2 min read
People arriving in the UK from Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas will have to enter coronavirus quarantine following a spike in cases, the Government has announced.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that arrivals from the three destinations will have to spend 14 days in self-isolation, in the latest additions to the UK’s quarantine list.
All three had been exempt from the requirement since an easing of the restrictions last month.
But Mr Shapps tweeted: “Data shows we need to remove Andorra, Belgium and the Bahamas from our list of Coronavirus Travel Corridors in order to keep infection rates DOWN.”
The Foreign Office has meanwhile updated its travel advice to warn against all-but essential travel to the three destinations.
The latest data from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) show that Belgium’s 14-day number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people is 49.2 — well above the UK’s 14.3.
Cases in Belgium have quadrupled since mid-July, and Andorra has seen a five-fold rise over the same period.
The weekly case rate in the Bahamas peaked at 78.6 last week — up sharply from the 3.1 posted in mid-July.
The move was first announced by the Welsh Government, with Wales giving those returning less time to do so before the changes kick in than the UK Government.
The UK administration said the changes would come into force “from 4am Saturday 8 August 2020”, and followed “a significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in all 3 destinations“.
But Welsh health minister Vaughan Gethin said: “Anyone who arrives in Wales from Andorra, the Bahamas and Belgium or who has been in any of those countries or territories during the last 14 days will be required to isolate for 14 days as of tomorrow [Friday].”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The four nations of the UK made this decision together and we have amended our regulations.
“We understand similar changes will be made in the other nations.”
Pelosi wrestles with House factions ahead of Supreme Court confirmation fight
Both factions see their priorities as key to delivering Democrats sweeping power in the House, Senate and White House next year. Whether Pelosi can keep her sprawling caucus from splintering in the month before the election will be critical.
“Leadership has to try to tend to the many different voices in a big very tent. And I understand that,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a senior member of the House Oversight Committee.
“But I think this goes beyond an issue of politics,” Connolly added. “It’s about the future of the country. And that’s why I favor robust action that would have been considered really out there — bold — a few years ago.”
Since the death of the liberal icon on Friday, Pelosi has carefully sought to temper progressive expectations about the Supreme Court fight without dampening their enthusiasm — and risk depressing voter turnout on the left over the issue.
Liberal Democrats, both in Congress and leading grassroots groups across the country, have been incensed as they watched Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) lock down support for a vote before the election or during a lame duck that could give the court a conservative majority for decades.
Cash is flooding in, and protests have lined the streets of Washington. Activists and even some elected Democrats have begun to talk seriously about packing the courts or an end to the Senate filibuster — historic institutional changes that establishment Democrats have long rejected.
Some chatter even emerged on the left of pursuing the impeachment of a Trump appointee like Attorney General William Barr in a last-ditch attempt to slow the process, though progressives in Washington have been far more restrained in their messaging. Senior Democrats have also repeatedly privately dismissed the idea, saying it wouldn’t work anyway.
“We’ve got to talk about what’s at stake now, what’s at stake in the lives of millions and millions of people,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) when asked about liberal calls for court-packing or ending the filibuster. “Health care is on the ticket once again. … This fight touches the lives of every single person in this country.”
The most progressive voices in the party, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), have clearly articulated their support for Senate Democrats to ultimately strike back, such as eliminating the legislative filibuster and adding justices to the court.
“Frankly, I think if Vice President Biden wants to accomplish anything significant in his term, that is what is going to be necessary,” the liberal Democrat told POLITICO. “If I’m Joe Biden and I completely shut down the possibility of expanding the court, I would seriously question what you can even accomplish as president.”
But Ocasio-Cortez has also made a concerted effort to stay on message with the Democratic party leadership in the crucial final run-up to the November election.
Over the weekend, Ocasio-Cortez appeared alongside Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a New York City press conference, where both insisted that Democrats would keep their options open. And Ocasio-Cortez also said even though Biden hasn’t embraced far-left ideas like court-packing, he is at least “open” to different ideas and she thinks he is “calculating correctly.”
The demands of the far left could hardly look more different than the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, which is more worried about holding onto their seats in November. They say the party’s only response should be talking more about the threats to Americans’ health care — repeating the playbook that helped propel the party back to power in the House in 2018.
And most centrist Democrats have little interest in heeding demands of outside liberal groups and even some members, which they fear will cause lasting damage to the institution and may only backfire the next time the Republican party seizes power.
“We have to focus on right now and protecting health care today,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who leads the caucus’ messaging arm. “If we’re privileged enough to win the House, the Senate and the White House, we’ll have lots of opportunities to talk about solutions. But right now, we need to call out the president for what he is attempting to do.”
Moderate Democrats were privately furious that some of their more liberal counterparts, like Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), would float the idea of expanding the court in retaliation for Republicans ramming through a new Supreme Court justice this year.
And even publicly, some congressional Democrats argue that the vocal calls for scorched-earth tactics right now could have unintended consequences for the party.
“Why provide anybody any ammunition at all to attack us for something that is speculative?” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary Committee. “The Republicans would love nothing more than to shift this into an academic discussion about the number of times that the Supreme Court’s size has changed.”
Pelosi refused to rule out extreme dilatory tactics like impeachment during an interview on ABC on Sunday, saying the House will use “every arrow in our quiver” to stop Republicans from confirming President Donald Trump’s third high court nominee. But Democrats privately shut down the idea of pursuing impeachment. And Pelosi has repeatedly tried to shift the focus to what the Supreme Court fight means for preserving or destroying Obamacare.
Pelosi and Schumer circulated talking points encouraging Democrats to frame the Supreme Court fight in those terms. And Pelosi has repeatedly emphasized the success of Democrats’ almost singular health care message in 2018.
Pelosi speculated that Republicans and Trump were rushing to fill the high court vacancy to strike down the Affordable Care Act, a move she predicted would backfire on the GOP like the party’s effort to dismantle the law in 2018. The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in the Trump administration’s challenge to Obamacare the week after the election.
“You overturn the Affordable Care Act, you overturn preexisting conditions, 2018 will be a way of life for Republicans,” Pelosi told Democrats on a private call Tuesday, according to sources on the call.
Many moderate Democrats have already made health care a top issue in their reelection campaigns this fall.
But they’ve also begun to feel the intense pressure on another issue: economic relief for tens of millions of Americans who’ve been left struggling as the U.S. economy sputtered over the last six months due to the pandemic.
“People in my district are worried about their pocketbooks and their kids,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a frontliner, said in an interview Tuesday. “And while they feel very strongly about the importance of a lifetime appointment … they want to know when the next Covid emergency relief bill is gonna be here, they want to know how they can get masks and supplies to keep their businesses open, they want to know what’s happening with unemployment.”
Democrats in the most competitive races have begun vocally pressing Pelosi and her leadership team for more dramatic steps on a coronavirus relief package. More than 20 Democrats, including Slotkin, signed a bipartisan letter to Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday urging them to keep lawmakers in Washington until a relief bill can be passed — even if it means less time to campaign before November.
“This should be our number one priority in the coming days,” lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was first reported by the New York Times and obtained by POLITICO.
At least a dozen Democrats are also privately discussing joining a GOP discharge petition that would force a vote on additional aid for small business grants, known as the Paycheck Protection Program. That includes Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) — all facing tough reelection battles this fall.
In one sign of hope, Pelosi told her members in a private call on Tuesday that she’s still pushing to secure a pandemic aid package with GOP leaders — regardless of the intense discussions over the court across the Capitol — with hopes of delivering relief before the election.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told members on Tuesday they should be expected to remain in town next week and he is keeping the schedule open for a potential vote.
“Getting into these beltway arguments, in this bubble, when people are hurting, small businesses are going out of business every day for good. … What are we quibbling about here?” said Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), referring to the debate over court-packing and nuking the filibuster.
“There’s still an alarming rate of Covid positive tests in this country. I just think it’s a little premature to talk about what Democrats are gonna do in the Senate in January.”
Dido Harding Has Been Asked By MPs To Reveal The Evidence Behind Pub Closures
3 min read
Coronavirus testing chief Dido Harding is being asked by MPs to provide the evidence behind the new 10pm pub curfew and the decision to only allow table service.
Mike Wood, the chair of Westminster’s largest cross-party interest group, the all-party parliamentary group for beer, said pubs could be financially crippled by the government’s decision to shut them early.
He suggested that if there is evidence from NHS Test and Trace justifying the move, it would be fair for publicans to be able to see it.
On the idea that the disease spreads in pubs, Wood said: “We do need to see the information that they have got that shows why this is much more likely.
“The overwhelming majority of pubs are taking a lot of measures to reduce the risk and increasing cleaning.
“I’ve written to Baroness Harding on behalf of the APPG to ask for more detail on what Test and Trace has shown.”
The APPG has 22 members from across the Commons and Lords and a representative from most political parties. It aims to support the pub and brewing industry.
Wood said the new rules announced by the government would put enormous pressure on pubs, many of which are already in financial difficulty after being closed for so long.
In some small rural areas, he said rather than the reduced hours being the difficulty, it is likely to be impossible to set up table service because of the size of their premises and staffing. He said they might have no alternative to close.
The Treasury may also need to step in to help struggling pubs by extending a grant scheme for the retail and hospitality sector that was delivered through local authorities in April and May, he suggested.
“We are going to need to consider what more is needed because this is going to be lasting much longer than we hoped it would.
“Most of them are operating on a fraction of their former business, few of them are not even breaking even,” he said.
Boris Johnson said in the Commons today reducing pub opening times was a difficult decision but the evidence showed the disease has spread between people at night when more alcohol has been consumed. He said this move could drive down the R-number.
Toby Perkins MP, who chairs the separate all-party parliamentary group for pubs, is also calling on the government to release more information on how they made their decision.
The Labour MP wants ministers to explain to MPs in the Commons what Test and Trace has revealed.
“There are a lot of pubs that have gone to tremendous efforts to be socially distancing and safe places.
“I’d be interested to see the evidence for this. Has the government picked up from actual evidence that people were being careful at the start of the night but less as the drinks flowed?
“The department for health has the data in terms of track and trace and if this decision has come from that then that would be interesting but it’s really a case of them telling us on what basis the decision has been made, then we can scrutinise.”
Outside of Westminster, groups representing the pub trade were also urging government to rapidly release the basis on which the decision over pubs had been made.
Tom Stainer, CAMRA chief executive, said the government’s decision would punish thousands of responsible publicans across England who are providing safe environments for their customers.
“CAMRA is calling on the government to publish the evidence that pubs or restaurants are the source of more transmissions than other sectors across the country – if they aren’t, then why are they being singled out for nationwide restrictions?” he said.
Breonna Taylor: Kentucky city on edge ahead of prosecutor decision
Louisville, Kentucky, is under a state of emergency as prosecutors are expected to announce if police officers who killed a black woman in her home during a drug raid will be charged.
Mayor Greg Fischer said he had declared the measure “due to the potential for civil unrest”.
Breonna Taylor, 26, a hospital emergency room technician, was shot multiple times on 13 March.
Her name has become a rallying cry for anti-police brutality protesters.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is expected to announce any day whether his office will bring charges.
How is the city preparing?
Mayor Fischer’s emergency declaration on Tuesday noted that protests have been held for over 100 consecutive days in Louisville.
The city leader, a Democrat, is authorising police to close traffic on certain streets where protests have been prevalent.
The mayor said he did not know what the attorney general would say.
He added: “Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement.
“At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe.”
Barricades are being erected around the city centre to reduce access to the area and the federal courthouse will be closed. The police department has cancelled leave requests.
Officers will be required to work 12-hour shifts, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported, citing an internal memo.
Interim police chief Robert Schroeder told reporters on Tuesday that an announcement in the case was expected this week.
“In the community, we have all heard the rumours,” Chief Schroeder said. “We all know something is coming. We don’t know what it is.”
Governor Andy Beshear has said he is ready to deploy National Guard units in the event of violent protests.
What happened to Ms Taylor?
Shortly after midnight on Friday 13 March, she was in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, watching a film when they heard a banging on the door.
Plainclothes Louisville police officers were carrying out a narcotics raid, and they used a battering ram to enter the property.
A judge had granted a warrant to search Ms Taylor’s home because investigators suspected a convicted drug dealer – her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover – was using the address to receive packages. She had no criminal record.
Mr Walker, a licensed gun owner, later told police he thought the late-night intruder was Glover, according to the New York Times.
Mr Walker fired one round with his pistol, hitting one of the officers in the thigh. The officers returned fire, discharging more than 20 rounds.
Ms Taylor, who had also got out of bed amid the commotion, died on the hallway floor. Her death certificate records five bullet wounds.
The Louisville police officers were executing a “no-knock” warrant that allowed them to enter the property without announcing themselves.
Mr Walker and nearly a dozen local residents told local media that the officers had not identified themselves. But one neighbour said he heard one or more officers shout: “Police.”
No drugs were found at the property, though Jefferson County prosecutor Thomas Wine has said the search was cancelled after the shooting.
What happened to the officers?
One of the three involved in Ms Taylor’s death – Brett Hankinson – was fired from the force in June after investigators found he had “wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds” into the apartment, according to his termination letter.
The other two officers who discharged their weapons that night, Sgt Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, have been reassigned to administrative duties.
The Courier-Journal has reported that six officers are under internal police review for their role in the shooting.
Sgt Mattingly wrote an email on Saturday to more than 1,000 colleagues encouraging them and criticising their city leaders and protesters.
“Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night,” he wrote in the message, which was published by media outlets on Tuesday.
“It’s sad how the good guys are demonised, and the criminals are canonised.”
“Your civil rights mean nothing,” he added, “but the criminal has total autonomy.”
What has happened since Ms Taylor’s death?
Glover, who was arrested on the same night of her death for drug possession, has said prosecutors pressed him to name her as a “co-defendant” in the case against him.
In May, Ms Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. It concluded in September with a $12m (£9.3m) pay out from the city.
The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville’s city council.
In the wake of her death, demonstrators have chanted “say her name” to raise awareness of her death, in addition to police killings of other African Americans, like George Floyd.
Celebrities and athletes have joined calls for the policemen to be charged. A magazine founded by US talk show host Oprah Winfrey has funded billboards around Louisville calling for the officers to be arrested.
Ms Taylor’s case has been invoked in the presidential race ahead of the 3 November election. Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden has also called for the officers to be charged.
President Donald Trump, a Republican, has not referred directly to the case, but he has made a call for law and order a central plank of his re-election platform.
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