Vast Majority Were 'Doing The Right Thing' On 'Super Saturday', Health Secretary Says

Matt Hancock says most people 'acted responsibly' as pubs reopened.

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The vast majority of people who went out on so-called super Saturday as coronavirus restrictions were eased in England “acted responsibly”, the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said most people were “doing the right thing” as pubs, restaurants, cafes and other venues reopened for the first time in three months.

But it came after the chairman of the Police Federation John Apter said it was “crystal clear” that drunk people are unable to follow the one metre-plus social distancing rules amid images of streets packed with drinkers in Soho, London.

Speaking on Sky’s Ridge On Sunday, Hancock said: “Well I think that from what I’ve seen, although there’s some pictures to the contrary, very, very largely people have acted responsibly.

“The large proportion of people, the vast majority of people are, I think, doing the right thing”.

However, he added: “But of course we’ll take action when we need to when... if the minority break the rules.”

On those who did not social distance, Hancock said: “Well we’ll of course keep this very closely under review, and you’ve seen for instance in Leicester but also in other places that we don’t shirk from bringing in more drastic measures if that is what’s needed to control the virus.”

Meanwhile, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens warned that coronavirus will leave a “legacy for years to come” as he launched a new rehabilitation service for people suffering long-term effects of the virus.

Stevens said Covid-19 can leave “significant scarring on the lungs”, while Hancock said there was evidence that the disease can leave long-term effects that “look like a post-viral fatigue syndrome”.

To deal with the problems faced by a “minority” of people who have recovered, the NHS has launched a new Covid recovery service offering 12-weeks worth of online and video support with physios, nurses and other clinical staff.

It came as Stevens said the health service was facing “significant extra costs” despite coronavirus infections falling to relatively low levels, amid reports that he had requested a £10bn cash injection from chancellor Rishi Sunak.

HuffPost UK understands the government has agreed in principle to provide extra funding but is awaiting data from the NHS before deciding on a final settlement.

Launching the recovery service, Stevens told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “It is apparent that there can be a significant scarring on the lungs, that shows up under CT scans, there can be other complications.

“So the new Covid recovery service which we are establishing, actually designed in Leicester, will give people a face-to-face check-up, tailor-make the package, and then 12 weeks-worth of online and digital video support and physios and nurses and others.

“But this is going to be a legacy that is going to be with us for years to come, this is not something that will be resolved in four very intense short months.”

The NHS England chief highlighted other areas where the health service will need extra cash despite the country getting beyond the first peak in coronavirus infections.

“Looking out over the balance of the year, obviously there are judgments to be made about how we sustain the extra beds we think we are going to need.

“We are likely to have a big flu vaccination campaign this winter. There are very significant extra costs from personal protective equipment (PPE) and other parts of the service.”

Asked how much extra that would cost, he said: “That is a dialogue we are having but all the signs are that we will get the support we need.”

Meanwhile, both Stevens and Hancock said they wanted to see NHS staff “properly rewarded” in terms of pay.

Stevens said: “You would expect me as the head of the NHS to back staff across the health service.

“Of course we want to see NHS staff properly rewarded. Those will be decisions the government will have to take later in the year.”

Hancock stopped short of saying frontline health workers would get an additional pay rise.

But he told Marr: “The good news is there is already an agreed pay rise. So we will absolutely ensure that we recognise the work that frontline staff in the NHS have done.”

Asked if he wants to see the pay of NHS staff going up in real terms this year, Hancock added: “Well of course I want to see people properly rewarded, absolutely.”


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