Manchester and Lancashire could be put under Tier 3 lockdown after the Government’s ‘Gold command’ taskforce scientists signed off on the harsh measures
Manchester and Lancashire could be put under Tier 3 lockdown after the Government’s ‘Gold command’ taskforce scientists signed off on the harsh measures.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to review the proposals tomorrow and, if he too agrees, the areas would be plunged into the harshest lockdown in the Government’s three-tier system – so far only imposed on Liverpool.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to update the House of Commons on Thursday morning at around 11.30am.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and its local council leaders earlier threatened legal action if the city is plunged into the ‘fundamentally flawed’ highest level of local restrictions without more financial help.
He said he would ‘not cave into the pressure’ by agreeing to a local lockdown and said the extreme restrictions would be ‘by imposition, not consent’.
He and other local leaders ‘fear a winter where large parts of the North are trapped in Tier 3’ without financial support for businesses or for those unable to work.
The measures come in spite of Manchester’s Covid-19 infection rate appearing to slow down.
This week saw 448 cases per 100,000 – compared to 582 per 100,000 the week prior, Manchester Evening News reports.
In response to the announcement of the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s ‘Gold Command’ decision, Mr Burnham tweeted: ‘Said I wasn’t going to comment but now feel compelled to do so on the back of this Government briefing.
‘At no point during tonight’s briefing was this news communicated to us. Media told first once again. Our position has not changed.’
Lancashire today reported a further 835 cases in one day. Some 87 of them were in Blackpool where a rare glimpse inside an NHS hospital this week revealed medics are bracing to re-live their coronavirus frontline roles ‘all over again for an indefinite period of time’ as intensive care wards fill up.
Tier 3 restrictions include a ban on socialising with other households indoors and in private gardens.
The news of a potential new Tier 3 lockdown comes as Britain’s daily Covid-19 cases jumped 40 per cent in a week.
In other coronavirus developments today:
- Northern Ireland will close its pubs for a month from Friday and shut schools for a fortnight from next week under a circuit-breaker lockdown, First Minister Arlene Foster announced;
- The leader of Lancashire County Council has said it is ‘inevitable’ the area will be upgraded to Tier Three coronavirus restrictions soon;
- As many as 12 London boroughs have breached the infection threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 people as Sadiq Khan warns Tier 2 restrictions for the capital are ‘inevitable’;
- Health officials in Liverpool expect to see the number of Covid-19 patients in the city’s hospitals surpass the levels of the first peak in the next seven to 10 days;
- Royal Liverpool hospital has no more beds available in its intensive care unit, according to Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, and a senior doctor warns 58 of 60 beds are filled;
- Quarantine for travellers returning to the UK from virus hotspots will be slashed to seven days with travellers taking a test a week after landing, the Transport Secretary has said;
- Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots not to travel to Blackpool saying 180 recent infections north of the border had been linked to the town;
- The UK’s total coronavirus deaths rose to 43,155 today, while the number of cases diagnosed since the outbreak began in March reached 654,644.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to review proposals to put Manchester and Lancashire under Tier 3 lockdown and, if he agrees, the areas could be plunged into the harshest lockdown in the Government’s three-tier system – so far only imposed on Liverpool. Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham (right) and its local council leaders earlier threatened legal action if the city is plunged into the ‘fundamentally flawed’ highest level of local restrictions without more financial help
Mayor Burnham and its local council leaders earlier threatened legal action if the city is plunged into the ‘fundamentally flawed’ highest level of local restrictions without more financial help. He said he would ‘not cave into the pressure’ by agreeing to a local lockdown and said the extreme restrictions would be ‘by imposition, not consent’. Pictured: Manchester City Centre on October 14
Graphs from the paper show what effect different circuit breakers would have on deaths, hospitalisations and infections. Yellow represents the most strict form of circuit breaker, while the dotted black line shows what would happen if no measures were in place
Health officials today announced 19,724 more infections and 137 new deaths.
Last Wednesday, 14,162 cases and 70 deaths were recorded, as well as 17,234 cases and a four-month high of 143 fatalities yesterday.
For comparison, more than 100,000 Britons were getting infected and at least 1,000 were dying every day during the darkest period of the first wave in March and April.
Boris Johnson today sounded defiant on his local ‘Tiers’ lockdown plan, despite warnings from scientists that it is the ‘worst of all worlds’. Rumours were swirling that the Prime Minister is seriously considering a ‘circuit breaker’.
What is the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s ‘Gold Command’ and what is its role?
The highly-secretive Joint Biosecurity Centre took over the UK’s coronavirus response in July.
The JBC was set up in May at the cost of £9billion.
Little is known about the group – which is headed by Dr Clare Gardiner, a qualified epidemiologist, medical researcher, and cybersecurity director at GCHQ – and it is unclear how much engagement it has with independent scientists.
What is known, however, is that that JBC decides on national alert levels and puts forward actions to help combat any local outbreaks.
The ‘Gold Command’ within the JBC is headed up by Matt Hancock .
It must host meetings every week at minimum which are attended by ministers, senior civil servants, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and PHE, Department of Health and NHS Test and Trace officials.
Its job includes ‘briefing ministers on latest national and local epidemiological picture’ and ‘review and evaluate responses in key areas’ according to the gov.uk website.
Earlier this week, the Government was urged to lift the lid on the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
MP and chairman of the science and technology committee Dr Greg Clark slammed it as ‘far too opaque’. and said the British public ‘deserve answers’ from the group – which advises decisions about widely-impactful local lockdowns up and down the country.
Mr Clark told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The transparency of the JBC is simply not good enough at the moment.
‘Its role in the response to the pandemic is far too opaque, and that needs to change.’
Civil servants make up a significant amount of the JBC’s staff, meaning releasing their identities was not suitable, a source said.
A Health Department spokesperson said the JBC does not make any decisions itself and aims to be as open as it can be.
In July, Matt Hancock confirmed Number 10’s scientific advisory panel SAGE was downgraded and the JBC would take over the UK’s coronavirus response.
SAGE took a backseat now that Covid-19 is a ‘semi-permanent’ problem and not an emergency like it was during the darkest days of the crisis back in April, the Health Secretary said.
The JBC’s staff consist of epidemiologists and data analysts but its structure, and whether experts will be paid by the government, have not yet been announced.
It’s boss Dr Gardiner reports to Baroness Dido Harding, the chief of NHS Test and Trace and the entire JBC organisation falls under the control of the Department of Health, which answers to Mr Hancock.
It is currently unclear exactly how the JBC will operate with other bodies like Public Health England.
But in brutal clashes at PMQs, Mr Johnson dismissed calls from Sir Keir Starmer and SAGE for a ‘miserable’ national ‘circuit breaker’. He insisted that his job was to balance the economic and wider interests of the country with the science.
And Welsh ministers faced fury today after unveiling an extraordinary bid to ban people from coronavirus hotspots entering the country. First Minister Mark Drakeford was accused of being obsessed with ‘banning the English’ after he announced the move saying people were ‘anxious and fearful’ about importing infection.
The rolling seven-day average of daily infections — considered a more accurate measure because it takes into account day-to-day fluctuations — is 15,767, having soared from 3,000 this time last month.
And data shows the average number of daily deaths is 91, having steadily increased following a record-low of seven in mid-August.
Only the US, Brazil, India and Mexico, all countries with substantially larger populations, have suffered more fatalities than the UK’s tally of 43,155.
But experts consider this to be an underestimate because it only takes into account patients who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19. A lack of testing at the peak of the pandemic meant many hospital patients and care home residents passed away without being diagnosed.
In fierce clashes across the dispatch box in PMQs Sir Keir pointed out that Mr Johnson had promised in May his approach would be ‘governed entirely by the science’, but SAGE documents revealed they had been calling for a national ‘circuit breaker’ for weeks.
He swiped: ‘Why did the Prime Minister reject that advice and abandon the science?’
But Mr Johnson shot back: ”Since he quotes the SAGE advice I might just remind him that on page one it says that all the interventions considered have associated costs in terms of health and well-being and that policymakers will need to consider announcements and economic impacts and the associated harms alongside this epidemiological assessment.’
The premier went on: ‘He wants to close pubs, he wants to close bars, he wants to close businesses in areas across the country where the incidence is low.’
Mr Johnson accused Sir Keir of ‘opportunism’, and urged him to encourage Labour’s local leaders in the North to sign up to tougher curbs. He said his Tiered strategy was the way to ‘avoid the misery of another national lockdown’.
However, as the blows turned personal, Sir Keir said: ‘I know that for someone who has been an opportunist all his life this is difficult to understand, but having read and considered the Sage advice I have genuinely concluded that a circuit-break is in the national interest.’
As the three-Tier Covid alert level system comes into force across England, the Liverpool City region is currently the only area in the highest bracket.
Relations with the scientific community – and crucially chief advisers Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance – appear to have deteriorated dramatically as divisions are played out in public.
In a brutal Twitter thread overnight, Wellcome Trust director Professor Jeremy Farrar warned that the government risked damaging the economy and should have acted three weeks ago to avoid an even worse March-style lockdown.
‘The latest government plans are an attempt to compromise between health and the economy but may end up damaging both,’ he said.
‘We didn’t use the summer months to get an effective, supportive & trusted track-trace-isolate system in place as other countries managed to do. That would have helped get R right down. Instead we headed into autumn with R too high. We’re sadly seeing the consequences of this now.
‘New measures shift responsibility to local authorities, but as the CMO made crystal clear, at base they will have little to no effect on transmission. This is the worst of all worlds, the economic damage of more restrictions without the gain of a reduction in transmission.’
Professor Farrar said the best time to act would have been three weeks ago, but an immediate ‘circuit breaker’ would help. ‘If we wait, the government will inevitably have to change course again in 4-6 weeks, but the longer they leave it the harsher restrictions will have to get and the longer they will need to be imposed,’ he warned.
By September 15 the UK seven-day rolling average of cases was tracking at more than double that of Germany
The academics behind the startling study which found half-term coronavirus lockdown could save up to 100,000 lives by New Year have also admitted Britain may have ‘missed the boat’ on a circuit breaker.
Wales says it will BAN people from Covid hotspots in England
Welsh ministers faced fury today after unveiling an extraordinary bid to ban people from coronavirus hotspots entering the country.
First Minister Mark Drakeford was accused of being obsessed with ‘banning the English’ after he announced the move saying people were ‘anxious and fearful’ about importing infection.
He put the blame for the action squarely on Boris Johnson, saying the PM had ignored two letters requesting he introduce travel restrictions in areas of England with high case rates.
But there were immediate questions about how the measure, due to come in from 6pm on Friday, can possibly be enforced.
Police commissioners in Wales suggested they could set up road blocks and follow up tips from the public.
But they have admitted there is not the capacity to ‘line the border with patrol cars’.
Tory member of the Welsh Parliament Andrew RT Davies said: ‘The Welsh Government’s unhealthy obsession with travel restrictions and ”banning the English” flies in the face of all the evidence.
‘Last month’s SAGE advice said such a move would have a ”low impact” and would be ‘complicated’ to enforce.’
The drastic restrictions come after Nicola Sturgeon suggested she is also considering a ban, and warned Scots not to travel to Blackpool because 180 cases north of the border had been linked to the seaside town recently.
In Wales, there are 17 areas under higher local lockdowns, which include rules against entering or leaving the area without a reasonable excuse such as work or education.
However, currently people living in Covid-19 hotspots elsewhere in the UK are free to enter areas of Wales not under restrictions where levels of the virus are low.
Professor Matt Keeling – from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling – revealed today he wished he ‘hadn’t put these numbers in the study’ because the extreme scenario was only included ‘for illustration’.
Professor Keeling told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning: ‘I really, really wish I hadn’t put these numbers in the paper because they were there for illustration.
‘We looked at a range of different scenarios from a relatively low growth rate going forward where we might reduce deaths by a third between now and new year to some extreme scenarios, which I think are the ones that have been quoted in the papers, which really were ‘what happens if we don’t do anything?’ between now and the new year.’
The finding was based on the assumption that all lockdown measures currently in place would be lifted, leaving the virus unchecked from now until January. Professor Keeling noted in the paper that this worst-case scenario would never be allowed to play out without the government intervening.
However, the paper’s findings have already been used as ammunition by those calling for the mini-lockdown, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
As ministers traded blows over the restrictions, MailOnline exclusively revealed that Public Health England had sought to pour cold water on official concerns by informing politicians the UK appeared to be on ‘the same trajectory as Germany’ and would avoid spikes like those in France and Spain.
The assessment was given by the deputy head of the Emergency Response Department at the key body as he briefed senior peers.
Minutes from the meeting on September 15 show that Dr Nick Gent insisted the UK was ‘on the same trajectory as Germany’ – which has seen a substantial rise in cases, but far lower than many other European countries.
The position contrasted sharply with the government’s SAGE experts, which were calling for far tighter restrictions to curb the spread at the same time.
A PHE spokesman said: ‘Advice was given at the time which was in line with the pandemic and what was seen across the continent.’
Although the most drastic estimates have not been borne out, the PHE stance will raise further questions about its role in the crisis. The body is being replace by a new organisation headed by testing tsar Dido Harding. It also underlines the difficulties for ministers in balancing different assessments from scientists.
By September 15 the UK seven-day rolling average of cases was tracking at more than double that of Germany. The UK rate is now four times that in Germany, and close to the levels in Spain and France.
And a week later SAGE scientists were demanding the government imposes a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, cautioning that cases could be doubling every seven days.
Dr Gent gave an update to a meeting of the ruling Lords Commission, including the Lord Speaker and other senior peers, along with Professor Virginia Murray, Senior Public Health Adviser and Head of Global Disaster Risk Reduction.
He cautioned that there was no reason to believe the disease had become less virulent, and the lower level of deaths was likely down to younger people being less vulnerable.
But he also said that ‘international comparisons suggested that the UK was on the same trajectory as Germany and would not see the same significant increase as France and Spain.’
Richmond upon Thames (140.4), Hackney and City of London (133.1) and Ealing (132.5) have the highest infection rates in London, according to the Department of Health
Armed police serve Liverpool gym owner with £1,000 fine as he REFUSES to bow to Covid closedown order
Armed police served a Liverpool gym owner with a £1,000 fine for refusing to shut despite strict Tier 3 lockdown rules.
Nick Whitcombe defied the newly-imposed lockdown rules and refused to close Bodytech Fitness in Moreton because they ‘won’t have one to come back to’ if he did.
A member of the public noticed that the gym was still open for business and called the police who issued a warning instructing him to close.
A short while later, when he didn’t shut the premises, ‘seven or eight’ armed police officers turned up his gym, demanding that it close or face a fine.
Police officers (pictured in the gym, right) served Liverpool gym owner Nick Whitcombe (left) with a £1,000 fine for refusing to shut despite strict Tier 3 lockdown rules
From yesterday, Liverpool – and the neighbouring five boroughs which make up the city region – were put under Tier 3 coronavirus lockdown meaning gyms had to shut.
Mr Whitcombe shared footage of police inside his gym and said: ‘[Police officers] were with us this morning, gave us our warning. Then came back this afternoon, orders from their top boss to issue a fine straight away.
‘So, they’ve told us ‘close immediately’ or I’ll take a £1,000 fine.
‘Obviously we still had quite a lot of members training and I said to the officers, ‘I’m not asking anyone to leave. Even if I am I’m going to let them finish their sessions first’.
‘So they’ve issued the fine. First one’s £1,000. They can come back in three hours and issue £2,000. Three hours after that £4,000.
‘It’s disappointing. They sent out seven or eight firearms officers, what a waste of resources.’
Chief Superintendent Claire Richards said: ‘While this lockdown does present huge challenges, the focus of us all should now be on preventing the spread of the virus and getting us back to normality as safely and as quickly as possible.
‘The new restrictions have been brought in to try to achieve that, and if we don’t act decisively and collaboratively, the impact could be harder and last even longer.
‘We will therefore continue to encourage members of the public and businesses to adhere to the guidance, explain why they should and – as in this case – use enforcement where there are clear breaches of legislation.’
As arguments raged over where lockdown restrictions should be imposed, as many as twelve London boroughs have begun to record Covid-19 infection rates tipping over the worrying threshold of 100 cases per 100,000.
Richmond upon Thames (140.4), Hackney and City of London (133.1) and Ealing (132.5) had the highest daily new cases per 100,000 people in the week to October 8, according to Government statistics. None of the 32 boroughs had tipped the threshold before now, according to separate Public Health England data.
Croydon (69.8), Bromley (67.1) and Sutton (64), all in the south, sit at the other end of the scale with the fewest new cases per day — but all of them have still seen a significant hike in infections over the past month.
The average coronavirus infection rate across London’s boroughs is 94.15 cases per 100,000 people, according to the most recent Department of Health data — the equivalent of nearly one person in every 1,000 in the last week.
However, London’s figures appear to be being skewed upwards by the inclusion in the data of infected students studying in other cities. In Richmond, the capital’s supposed hotspot, analysis shows that a quarter of positive cases in the borough since are actually in places including Manchester, Leeds, Exeter and Durham.
Of 212 cases recorded in Richmond since September 20, 49 were in other towns and cities, the Evening Standard reports The vast majority of these people were aged 17 to 21, suggesting they were students originally from London whose cases were recorded using their home address.
It comes after Mayor Sadiq Khan said it is ‘inevitable’ the capital will pass a ‘trigger point’ to join swathes of the North West in the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in the ‘next few days’. It would see the city’s nine million residents banned from seeing their friends and family indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
Mr Khan and other London bosses are in support of a national two-week ‘circuit break’ lockdown across the whole of England to stem rising infections to avoid ‘sleepwalking into a bleak winter’. But Tory London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey slammed Mr Khan as ‘incredibly irresponsible’ and accused him of ‘governing by press release’ for supporting drastic action without clear scientific backing.
Reports say 100 cases per 100,000 people is considered one of the thresholds for an area being moved into Tier 2. But ministers are bound to take into consideration an array of different sets of statistics, including ones that show the speed of growth, hospitalisations and deaths.
Data shows hospitalisations for Covid-19 in London have barely risen over the past month, despite cases having increased. Almost 5,000 infected patients were being treated by NHS doctors during the darkest days of the first wave in April — but the figure currently stands at around 300.
But in Liverpool there are mounting warnings spaces could run out next week after a doctor claimed 58 out of 60 critical-care beds in the city are already full.
The city’s NHS critical care beds are usually 85 per cent full at this time of year, with 51 out of 60 beds occupied across three hospitals, according to NHS England data from the past six years.
But councillor Paul Brant has warned Liverpool’s intensive care units are already at 95 per cent capacity, sparking fears of an impending crisis. One senior doctor has claimed only 58 out of 60 beds are currently full, with half thought to be filled by coronavirus patients.
Professor Callum Semple, a doctor in the city and academic at Liverpool University, said in a video released by the council 90 per cent of critical-care beds in the city are full. He warned it was likely capacity would be exceeded in a week.
NHS England data also shows the national capacity of critical care beds is around 80 per cent and has been for several years. There are around 4,000 intensive care beds across the country, health chiefs say.
University Liverpool Hospitals Trust, which runs four hospitals in the city, has yet to reveal exactly how many intensive care beds it has available for the winter. But one of the hospitals it runs says it has 70 beds geared up with breathing apparatus to help Covid-19 patients, meaning the true number could be much higher than last winter.
It is thought this number has risen after Health Secretary Matt Hancock pledged to create thousands more beds to treat critically-ill patients in the wake of Britain’s first wave, amid fears hospitals could be overwhelmed by future waves.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Disturbing pictures show Europe boiling over with rage at yet more coronavirus lockdown rules
As the coronavirus crisis drags on, the mood in Europe is turning ugly. Tempers are fraying. Frustration is at boiling point.
And, as the shocking photos on this page reveal, with new Covid restrictions being introduced across the continent, many countries are sliding into open rebellion.
Take Italy, for example, where this week at least a dozen cities have seen violent protests against the government’s reimposition of a tight lockdown.
The most serious occurred in Milan and Turin, where demonstrators committed arson, vandalised public transport, looted shops and attacked the police with stones and petrol bombs.
Protesters clash with police during a protest against the measures implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Rome
A police officer during the demonstrations over the restrictions put in place in Rome
Demonstrators in Milan protesting against the government’s reimposition of a tight lockdown
Police officers stand by burning flares during a protest against the new measures in Rome
The flames of discord have spread to Spain, where the declaration of a second state of emergency and the prospect of a six-month lockdown led to huge protests on the streets of Barcelona, with scores of rubbish bins set on fire.
There have been explosive anti-lockdown rallies in the Czech capital of Prague, at least one of which had to be broken up by the police using tear gas and water cannon.
Even Germany, where the public is renowned for its obedience to authority, is experiencing unrest.
‘Why aren’t you telling the truth, Mrs Merkel, about how we are losing our freedom, jobs and health?’ read one placard at a demonstration in Berlin.
Across the Channel in France, where a state of emergency has also been declared recently, there have been major protests in several cities, including Paris and Marseille.
Indeed, one poll yesterday showed that just 37 per cent of French voters think that the government of president Emmanuel Macron has handled the pandemic effectively – hardly a surprise given that the daily total of infections passed the milestone of 50,000 on Sunday.
A firefighter walking past a burning dustbin after a demonstration against curfew in Barcelona
So how long will it be until Britain follows suit and street protests are triggered?
Thankfully, our country has not yet reached the stage of combustible revolt.
But, as stoicism gives way to scepticism, it is clear that there is far less unity now than there was back in the spring when the first lockdown was introduced.
Anti-lockdown demonstrations are a regular weekend occurrence in central London, while the willingness of normally law-abiding citizens to comply with ever-more complex regulations is beginning to fray.
This week even the BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire admitted that if the rule of six were still in place by Christmas, she would ignore it.
She later backtracked from this stance, but her initial statement reflected an increasingly widespread disenchantment with the current rules.
Protesters in Milan attacked the police with stones and petrol bombs
According to the latest polls, only 39 per cent of the public approve of the No 10’s Covid policy.
Even Tory MPs seem to have had enough, with a number of those in northern seats now on the verge of open rebellion against the Government’s perceived lack of a coherent exit strategy from the new Covid lockdowns being imposed on them with devastating economic impact.
As someone who has to self-isolate because of an underlying health problem – the onset of Parkinson’s Disease – you would expect me to support the current restrictions.
Yet I have deepening reservations about the Government’s handling of this crisis.
For it appears to me that we have ended up in the worst of all worlds, governed by rules that are both draconian and ineffective.
A central part of the problem is that the public’s faith in officialdom has been badly eroded, largely due to the gross hypocrisy of those who devised Britain’s restrictions.
After all, it is impossible to maintain national cohesion when there is one law for the hard-pressed citizenry, another for the privileged elite.
Police officers stand guard outside a Gucci boutique store during the protests in Turin
Too many of the rule-makers have turned out to be rule-breakers, refusing to tolerate the same sacrifices that they so piously demanded of others.
The most egregious purveyor of such double-standards was undoubtedly Downing Street’s chief strategist Dominic Cummings, whose notorious trip by car to Barnard Castle in County Durham after he had contracted Covid was a clear breach of the lockdown.
His lack of contrition, never mind his refusal to resign, has permanently undermined the Government’s credibility and, I would suggest, was a tipping point for the public mood which, over the past few months, has been increasingly restive.
There were, of course, others like him, such as Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who visited his self-isolating parents in distant Shropshire at the peak of lockdown, or SNP MP Margaret Ferrier, who shamelessly made a round-trip between Scotland and London last month despite knowing that she had tested positive for the virus.
Just as reprehensible was the behaviour of doom-mongering scientist Professor Neil Ferguson, the real architect of the lockdown strategy, whose illicit trysts with his married lover made a mockery of his own stern injunctions against household mixing.
‘I thought I was immune,’ he said in his defence, having tested positive for the coronavirus and isolated himself for ‘almost two weeks’ – an utterance that we now know contained more political than medical truth.
Meanwhile, the morale-sapping impact of such hypocrisy on the country has only been compounded by the Government’s heavy-handedness in meting out new restrictions.
Protesters in Milan during a protest against the new coronavirus measures
More than 8million people in England are now living under the highest Tier 3 rules, while the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have even tougher lockdowns.
Indeed the Welsh government appears to have become a mix of theatrical farce, communist East Germany and Cromwellian puritanism. Bizarre, contradictory regulations on essential sales have led to books on supermarket shelves being cordoned off with police tape.
‘I can buy a Babycham, but not baby milk,’ complained one shopper, highlighting the nonsense.
At the weekend, a service at a church in Cardiff was even raided by police with searchlights because it broke Wales’s particularly draconian ‘firebreak’ restrictions.
This assault on essential liberties is wholly unBritish. Freedom is meant to be central to this country’s heritage.
Yet today, ordinary people are being heavily punished without trial for the breach of some arbitrary edict.
Rule-makers have turned out to be rule-breakers-SNP MP Margaret Ferrier (left) and chief strategist Dominic Cummings (right)
Just ask Manchester University student Carys Ingram, who was recently fined £6,600 after she posted a photo of herself on social media breaking quarantine rules during a visit to see her family in the Channel Islands.
Of course, it could have been worse. Last week individual penalties of £10,000 were imposed on three Nottingham students for holding a house party.
And in recent weeks we’ve seen just how easy it is for this jobsworth mindset to descend into outright cruelty.
That trend was epitomised earlier this month during a funeral at a Milton Keynes crematorium, where the ceremony was interrupted by an appallingly cold-hearted official who rushed forward to prevent a son from hugging his grieving mother.
It was a deeply disturbing indication of how individuals are being made to suffer unnecessarily by the current social-distancing measures.
Yet we must remember, too, that Britain as whole is also paying an enormous price for the current restrictions, both economically and in terms of our general health.
At the start of this year, who could have thought that by October we would be living in a country where the national debt is bigger than the size of the economy?
And so, after failing so miserably on so many fronts, it would take a Government of some nerve to now demand absolute obedience from the British public.
For if it does, it will only stoke the fires of indignation.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
We made promises to voters in the North… we MUST keep them, writes DAVID DAVIS
The North has always been Britain’s great industrial heartland. Yet that proud history has become its disadvantage during the pandemic.
If you work in an office-based job such as financial services, you may find it easy to do so from home.
But anyone who works in a steel foundry, a garment factory or any business that relies on physical manufacturing has probably had a harder time of it.
And they are much more likely to be in the North.
Promises made to voters in the north must be kept, says former Brexit secretary David Davis
That’s why, with 40 of my fellow MPs from the so-called ‘Blue Wall’ that stretches from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, I unhesitatingly put my signature to the letter sent this week to 10 Downing Street by Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen in Lancashire.
Our letter sets out to ensure that our constituencies are not ‘left behind’ in the aftermath of Covid: That the Government does not for a moment slacken on its vital ‘levelling-up’ agenda in the North.
Yes, Covid-19 is an alarming threat to the country. But it also provides the Government with an exceptional opportunity to make good on its promise to the North.
When he was elected as Prime Minister in a landslide victory last December, Boris Johnson pledged to Northern voters that he would ‘work around the clock to repay your trust and to deliver on your priorities’. Boris knew that many Blue Wall voters had put their cross next to a Conservative candidate for the first time in their lives.
David Davis says Covid-19 is an alarming threat to the country but it also provides the Government including Chancellor Rishi Sunak with an exceptional opportunity to make good on its promise to the North
Their continued support was by no means guaranteed.
If we let them down, we would pay for it dearly at the next election.
Our letter set out two concerns. First, people feel real fear in regions where tough Tier 3 lockdowns have been imposed.
Their fear stems from the authorities’ lack of clarity: No one can say how long these onerous restrictions are likely to last.
We’re told that these local lockdowns are ‘circuit-breakers’, ‘fire-breaks’ or whatever new jargon has been dreamt up this week.
What matters is that there is no guarantee when these restrictions on people’s lives will end.
Second, people in poorer Northern regions are deeply concerned that the country will be paying the cost of Covid for years to come.
The letter sets out two concerns. First, people feel real fear in regions where tough Tier 3 lockdowns have been imposed
All the promises of ‘levelling-up’ and new investment will be forgotten, lost in the economic aftermath of this crisis.
Yet boosting the North will be good for the whole of Britain.
That’s why I emphatically dismiss any suggestion that we 41 MPs are some sort of ‘party within the party’, or that the old divisions of the Thatcher era between ‘wets’ and ‘hardliners’ is being revived.
As Boris himself said in a speech in June: ‘Too many parts of this country have felt left behind: Neglected, unloved…
‘This Government not only has a vision to change this country for the better: We have a mission to unite and to level up.’
I and my co-signatories will now ensure that this mission is carried out.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
GBBO accused of ‘borderline racism’ for ‘Japanese week’ food choices
The Great British Bake Off has been accused of ‘borderline racism’ by viewers.
During Tuesday night’s episode, contestants decided to cook Chinese treats for ‘Japanese week,’ – with one amateur baker styling her first creations to look like Pandas – leaving fans of the Channel 4 show extremely offended.
For their first challenge, contestants were tasked with creating Japanese steamed buns, but rather than opting for traditional Nikuman, the bakers chose to go for Chinese, Indian and American-style fillings.
Oh dear! The Great British Bake Off has been accused of ‘borderline racism’ by viewers
The buns, named Nikuman, are traditionally filled with savory pork, shiitake mushroom, cabbage, and scallion.
And so, viewers were bemused when some contestants opted for Chinese style fillings, while others went for Indian and American takes on the classic Japanese dish.
Hermine even styled her ‘chicken nikuman’ buns into Pandas, which originate from central China.
Buns: For their first challenge during Thursday night’s episode, contestants were tasked with creating Japanese steamed buns
Pandas!? Hermine styled her ‘chicken nikuman’ buns into Pandas, which originate from China
What the…? But viewers were bemused when some contestants opted for Chinese style fillings, while others went for Indian and American takes on the classic Japanese dish
Taking to Twitter, those who tuned into the show voiced their fury, with one enraged viewer tweeting: ‘I am SO offended by tonight’s #GBBO So ignorant and racist. You’d think in the age – and climate – they’d do better.
‘It not only insulted us Japanese, they’ve insulted the Chinese – and everyone’s intelligence.’
Someone else tweeted: ‘I had hopes for Japanese week but generalising all Asian food with Japan feeds the racist narrative that all Asians are the same, which is not cool in any time but especially now as East Asians are being racially abused due to Coronavirus.’
Burger buns? The buns, named Nikuman, are traditionally filled with savory pork, shiitake mushroom, cabbage, and scallion
Dahl? Marc decided to go for an Indian take on traditional Japanese Steamed Buns
Racist narrative: ‘generalising all Asian food with Japan feeds the racist narrative that all Asians are the same,’ said one furious viewer
‘Why is everyone cooking Chinese on Japanese week? This is so rude/racist #gbbo.’ added another.
‘It’s JAPANESE week, people. Not CHINESE Week. #GBBO,’ pointed out another fan of the show.
Someone else asserted: ‘This is an absolute trainwreck of an episode. It’s borderline racist #GBBO.’
Going into more detail, one viewer explained: This racist a** ‘Japanese week’ episode of #GBBO being: Bao (Chinese food) ‘Kawaii Cake’ (not a thing!) Matcha Mille Feuille (fair enough).
Fan reaction: Taking to Twitter, those who tuned into the show voiced their fury
‘Imagine being this much of a flop when Japan has so much delicious cuisine. Plz try harder!’
Someone else tweeted: ‘But Pandas are from China, not Japan, bit racist really #GBBO.’
One viewer also claimed that Matt Lucas had blocked her on Twitter, positing that it could be because he ‘knew the user would tell him to stop making racist jokes on #GBBO.’
MailOnline has contacted The Great British Bake Off for comment.
Yikes! One viewer also claimed that Matt Lucas had blocked her on Twitter
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
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