is not going to happen.  My view is that good government is about proportionality and sounding off with suggestions of draconian and disproportionate sentences for an offence is a mistake.  The fact is I have no doubt that if this is properly tailored a person who does this might receive a custodial sentence and if somebody who is normally a law abiding individual, that will doubtless do them a lot of damage and act as an adequate deterrent.'

Mr Grieve added: 'It needs to be explained plainly and simply to people rather than exaggerated in this fashion.'

Mr Hancock had earlier told MPs: 'I make no apologies for the strength of these measures, because we're dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we've faced as a nation.'

He also confirmed a new 'enhanced testing' regime for all international travellers, with two tests required during the quarantine process from Monday.  Those who fail to take a test face a £1,000 fine, followed by a £2,000 penalty and an extension to their quarantine period, to 14 days, if they miss the second test.  Mr Hancock indicated the quarantine measures might be in place until the autumn if vaccine booster jabs are needed in response to coronavirus variants.  He told the Commons that 16 hotels have been contracted to provide 4,600 rooms for the quarantine programme, which begins on Monday.  The Scottish Government said this approach is 'not sufficient' so it is requiring all international travellers arriving into Scotland to stay in a quarantine hotel.  No international flights are currently operating to Wales or Northern Ireland, but Stormont's chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said it is 'crucially important' for the nations to work together to stall the arrival of new and concerning strains from abroad.  Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth claimed the public wants the Government to 'go further' on border measures.  'Our first line of defence is surely to do everything we can to stop (new variants) arising in the first place,' the Labour MP said.

'That means securing our borders to isolate new variants as they come in. He's announced a detailed package today but he hasn't announced comprehensive quarantine controls at the borders.'

Travel trade organisation Abta said requiring passengers to pay for multiple tests once leisure travel is restarted would have 'serious cost implications' and 'hurt demand'.  A spokeswoman urged ministers to 'develop a roadmap to reopen travel'.  Single adults will be charged £1,750 for a 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel, which covers the hotel, transfer and testing.  Meanwhile, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) added the variant detected in Bristol to its 'variant of concern' list.  A strain identified in Liverpool was also classed as a 'variant under investigation'.  Public Health England's Dr Susan Hopkins said the relatively slow rise in cases of the South African and Bristol variant is 'reassuring'.  But she warned that controlling them will become much more challenging as lockdown is relaxed.  Health officials said they had so far found 76 cases of the Bristol and Liverpool variants in the UK.  Both those variants contain the E484K mutation, a genetic change also found in both the South African and Brazilian variants, which experts suggest may be better at evading the human immune response.  The Department of Health and Social Care also said extra coronavirus testing will be carried out in the borough of Lambeth, south London, after a case of the South African variant was discovered.  In a more positive development, The Sun reported official data from tests on the Pfizer vaccine showed a single dose could reduce the risk of infection by around 65% in both older people and young adults after as little as two weeks.
Locked up for 10 days at a cost of £1,750, three Covid tests, £10k fines for escapes and 10 YEARS in prison for trying to cheat the system: Our essential guide to hotel quarantine starting Monday

Matt Hancock finally unveiled England's draconian new quarantine programme for Britons arriving home from Covid hotspots abroad.  The long-awaited and much debated scheme will see travellers arriving back from 33 Red List nations forced to stay in hotels for 10 days at their own expense before being allowed to go home.  The action has been taken to prevent the influx of foreign strains of Covid-19, like those that have emerged in South Africa and Brazil.  While Mr Hancock finally revealed many details in the Commons today, mystery still surrounds the locations of 16 hotels that have been signed up to the scheme, with just six days to go until they welcome their first paying guests.  It is believed that hotels on Bath Road near Heathrow Airport are on the list, including Novotel Heathrow Crowne Plaza and the Thistle.  Here we outline all you need to know about the new quarantine system.

Who has to quarantine in a hotel and for how long?

Arrivals from Red List nations will have to quarantine at a Government-designated hotel for 10 days.  It affects British arrivals from 33 countries deemed high risk of new variants.  Nationals of those countries are already refused entry to the UK and most direct flights have already been banned.  The countries include all of South America, large parts of Africa - including South Africa - and the United Arab Emirates.   Portugal is the only European country currently on the list, which is reviewed on a weekly basis.  There is no way around the 10-day stay. While arrivals from non-Red List nations can be freed from home quarantine after five days if they pass a test, this option is not available to Red List arrivals.

How much will it cost?

It will cost the travellers up to £1,750 each for a 'quarantine package', although the Government is paying the upfront cost and will bill them afterwards.  This cost includes 'assigned government transportation, food and drinks, accommodation in a government approved facility, security, welfare and testing'.  The cost goes up by £650 for each additional person over the age of 12, and another £325 for every child aged between five to 12. Under-fives go free.  Scotland, which is introducing a similar system on Monday, is charging £1,750 for individual travellers, plus an additional supplement for each other passenger if they are not travelling alone.  This suggests that families who are in a household group may pay less per-person than groups of friends. 

Where are these hotels?

None of the hotels involved in Number 10's quarantine plan have been named for 'commercial reasons'.  Mr Hancock declared that 4,600 rooms have now been secured by the government from 16 establishments.  But Department of Health bosses said the chains were being kept secret and refused to explain why they needed to be tight-lipped about who was involved.  Rob Paterson, the UK chief executive of Best Western Hotels, last week said his company was being 'kept in the dark' by ministers about the scheme.  While the St Giles Hotels chain last week said rooms in its site near Heathrow Airport were ready to host travellers. Its sister site in the Philippines is already working in a similar role.

What happens when I arrive? 

Those who have been in red list countries are likely to be kept separate from other arrivals and escorted from their plane, train or ship through designated lanes to a coach, which will take them to their hotel.  Where children are travelling with adults, two interconnecting rooms should be allocated. If this is not possible, the largest rooms and suites should be made available to families.  Three meals a day per guest will be left outside the hotel rooms. There will also be tea and coffee facilities, fresh fruit and water.  Security staff will be on each floor to ensure people stay in their rooms. Guests are allowed out to smoke or for a breath of fresh air – but must be escorted by a guard.

What if I try to leave the hotel before finishing my quarantine?

Failure to stick to the hotel quarantine will be punishable with a fine of up to £10,000, Mr Hancock said.  Last year quarantine was attempted for a small number of people who had been in Wuhan, the Chinese epicentre of the contagion.  A group of more than 80 people were flown into the UK and taken to former nurses accommodation at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.  Their accommodation was kitted out with bedding, games consoles and Barbies ahead of their 14 days in quarantine.  But the scheme attracted negative headlines when the isolated Brits held staff to 'ransom', with one security guard alleging that the evacuees know they can threaten to leave the secure unit and 'get whatever they want'.  One person tried to leave before completing the 14-day stay after his return from China, breaking the contract they signed before they were rescued.  The tough new rules are designed to prevent the same happening on a much larger scale this time around.

Can't I just lie about where I have been?

Mr Hancock said that arrivals who lie on their passenger locator forms about visiting 'hot spot' countries, in order to avoid hotel quarantine, face up to a decade in prison.  The maximum punishment puts the offence in a category with some of the most serious, alongside things such as carrying a firearm with intent. Sentences for rape can be shorter than 10 years, although the maximum for that level of crime is life.   The Health Secretary told the Commons: 'People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.  Passenger carriers will have a duty in law to make sure that passengers have signed up for these new arrangements before they travel, and will be fined if they don't, and we will be putting in place tough fines for people who don't comply.  This includes a £1,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, a £2,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test, as well as automatically extending their quarantine period to 14 days, and a £5,000 fixed penalty notice rising to £10,000 - for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel.'

He added: 'I make no apologies for the strength of these measures, because we're dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we've faced as a nation.' 

What about taking Covid tests?

Red List arrivals will be required to test negative for coronavirus abroad, no more than 72 hours before departure, using a kit that meets UK government standards.  They will be tested again on day two and day eight of quarantine, with costs included in the wider charge of the hotel stay.  The tests required are the PCR variety rather than the quicker and cheaper lateral flow.  The same requirement for a negative test result 72 hours before departure applies to arrivals from non-Red List nations.  Once in the UK, they must isolate for 10 days at home or in private accommodation, with the authorities able to check that they are obeying the rules.  Tests will be required on day two and day eight of isolation at a combined cost of £210, and must be booked through a government portal in advance of travel. The portal will be launched on Thursday.  The test and release scheme which allows non-Red List travellers to leave isolation if they test negative after five days is staying in place. Many essential business travellers are likely to take this option.  However, Mr Hancock suggested even though they will not be subject to quarantine after the five-day test, they will still be required to have tests on day two and days eight. That means they could be screened four times in total.

What if I'm going to Scotland or Wales?

All travellers landing at Scotland's airports will be forced to quarantine for 10 days at their own cost, the country's Transport Secretary has said.

Michael Matheson told MSPs that six hotels have been block-booked in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with up to 1,300 rooms available.

The Transport Secretary said the cost to an individual traveller would be £1,750, with an additional supplement for each other passenger if they are not travelling alone, and costs will cover the accommodation as well as two Covid-19 tests during the 10-day period.

The Scottish Government has previously said it would go further than UK Government proposals. 

A Welsh Government spokesman said Wales will be adopting the new border measures announced for England.

The spokesperson said: 'This will include all people returning to Wales from 15 February being required to book and pay for tests before they travel. This will be done through the UK portal, whether a person has been in a Red List country or not.

'People returning to Wales from Red List countries are doing so through other ports in the UK, primarily via England. From 15 February, all arrivals in England will be required to isolate in designated hotels.

'This includes anyone planning to travel on to Wales, and they will need to enter a designated hotel for quarantine in England. This will need to be booked before travel.'

When will the quarantine rules be relaxed?

This is a question that the travel industry and many Tory MPs would like an answer to.

Furious backbenchers savaged Mr Hancock over a 'forever lockdown' today after he warned border restrictions may need to stay until autumn — despite figures showing the UK's epidemic is firmly in retreat. 

Hotels were told it will last for an 'initial period' until March 31 – but this can be extended at a stroke, with rolling seven-day notice periods.

Asked when the new rules will be relaxed, Mr Hancock replied: 'We want to exit from this into a system of safe international travel as soon as practicable and as soon as is safe.'

He said work is ongoing to assess the current vaccines against variants of the virus, adding: 'If that isn't forthcoming then we will need to vaccinate with a further booster jab in the autumn, which we're working with the vaccine industry.

'These are the uncertainties within which we are operating and hence, for now, my judgment is the package we've announced today is the right one.'

Former chief whip Mark Harper, chairman of the lockdown-sceptic CRG bloc of around 70 MPs, urged the government to reconsider its approach with Covid likely to be a permanent issue. 'If the virus continues to mutate, surely the risk is going to be there forever,' he said.

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay told MailOnline that he was sceptical about the border crackdown and it might do 'more damage than it tries to solve'. He added: 'This whole trying to stop things from coming in, I think we are way beyond that frankly. The virus does its own thing no matter where it is.'

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy firm the PC Agency, said the government needs to signal restrictions will be diluted from the start of April so travel can recover.

He said 'The government needs to signal that these tougher restrictions will be diluted from the start of April, enabling travel to recover again.

'Otherwise, the huge drop in travellers and number of flights will push the sector over a cliff-edge, with the resulting hundreds of thousands of job losses and business failures.'

He added: 'The outlook may seem cloudy right now, as government tightens restrictions for those entering the UK.

'But, when infection and mortality rates are much lower and the NHS is not under pressure due to vaccines taking effect, then there is no reason for such measures to be in place.'

Will I get a refund? 

The plan represents a huge headache for holidaymakers who have already booked breaks.  If their country is on the red list and their airline or tour operator does not cancel the holiday, they will not be legally entitled to a refund.   There is no guarantee travel insurers will pay out on claims following the changes.  This could force people to choose between going ahead with their holiday and the costly quarantine that may follow or not turning up for the break they've paid for.  If plans are cancelled by the companies involved, you are entitled to a full refund within seven days for flights, or 14 for package breaks.

How will the new border rules work? 

Matt Hancock has announced details of the tougher border measures to MPs.


Mr Hancock said that arrivals who lie on their passenger locator forms about visiting 'hot spot' countries, in order to avoid hotel quarantine, face up to a decade in prison.  It affects British arrivals from 33 countries deemed high risk of new variants. Nationals of those countries will be refused entry to the UK and most direct flights have already been banned.  The countries include all of South America, large parts of Africa including South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.


Arrivals from Red List nations will have to quarantine at a Government-designated hotel for 10 days.  It will cost the travellers £1,750 each, although the Government is paying the upfront cost and will bill them afterwards.  Attempts to break out of the quarantine before the 10 days are up could result in a fine of up to £10,000.  They are not eligible for the five-day 'test and release'  scheme.  None of the 16 hotels involved in Number 10's quarantine plan have been named for 'commercial reasons'.


Red List arrivals will be required to test negative for coronavirus 72 hours before departure, using a kit that meets UK government standards.  They will be tested again on day two and day eight of quarantine, with costs included in the wider charge of the hotel stay.


The same requirement for a negative test result 72 hours before departure applies.  Once in the UK, they must isolate for 10 days at home or in private accommodation, with the authorities able to check that they are obeying the rules.  Tests will be required on day two and day eight of isolation, and must be booked through a government portal in advance of travel. The portal will be launched on Thursday.  The costs are not yet known but PCR tests typically cost around £120 a time.


The test and release scheme - which allows non-'red list travellers' to leave isolation if they test negative after five days is staying in place. Many essential business travellers are likely to take this option.  However, Mr Hancock suggested even though they will not be subject to quarantine after the five-day test, they will still be required to have tests on day two and days eight. That means they could be screened four times in total.

Six in ten Britons say they 'could cope well' with ten days in hotel quarantine

From Monday, UK residents returning from 33 countries will have to isolate for 10 days in hotels.  Now, a YouGov poll has revealed that most Britons think they'd cope well with the quarantine.  Forty four percent think they would cope fairly well in this situation, while a further 16% think they would cope very well.  A third (34%) say they would either not cope very well (19%) or not well at all (15%).  Women (37%) are slightly more likely than men (31%) to say they wouldn't cope well in hotel quarantine.


Bono, Shane MacGowan among massive Irish stars to appear in special Busking show to help homeless in Ireland

BY: Rachael O'Connor
December 18, 2020

NOW THAT'S what you call a line-up.  Tonight marks the final Late Late Show of 2020, and to say they're going all-out for it would be an understatement.  Tonight, Bono, Shane MacGowan, Imelda May, Hozier and more will take part in a very special fundraiser for the Simon Community, the nationwide charity helping those who are struggling with homelessness.  The idea first came about ten years ago, when Glen Hansard who penned the Oscar-winning song Falling Slowly for film Once took to the streets of Dublin to busk and make money for those experiencing homelessness.  Each year since then, some of Ireland's biggest musicians have taken to Grafton Street to belt out a few tunes and raise some much-needed funds, with a large crowd both expected and encouraged to take part.  This year, sadly, this wonderful tradition cannot happen but instead, some of Ireland's best musicians will instead perform on a special episode of the Late Late show, titled The Late Late Show Busk for Simon.  U2's Bono, The Edge, Imelda May, Hozier, John Sheahan, Finbar Furey, Shane MacGowan, Danny O’Reilly, Róisín O, Declan O’Rourke, Lisa O’Neill, and Kodaline’s Steve Garrigan are just some of the stars who will appear on the show to perform and pledge their support to the Simon Community, with the special episode promising music, stories about Busking throughout the years, and the essential work of the Simon Community.  Presenter Ryan Tubridy said tonight's show "will "certainly be a night to remember with the best of Irish talent in one room coming together for some incredible performances".  "In return, our friends here are asking viewers to dig deep to donate to the Simon Community and to help our brothers and our sisters who are currently homeless to get off the streets, to be safe, to be warm, to be treated with dignity and decency and ultimately to get the type of secure housing that everyone deserves."

Last month, a special charity appeal during the Late Late Toy Show led to people across Ireland and beyond donating more than €6 million, and the hope is that something similar can be done to help the many homeless people in the country.  According to RTÉ, tonight's show will see Grafton Street Busk veteran and all-round legend Imelda May appearing from London for a spellbinding performance of On Raglan Road, with John Sheahan, Finbar Furey, Lisa O’Neill, Glen Hansard, and Shane MacGowan joining in from The Late Late Show studio.  Tubridy will also interview special guest Philip Powell, who was struggling with homelessness when he struck up a friendship with Glen Hansard and became a staple performer of the Grafton Street busk. Philip will speak of his experiences of being homeless on and off for two decades.  U2's Bono and The Edge will perform a beautiful acoustic version of U2’s Walk On, and chat to Ryan about "their experiences with the busk, the power of music to carry people through, and life off the road from the band".

You can catch the Late Late Show BUsk for Simon tonight on RTÉ One at 9.35pm, or the RTÉ Player.

Very sad story.


UK police issue appeal to Ireland to find next of kin of elderly man who passed away in Yorkshire

BY: Rachael O'Connor
January 08, 2021

POLICE IN the UK have issued an appeal to help find the next of kin of a man who is believed to have relatives in Ireland.  Simon Curtis Smith, aged 70, passed away on 2 January at his home in Scarborough, Yorkshire.  The elderly man lived in England, but attempts to find his next of kin have so far been unsuccessful.  Police in North Yorkshire have now issued an appeal to people on the island of Ireland to help find his relatives so that Simon can be put to rest.  In a statement, North Yorkshire Police wrote:

"Our coroner's officers are appealing to people in Ireland as they continue their search to find the next of kin of Simon Curtis Smith who died at his home address in Scarborough aged 70.  Enquiries following Simon's death reported to us on 2 January have not revealed any next of kin.  They now believe he may have relatives in Ireland, although it is not known whereabouts.  "We would really appreciate any shares with your Facebook friends in Ireland either Northern or Southern - to help us trace his family.  Anyone who can help locate any members of his family is asked to contact the Coroner's Office on (44) 01609 643168."

The spokesperson added that there  are no suspicious circumstances surrounding Simon's death, and they are simply seeking to notify his next of kin of his passing.

You can find the appeal for information, or share the post, on the North Yorkshire Police Facebook page here.


Mother, 40, admits suffocating autistic son, 10, she had with celebrity snapper by putting sponge in his mouth as she put him to bed after suffering mental breakdown when care was withdrawn in first lockdown but denies murder

    Olga Freeman, 40, was charged with the murder of 10-year-old Dylan Freeman
    The child was found dead at their home in Acton, west London, on August 15 
    Post-mortem exam gave the cause of Dylan's death as restriction of the airways
    Russian national Freeman denied her son's murder but admitted manslaughter
    Prosecutor Gareth Patterson QC said the plea was acceptable to the Crown

By Henry Martin For Mailonline

Published: 09:32, 25 January 2021 | Updated: 11:09, 25 January 2021

A mother has admitted killing her disabled child after suffering a mental breakdown while struggling to care for him weeks after care was removed during the first lockdown.  Olga Freeman, 40, put a sponge into 10-year-old Dylan's mouth and laid him down to die next to his toys in the master bedroom of her flat in Acton, west London.  Dylan suffered from Cohen Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterised by developmental delay, including disability, small head size, weak muscles, and visibility impairment.  The court heard Freeman, who is the ex-wife of celebrity photographer Dean Freeman, had struggled to care for Dylan, who was also autistic, in the six months before his death.  Dylan had been attending a special school five days a week, but during the first lockdown last year he was not able to attend school, with the burden of care falling on his mother, the court was told.  A former carer for Dylan said he had to give up the job, which involved taking the child out to the park 'for a couple of hours so that Olga could have some time to herself', because he found it too demanding, with Dylan 'kicking his arms and legs and throwing things around'.  Rakesh Shukla, who lives in Acton, West London, told MailOnline in August: 'I found it very stressful so I can't imagine what it must have been like for her.  I only saw her last week and she looked really drained and tired.'

Freeman appeared at the Old Bailey via video-link today from a psychiatric unit and spoke to admit manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.  Her defence lawyer Jane Bickerstaff QC said she had been 'suffering from a depressive illness with psychotic symptoms'.  Prosecutor Gareth Patterson QC said the plea was acceptable to the Crown after careful consideration.  The prosecutor said: 'The defendant was recently transferred to hospital under the Mental Health Act. The prosecution received from the defence a psychological report from Dr David Bird.  'The partial defence of diminished responsibility is available to the defendant on the basis there was a severe depressive episode with psychotic symptoms at the time.  That is acceptable to the prosecution after careful consideration and extensive further inquiries by the officers conducting this investigation.'

Parts of sponge were found within the throat of the deceased, the court was told.  Joel Smith, prosecuting, earlier told the court: 'A friend and ex-partner of the defendant, Edita Surpickaja had noticed that the defendant had been struggling to met Dylan's care needs for the last year as he became older and bigger and more difficult to care for.  Around six months ago Dylan's behaviour had become especially challenging.  Dylan had attended a special school for five days per week but during the lock-down had not been able to attend school. The burden of care had fallen on the defendant with assistance from Ms Surpickaja.  Ms Surpickaja had only been able to offer that assistance for around 12 hours per week and had noticed a decline in the defendant's mental health.  The defendant had sought assistance from the local council, but Ms Surpickaja would tell the police, had received none.  Around 14 August 2020 it appears that the defendant argued with her ex-husband, Dylan's father, about his role in caring for Dylan.  At the police station the defendant told the police that she had killed the deceased before midnight and that she had tried to ''kill him softly'' by giving the deceased ''a lot'' of melatonin.  She told the police that as this had not worked she had used her bra and then her hands to kill her son and had put a sponge in his mouth to help him go softly.  She had then placed his body where he liked to sleep with his toys to allow him to die with 'dignity and kindness'.  She was then arrested and made no comment.'

Mr Smith said Freeman began to suffer from delusions of grandeur thinking she was 'Jesus'. She told Ms Surpickaja she needed to go to Jerusalem.  'She told her she was the second Jesus,' the prosecutor said.

At Acton police station, she told officers twice: 'I killed my child.'

At the scene a bra, sellotape, and melatonin were recovered by officers, and a sponge.  Ms Surpickaja noticed Freeman had travel websites open and became alarmed by the tone of the conversation.  The recording revealed Freeman saying repeatedly that 'needed to kill her son'.  Freeman told Ms Surpickaja: 'I did what I did, sometimes when things are good, it can be really evil.'

Police found Dylan dead at the £544,000 flat in Cumberland Park on 16 August after Russian national Freeman walked into a police station.    A neighbour, who lives opposite the crime scene, said she would often see a little boy leaving the property in a specially adapted van.  Gillian Fisher, 34, said: 'I don't know who the family were but if the little boy is who I think he is, I used to see him being taken to school in his wheelchair in a specially adapted van.'

Dylan's father Dean is the son of Robert Freeman, who took pictures for some of The Beatles' most iconic album covers.  Dean is also a photographer and is best known for his pictures of members of the Spice Girls and David Beckham.  Dean Freeman has also snapped stars such as Bradley Cooper and Emily Ratajkowski.  He earlier said in a statement: 'Dylan was a beautiful, bright, inquisitive and artistic child who loved to travel, visit art galleries and swim.  We travelled extensively over the years together spending such memorable time in places including Brazil, France and Spain. I can't begin to comprehend his loss.'

Freeman, of Cumberland Park, Acton, denied murder but admitted manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility.  She remains at the medium secure Orchard Unit in Ealing, where she has been treated since her arrest.  The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema Grubb, QC, adjourned sentence until February 11.  Kristen Katsouris, from the CPS said: 'This was a tragic death of a child at the hands of his mother who was struggling to cope.  Olga Freeman had loved and cared for Dylan for many years, but the strain and pressures of her son's severe and complex special needs had built up and that combined with her impaired mental health led to heart-breaking consequences.  Our thoughts are with all those affected by this case.'


Dylan's father paid tribute to his 'beautiful, bright, inquisitive and artistic' son after the 10-year-old's death.  Dean Freeman was in Spain when his ex-wife killed their son Dylan Freeman in Acton, west London, a representative said.  Mr Freeman said in a statement in August last year: 'Dylan was a beautiful, bright, inquisitive and artistic child who loved to travel, visit art galleries and swim.  We travelled extensively over the years together spending such memorable time in places including Brazil, France and Spain.  I can't begin to comprehend his loss.'

His representative described Mr Freeman as 'a loving and caring father and even though divorced for a number of years he cherished all the quality time spent with his son', and said he has been left 'beyond devastated'.


Home Office admits passengers without correct Covid paperwork are fined £500 then simply waved through gates into UK and 'told to quarantine' as Heathrow Border Force penalise 30 arrivals who failed to show negative test

    Border Force officials continue to check each passenger arriving in UK has a valid negative coronavirus test
    Officials issued more than 30 fines at London Heathrow Airport on the first day of the new policy yesterday
    People can be fined a minimum of £500 for not complying with the rules, but they are then let on their way
    Queues again built up in immigration hall with some travellers reporting having to wait more than an hour

By Mark Duell and Paul Thompson for MailOnline and David Churchill and Kamal Sultan For The Daily Mail

Published: 11:18, 19 January 2021 | Updated: 14:14, 19 January 2021

More than 30 air passengers have been fined £500 each by Border Force officials upon arrival in Britain for not having a valid negative coronavirus test before being let into the country and told to quarantine like all UK arrivals, after new rules were brought in yesterday.  The fines at London Heathrow Airport on the first day of the new policy came as travellers continued to face delays after landing in the UK this morning as officials checked each passenger arriving had a negative test even though they will have all already been checked by their airline when boarding a flight in a foreign country.  Passengers can be fined a minimum of £500 for not complying with the rules, but the Home Office confirmed today that they are then let on their way meaning dozens of people with Covid-19 could have been let into the UK since the rules were brought in.  However they must still follow the rules on quarantining for ten days like all arrivals into the UK and those who breach those regulations can be fined up to £10,000.  The fines for not having a proper test are issued as fixed penalty notices and do not stay on a criminal record.  While official figures for arrivals at Heathrow are not yet available, tens of thousands of people are estimated to be coming in to the airport every day at the moment after about 35,000 a day arrived last month.  Some passengers also expressed surprise at the length of the queues, after they had already been checked by their airlines when boarding flights abroad.  Queues again built up today in Heathrow's immigration hall with some travellers reporting having to wait up to an hour before their documentation was checked at Terminal Two, and up to 30 minutes at Terminal Five.  All the electronic passport gates were closed forcing overseas as well as British passport holders to undergo a face-to-face check. British and European Union passport holders were funnelled into one queue while other passport holders into another.  They had to present their passports, a negative test in most cases a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and locator form listing where their mandatory ten-day quarantine will take place in Britain.  Staff instructed arrivals to keep a 6ft (2m) distance from each other but passengers said people ended up facing each other and cramming together.  Initially, only four officials were checking paperwork but as queues lengthened an additional four Border Force staff were brought in to help.  Molly Jarvis, who arrived on an overnight flight from Atlanta, Georgia, told MailOnline at Heathrow: 'Lots of people ended up facing each other as they waited.  I was a bit concerned about the social distancing and glad to get out. All the e-gates were closed and when I arrived there were only four people at the passport checks. Another four came out.'

Ms Jarvis, a US citizen who lives in London, said the official looked at the time and date of her negative PCR test, adding: 'They were very thorough and wanted to check what day I had taken the test.'

Since yesterday at 4am, all arrivals into the UK have to have had negative PCR or antigen lateral flow test no more than 72 hours before boarding their flight.  All airlines ask to see the test and those whose results are out of the 72-hour time frame are denied entry.  Student Nitzan Levenberg, 32, arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv, said she had no complaints about a 20-minute wait to present her documents at Heathrow today.  She said: 'They asked to see all my documents, including my right to stay in the UK. I was in the British and EU queue and it was moving quite quickly.'

Aviation expert Julian Bray told MailOnline today: 'It's been flagged up for ages that anybody coming into the country has got to have the right paperwork and has got to have the negative test. I understand the fines they are handing out are as a minimum because I heard earlier that it's anything between £500 and £1,000.  'They an come in but they're going to have to isolate for ten days. They have been told to isolate for ten days so there's no point (in having a test) then because the idea of the pre-flight test, which has to be done 72 hours in advance of the flight, is that it'll give the airline an idea of whether they've had the test or not.  But it's surprising the airlines didn't pick up on the deficiencies. The ground crews, quite often they're a separate company, and they're hired in. They're not actually airline employees.  If they're tasked with checking the paperwork, it sounds like there's a deficiency in the paperwork, so they might have had the test but they weren't given the right paperwork, which comes back to the fact that the Department for Transport directions are not that clear. The whole situation has been very shoddy, the way it's been rolled out.'

Passengers told MailOnline on the first day of the new policy that they had faced queues of 90 minutes at the border, but Heathrow Airport denied this was the case.  A Home Office spokesman said: 'People should not be travelling unless absolutely necessary and it is an offence to arrive into England without proof of a negative Covid test or a completed Passenger Locator Form.  We have also increased Border Force spot checks on arrival, with passengers subject to an immediate fine of £500 for failing to comply with the new rules. Despite these measures, the vast majority of passengers have been moving through the UK border in good time.'

New rules came into force at 4am yesterday meaning all arrivals had to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel.  Passengers are required to show it to check-in staff before boarding their UK-bound flight, and to Border Force guards after landing.  But some travellers found themselves being turned away by their airline and stranded while those allowed to board complained of long, non Covid-secure queues after landing.  NHS worker Ellie Walton, 19, from Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire, was supposed to fly from Madrid to London on Sunday afternoon.  But she missed the connection because her first flight from Cuba to the Spanish capital had been delayed by nearly two hours.  She was told the next flight to London wasn't until yesterday morning and was given a hotel voucher.  However, when she tried to leave the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport she was told she couldn't by Spanish border guards 'because of Brexit'. It meant having to bed down in the airport on Sunday night.  To make matters worse, when she tried to board her new flight yesterday morning she was barred.  This was because she didn't have a negative Covid test, having thought she'd be returning on Sunday before the UK's new pre-departure testing rules kicked-in yesterday at 4am.  Miss Walton, a healthcare worker, travelled to Cuba in December when the second lockdown had ended and the tier system was in place.  She went there to spend time with her Cuban boyfriend, Lovany Sanchez, a circus acrobat who had lived in Britain with a visa until the pandemic broke out.  Her mother, Tracey Walton, said: 'It's awful, she was crying down the phone. I even looked at flights to go out to Madrid and sort it out myself but you can't get there.  She had a lateral flow test on her because she is a healthcare worker, but the airline said the UK wouldn't accept it. They were trying to wash their hands of it but they have a duty of care to their passengers.  I'm very angry because the government has made it clear they can board and the British embassy were phoning the airline to say she could.'

Government guidance states that UK citizens are allowed to be boarded on planes if they cannot get a test at their transit airport and are being blocked from entering the country it is in.  Mrs Walton said her daughter told her three other Britons were also barred from boarding.  However, after several calls to the British embassy in Spain Mrs Walton said her daughter had finally been allowed on an Iberia plane back to Heathrow last night.  In another case, Hannah Holland, 23, from Sheffield, was due to land at Heathrow yesterday but was barred by check-in staff in the US.  She was booked to travel on an American Airlines flight from Philadelphia via Chicago's O'Hare airport, which was due to land in London at 8.20am.  But Chicago check-in staff said her rapid 'lateral flow' test and accompanying health certificate were not acceptable.  Miss Holland, a dual British-American citizen, had been helping her mother care for her grandfather in Philadelphia.  She said: 'I just couldn't believe it, it was a test I had to pay for at a local, well-respected health clinic in Philadelphia and was specifically for people who had flights that needed more urgent results.' She added: 'I was getting really weepy.'

Miss Holland, a volunteer in Africa with the Peace Corps until the pandemic began, managed to get a flight back to Philadelphia and is now considering whether to seek another test to return to the UK or stay there.   An American Airlines spokesman said: 'The certificate did not specify the name of the test device as required, and therefore travel to the UK could not be permitted as per government guidelines.'

A Department for Transport spokesman said: 'Passengers travelling to the UK must provide proof of a negative coronavirus test which meets the performance standards set out by the Government in the guidance published on  The type of test could include a PCR test or antigen test, including a lateral flow test. Anyone who cannot provide the necessary documentation may not be allowed to board their flight.'

As part of the new measures, announced by Boris Johnson on Friday, Border Force have ramped up checks on arrivals at airports and ports.  Arrivals complained that checking all passengers' negative test health certificates was taking too long. The certificate now has to be checked along with a locator form stating where they will be self-isolating for ten days.  Gabrielle Rivers, 31, a research fellow at Oxford University, flew from Washington to London and was stuck in a queue at border control for two hours before showing proof of her negative result and passenger locator form.  She said: 'I was pretty surprised at the length of the queue. I don't know how they would expect old people to cope. They are crowding people together in tight spaces, if we didn't have Covid then, we will now.  It was very rammed. It was pretty heavily regulated. The airlines are being the strictest.'

Eric Campbell, 23, who arrived in London yesterday from Kampala, Uganda, said hordes of people were cramped together at border control.  His £50 PCR coronavirus test was checked as well as his locator form after an hour's wait. 'It was chaotic, the line was far too long and there were kids running around everywhere,' he said.  'There were only a few people at each desk which is why the border was rammed as they spent a great deal going through each person's document. It defeats the purpose, but I am glad it's being done.'

Avis Agustin, 36, a nurse from Singapore, arrived at Heathrow yesterday and was shocked by the large queues, spending an hour in line before border checks.  She said: 'I was confused at people in the queue not social distancing. They are too easy on people here. In Singapore, if you come, you must stay in a hotel for two weeks which the government tells you to.'

Passengers complained that the closure of the self-scan ePassport gates contributed to delays as some said people were pulled out of the queue and fined over incorrect paperwork.  In Terminal Two, suitcases stacked up by carousels as travellers were stuck at border control but by yesterday afternoon the queues had gone.  New rules scrapping 63 'travel corridors' with countries with low infection rates also came into effect at 4am yesterday, meaning all arrivals from those countries now have to quarantine.  The policy will be reviewed on February 15. On Sunday it emerged the government is considering a further crackdown after ministers asked officials to draw up plans which would see travellers forced to quarantine in hotels upon arrival. 

Q&A: Do I need to have proof of a negative Covid-19 test when I arrive in Britain and what standards must it meet?

What are the new rules for UK arrivals?

All of the travel corridors were scrapped yesterday, so arrivals from every destination will need to self-isolate for ten days, or receive a negative result from a Covid-19 test taken at least five days after they enter the UK.

Do I need to get a negative test when I arrive in the UK?

Yes, all arrivals into England including British citizens must test negative for Covid-19 up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure. Your test will also be checked by the airline before you board a plane abroad.

What will you have to present at the UK border? 

Border Force officials are carrying out spot checks on those arriving by air, land or sea - but they have so far been checking all arrivals, according to passengers.  Your Covid-19 negative test results must be presented in either English, French or Spanish. Translations are not accepted, and you must provide the original certificate.  The test result must be provided either as a physical printed document or via email or text message, which can be shown on a mobile phone. This must include:

    your name, matching it on your travel documents
    your date of birth or age
    the result of the test
    the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
    the name of the test provider and their contact details
    the name of the test device

Anyone arriving without a test result that includes all of the above information will be committing a criminal offence which could see them receive a £500 fine.

What test must you have?

The test must meet standards of ≥97% specificity and ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml. The Government says this could include tests such as:

    a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (Lamp) tests
    an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device.

Will you have to prove your test meets requirements?

Yes. The Government says it is your responsibility to ensure a test meets minimum standards for sensitivity, specificity and viral load details so you must check with your test provider that it meets those requirements.  You may need proof in the form of a letter from a test provider detailing its specificity and sensitivity levels.

What happens if I don't have the correct documents?

New arrivals who flout the rules will face a minimum £500 fine while their flight operator will also be fined.  The passenger will then be let on their way without further action, but will still have to quarantine for ten days like everyone else arriving in the UK.  Separately, arrivals into England who do not self-isolate can face fines between £1,000 and £10,000.

What is the difference between the tests?

PCR tests, nasal and throat swab tests normally take between 12 and 48 hours to return results.  Lamp tests can return results in two hours, and lateral flow tests can generate results in less than 30 minutes.  Whichever test it is must meet the required performance standards listed by the Government.  Border Force agents will check that the information required is present on the notification. Provided the test meets the set criteria, then it will be accepted. If it does not, you could be fined even with a negative test result.

What are the concerns over lateral flow tests?

There are fears that lateral flow tests might not be as reliable as PCR tests. But Innova makes a lateral flow test which has a sensitivity of more than 95 per cent for high viral loads meeting UK Government requirements.  A trial of one lateral flow test used by the Government found that it detected 79 per cent of cases when administered by a trained professional but only 40 per cent if someone is self-swabbing. This is significantly lower than the more expensive but slower PCR tests which detect 70 to 99 per cent of positive cases.  Passengers are responsible for ensuring their test meets requirements and may be asked to provide proof. 

Is there a specific list of accepted tests?

No. The Government does not provide a list of approved providers or tests worldwide. The passenger has to check that the test that they use meets the standards.

What are the exemptions?

It applies to arrivals who began their journeys in every country of the world, with the following exceptions:

    Northern Ireland
    Isle of Man
    Falkland Islands
    St Helena

There will also be an exemption until 4am on January 21 for people who began their journey in:

    Antigua and Barbuda
    St Lucia

There are also limited exemptions for the likes of hauliers, young children and train crew members.

Which countries are subject to travel bans?

Travel to and from all of South America, Portugal and Cape Verde was banned from 4am last Friday.  British and Irish nationals as well as people with residency rights will be exempt, but will have to self-isolate for ten days with their household on returning from any countries on the banned list.  A similar ban was put into place for South Africa on December 23 last year, after another new variant was identified by scientists. On January 9, the rules were also applied to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Seychelles and Mauritius.

What are the rules on travel from South Africa?

Anyone arriving into the UK who has been in or transited through South Africa in the previous ten days will not be permitted entry to the UK. But British people will still be able to enter via indirect routes from South Africa.

Are there any differences for the US?

There are no specific differences for travellers arriving from the US, although it is understood some airlines are placing their own requirements on passengers.  The US Embassy in the UK states: 'The test must be a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if you are currently infected with Covid-19. Travellers should avoid the antibody tests which look for prior infection.'

I'm glad Morrison are taking this stance although when we weent to Tesco a customer was asked by a greeter if she had a mask.  The customer said she didn't but was going to buy one instore to which the greeter said she could take one for free on her way in.  She did and I wondered if she had been so surprised by the request that she just did what she was told.

I get aanoyed with the people who wear face masks but don't cover their noses.


Tearful NHS nurse 'zipping up body bags' begs public to follow Covid lockdown rules

EXCLUSIVE: Nurse Ameera Sheikh says she has been forced to see a huge amount of death during the COVID-19 pandemic, she is begging the public to follow the rules

ByGrace Macaskill

22:08, 9 JAN 2021

Exhausted nurse Ameera Sheikh fought back tears as she zipped up the body bag on her fourth patient in two days.  All around her, colleagues battled to save people gasping for breath with Covid-19 on one of London’s worst-hit intensive care units.  But there was no respite and there will be none for weeks to come.  In a moving account, Ameera, 28, tells of being haunted by the sick and dying, saying: “We are on our feet for 13 or 14 hours a day, running around.  I don’t sleep any more because the nightmares are too much.”

As the second wave engulfs the NHS with more than 1,000 Covid deaths recorded in Britain yesterday Ameera paints a picture of desperation and chaos on Britain’s hospital wards.  And she begs Sunday People readers: “Please don’t break the rules. I have worked overseas in less developed countries where they don’t have the resources like we do and what is going on right now reminds me of those experiences.  Death was all around then and death is all around us now. And each day is as bad as the next. Some days it’s so ­intense. You feel so sick inside that you can’t even bring yourself to drink a glass of water.”

Yesterday, the overall death toll from Covid-19 hit 80,000.  A further 1,035 people were recorded as dying in the deadliest Saturday since April 18 as the new variant sweeps across the country.  Another 59,937 people tested ­positive for the virus, but the Government’s SAGE scientific ­advisers believe as many as 150,000 are getting infected every day.  For frontliners like Ameera, who has worked for the NHS for 12 years, they have to remain professional, even when they know people are breaking guidelines. She said: “As healthcare workers we have to suspend judgement. Some people are very lucky not to have experienced Covid.  They need to realise the world doesn’t revolve around them. Other people are living in this world too and many have died because people chose not to wear a mask or wanted to hang out with their pals.”

Some don’t ­believe Covid-19 exists at all. Others are unapologetic for mixing with others.  Ameera, also a Unite union rep, ­added: “Colleagues in the emergency department are getting some very vague responses when they ask people how they think they got Covid.  Others admit to flouting the laws and are apologetic, while others don’t care. They have maybe lost their jobs or feel isolated and therefore don’t trust anything the Goverment says.  Some are very sick but deny they have Covid at all.”

Her message to anti-lockdown groups is simple: Get real.  Ameera said: “They don’t have any medical qualifications yet feel it’s OK to make unfounded comments.  When will they realise what’s really going on? Will it be when they lose someone they love? We can have a day where patients are dying all day long and you are having to quickly wash them and zip up a body bag.  None of the people from anti-lockdown groups will ever zip up a body bag in their lives.”

Doctors and nurses are risking their lives to treat patients, day in, day out.  Ameera said: “I’ve lost friends and colleagues to this virus and we have doctors working in red zones who have come back from retirement or are medically vulnerable.  Staff are falling sick and it’s no surprise when, in many areas of the hospital, they are only wearing aprons and simple surgical masks.  It’s only the staff on ICU who are wearing full PPE. Everyone is scared of catching the new variant because it’s so much more infectious and many of us are still waiting for our vaccinations.  Each trust has a number to call to book in for the vaccine but it’s very busy and they often don’t have same-day appointments.”

She added: “It’s hard to find the time as well when you get WhatsApp messages asking, ‘Can you come back into work, we need everyone we can get’.”

The leading nurse, who campaigned for better pay and conditions outside Downing Street last summer, also claims hospitals are so overwhelmed that patients are knowingly being placed in wards with positive cases.  Ameera said: “In London we are playing musical beds, moving patients from one hospital to another nearby to create space.  We are opening new intensive care units and new Covid wards, but with what staff? A lot of staff handed in their resignations after the first wave. Nurses are looking after three or even four patients each in ICU.  There are some hospitals who have the odd negative patient amongst a bay of positive cases because they’ve run out of side rooms.”


Indonesia plane crash: 'Body parts found' in huge search for missing Boeing 737

Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 a Boeing 737-500 was flying from Indonesian capital Jakarta on Saturday to Pontianak. It had more than 60 people on board

By Tom Davidson Assistant news editor, Sam Truelove, Thomas McArthur and Matthew Dresch

10:34, 9 JAN 2021Updated21:19, 9 JAN 2021

A Boeing 737 passenger plane has crashed into the sea after disappearing from radar and plunging 10,000ft.  The Sriwijaya Air passenger jet lost contact after taking off from Indonesian capital Jakarta earlier today en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province.  A local life boat captain claims to have found body parts and plane debris while searching for survivors.  Indonesian Disaster Victim Identification officers have also reportedly been seen carrying body bags ashore.  The missing aircraft had more than 60 people on board including 10 children.  The Indonesian navy claims says it has worked out the last known coordinates of the missing jet, and ships are being sent to the area.  Navy official Abdul Rasyid told reporters: "The coordinates have been found and have been given to all Navy vessels in the area."

Photos show rescue workers pulling debris from the water in a desperate search for survivors.  Captain EKo Surya Hadi, commander of a local life boat, told local TV journalists that human remains had been found, Mail Online reports.  He said: "We found body parts, life jackets, avtur (aviation turbine fuel) and debris of the plane."

An Indonesian rescue agency confirmed suspected debris of the flight had been found.  No radio beacon signal had been detected, the agency said.  Residents of Thousand Island said they heard two explosions before finding items in the sea.  It's been reported the plane fell 10,000ft in less than one minute, about four minutes after taking off.  Surachman, a local government official, told Kompas TV that fishermen found what appeared to be the wreckage of an aircraft in waters north of Jakarta and a search was underway.  Other channels showed pictures of suspected wreckage.  "We found some cables, a piece of jeans, and pieces of metal on the water," Zulkifli, a security official, told

The Indonesian Navy has deployed 11 ships to search for the wreckage underwater.  The plane is not a 737 Max, the Boeing model involved in two major crashes in recent years.  According to there were 62 people on board - 56 passengers, four crew members and two pilots.  All on board the plane were Indonesian, Indonesia's transport safety committee said.  Of the 56 passengers, 46 were adults, seven were children and three were infants. Their nationality's have not been disclosed.  Aviation monitoring service Flightradar24 tweeted: "Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta."

Sriwijaya Air chief executive Jefferson Irwin Jauwena told reporters that the aircraft was in good condition and had been delayed for 30 minutes ahead of takeoff because of heavy rain.  A Boeing spokeswoman said: "We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are working to gather more information".

According to CNBC Indonesia, the flight vanished at 2.40pm local time, moments after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta airport.  The last location of the plane was in the waters of the Java Sea above Banten Province.  The Sriwijaya Air plane lost contact around Lancang Island, Thousand Islands, the manager of branch communication and legal at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Haerul Anwar, said.  It was raining at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at the time of take-off for Pontianak, around 740 km (460 miles) away.  Video images from the airport showed pictures of relatives of the passengers in tears as they awaited news of the fate of the aircraft.  The plane was almost 27-years-old and was originally flown by carriers in the United States.  The Indonesian Transport Ministry spokesperson, Adita Irawati, confirmed that there had been a loss of contact with the Sriwijaya Air aircraft, reports CNBC Indonesia.  "We are currently under investigation and coordinated with Basarnas and the National Transportation Accident Committee (KNKT)," said Adita.

A Boeing 737 MAX operated by Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed off Jakarta in late 2018, killing all 189 passengers and crew. The plane that lost contact today is a much older model.  Bagus Puruhito, head of the country's search and rescue agency Basarnas, said teams had been dispatched to search the waters north of Jakarta.  The Indonesian Red Cross Society say they have 50 volunteers on standby to help with recovery efforts.  Sriwijaya Air is one of the Indonesian domestic leading airlines. It carries over 1,000,000 passengers per month, from its hub at Soekarno Hatta International Airport to more than 55 destinations in 2 regional countries, including extraordinary and popular tourism spots in Indonesia.


'Partying was more important than protecting others': Top police officer slams New Year's Eve revellers who ignored Covid lockdown rules and packed illegal raves as fines worth £18,000 are issued in Essex alone

    Two men were stabbed and a woman suffered head injuries as tempers flared on Edgware Road this morning
    Met Police confirmed all three people were taken to hospital, a woman has been arrested on suspicion of GBH
    Officers were called out to 58 unlicensed music events across London, with 217 people receiving fines
    Essex Police arrested five people and handed out £18,000 worth of fines after uncovering raves in the county

By Sam Baker and Luke May and Jack Elsom For Mailonline

Published: 03:10, 1 January 2021 | Updated: 15:43, 1 January 2021

A top police officer has slammed New Year's Eve revellers who ignored Covid lockdown rules and 'decided partying was more important than protecting other people'.  While most Brits stayed at home to celebrate the end of 2020, police were handing out hundreds of fines and breaking up illegal raves across the country.  Police in Essex alone issued £18,000 worth of fines, breaking up events that included a house party with 100 people attending and a fire dancer performing for crowds.  A woman who organised the event in Sewardstonebury was fined £10,000. Elsewhere in the county officers broke up an illegal rave at an abandoned church in East Horndon and another at a warehouse in Brentwood.  Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet criticised those who 'decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people'.  He added: 'We've seized their equipment, arrested five people, and issued a large number of fines to those who think this behaviour is acceptable.  We need you to keep yourselves, other people, and the NHS, safe. Thank you again to everyone who spent their New Year's Eve in a responsible, legal, way. 'Stay safe, Essex.'

Met Police issued 217 people with fixed penalty fines and five people could receive £10,000 fines for organising large gatherings across London.  Two men were stabbed and a woman hit around the head with a bottle as violence broke out when up to 70 people squared up to one another in Edgware Road, London, just minutes after midnight.  There were similar raves across the country, as Greater Manchester Police issued 105 fines, compared to 66 in Brighton and Hove.  In the aftermath of the disturbances on Edgware Road, a photographer working for MailOnline was knocked unconscious while taking pictures near police officers yards from the homes of the rich and famous including Tony Blair and Claudia Winkleman.  As he recovered, he told MailOnline: 'We got there and there were lots of armed police. Big armed police cars were zooming past us we counted 11. There must be 100-and-something police there at least, a lot of them heavily armed.'

He said as he worked, a man approached him and punched him.  'As I hit the floor, six or seven officers rushed to me and then apparently six or seven more caught the guy who did it,' he said. 'He was arrested on the scene.'

The experienced photojournalist said he counted around 60 or 70 suspected gang members present on the street after the initial stabbings had taken place.  Police said they were called by colleagues in the London Fire Brigade to reports of a stabbing on Edgware Road.  A spokesman said: 'Officers attended the scene, with the London Ambulance Service and [the air ambulance]. Two males were identified with stab injuries. Both men were taken to hospital.  A woman was also located at the scene suffering with a head injury, she has been taken to hospital.' He added: 'One woman has been arrested for GBH and taken to a police station.'

Speaking this morning, Met Police Commander Paul Brogden said: 'In all, the vast majority of Londoners complied with the Covid regulations that are in place to protect themselves and their loved ones, and we're grateful to those people. The public are all too aware that Tier 4 restrictions have been put in place to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect the NHS.  We did attend a number of calls to parties and unlicensed events across London, including one where two people were stabbed. My colleagues in the local command unit continue to investigate.  Our enforcement activity will continue. If people insist on gathering and breaching regulations, then officers will attend and encourage people to disperse. Where necessary, enforcement action, including fines starting at £100 and working their way up to £10,000, will be considered.  We are still dealing with the stark reality of fighting a deadly virus. I urge Londoners to continue to keep themselves and their families safe by staying at home.'

Elsewhere in London, dozens of people were found gathering in Chadwell Heath, while another rave was busted at a warehouse in London's Royal Docks.  Some revellers were determined to party despite the threat of £10,000 fines and repeated warnings about the dangers of spreading the virus.  Police say 60 partygoers were found at an unlicensed music event in Kemp Road, Chadwell Heath, on New Year's Eve.  Officers dispersed the crowd and handed a £10,000 fine to the organiser of the rave.  Newham Police said that a 'large unlicensed music event' was shut down by officers and a number of arrests were made at a warehouse in Royal Docks.  Police in Liverpool managed to prevent a gathering after organisers shared details of the event online.  Merseyside Police introduced a dispersal zone for the Pier Head and areas of Liverpool city centre to stop people gathering last night after a post was circulated on social media encouraging people to meet near the Liver Building to party together.  On the post, organisers said: 'F*** Tier 3. Liverpool Pier Head tonight.' 

Officers in Norfolk spotted another event as scores of youngsters began making their way to the event on Hall Road in the village of Ludham, Norfolk, as the countdown to midnight began.  Generators and other equipment for the music was seized, and motorists were told to avoid the area as police officers dispersed the gathering crowds of ravers and shut down the rave before it could begin.  A Norfolk police spokeswoman said 'As cases of coronavirus rise across the county, officers will continue to take firm action against these kinds of gatherings, which breach public health regulations, including the use of fines.'

Around 80 people were dispersed from a party at a rural property in Hyndburn, outside Blackburn, with the organiser receiving a £10,000 on the spot fine.  Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, of Lancashire Police, described the party as a 'shocker'.  He tweeted: 'Home after a very different NYE. Well done @LancsPolice & @NWAmbulance who dealt with a steady stream of incidents after midnight.  Some shockers tonight e.g. Hyndburn rural property with about 80 young people there @LancsPolice stopped it & organiser reported for £10k fine.'

Fines handed out in Brighton were among 81 fixed penalty notices issued by Sussex Police between 6pm on Thursday and 3am on Friday.  The fines ranged from outdoor gatherings of groups in public spaces, to private parties and people travelling from outside the area into the county.  Several were issued to groups gathering on Brighton beach in breach of the restrictions, although there was no large-scale event on the seafront, police said.  Five tickets were issued to a group stopped in a car from London who claimed they were in Brighton to collect a takeaway.  After the event at the 500-year-old All Saints Church in East Horndon, Essex a Grade II listed building members of the conservation group that supports it said they are 'devastated' by the damage caused and estimate repairs could cost more than £1,000.  Organisers of the event set up a bar and DJ decks inside the church and hired Portaloos for partygoers.  Essex Police said officers had been threatened and had objects thrown at them while trying to engage with those present.  Astrid Gillespie, a volunteer for the Friends of All Saints, said she was 'just trying to get her head round the news', having found out via a Facebook post on New Year's Day.  'I went up there and the police were still there packing up the equipment that they seized,' she told the PA news agency.

'There were hundreds of people there, it sounded like it was a ticketed event. It was a professional set-up, they'd hired Portaloos they're still there.  They had a bar area where you had to exchange tokens, so they must have been selling drinks tokens.  There was loads of evidence of drugs and they've done damage to the church, obviously it's a mess and needs to be completely cleaned out.  The ground has been all churned up because they must have had vans dropping off all the equipment.'

Ms Gillespie, 48, said a small window had been smashed to put in an extractor fan unit and the sound equipment had been wired into the church's fuse box.  She added that because of the building's age and heritage status, the damage was 'not going to be cheap' to fix, and that the locks would have to be replaced.  'The vicar is going to organise a preliminary clean-up but it's a huge task and we're estimating £1,000 but it could well be more,' she said.

'I love the place, it's such a beautiful church, and to find out it's been damaged is devastating, I'm just trying to get my head around it.  You wake up in the new year and think 'new year, new me' and then you've got to deal with all this.'

Police said the crowds at the church were dispersed before midnight and that three arrests had been made.  A 27-year-old man from Harlow was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs, a public order offence, and of offences under new coronavirus regulations.  A 22-year-old man from Harlow was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence, possession of cannabis, and of offences under coronavirus regulations.  A 35-year-old man from Southwark was also arrested on suspicion of possession of class A and class B drugs.  The events came as rule-breakers defied instructions to stay home on New Year's Eve and headed out on to the streets.   Piers Corbyn, the anti-lockdown activist brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, railed against the restrictions on a march along London's Southbank.  Pictures show the 73-year-old being held back by supporters as he faces down officers during the protest.  Dozens of people congregated outside County Hall, where Mr Corbyn addressed the demonstration through a megaphone.  Meanwhile others pressed ahead with party plans and flouted rules by toasting in 2021 with a large group of friends.  Crowds were seen gathering on the Southbank, near the London Eye, to catch a glimpse of last night's fireworks display.  Witnesses saw police confiscating alcohol as people looked to celebrate the end of the year.  Most public places typically brimming with crowds lay eerily deserted and usual hotspots such as Trafalgar Square were even boarded up to prevent people congregating.  But in Leeds, some braved the cold weather and were pictured on the streets clutching bottles of wine and crates of beer.  Ahead of last night, police chiefs warned they would be prepared to take action against rule-breakers.  Scotland Yard tweeted: 'We are at a critical point in this pandemic. We would urge everyone to celebrate the New Year in the comfort of their own homes. If people insist on gathering and breaching regulations, then officers will shut them down and enforcement action will be taken.'

The maximum fine for breaking coronavirus restrictions is £10,000 for the most egregious breaches.  Hundreds attend raves across Essex as £18,000 worth of fines are handed out.  Police in Essex were forced to break-up parties across the county last night after being called to gatherings at an abandoned warehouse, a conservation-run church and a house party with more than 100 people attending.  Police seized equipment from a warehouse rave in Brentwood before dispersing events in Thorndon Park and Sewardstonebury, near Epping Forest, overnight.  Three men were arrested at the party at a church in Thorndon Park on drug offences.  Two people were arrested at the rave in Brentwood. One for failing to provide details, and the other on suspicion of drink driving. A woman was issued a £10,000 fine for organising the house party in Sewardstonebury.  Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet thanked people for staying home last night, before adding: 'Unfortunately, there were others who decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people.  We've seized their equipment, arrested five people, and issued a large number of fines to those who think this behaviour is acceptable.  We need you to keep yourselves, other people, and the NHS, safe. Thank you again to everyone who spent their New Year's Eve in a responsible, legal, way. 'Stay safe, Essex.'

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