The major retailers say they have no intention of enforcing new rules which will punish people who refuse to cover their faces with a £100 fine.
Government guidance published yesterday states that masks must be worn in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres across England.
Britons must also wear masks in banks, takeaway outlets, post offices and sandwich shops – including when buying food and drink to take out from cafes.
With police unwilling to enforce the new laws, though, the Government has asked retailers to ‘take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store’.
Government guidance published yesterday states that masks must be worn in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres across England. Britons must also wear masks in banks, takeaway outlets, post offices and sandwich shops – including when buying food and drink to take out from cafes (pictured, Boris Johnson during a visit to Orkney Cheese in Kirkwall)
Asda claimed that ‘it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police and enforce the new rules’, but said it will ‘strongly encourage customers’ to wear masks
Sainsbury’s said ‘our colleagues will not be responsible for enforcing’ the new rules, though it is asking everyone to continue ‘playing their part’ (pictured, store in Plymouth, March 19)
WHO IS EXEMPT FROM WEARING A FACE COVERING UNDER THE NEW LAWS?
While face coverings will be mandatory in shops, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets in England from Friday there are some exemptions.
Section three of the Government guidance, published on Thursday, sets out a list of ‘legitimate reasons’ not to wear a covering.
Groups and settings include:
– young children under the age of 11
– those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
– those who will be caused severe distress by putting on, wearing or removing a face covering
– people travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
– to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm
– to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
– to take medication
– if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official
– if you are asked to remove a face covering in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
– if you are asked by shop staff or relevant employees to take a face covering off for identification, or by for example a pharmacist for the purpose of assessing health recommendations, or for age identification purposes including when buying age-restricted products such as alcohol
– if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound to help with communication
It is not mandatory for shop or supermarket staff or transport workers to wear face coverings but employers can ask them to do so where appropriate and where other mitigation is not in place, the guidance states.
People exempt from wearing a face covering can choose to carry and show an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign, the Government says.
Several retailers told The Daily Telegraph that they had no intention of forcing people to wear face coverings if they enter their premises unmasked.
Sainsbury’s said ‘our colleagues will not be responsible for enforcing’ the new rules, though it is asking everyone to continue ‘playing their part’.
Asda claimed that ‘it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police and enforce the new rules’, but said it will ‘strongly encourage customers’ to wear masks.
Costa Coffee has also said that it will ‘not be challenging customers who enter our stores without a mask since they may have a legitimate reason’ not to – which include for disabilities and if wearing a covering may cause ‘severe distress’.
Paul Gerrard, director of public affairs at Co-op Food, told The Telegraph that it is not the job of shop workers to enforce the rules, adding: ‘It’s the police’s job’.
And the Association of Convenience Stores said: ‘We have advised members not to challenge customers unwilling to wear a covering.’
Wearing a mask will be compulsory in all shops, stations, banks and post offices from today. Detailed regulations published last night revealed that the new rules go beyond just shops and also require people to cover their faces in all ‘transport hubs’, shopping centres and petrol stations.
Even customers entering banks – where face coverings are normally discouraged – will be required to don a mask. Failure to comply could result in a £100 spot fine, although police forces have indicated they will only respond as a ‘last resort’.
Only young children and people with medical conditions affected by a mask are exempt. A face covering can only be removed in a shop for a small number of reasons, such as allowing staff to check someone’s identity or age or to communicate with a deaf lip reader.
Shop staff do not have to wear coverings but it is ‘strongly recommended’ that employers ask them to do so unless other precautions such as screens are in place.
The new rules are contentious, with some people finding masks uncomfortable and some libertarians complaining they are being ‘muzzled’ by the state. But opinion polls suggest the majority support the change, which will bring England into line with many countries around the world, including France, Germany and Spain.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the move was essential for preventing a second wave of coronavirus while continuing to open up the economy.
Today’s move completes a U-turn by the Government which initially said masks were ineffective in halting the spread of the virus.
Masks have been compulsory on public transport since July 15 after evolving scientific advice suggested they could help stop Covid sufferers without symptoms from spreading the disease.
Heathrow border staff ‘ignoring the rules’
By Tom Payne, Travel Correspondent for The Daily Mail
Heathrow bosses are furious with Border Force staff for putting holidaymakers in danger by flouting rules requiring everyone at Britain’s biggest airport to wear masks.
Although travellers and airport and airline staff are required to wear masks at all times, sources say Heathrow Border Force staff are walking around terminals and even searching passengers’ luggage without a mask on.
The situation has triggered a row between Heathrow’s executives and the Home Office, which runs Border Force. According to a senior aviation source, Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye is ‘outraged’ at Border Force for ignoring the rules. Other airports are said to have similar issues.
The source said: ‘At Heathrow, Border Force staff are cavorting around the terminal buildings without masks as if they are invincible. Although they are checking passports behind a screen, they are not wearing their masks while carrying out other duties, including passenger and luggage searches.’
Masks have been compulsory in airport buildings for some weeks. Early in the crisis two Border Force staff at Heathrow were confirmed to have died from coronavirus.
Although the staff, who carry out immigration and customs controls, must wear full protective gear to interview anyone, they do not need to wear masks or gloves for day-today work according to Government guidance.
The source said Heathrow has offered masks and gloves to Border Force staff but has yet to receive a response.
The agency said its policies are based on Public Health England guidance and advice.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We have installed protective screens at the border and are implementing social distancing measures, where possible. Where these cannot be put in place, Border Force officers are provided with the necessary personal protective equipment, including face masks.’
The new guidance states face coverings will be required in takeaway sandwich shops like Pret a Manger.
Customers who queue for a sandwich can take off their mask to eat it if they find a seat, although Government sources said the practice should be discouraged.
Entertainment venues and services are not covered by the new rules which state pubs and restaurants will be exempt, as will hairdressers, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas and museums.
The PM’s spokesman said: ‘You’ve seen over recent months the British public have voluntarily chosen to follow the guidance because they want to help slow the spread of the virus and I’m sure that will be the case with face coverings as well.’
However, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Verbal and physical abuse [of staff] rose during the pandemic, and the new rules requiring shoppers to wear masks may further risk staff safety.’
Meanwhile ministers are facing accusations that the new rules are muddled, inconsistent and illogical, with face masks not necessary in pubs, restaurants and cinemas, but mandatory in shops, takeaway shops and shopping centres.
David Strain of the University of Essex said there was ‘no logic to the exclusion of theatres and cinemas’ as social distancing could not be enforced, adding: ‘Similarly there is no reason why shopkeepers or supermarket staff should be exempt’.
Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association, told The Times: ‘While today’s guidance is in some ways helpful, the uncertainty of recent weeks has done nothing to inspire public confidence.
‘Meanwhile, if venues such as theatres, museums and salons are not subject to these rules, there must be an absolute assurance that they can protect the public by enforcing physical distancing or putting other mitigating measures in place.’
And Jon Richards of the Unison union said: ‘Government guidance has been confusing from the beginning.
‘The UK was late to the table on face coverings and now people don’t know what they should do.
‘There are rules for shops and public transport, but not for other enclosed spaces such as libraries, register offices and civic centres. The public needs clarity to end the muddle.’
Yesterday Met chief Dame Cressida Dick said her officers will not respond to calls about shoppers refusing to wear face coverings unless it is a ‘last resort’.
Dame Cressida said she hoped shoppers will instead be ‘shamed’ into wearing face masks in stores ahead of new rules making the wearing of face masks mandatory in shops in England.
Speaking to LBC, Dame Cressida urged shoppers to wear a mask, but said if shop keepers are concerned and ‘have tried everything else’, her officers will try to assist.
Dame Cressida said she hoped shoppers will instead be ‘shamed’ into wearing face masks in stores. Pictured: A shopper wears a face mask in Glasgow, Scotland, where masks have already been made mandatory in stores
The head of the Metropolitan Police, Dame Cressida Dick, has said her officers will not respond to calls about shoppers refusing to wear face masks unless it is a ‘last resort’
Police should NOT take the knee, says Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick who reveals she’s banned force performing BLM gesture during operations
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has revealed she ordered officers not to ‘take the knee’ and says she would not do it herself.
Dame Cressida, 59, defended the two policemen who adopted the pose at Black Lives Matter protests in June.
But she said she had instructed officers at every briefing since to avoid doing the kneel, which is a protest against social justice.
She said ‘every briefing after that for the protests included we will not be taking the knee’ in a crackdown on the gesture.
She said: ‘Taking the knee, I think some of my officers took the knee.
‘I haven’t spoken to them personally but I believe they did that because the crowd that was in front of them, they’d endured all of them a long hard day, hours of protest, they were being abused, being shouted at by all kinds of people, not least I have to say my black and ethnic minority officers suffering racial abuse.
‘They are police officers so they get on with their job but that section of the crowd were saying again and again and again ‘take the knee, take the knee, take knee’ and I imagine that they thought in order to keep that bit of the crowd a bit quieter and to show some respect and some humility and some respect to what happened to George Floyd they took the knee.
‘That evening I said we are not going to do that in a public order or operational situation and every briefing after that for the protests included we will not be taking the knee.’
‘Calling the police should be a last resort for dealing with a mask issue. But of course the law is the law,’ she said.
‘My hope is that the vast majority of people will comply, and that people who are not complying will be shamed into complying or shamed to leave the store by the store keepers or by other members of the public.
‘If somebody is concerned about what is going on in their store, yes, of course they should call the police and we will try to assist.’
Dame Cressida said that supermarkets have managed to maintain social distancing and queuing themselves, only rarely needing to call the police.
She added: ‘During the beginning of lockdown the larger stores that were opening, the supermarkets and things were open, some of them brought in security guards, but they have been able to maintain the social distancing and the sensible queuing.
‘We patrol around and speak to shops, but they’ve only called us rarely to assist, and that is what I hope would happen on this occasion.’
Dame Cressida’s comments come as Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week urged shops to call the police if people refuse to wear face masks from July 24 – despite top officers warning the rules are ‘impossible’ to enforce.
Speaking about the rules, which have already been introduced in Scotland, he told MPs: ‘Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply.
‘The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.’
After the plans were announced, businesses called the plan ‘utterly ludicrous’ and police said it was ridiculous to expect them to hand out £100 fines to everyone who broke the law in England.
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said compulsory masks and the levying of £100 fines was ‘impossible to enforce’, adding: ‘We can’t have police outside every shop’.
He said: ‘Shopkeepers need to step up to the plate and take some responsibility.
‘They can quite easily put signs up on their doors ‘No mask on, no entry, this is private property’.
‘That’s the first point we need to get across because this cannot all be laid on the shoulders of the police yet again.
‘The second point is it will be nigh-on impossible for enforcement because you won’t have a police officer on every shop door because there isn’t enough of us.
‘If a shopkeeper calls the police because someone hasn’t got a mask on, they haven’t got the power to detain them so that person can just walk away.
‘We’ll be driving around and around London looking for people who aren’t wearing masks, it’s absolutely absurd.’
George Eustice (pictured left), Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, previously told the BBC that ministers want to ‘give people time to plan and prepare’ by delaying the enforcement of the measure until July 24. Ken Marsh (pictured right), chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said compulsory masks and the levying of £100 fines was ‘impossible to enforce’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan – a strong supporter of face masks – revealed that since lockdown began to be eased more than a month ago just 59 people have been fined for not wearing masks on the Tube and admitted that the delay in making them compulsory has only caused more confusion in the UK.
Under the rules, which were announced earlier this month, face masks will not be compulsory for shop staff, or in pubs and restaurants, and he defended the delays to introducing the measure.
George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, previously told the BBC that ministers want to ‘give people time to plan and prepare’ by delaying the enforcement of the measure until July 24.
The Cabinet minister said the measure, which had been in place in Scotland since July 10, was now backed by the Westminster Government because the evidence ‘has been evolving’.
Luton is made the UK’s latest ‘area of intervention’ after spike in coronavirus cases – meaning gyms and leisure sites will stay closed this weekend when the rest of the nation opens up
By Jack Wright and Luke May for MailOnline
Luton has been made an ‘area of intervention’ after seeing a spike in coronavirus cases – meaning long-awaited plans to open indoor gyms and leisure centres for locked-down Britons this weekend have been put on hold.
The council has set up an emergency testing centre at a primary school and is telling locals to stay home as it tries to prevent a further spread of COVID-19.
In Luton, Bedfordshire the rate of cases fell to 24.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 20 from 31.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 13.
Councillors have now said it has agreed with Government officials that gyms, pools and other leisure facilities will not reopen as planned on Saturday.
Public Health England has also upgraded Blackburn with Darwen to an ‘area of intervention’ following an increase in the rate of cases from 49.7 cases per 100,000 in the week to July 13 to 81.9 in the week up to July 20.
It comes ahead of new rules which make it illegal not to wear face masks in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres across England from tomorrow.
Luton has been made an ‘area of intervention’ after seeing a spike in coronavirus cases – meaning long-awaited plans to open indoor gyms and leisure centres for locked-down Britons this weekend have been put on hold (pictured, a testing centre at Downside School set up by the council for local residents today after a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases)
Covid-19 cases in Britain are still plateauing with almost 2,000 people getting infected each day – and cases are ‘creeping up’ in the north of England, symptom-tracking app study warns
COVID-19 cases in Britain are barely dropping with almost 2,000 people still becoming infected each day, experts say.
King’s College London‘s COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates cases have remained stable over July for the UK as a whole, but appear to be ‘creeping up’ in the north of England.
Some 1,000 people are catching the coronavirus in the North every day, an increase on the 750 estimated last week.
The rise is too small to say definitively that the outbreak is growing once again but the scientists say they are watching the situation closely.
Data also shows there are an estimated 28,048 people in the population who are currently symptomatic, down slightly from the 26,000 the week before. The figure does not include care homes.
Experts warned there is a limited window to get the virus under control in the summer months before the cold weather potentially drives cases up again.
The leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council has said it is ‘sensible not to relax’ lockdown restrictions, as the rate of COVID-19 cases in the borough shot up.
Councillor Mohammed Khan urged the community to ‘keep up the momentum’ in combating the disease as 122 new cases were recorded in the seven days to July 20.
‘We are very grateful to our communities for working with us,’ Mr Khan said.
‘The increase in testing is helping to ensure that we are heading in the right direction with a reduction in positive cases and hospital admissions.
‘We need to keep up the momentum with our strong prevention work so we agree it’s sensible not to relax the easing of restrictions at the moment to stop the spread.’
Mr Khan added that the decision to delay the reopening of council leisure facilities would run alongside new ‘localised prevention measures’.
‘We feel that accelerating our control measures in this way will assist us to move out of having higher COVID rates even faster – we are grateful for the Government’s help in our local plans on this,’ he said.
Hazel Simmons, Luton Council leader, said: ‘Our main priority is to protect Luton and these measures only serve to underline the importance of doing just that. Please pass these important messages on to your family and friends and if you can, stay at home.
‘Fighting coronavirus is everyone’s responsibility. Too many families and friends have lost loved ones and we must do everything we can to ensure more lives aren’t wasted unnecessarily. There has been too much heartache in the town for us to risk further anguish, pain and suffering.’
It comes as NHS Test and Trace chief Baroness Dido Harding said that there were still concerns surrounding northern towns including Blackburn, Bradford and Leicester.
She told the BBC that there were ‘a number of areas in the North West that we are working really closely with’.
‘Other towns and cities on our areas of concern, or areas that are receiving enhanced support, would be places like Blackburn, also Bradford – who we saw increase but have now come down from being in our ‘enhanced support’ category to being in our ‘area of concern’ category,’ she said.
In Luton, Bedfordshire the rate of cases fell to 24.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 20 from 31.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 13 (pictured, the primary school in Luton is being used as a testing centre today and tomorrow for locals as COVID cases spike)
Testing has been ramped up in the town (above), but the government is not expecting a local lockdown, as seen in Leicester earlier this month, to be implemented
NHS Test and Trace is failing in areas with high BAME populations because of ‘language barriers and trust issues’, experts warn
NHS Test and Trace is still failing to track down up to half of COVID-19 patients’ contacts in areas most at risk of local lockdowns, it emerged last night.
Experts say language barriers are one of the main factors behind the low success rates, as many of England’s worst-affected areas have high numbers of residents from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.
In Luton, which has the fifth highest infection rate in England, just 47 per cent of potentially-infected people were contacted by the system since its launch on May 28.
A fifth of the population in the Bedfordshire town do not speak English as their first language, according to Statista.
Only 65 per cent of close contacts in Leicester – which had to retreat back into lockdown last month after a spike in cases – were tracked down by tracers.
It means 3,340 people who may have had the disease in the city slipped under the radar and could have spread it further through the population. For more than a quarter of people in Leicester (27.5 per cent), English is not their native language.
Scientists have repeatedly warned contact tracing systems need to catch and isolate 80 per cent of potential COVID-19 patients to keep the epidemic squashed.
Lady Harding added there were particular concerns about coronavirus spreading in South Asian communities in England.
‘We are all learning what makes different communities, different professions, different parts of the country more vulnerable,’ she told the broadcaster.
‘I don’t think there’s a simple answer to say why one place and not another.
‘There are a mix of things – certainly we are seeing a very high prevalence in the South Asian community across the country.’
Public Health England defines such areas as those ‘where there is divergence from the measures in place in the rest of England because of the significance of the spread, with a detailed action plan in place, and local resources augmented with a national support’.
Testing has been ramped up in the town to track who may have come into contact with the disease.
Today an emergency testing centre was set up at Downside Primary School, which will continue to test locals tomorrow.
According to Sky News, the government is not expecting a similar local lockdown scenario to the one seen in Leicester earlier this month.
Luton has emerged as one of the towns where the government’s test and trace programme may have failed locals
Experts say language barriers are one of the main factors behind the low success rates, as many of England’s worst-affected areas have high numbers of residents from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.
Figures released today suggest just 47 per cent of potentially-infected people in the town were contacted by the system since its launch on May 28.
Earlier today it was announced another 53 people have died from coronavirus in the UK, according to the Government, taking the total to 45,554.
However, there are zero new victims in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the countries’ own health agencies said, suggesting today’s fatalities reported by the Department of Health were all in England.
While the deaths falling is good news, however, the number of people being diagnosed with the disease has surged to 769 from 560 yesterday and one-week low of 445 on Tuesday.
The seven-day average has risen more than 12 per cent compared with last week – from an average 584 per day to 656, and by 15 per cent in two weeks.
King’s College London experts – who predict infections over the UK, and don’t just account for positive test results which are limited to people with symptoms – say the number of people catching the virus every day is not getting lower and has barely changed over July. And it may be rising in the north of England.
Today marked the eighth day in a row that no deaths have been recorded in Scotland and only one death has been counted in the past fortnight. Experts believe the country will be coronavirus-free by the end of summer.
Lockdowns DON’T work, study claims: Researchers say forced stay-at-home orders were not associated with lower coronavirus deaths in countries around the world
By Ben Spencer, Medical Correspondent for The Daily Mail, and Vanessa Chalmers, Health Reporter for MailOnline
Lockdowns have not had a big impact on coronavirus death rates around the world, scientists have claimed.
Dozens of countries have been forced to tell people to stay home and close shops in a bid to stop the Covid-19 pandemic since it broke out in January.
But now a study has claimed the drastic measures don’t even work. They found whether a country was locked down or not was ‘not associated’ with death rate.
Instead the health of each nation before the pandemic largely played a role, including obesity rates and age.
It could explain why countries such as Britain – with some of Europe’s worst obesity rates – have had such a high death toll.
The early closure of international borders seemed to lower cases, but did not translate to real lives saved.
Lockdowns have not had a big impact on coronavirus death rates around the world, scientists have claimed. Pictured, a closed shop in Britain
WHAT DO OTHER STUDIES SAY ABOUT LOCKDOWN SUCCESS?
Another study from University of East Anglia suggested draconian stay-at-home orders and shutting all non-essential businesses had little effect on fighting coronavirus in Europe.
But the same scientists discovered closing schools and banning all mass gatherings did work in slowing outbreaks across the continent.
Other leading scientists have claimed Britain’s COVID-19 outbreak peaked and started to decline before the official lockdown began, arguing that Number 10’s drastic policy to shut the UK down was wrong.
However, some studies directly contradict the theory that lockdown was pointless.
A scientific paper from Imperial University in London published in June found lockdown likely saved almost half a million lives in the UK alone.
Coronavirus lockdowns across Europe probably prevented up to three million COVID-related deaths, the team led by Professor Neil Ferguson found.
The UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy each dodged up to 500,000 coronavirus deaths or more because of their draconian policies, the team estimated.
A separate study also published in June suggested around 500million Covid-19 cases were prevented by lockdowns in six countries, including the US.
A study of 149 countries suggested earlier lockdown restrictions slashed the number of Covid-19 cases.
Researchers measured how numbers of Covid-19 cases changed over the course of the pandemic and whether they dropped in the days following strict rules.
Physical distancing measures such as closure of schools, workplaces and public transport, a ban on mass gatherings, and full-scale lockdowns led to a larger reduction in cases when they were implemented early than late – 14 per cent compared with 10 per cent.
It took an average of nine days for countries to recommend social distancing once the first case was detected there. But some countries took far longer.
Britain was one of the slowest to introduce the life-saving lockdown measures along with Thailand, Australia and Canada.
It took 45 days from the first reported case, on January 31, for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to advise social distancing on March 16. The full lockdown didn’t come for another week, starting on March 23.
Cases shrunk by 17 per cent as a result, which was higher than the average but low compared to fast-reacting Andorra where cases dropped by 36 per cent.
The study compared mortality rates and cases in 50 different countries worst hit by the pandemic up until May 1.
Experts from the University of Toronto and the University of Texas calculated that among these badly-hit nations, only 33 out of every million people had been killed by the virus.
That rate, however, has since increased markedly, and is now at 80 per million globally, and still rising. Britain has seen 670 deaths per million.
The researchers constructed a mathematical model to measure the impact of each country’s response on coronavirus cases and deaths.
They then compared this to demographic factors such as age, smoking and obesity.
Dr Sheila Riazi and colleagues found imposition of lockdown measures succeeded in stopping health systems becoming overwhelmed by a surge in patients.
This was the UK Government’s primary aim when it imposed restrictions back in March – to protect the NHS and ultimately save lives.
But although this raised the chance that someone with Covid would recover from the virus, it did not actually translate into a significant reduction in death rates.
Restricting movements and closing borders also had no significant impact on Covid-19 fatalities, even if early border closures appeared to significantly lower cases and lessen the peak of transmission, preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Countries with widespread mass testing did not appear to have fewer critical cases, or deaths per million, the study claimed.
‘Government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.
‘The number of days to any border closure was associated with the number of cases per million.
‘This suggests that full lockdowns and early border closures may lessen the peak of transmission, and thus prevent health system overcapacity, which would facilitate increased recovery rates.’
But the scientists didn’t find any evidence that this actually saved lives.
It was population demographics and underlying health – particularly obesity rates – which has determined which countries have been worst-hit by the virus, the researchers found.
Nations with above-average obesity rates were 12 per cent more likely to have significantly higher death rates than those without.
It’s relevant for Britain – which has one of the biggest obesity problems in Europe – with two thirds of adults and a third of children overweight.
The authors wrote: ‘Consistent with reported COVID-19 outcome data from Europe, the United States, and China, higher caseloads and overall mortality were associated with comorbidities such as obesity.’
Countries with a higher median population age were 10 per cent more like;y to have a large caseload.
A surprising finding was that nations with higher smoking rates had fewer deaths.
It adds weight to the emerging argument that tobacco use may protect against coronavirus, with a slew of studies finding bizarrely low levels of smokers among hospital patients.
The researchers, however, warned the findings may just be because countries with high smoking prevalence tend to be those with younger populations.
FACE COVERINGS ENCOURAGED IN ENGLISH COURTS FROM MONDAY
Members of the public attending courts and tribunals in England are being asked to wear face coverings from next week, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has said.
The rules, which come into effect from Monday July 27, are being imposed to minimise the risk of coronavirus in HMCTS buildings, though people may need to temporarily remove masks for identification purposes.
Those speaking or giving evidence in the courtroom may also be made to remove their face coverings by a judge, but must maintain a strict two-metre distance.
Exemptions also apply to people with disabilities or health issues that make wearing masks difficult and the deaf, who may need to read another person’s lips.
Courtrooms themselves will ‘continue to be covered by the current guidance’ which says that court users may wear face coverings whilst in the courtroom, HMCTS said.
The guidance refers to the use of face coverings in English courts and tribunals only.
People attending buildings in Wales and Scotland are also permitted to wear them, but they are not mandatory.
Young people are less likely to get severely ill from the coronavirus, and therefore countries with a younger population have tended to be less badly hit by the pandemic.
The team also found wealthier nations had fared worse, probably because international travel meant more cases were imported at the beginning of the crisis.
This, they believe, is due to ‘accessibility to air travel and international holidays’, as ‘travel was identified as an important factor contributing to international viral spread’.
The team, writing in the Lancet online journal EClinicalMedicine, said: ‘Government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of Covid-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.’
Some experts are skeptical of the findings, however, suggesting the findings have been exaggerated.
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge, said: ‘A large number of possible predictors are put into a model with only 50 observations, and then the resulting formulae are over-interpreted.’
Dr Louise Dyson of the University of Warwick, said: ‘While population demographics such as median age and obesity prevalence were found to be associated with increased mortality, this should not be interpreted as implying that these were more important than government interventions such as lockdowns.’
It comes amid mounting concern that the full-scale shutdown on Britain’s movement will have devastating consequences.
The resulting economic impact is expected to drive up physical and mental health problems both in the short and long term.
Professor Mark Woolhouse, an infectious diseases expert at Edinburgh University and a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, warned earlier this month: ‘When the reckoning comes we may well find that the cure turned out to be far worse than the disease.’
But other British scientists have been adamant the lockdown was necessary, and was so important it should have been enforced weeks before it was, on March 23.
Professor Neil Ferguson – the academic whose work led to Britain’s lockdown – says the lockdown likely saved almost half a million lives in the UK alone.
His team at Imperial University in London found coronavirus lockdowns across Europe probably prevented up to three million COVID-related deaths.
‘Professor Lockdown’ has also conceded that, in hindsight, tens of thousands of lives could have been saved if the lockdown had come a week earlier.
A separate study also published in June suggested around 500million Covid-19 cases were prevented by lockdowns in six countries, including the US.
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At least 10 dead in building collapse in India, dozens feared trapped
A building due for repairs that could not be carried out due to coronavirus restrictions has collapsed, killing at least 10 people in the Indian city of Mumbai.
Between 20 to 25 people are feared trapped under the rubble of the four-story building in Maharashtra state that collapsed at around 4 am, said India’s National Disaster Response Force, and rescuers are working to find and free them.
Some residents were trying to get out of the building, in the industrial town of Bhiwandi, 25 miles northeast of Mumbai, after cracks appeared in it in the middle of the night, when it crashed down.
At least 11 people were injured when the building collapsed, said Pankaj Ashiya, the commissioner of Bhiwandi in Thane district, a suburb of India’s financial capital Mumbai.
He said the building was more than 30 years old and needed repairs, which could not be carried out due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Aftermath of a residential building’s collapse in Bhiwandi, outskirts of Mumbai, India, on Monday
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel rescue a survivor from the debris of a residential building which collapsed in the early morning, in Bhiwandi
Emergency responders rescue a man from the rubble after a building collapsed. At least 11 injured people were rescued in total
‘Half of the building collapsed and nearly 25 to 26 families are feared trapped,’ Ashiya said.
It was not clear why the building, which had 54 apartments on three floors, collapsed.
At least 11 injured people were rescued.
Teams of police, city workers and members of the National Disaster Response Force removed debris in the cramped lanes of the neighbourhood, trying to reach people calling out for help under the rubble, a Reuters witness said.
‘We heard a noise and I noticed that there were cracks on the floor,’ resident Sharif Ansari, 35, told Reuters.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel rescue a survivor from the debris of a residential building which collapsed in the early morning
A man is rescued from the rubble. Teams of police, city workers and members of the National Disaster Response Force removed debris in the cramped lanes of the neighbourhood
People gather at the scene of a residential building’s collapse in Bhiwandi, on the outskirts of Mumbai, India
‘I woke up my neighbours and my wife and we rushed everyone down.’
Ansari said he went back up to alert more people and was on the first floor with some other residents when the building it came down.
‘We jumped from there and managed to escape but there are at least another 60 people trapped,’ he said.
Torrential rain is often blamed for building collapses in India, with the number of incidents, often involving old or illegally built buildings, rising during the June-September monsoon.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on Twitter. ‘Praying for a quick recovery of those injured. Rescue operations are underway and all possible assistance is being provided to the affected,’ he wrote.
Maharashtra is one of India’s hardest hit states by the virus with over a million reported cases. India has reported over 5.4 million coronavirus cases.
Last month, more than a dozen people were killed when a building collapsed in the industrial town of Mahad, 100 miles south of Mumbai.
People gather at the scene of a residential building’s collapse in Bhiwandi, on the outskirts of Mumbai
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Mitch McConnell locks down key swing vote of GOP Senator Lamar Alexander for Supreme Court fight
Mitch McConnell has locked down the key swing vote of GOP Senator Lamar Alexander for his Supreme Court fight, after two Republicans said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should not be replaced before the election.
The Tennessee Senator threw his support behind McConnell in a statement Sunday, saying ‘no one should be surprised’ by a new appointment in an election year and that voters ‘expect it’.
The news is a blow to the Democrats, as the retiring Senator was viewed as a potential swing vote against McConnell and Trump’s plans to rush the court appointment.
Donald Trump on Saturday urged the GOP-run Senate to consider ‘without delay’ his upcoming nomination to fill Ginsburg’s seat, who died Friday after a battle with cancer.
The move comes just six weeks before the election and has sparked fierce debate, with many Democrats – as well as some Republicans – insisting the seat must not be filled until after the election.
The crux of the debate centers around the move made by Republicans back in 2016 – and led by McConnell – to block then-President Barack Obama from appointing a new justice to the court nine months before the election.
Their argument at the time was that the position should not be filled until a new president was elected by the American people – a standard set by the Republicans that the Democrats now argue the party must continue to honor.
Four more GOP senators now need to join the Democrats to stop a Supreme Court nomination going forward.
Mitch McConnell has locked down the key swing vote of GOP Representative Lamar Alexander (pictured) for his Supreme Court fight
‘No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican president’s Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year,’ Alexander said in a statement.
‘The Constitution gives senators the power to do it. The voters who elected them expect it.’
Alexander, who is retiring at the end of his current term, went on to say that Democrats would also rush to fill the seat ‘if the shoe were on the other foot’.
‘Senator McConnell is only doing what Democrat leaders have said they would do if the shoe were on the other foot,’ he said.
‘I have voted to confirm Justices [John] Roberts, [Samuel] Alito, [Sonia] Sotomayor, [Neil] Gorsuch and [Brett] Kavanaugh based upon their intelligence, character and temperament.
‘I will apply the same standard when I consider President Trump’s nomination to replace Justice Ginsburg.’
Alexander’s statement comes as a blow to the Democrats after he was viewed as a potential swing vote against efforts by McConnell and Trump to fill Ginsburg’s seat as soon as possible.
The senator has a history of bipartisanship, having worked closely with Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the past on making it easier for the Senate to confirm presidential nominees.
He had also been eyed by Democrats as a swing vote during Trump’s impeachment trial, one of a handful of GOP senators that hinted they could vote to hear from witnesses with knowledge of Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.
However Alexander disappointed Democrats in this instance too, deciding against the calling of witnesses and calling the trial a ‘partisan impeachment.’
The Tennessee Senator threw his support behind McConnell (pictured) in a statement Sunday, saying ‘no one should be surprised’ by a new appointment in an election year and that voters ‘expect it’
Two GOP senators – Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins – have already dissented, vowing to derail Trump’s nomination plans until after the November 3 election.
Murkowski became the second Republican senator Sunday to say the chamber should not take up the president’s nominee before the American people vote for their next president, hours after Trump threw shade at her publicly and after her colleague and frequent collaborator Collins made her own opposition to a quick vote known.
‘For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,’ the Alaska senator said.
‘Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,’ she continued.
‘I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia.
‘We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply.’
Murkowski in her statement was referencing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, which never got a hearing despite Barack Obama nominating Garland nine months before the 2016 elections.
Two GOP senators – Lisa Murkowski (left) and Susan Collins (right) – have already dissented, vowing to derail Trump’s nomination plans until after the November 3 election
WHO’S WHO ON TRUMP’S SUPREME COURT SHORTLIST
Ted Cruz, Texas. 49
Josh Hawley, Missouri. 40
Tom Cotton, Arkansas. 43
Bridget Bade, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 54
Stuart Kyle Duncan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 48
James Ho, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 47
Gregory Katsas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 56
Barbara Lagoa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 52
Carlos Muñiz, Supreme Court of Florida. 51
Martha Pacold, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 41
Peter Phipps, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 47
Sarah Pitlyk, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. 43
Allison Jones Rushing, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 38
Lawrence VanDyke, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 47
CURRENT AND FORMER REPUBLICAN OFFICIALS
Daniel Cameron, Kentucky Attorney General. 34
Paul Clement, partner with Kirkland & Ellis, former solicitor general. 54
Steven Engel, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. 46
Noel Francisco, former U.S. solicitor general. 51
Christopher Landau, U.S. ambassador to Mexico. 56
Kate Todd, deputy White House counsel. 45
Trump took a slap at potential dissenter Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski hours before she released the statement Sunday morning, as he kept up his pressure campaign on his own party and prepared to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in an upended election.
The president kept his comments brief, penning a simple ‘No thanks!’ as he retweeted a promotion by the Alaska Chamber of Commerce speech by Murkowski for Tuesday.
Murkowski voted against Trump’s last Supreme Court pick – Justice Brett Kavanaugh. More critically for the current scramble underway, she said shortly before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.
‘I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election,’ she said, Alaska Public Radio reported.
She referenced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision not to grant a hearing to Garland in 2016 nearly nine months before the election.
‘That was too close to an election, and that the people needed to decide,’ Murkowski said.
‘That the closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important.’
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – with whom Murkowski often votes when diverging from party orthodoxy – came out with her own statement Saturday.
‘In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,’ Collins, facing a tough re-election race herself, said on Twitter.
Collins is up for reelection in a close race.
The two dissenters have left Democrats still shy of the count of four needed to derail a nomination, but points to the possibility they could prevent it by winning over an additional pair of Republicans.
With Alexander no longer a possible dissenter, the focus has shifted to Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who votes with conservatives but also voted for an impeachment article against Trump and has called him out occasionally in public.
Democrats have put several other options forward to stall or counteract Trump rushing through the appointment for Ginsburg’s replacement.
Several including Rep. Joe Kennedy III have threatened to pack the Supreme Court if they capture the Senate in November and Republicans have already pushed through a conservative successor to Ginsburg.
President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman. On Sunday he tweeted about Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski
President Donald Trump tweeted a dig at GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who said before Ginsburg’s death that she would not vote for a replacement close to the election
What is court packing?
Court packing is the move to appoint extra justices to the Supreme Court.
It is a move several Democrats have proposed if the party takes control of the Senate in order to increase the presence of liberal justices on the bench.
Franklin D. Roosevelt made attempts to pack the court back in 1937 when the Republican president wanted to pass his New Deal laws and needed more conservative justices in the court to vote in favor of them.
Roosevelt’s attempts failed and he was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for the move.
However Democrats argue court packing will be necessary to rebalance the court if President Trump does not wait until after the presidential inauguration to appoint Justice Ginsburg’s replacement.
The issue in contention is that Republicans barred President Obama from appointing a justice in the election year in 2016.
Many Democrats say this meant the seat – finally filled by a Trump nominee after he entered the White house – was ‘stolen’ by Republicans and that if Republicans now do the very same thing they banned Democrats from doing in 2016 by rushing through an appointment, Democrats will then be within their rights to rebalance the court.
Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, tweeted Sunday: ‘If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that simple.’
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote on Twitter: ‘If Sen. McConnell and @SenateGOP were to force through a nominee during the lame-duck session — before a new Senate and President can take office – then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court.’
Court packing is a controversial move, however Democrats argue it will be necessary to rebalance the court if Trump does not wait until after the presidential inauguration to appoint Ginsburg’s replacement.
Other options on the table are the pursuit of impeachment charges, something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not rule out in an interview Saturday.
‘We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country,’ she told ABC’s ‘This Week‘ when asked about the prospect.
‘This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election,’ Pelosi continued.
‘Our main goal would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the people from the coronavirus.’
AOC echoed the possibility of pursuing impeachment charges at a joint press conference with Schumer Sunday saying there has been ‘an enormous amount of lawbreaking’ under Trump’s watch and branding Barr ‘unfit for office’.
‘I believe that certainly there has been an enormous amount of lawbreaking in the Trump administration,’ she said, when asked about impeachment.
‘I believe Attorney General Bill Barr is unfit for office and that he has pursued potentially law-breaking behaviors.’
She said America must ‘use every tool at our disposal’ and turn to ‘unprecedented ways’ to stall the appointment and that means putting all options ‘on the table’.
‘I believe that also we must consider again all the tools available to our disposal and all these options should be entertained and on the table,’ she said.
Two other senior Republicans, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio, backed McConnell in public statements Sunday.
Conservative Trump loyalist Sen. Tom Cotton told ‘Fox News Sunday’ the president should act ‘without delay.’
‘The Senate will exercise our constitutional duty,’ he said. ‘We will move forward without delay.’
Trump’s public pressure comes hours after he said at a campaign rally he will act swiftly to make a nomination.
‘I will be putting forth a nominee this week,’ he said at a campaign rally in North Carolina
‘It will be a woman,’ Trump added.
The nomination would fail if Republicans were to lose four members from their 53-vote majority.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday pushed the Senate to vote on a nomination before the election, but would say his party has the votes.
‘I don’t know the answer to that. I believe we will’ he said.
Before he left the White House for the rally, Trump had named two conservative women who he has elevated to federal appeals courts as contenders, a move that would tip the court further to the right.
Trump, who now has a chance to nominate a third justice to a lifetime appointment on the court, named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
He praised Lagoa, in particular, as an ‘extraordinary person’.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
On Saturday afternoon, Trump named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
Emerging as the favorite is Barrett, 48, a mother of seven children, including two adopted from Haiti and one with special needs.
Her involvement in a cult-like Catholic group where members are assigned a ‘handmaiden’ has caused concern in Barret’s nomination to other courts and is set to come under fierce review again if she is Trump’s pick.
The group was the one which helped inspire ‘The Handmaids Tale’, book’s author Margaret Atwood has said.
Barrett emerges now as a front runner after she was already shortlisted for the nomination in 2018 which eventually went to Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump called the federal appellate court judge ‘very highly respected’ when questioned about her Saturday.
Born in New Orleans in 1972, she was the first and only woman to occupy an Indiana seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Married to Jesse M. Barrett, a partner at SouthBank Legal in South Bend and former Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, the couple have five biological and two adopted children.
Their youngest biological child has Down Syndrome.
Friends say she is a devoted mother – and say with just an hour to go until she was voted into the 7th District Court of Appeals by the U.S. Senate in 2017, Barrett was outside trick-or-treating with her kids.
Barrett’s strong Christian ideology makes her a favorite of the right but her involvement in a religious group sometimes branded as a ‘cult’ is set to be harshly criticized.
In 2017, her affiliation to the small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise caused concern while she was a nominee for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The New York Times reported that the practices of the group would surprise even other Catholics with members of the group swearing a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another.
They are also assigned and held accountable to a personal adviser, known until recently as a ‘head’ for men and a ‘handmaid’ for women and believe in prophecy, speaking in tongues and divine healings.
Members are also encouraged to confess personal sins, financial information and other sensitive disclosures to these advisors.
Advisors are allowed to report these admissions to group leadership if necessary, according to an account of one former member.
The organization itself says that the term ‘handmaid’ was a reference to Jesus’s mother Mary’s description of herself as a ‘handmaid of the Lord.’
They said they recently stopped using the term due to cultural shifts and now use the name ‘women leaders.’
The group deems that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family while ‘the heads and handmaids give direction on important decisions, including whom to date or marry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise children,’ the Times reported.
Unmarried members are placed living with married couples members often look to buy or rent homes near other members.
Founded in 1971, People of Praise was part of the era’s ‘great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,’ founder Bishop Peter Smith told the Catholic News Agency.
Beginning with just 29 members, it now has an estimated 2,000.
According to CNA, some former members of the People of Praise allege that leaders exerted undue influence over family decision-making, or pressured the children of members to commit to the group.
At least 10 members of Barrett’s family, not including their children, also belong to the group.
Barrett’s father, Mike Coney, serves on the People of Praise’s powerful 11-member board of governors, described as the group’s ‘highest authority.’
Her mother Linda served as a handmaiden.
The group’s ultra-conservative religious tenets helped spur author Margaret Atwood to publish The Handmaid’s Tale, a story about a religious takeover of the U.S. government, according to a 1986 interview with the writer.
The book has since been made into a hit TV series.
According to legal experts, loyalty oaths such at the one Barrett would have taken to People of Praise could raise legitimate questions about a judicial nominee’s independence and impartiality.
‘These groups can become so absorbing that it’s difficult for a person to retain individual judgment,’ said Sarah Barringer Gordon, a professor of constitutional law and history at the University of Pennsylvania.
‘I don’t think it’s discriminatory or hostile to religion to want to learn more’ about her relationship with the group.
‘We don’t try to control people,’ said Craig S. Lent. ‘And there’s never any guarantee that the leader is always right. You have to discern and act in the Lord.
‘If and when members hold political offices, or judicial offices, or administrative offices, we would certainly not tell them how to discharge their responsibilities.’
During her professional career, Barrett spent two decades as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, from which she holds her bachelor’s and law degrees.
She was named ‘Distinguished Professor of the Year’ three separate years, a title decided by students.
A former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, she was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year.
At the time, three Democratic senators supported her nomination: Joe Donnelly (Ind.), who subsequently lost his 2018 reelection bid, Tim Kaine (Va.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), according to the Hill.
She was backed by every GOP senator at the time, but she did not disclose her relationship with People of Praise which led to later criticism of her appointment.
Barret is well-regarded by the religious right because of this devout faith.
Yet these beliefs are certain to cause problems with her conformation and stand in opposition to the beliefs of Ginsburg, who she would be replacing.
Axios reported in 2019 that Trump told aides he was ‘saving’ Barrett to replace Ginsburg.
Her deep Catholic faith was cited by Democrats as a large disadvantage during her 2017 confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
‘If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and I’m a faithful Catholic, I am,’ Barrett responded during that hearing, ‘although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.’
Republicans now believe that she performed well in her defense during this hearing, leaving her potentially capable of doing the same if facing the Senate Judiciary Committee.
She is a former member of the Notre Dame’s ‘Faculty for Life’ and in 2015 signed a letter to the Catholic Church affirming the ‘teachings of the Church as truth.’
Among those teachings were the ‘value of human life from conception to natural death’ and marriage-family values ‘founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman’.
She has previously written that Supreme Court precedents are not sacrosanct. Liberals have taken these comments as a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
Barrett wrote that she agrees ‘with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it’.
Among the other statements that have cause concern for liberal are her declaration that ObamaCare’s birth control mandate is ‘grave violation of religious freedom.’
LGBTQ organizations also voiced their concern about her when she was first named on the shortlist.
She has also sided with Trump on immigration.
In a case from June 2020, IndyStar reports that she was the sole voice on a three-judge panel that supported allowing federal enforcement of Trump’s public charge immigration law in Illinois,
The law would have prevented immigrants from getting legal residency in the United States if they rely on public benefits like food stamps or housing vouchers.
Who is Barbara Lagoa?
Barbara Lagoa , 52, was named by Trump as one of his potential nominees to the Supreme Court.
A Cuban American who parents fled to the U.S., Lagoa was born in Miami in 1967. She grew up in the largely Cuban American city of Hialeah.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, her parents fled Cuba over five decades ago when Fidel Castro’s Communist dictatorship took over.
During the 2019 news conference in Miami announcing her appointment to the Supreme Court, she told the crowd that her father had to give up his ‘dream of becoming a lawyer’ because of Castro.
If nominated to the nation’s high court by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, the mother of three daughters would be the second Latino justice to ever serve.
She served on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for less than a year after being appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate on an 80-15 vote
Prior to that she also spent less than a year in her previous position as the first Latina and Cuban American to serve on the Florida Supreme Court.
Lagoa is considered a protégé of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally.
Her position in crucial swing state Florida could help Trump politically.
Last week, she voted in the majority in a ruling that barred hundreds of thousands of Florida felons who have served their time from voting unless they pay fees and fines owed to the state.
This decision could have a major impact on the presidential race as Florida is often won by a candidate by only razor-thin margins.
‘Florida’s felon re-enfranchisement scheme is constitutional,’ Lagoa wrote in a 20-page concurrence, according to USA Today.
‘It falls to the citizens of the state of Florida and their elected state legislators, not to federal judges, to make any additional changes to it.’
In 2000 Lagoa was one of a dozen mostly pro bono lawyers who represented the Miami family of Elián González, a Cuban citizen who became embroiled in a heated international custody and immigration controversy.
In 2016 while in the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, she wrote an opinion reversing the conviction of Adonis Losada, a former Univision comic actor sentenced to 153 years in prison for collecting child porn.
She ruled that a Miami-Dade judge erred in not allowing Losada to defend himself at trial.
That same month she became unpopular with free press advocates when she was one of three judges who allowed a Miami judge to close a courtroom to the public for a key hearing in a high-profile murder case.
They ruled that publicity surrounding the machete murder of a student in Homestead might unfairly sway jurors at a future trial.
Lagoa is a graduate of Florida International University and Columbia University Law.
She is is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which stresses that judges should ‘say what the law is, not what it should be.’
She is married to lawyer Paul C. Huck Jr., and her father-in-law is United States District Judge Paul Huck.
All eyes on Arizona Senate race that could give Democrats the extra vote they need in the Supreme Court fight
If Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly wins a seat in the U.S. Senate, he could take office as early as November 20, shrinking the GOP’s Senate majority at a crucial moment and complicating the path to confirmation for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Kelly has maintained a consistent polling lead over Republican Senator Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat held by John McCain, who died in 2018.
In a recent poll by The New York Times/Sienna College Research Institute, Kelly had secured 50 per cent of likely votes and McSally weighed in at 42 per cent.
If Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly (left) wins a seat in the U.S. Senate, he could take office as early as November 20, shrinking the GOP’s Senate majority at a crucial moment and complicating the path to confirmation for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Republican Senator Martha McSally (right) is Kelly’s rival for the seat
Because the contest is a special election to finish McCain’s term, the winner could be sworn in as soon as the results are officially certified. Other winners in the November election won’t take office until January.
If Kelly wins, the timing when he formally takes office could be crucial in determining who replaces Ginsburg. It could eliminate a Republican vote in favor of Trump’s nominee — the GOP currently has 53 seats in the 100-member chamber — or require McConnell to speed up the nomination process.
With McSally in the Senate, four GOP defections could defeat a nomination, while a tie vote could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence.
McSally quickly laid down a marker, declaring on Twitter within hours of the announcement of Ginsberg’s death that ‘this U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.’
She has not elaborated on whether the confirmation vote should come before or after the election. But she highlighted the renewed stakes of her race in a fundraising pitch on Saturday.
‘If Mark Kelly comes out on top, HE could block President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee from being confirmed,’ she wrote.
Democrats in 2018 found success in Arizona, a state long dominated by the GOP, by appealing to Republicans and independent voters disaffected with Trump.
The Supreme Court vacancy could shake up the race and boost McSally’s lagging campaign by keeping those voters in her camp.
Kelly has maintained a consistent polling lead over Republican Senator Martha McSally (pictured), who was appointed to the seat held by John McCain, who died in 2018
Kelly said late Saturday that ‘the people elected to the presidency and Senate in November should fill this vacancy.’
‘When it comes to making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, Washington shouldn’t rush that process for political purposes,’ Kelly said in a statement.
Republican and Democratic election lawyers agreed that Arizona law is clear: If Kelly wins, he will take office once the results are official.
Arizona Supreme Court precedent favors putting elected officials in elected positions as soon as possible, said the Tim LaSota, the former lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party and a McSally supporter.
‘Somebody who has only been appointed does not have the imprimatur of the electorate,’ LaSota said. ‘It’s sort of intuitive that the law should favor somebody who has won an election as opposed to someone who’s just been appointed.’
Arizona law requires election results to be officially certified on the fourth Monday after the election, which falls this year on November 30. The certification could be delayed up to three days if the state has not received election results from any of the 15 counties.
Mark Kelly (pictured): ‘When it comes to making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, Washington shouldn’t rush that process for political purposes’
Mary O’Grady, a Democratic lawyer with expertise in election law, said the deadlines are firm and there’s little room for delay.
‘I don’t see ambiguity here,’ said O’Grady, who was Arizona’s solicitor general under two Democratic attorneys general.
Arizona law allows recounts and election challenges only under very limited circumstances, she said.
‘Usually, the Secretary of the Senate’s office goes out of its way to accommodate the new senators coming in,’ former Senate Historian Don Ritchie told The Arizona Republic, which first reported on the prospect for Kelly taking office early a day before Ginsburg’s death.
‘The old senator is out of their office there. I mean, they actually literally put a lock on the door so their staff can’t go in.’
Still, GOP leaders are optimistic they can pull it off. In the turbulent Trump era, nothing has motivated the Republican Party’s disparate factions to come home quite like the prospect of a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.
‘This can be an important galvanizing force for President Trump,’ said Leonard Leo, co-chairman of the conservative Federalist Society who has advised the Trump administration on its first two confirmations – for Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
GOP Sen. Tom Tillis (center) holds a sign as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, September 19 in Fayetteville, North Carolina
Lest there be any questions about the political implications, Trump is expected to make his choice in a matter of days. Those close to the president are encouraging him to announce his pick before the first presidential debate against Democratic challenger Joe Biden on September 29.
Biden said the winner of the November election should choose the next justice. Biden’s team is skeptical that the Supreme Court clash will fundamentally change the contours of a race Trump was trailing so close to Election Day. Indeed, five states are already voting.
In fact, Democrats say it could motivate voters to fight harder against Trump and Republicans as the Senate breaks the norms with an unprecedented confirmation at a time when Americans are deciding crucial elections.
‘Everything Americans value is at stake,’ Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democratic senators on a conference call Saturday, according to a person who was not authorized to publicly discuss the private call and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Biden is not planning to release a full list of potential court nominees, according to a top aide, because it would further politicize the process. The aide was not authorized to publicly discuss private deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Biden’s team suggests that the court fight will heighten the focus on issues that were already at stake in the election: health care, environmental protections, gender equity and abortion.
Health care, in particular, has been a top voter concern this pandemic-year election, Democrats say.
They will argue that protections for Americans with preexisting conditions are essentially on the ballot as the Supreme Court will hear the administration’s argument to strike down President Barack Obama’s health law shortly after the election. The Affordable Care Act includes such protections and the court is expected to render a verdict next year.
‘Make it real,’ said Hillary Clinton, urging Democrats to take the fight to the polls, in an interview on MSNBC.
Republicans say voters, particularly those the party needs to win back, are motivated by the chance to name a conservative judge – so much so that it could take some states off the map for Democrats.
The focus on the nomination fight could help unify such voters around a common issue in an election season with so many distractions, said Leo of the Federalist Society.
‘Going as far back as 2000, poll after poll shows that the Supreme Court is an issue that resonates strongly with Republican and conservative voters, and importantly even with low-propensity voters from those groups,’ he said.
Republicans were especially optimistic that the court battle would boost their chances of holding the Senate, particularly in Republican-leaning states such as Montana, Iowa, Kansas, Georgia and South Carolina where GOP candidates are at risk. Democrats need to pick up three seats to claim the Senate majority if Biden wins and four if he doesn’t.
Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine (left) and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska (right), spoke out after Ginsburg´s death to object to the speedy pace, saying the Senate should not vote before the election so the candidate elected on Nov. 3 can decide
Key GOP senators who face tough reelection contests in such states where Trump is popular quickly linked themselves to his push for a swift vote, embracing the prospect of another conservative on the bench. Among them: McSally in Arizona, Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.
Yet other Republicans in more contested battleground states, including Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado, held back, heeding McConnell´s advice to keep their ‘powder dry.’
Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, spoke out after Ginsburg´s death to object to the speedy pace, saying the Senate should not vote before the election so the candidate elected on Nov. 3 can decide.
As he left the White House for Saturday evening’s rally in North Carolina, Trump signaled his displeasure with Collins – and a potential warning to other wayward Republicans: ‘I totally disagree with her,’ he said.
Democratic challengers and outside allies seized on what they called ‘hypocrisy’ of Republicans refusing to consider Obama’s nominee before the 2016 election, unearthing past statements from many of the same senators now pushing ahead for Trump.
The Democrats raised more than $71 million in the hours after Ginsburg´s death.
Many Republicans are hopeful the Supreme Court fight will supersede many conservative voters’ concerns about Trump’s inconsistent leadership and divisive rhetoric. But voters in key states are already dealing with unprecedented hardships that will not simply disappear in the coming weeks.
Conservative activist Tim Phillips, president of the group Americans for Prosperity, is doubtful that the court fight will change many votes. He spent much of Saturday canvassing suburban neighborhoods around Kansas City as part of his organization’s massive push to boost down-ballot Republicans in November.
People gather at the Supreme Court on the morning after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, Saturday in Washington D.C.
When conservative activists gathered in the morning, the Supreme Court was a prime topic of conversation that ‘strengthened their resolve to get out and work,’ Phillips said. But once they started knocking on voters’ doors, ‘it didn’t even come up.’
‘I just think given the magnitude of the crises – plural – facing swing voters, this is just not going to be a crucial factor in their final decision,’ Phillips said.
At the Cambria County Republican Party headquarters in western Pennsylvania, the vacancy wasn’t a major topic of conversation as people swung by on Saturday to pick up yard signs and campaign swag.
Lisa Holgash, a 49-year-old Trump supporter, said she would ‘love it’ if Trump were able to appoint another Supreme Court Justice. But she said she was concerned about the idea of Republicans pushing through a nominee so quickly ahead of the election, especially after Republicans denied Obama a final pick in his last year.
‘It´s not that far now to the election,’ she said. ‘I don´t think it should be rushed.’
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Sir Graham Brady accuses Boris Johnson of ‘ruling by decree’
Sir Graham Brady today accused Boris Johnson of ‘ruling by decree’ during the coronavirus crisis as Tory MPs demanded any move to reimpose lockdown is put to a vote in the House of Commons.
The chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbench MPs suggested the Government has been treating people ‘as children’ during the pandemic.
He is tabling an amendment which would require the Government to put any new lockdown measures to a vote of MPs.
There is growing anger among Tory figures about the way in which the Government has imposed measures over the last six months without first consulting Parliament amid fears new rules will be rolled out in the coming weeks to tackle a surge in cases.
Sir Graham’s intervention came after the Supreme Court’s first female president said Parliament had ‘surrendered’ powers to the Government during the pandemic.
Baroness Brenda Hale, who served as president at the UK’s highest court from 2017- 2020, criticised the draconian measures and ‘sweeping’ powers being imposed on the British public without the say of MPs.
Sir Graham Brady today accused ministers of ‘ruling by decree’ during the coronavirus crisis
The senior Tory claimed Boris Johnson, pictured running this morning, has treated people as children’ during the crisis
Sir Graham told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: ‘I think what we have also seen over the last six months is the Government has got into the habit of, in respect to the coronavirus issue, ruling by decree without usual debate and discussion and votes in Parliament that we would expect on any other matter.’
Told that the nature of the crisis required the Government to have the ability to act swiftly, Sir Graham said: ‘It is a very important, very serious situation, something that obviously the Government needs to have some powers to act.
‘Arguably the Government already has the powers under the Civil Contingencies Act but that would entail very frequent and close parliamentary review and scrutiny.
‘So really what I am proposing is that we make sure the powers that are exercised under the Public Health Act or the Coronavirus Act should be subject to the same regular parliamentary scrutiny and approval as the Civil Contingencies Act would be as well.’
He added: ‘Governments find it entirely possible to put things to Parliament very quickly when it is convenient for them to do so.’
Sir Graham said MPs must be able to seek ‘proper answers’ on the measures being proposed before they are put in place as he suggested Parliament may not be willing to vote for a second national lockdown.
‘The British people aren’t used to being treated as children,’ he said.
‘We expect in this country to have a parliamentary democracy where our elected representatives on our behalf can require proper answers to these things from the government and not just have things imposed on them.’
Asked what would happen if MPs were given a vote on whether to proceed with a second lockdown, Sir Graham said: ‘I think it is a very interesting question because I think opinion in the country and in parliament is starting to move.’
His comments came after Baroness Hale lashed out at the Government’s use of draconian powers and at Parliament’s apparent willingness to allow ministers to act without normal levels of scrutiny.
Baroness Brenda Hale, who served as president at the UK’s highest court from 2017- 2020, criticised ‘sweeping’ powers being enforced on the public without the scrutiny of Parliament
She claimed Parliament ‘did surrender control to the Government at a crucial time’ and urged ministers to now restore a ‘properly functioning constitution’.
She added: ‘My plea is that we get back to a properly functioning constitution as soon as we possibly can.’
In an essay seen by The Guardian, the baroness also said the way in which the powers were used had led to confusion.
She said: ‘It is not surprising the police were as confused as the public as to what was law and what was not.’
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