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Delaying COVID restrictions could result in ‘weekend of partying’,

A Stop the Spread sign in Nottingham. Health officials are expecting the city to be placed in lockdown after a surge in Covid-19 cases. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Stop the Spread sign in Nottingham as health officials are expecting the city to be placed in lockdown after a surge in COVID-19 cases. (Getty)

A council leader has warned a delay to new local lockdown measures in the north of England will encourage a “final weekend of partying”.

Reports emerged on Thursday that pubs and restaurants would be shut down in many northern cities from Monday amid surging cases.

David Mellen, Nottingham council leader, warned ministers the delay in bringing in the new plans, which were leaked to a number of newspapers, will mean another weekend where people can mix and risk spreading COVID-19.

Nottingham is facing enhanced restrictions after a sharp rise in cases.

Asked whether people will have “one last blowout” before the hospitality shutdown, Mellen told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Absolutely. That is our concern, absolutely.”

El primer ministro británico Boris Johnson visita las oficinas de Octopus Energy en Londres, el lunes 5 de octubre de 2020. (Leon Neal/Pool via AP)
Boris Johnson is reportedly set to order the closure of pubs and restaurant in some northern cities. (AP)

He added: “There is a chance this weekend that people will think: ‘This might be the last chance before Christmas, so let’s go out and party.’ And we can’t have that.”

Mellen said that it felt like Nottingham residents are “victims of a government change of approach”.

He went on: “And therefore, even though we’ve got very high numbers that we’ve known about since the beginning of the week, we’ve got ‘til next week for government to bring in what we expect will be restrictions in Nottingham.”

Watch: 150 people break coronavirus law with a ‘dangerous’ rave in an abandoned pub

Local politicians have hit out at the government over their approach to lockdown measures in the North, saying they have been kept in the dark and that their local expertise has been ignored.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said on Thursday that ministers had not made him aware of the plans to shut down hospitality.

He told the BBC: “What they are doing is imposing rather than negotiating.

“And there is a very big difference between those two things when we know millions of people’s lives will be affected by these things.”

Mayors, MPs and councillors have pledged to oppose any new lockdown measures unless the government offers a comprehensive package of financial support.

Health officials are expecting Nottingham to be among those placed into local lockdown after a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The city’s infection rate has soared, with 1,465 new cases recorded in the seven days to 3 October – the equivalent of 440.1 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 71.2 per 100,000 in the seven days to 26 September, a week that saw 237 new cases.

The director of public health for

Trump Signs Medicare Loan Relief Bill Delaying Repayments

President Trump on Thursday morning signed a bill to keep the federal government running through December 11. This “continuing resolution” (CR), which was approved by the Senate Wednesday on an 84-10 vote, according to The New York Times, includes provisions to delay repayment by physicians of pandemic-related Medicare loans and to reduce the loans’ interest rate.

In an earlier news release, the American Medical Association (AMA) reported that Congress and the White House had agreed to include the provisions on Medicare loans in the CR.

Under the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments (AAP) program, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) advanced money to physicians who were financially impacted by the pandemic. The program, created in March, was suspended in late April.

Physicians who received the Medicare loans were supposed to start paying them back 120 days after they were made. CMS planned to recoup the advances by offsetting them against Medicare claims payments due to physicians. Practices had up to 210 days (7 months) to repay the loans through this process before being asked to repay them directly with interest of 10.25%.

For the practices that received these advances, that meant their Medicare cash flow was scheduled to dry up, starting in August. However, CMS quietly abstained from collecting these payments when they came due, according to Modern Healthcare.

New Terms

Under the new loan repayment terms in the CR, recoupment of the disbursed funds is postponed until 365 days after the date on which a practice received the money. The balance is due by September 2022.

The amount to be recouped from each claim is reduced from 100% to 25% of the claim for the first 11 months and to 50% of claims withheld for an additional 6 months. If the loan is not repaid in full by then, the provider must pay the balance with interest of 4%.

More than 80% of the $100 billion that CMS loaned to healthcare providers through May 2 went to hospitals, Modern Healthcare calculated. Of the remainder, specialty or multispecialty practices received $3.5 billion, internal medicine specialists got $24 million, family physicians were loaned $15 million, and federally qualified health centers received $20 million.

In the AMA’s news release, AMA President Susan Bailey, MD, who assumed the post in June, called the original loan repayment plan an “economic sword hanging over physician practices.”

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