Grant Shapps reveals father, 89, is fighting for life with Covid

Grant Shapps reveals his 89-year-old father is fighting for life on Covid ward after catching virus in hospital – and family have been unable to visit for two months due to lockdown

  • Grant Shapps hasn’t been able to visit his father for two months due to lockdown
  • Transport Secretary praised ‘incredible’ NHS staff who he speaks to ‘every day’ 
  • Said father spoke over phone but hasn’t been able to do so in the past few days

Grant Shapps has revealed his 89-year-old father is fighting for his life in a Covid ward after catching the virus in hospital.

The Transport Secretary said he hasn’t been able to visit his father Tony for two months due to lockdown rules – but praised the ‘incredible’ NHS staff who he speaks to ‘every day’.

Mr Shapps said his father has always been ‘quite techy’ so was able to speak to the family over the phone – but hasn’t been able to do so in the past few days. 

He stressed that his father’s hospital stay has reiterated the importance of adhering to the rules – including ‘not bringing in new variants of the this virus which we may not be quite so ready to combat’.

His warning comes just days before travellers arriving into England from ‘red list’ countries will be forced to pay £1,750 to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days. 

Grant Shapps (pictured) has revealed his 89-year-old father is fighting for his life in a Covid ward after catching the virus in hospital

Mr Shapps told Good Morning Britain: ‘My own father is on a Covid ward and has been for some time. We’ve not been able to visit my dad for two months now.’

He said it has been ‘very difficult’ and stressed that coronavirus ‘gets everybody’, including politicians.

He added: ‘[Covid] wasn’t the reason he went into hospital originally but he did pick it up. We’re all very worried.’

Mr Shapps said he was able to speak to his father over the phone during his hospital stint, but added: ‘Unfortunately in the last day or two we’ve not been getting contact from him in the same way.

Mr Shapps told Good Morning Britain (pictured): ‘My own father is on a Covid ward and has been for some time. We’ve not been able to visit my dad for two months now’

‘We’re obviously speaking to the nurses when we can, but they’re very, very pressed and this is the point, the hospitals are still under immense pressure.’ 

He said that ‘one good piece of news’ is his father was moved from a larger Covid ward to a smaller one one day prior – as the hospital reported a reduction in patients.

He added: ‘But even now, even with that reduction, it’s still higher than it was in the first peak so we are not out of this yet, we just need to adhere to lockdown and to the rules to stop more people ending up in those hospitals.’

Asked about carrying out the role of Cabinet minister while his father is unwell, he said: ‘It is very difficult. I know that quite often people think that people in authority or power or in public service live a different, gilded life.

‘The truth is, you live the same life as everyone else, and coronavirus, that gets everybody, got my dad.

‘It wasn’t the reason he went into hospital originally but unfortunately he did pick it up and we’re all very worried.’ 

Mr Shapps said that he had been speaking to nurses about his father’s condition when possible, but said staff were ‘very, very pressed’ and that hospitals remained under ‘immense pressure’.

‘I do just pay tribute to their extraordinary patience,’ he added.

‘Not only with the patients themselves, who sometimes can be quite distressed as my dad has been, but also just the relentless pressure of this and the hours that they have been working.’

Earlier today, Mr Shapps today warned people not to book any holidays at home or abroad yet as ministers face a major backlash over threatening to jail travellers for 10 years if they lie about having been to ‘red list’ countries.

The Transport Secretary made clear there is no guarantee that breaks will be possible at all this year, saying he did not want to ‘raise people’s hopes’.

Matt Hancock yesterday unveiled the toughest crackdown on border measures to prevent strains of coronavirus entering the UK from 33 ‘red list,’ countries, including a 10-year term for those who lie about passing through the countries

The grim comments came amid anger at the extreme border crackdown unveiled by Matt Hancock yesterday in an effort to stop mutant coronavirus strains.

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption branded the mooted maximum 10-year prison term for travellers who try to hide their movements ‘inhumane’ – pointing out it is longer than for some sex offences.

And ex-Attorney General Dominic Grieve said courts would never impose the 10-year sentence, which he branded ‘draconian’. 

However, Mr Shapps insisted the move was ‘appropriate’. 

‘It’s up to 10 years, it’s a tariff, it’s not necessarily how long somebody would go to prison for,’ he told BBC Breakfast.

‘But I do think it is serious if people put others in danger by deliberately misleading and saying that you weren’t in Brazil or South Africa, or one of the red list countries, which as you say does include Portugal.

‘But I think the British public would expect pretty strong action because we’re not talking now just about, ‘oh there’s a lot of coronavirus in that country and you might bring some more of it back when we already have plenty of it here’.

‘What we’re talking about now are the mutations, the variants, and that is a different matter, because we don’t want to be in a situation where we later on discover that there’s a problem with vaccines.’

Lord Sumption has blasted the Government’s measures, saying ministers were ‘unfit for office,’ and suggesting moving Mr Hancock to another department would do ‘him, and us, a power of good’

Asked during a round of interviews this morning what the prospects were for the restrictions easing in time for the summer, Mr Shapps said: ‘It is a fact that right now it is illegal to leave your home to go on holiday…

‘At the moment that is off the cards…

‘I don’t want to unnecessarily raise people’s hopes. The truth is we just don’t know how the virus will respond both to the vaccines and how people will respond…’

Mr Shapps told Sky News: ‘I can’t give you a definitive will there or won’t there be the opportunity to take holidays this next year, either at home or abroad.’

He added: ‘I don’t know what the situation will be by the middle of the summer. Nobody can tell from the point where we sit right now.’

Mr Shapps also told the BBC: ‘You shouldn’t be booking holidays right now, either internationally or domestically’ 

Lord Sumption’s article in The Telegraph suggested ministers who only considered the positives of the term, without considering the cons, are ‘unfit to hold office’.

He then suggested Mr Hancock should lose his position as Health Secretary, which he has held since July 2018. 

Lord Sumption said: ‘A spell in another department which has to cope with the collateral damage, would do him, and us, a power of good. Try Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, or perhaps Culture, Media and Sport.’ 

In a comment piece published yesterday, Lord Sumption wrote: ‘Does Mr Hancock really think that non-disclosure of a visit to Portugal is worse than the large number of violent firearms offences or sexual offences involving minors, for which the maximum is seven years?’ 

The measures come amid continuing concerns over home-grown coronavirus strains as scientists advising the Government added one detected in Bristol to its ‘variant of concern’ list. 

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve also told the paper: ‘The maximum sentence of 10 years for what is effectively a regulatory breach sounds, in the circumstances, unless it can be justified, extraordinarily high.’

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme he added: ‘The reality is that nobody would get such a sentence anyway, the courts are simply not going to impose it.

‘You certainly shouldn’t do it, it’s not however proportionate to suggest that someone should be sent to prison for 10 years. 

‘You only have to look at the sort of offences that attract a maximum of 10 years, it’s a mistake of the government to suggest something which is not going to happen.

‘My view is that good government is about proportionality and sounding off with suggestions of draconian and disproportionate sentences for an offence is a mistake.

‘The fact is I have no doubt that if this is properly tailored a person who does this might receive a custodial sentence and if somebody who is normally a law abiding individual, that will doubtless do them a lot of damage and act as an adequate deterrent.’

Mr Grieve added: ‘It needs to be explained plainly and simply to people rather than exaggerated in this fashion.’ 

Mr Hancock had earlier told MPs: ‘I make no apologies for the strength of these measures, because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation.’

He also confirmed a new ‘enhanced testing’ regime for all international travellers, with two tests required during the quarantine process from Monday. 

Those who fail to take a test face a £1,000 fine, followed by a £2,000 penalty and an extension to their quarantine period, to 14 days, if they miss the second test. 

Mr Hancock indicated the quarantine measures might be in place until the autumn if vaccine booster jabs are needed in response to coronavirus variants.

He told the Commons that 16 hotels have been contracted to provide 4,600 rooms for the quarantine programme, which begins on Monday.

The Scottish Government said this approach is ‘not sufficient’ so it is requiring all international travellers arriving into Scotland to stay in a quarantine hotel.

No international flights are currently operating to Wales or Northern Ireland, but Stormont’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said it is ‘crucially important’ for the nations to work together to stall the arrival of new and concerning strains from abroad.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth claimed the public wants the Government to ‘go further’ on border measures. 

Mr Hancock indicated the quarantine measures might be in place until the autumn if vaccine booster jabs are needed in response to coronavirus variants

Six in ten Britons say they ‘could cope well’ with ten days in hotel quarantine 

From Monday, UK residents returning from 33 countries will have to isolate for 10 days in hotels. 

Now, a YouGov poll has revealed that most Britons think they’d cope well with the quarantine. 

Forty four percent think they would cope fairly well in this situation, while a further 16% think they would cope very well

A third (34%) say they would either not cope very well (19%) or not well at all (15%)

Women (37%) are slightly more likely than men (31%) to say they wouldn’t cope well in hotel quarantine

‘Our first line of defence is surely to do everything we can to stop (new variants) arising in the first place,’ the Labour MP said. 

‘That means securing our borders to isolate new variants as they come in. He’s announced a detailed package today but he hasn’t announced comprehensive quarantine controls at the borders.’

Travel trade organisation Abta said requiring passengers to pay for multiple tests once leisure travel is restarted would have ‘serious cost implications’ and ‘hurt demand’.

A spokeswoman urged ministers to ‘develop a roadmap to reopen travel’.

Single adults will be charged £1,750 for a 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel, which covers the hotel, transfer and testing.

Meanwhile, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) added the variant detected in Bristol to its ‘variant of concern’ list.

A strain identified in Liverpool was also classed as a ‘variant under investigation’.

Public Health England’s Dr Susan Hopkins said the relatively slow rise in cases of the South African and Bristol variant is ‘reassuring’.

But she warned that controlling them will become much more challenging as lockdown is relaxed.

Health officials said they had so far found 76 cases of the Bristol and Liverpool variants in the UK. 

Both those variants contain the E484K mutation, a genetic change also found in both the South African and Brazilian variants, which experts suggest may be better at evading the human immune response.

The Department of Health and Social Care also said extra coronavirus testing will be carried out in the borough of Lambeth, south London, after a case of the South African variant was discovered.


In a more positive development, The Sun reported official data from tests on the Pfizer vaccine showed a single dose could reduce the risk of infection by around 65% in both older people and young adults after as little as two weeks.

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