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Tories under fire over sudden rise in Covid cases and new distancing rules

THE government came under attack from all sides today over the swift rise in Covid-19 infection cases, with scientists saying it was wrong to blame the public while Tory backbenchers wailed at “grotesque” new social distancing requirements.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced open revolt from some Tory MPs over the new rules, which include the ban of indoors and outdoors social gatherings of more than six people from Monday.

The rule is being implemented in response to almost 3,000 new cases of coronavirus being reported in Britain every day this week for the first time since May.

Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull are under a new lockdown amid rising coronavirus cases in the West Midlands.

People there will be banned from socialising with anyone outside their household from Tuesday, unless they are in the same “support bubble” as them.

Birmingham City Council chief Ian Ward said people can meet other households in pubs or restaurants as long as they stick to the “rule of six.”

Critics have questioned the validity of rules that allow socialising only while patronising businesses.

But Mr Ward said: “The reason for this difference is the data and information is telling us it’s household gatherings where they are spreading the virus.

“When you go to the pub or restaurant, a risk assessment will be done.”

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said the new rules will not affect schools, workplaces or transport – however, residents will be banned from visiting households outside locked-down areas.

A ban on two households mixing indoors in Greater Manchester is currently in place but restrictions have been eased this week.

Despite the UK seeing the highest daily rises in coronavirus in four months, the new rules have triggered discontent among Tory MPs.

Steve Baker said: “It is time for us to actually start living like a free people, not subjecting ourselves to constantly shifting legal requirements, which I think now no-one can fully understand.”

Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne said the ban was “absolutely grotesque.”

But scientists warned that government claims people were taking too many tests were “profoundly dangerous.

Stephen Reichner of the Independent Sage group of scientific advisers said: “When people are unsure… if you tell them ‘oh you mustn’t get a test if you’re not unwell’, they will delay.

“It will be longer before people get tests, they will be infectious for longer and the infection will spread more.”


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