The Government has been criticised for treating children “as an afterthought” during the Covid-19 crisis and not acting quickly enough to close the UK border in the early days of the pandemic.
A failure to quarantine travellers arriving in the UK in the early days of the pandemic “accelerated” the spread of Covid-19, a new report by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee suggests.
Meanwhile, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield said the re-opening of schools “should be prioritised” as lockdown measures are eased, saying schools must be the first to reopen and the last to close during any local lockdowns ahead of pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops.
It comes as new laws enforcing lockdown restrictions in areas of the north of England including Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire came into force at midnight.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions on Gatherings) (North of England) Regulations 2020 were published on Tuesday afternoon and come into force on Wednesday.
Anyone found flouting the rules could be fined £100 up to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offences.
Elsewhere, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has criticised Boris Johnson in a newspaper column for what he called his “slow response” to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Writing in The Guardian, Sir Keir said: “Trying to get answers and clarity from the Prime Minister is a frustrating experience.
“His instincts – to make excuses and blame others – are reminiscent of the schoolboy claiming his dog has eaten his homework. ”
The latest figures show 46,299 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Monday, up by 89 from the day before.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 56,600 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The Government also said in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 670 lab-confirmed cases. Overall, a total of 306,293 cases have been confirmed.
Reflecting the growing acceptance of face masks in combating Covid-19, the Duchess of Cambridge was seen wearing one such covering on a visit to a charity in Sheffield on Thursday.
She revealed on the trip to Baby Basics UK in South Yorkshire that stories of families struggling during lockdown had moved her to tears.
The Duchess of Cornwall recently wore a face covering during a visit to the National Gallery in London, and the Prince of Wales has joked about being given tartan masks.