Latest updates: the chancellor provides economic support information, while Michael Gove warns the country of “very difficult” weeks ahead.
This morning, Sir Keir Starmer was also giving interviews in the studios. The primary points he said are here.
When he said last night that 13 million people will be vaccinated by the middle of next month, Starmed indicated that Boris Johnson may have over-promised.
Seven weeks, the prime minister said, so the vaccination program can be carried out to 13 to 14 million individuals. That’s the prime minister’s target.
He didn’t over-promise, I hope.
It’s going to be a war, and we’ve got to get this done.
Johnson said in his speech last night:
We expect the first dose of vaccine to be given to everyone in the top four priority groups listed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization by mid-February, if things are going well and with a strong wind in our sails.
This includes vaccinating all occupants of older adult nursing homes and their caregivers, everybody over the age of 70, all health and social service staff, and all clinically highly susceptible persons.
This graph is helpful since it demonstrates how many individuals are in the various target groups of the JCVI vaccine and what will be the effect of complete vaccination on Covid deaths.
It comes from the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group’s John Roberts.
Actuary (@john actuary)
For ease, here’s the map. Image.twitter.com/5qrUKc1ldz1ldz
14th December, 2020
Starmer stated that the latest foreclosure steps are backed by Labor.
To crack down on anti-vaccine hysteria, he called on the government to consider emergency legislation. He was saying:
Anti-vaccine campaigns have to be dealt with because they’re going to cost lives.
I will be able to collaborate with the government on that if we have to pass emergency legislation to deal with them.
He said that the Labor Party wanted to keep the schools open, but it was clear that they were going to have to close.
He refused an invitation to make the point on the Today program that the decision of Boris Johnson to postpone the new closure had led to people dying prematurely.
Starmer said that in implementing controls, he had repeatedly accused the government of being “too slow” but he did not want to get into a “emotional discussion” over whether that had led to needless deaths.
This morning, Michael Gove, the minister of the Cabinet Office, suggested in his radio interviews that the latest lockdown for England is likely to remain in effect until at least March. He said:
I think it is right to assume that we should be able to remove some, but not necessarily all, of these constraints as we reach March.
Simon Murphy, my colleague, has the story here.
And here are some other lines from the interview session with Gove in the morning.
Gove did not refuse claims that before boarding, the government plans to mandate individuals arriving at airports in England to screen negative for Covid.
Asked about it, Gove replied:
Later today and in the coming days, we will be making announcements about how we will ensure that our ports and airports are safe.
There are already major restrictions on people coming to this country, and we stress, of course, that nobody can travel abroad.
But I don’t want to prejudge the particular advice that is going to be offered.
He said that last night, just hours after saying earlier in the day that children should be in schools because the advice of chief medical officers had changed, Boris Johnson declared a lockout.
Asked why the policy was so rapidly evolving, Gove said:
The four chief medical officers of the UK met and discussed the situation yesterday and their recommendation was that the country should go to level 5, the highest alert level available, which meant that there was an imminent risk of the NHS being overwhelmed if action was not taken.
Under those conditions, we thought that the only thing we could do was to close the open elementary schools.
He said Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, will make a statement to MPs when the House of Commons reconvenes tomorrow to explain how pupils will be assessed this year. Gove said:
Obviously we can’t have A-levels, GCSEs or B-techs in the way we have had them in the past, but there are ways of making sure