A mother, 29, was left wheelchair-bound after her coccyx snapped off when she tombstoned off a waterfall at a Welsh beauty spot and smashed into a rock.
Danni Harding had travelled 45 miles with her friends to the Sgwd Gwladys waterfall in Pontneddfechan, Glynneath, where they decided to make the jump.
The group had packed their own lunches and even taken lilos to enjoy the cool water.
But the sunny day soon turned to a nightmare when Danni hit a rock under the water during her final leap, managing to pull herself out before she later collapsed.
Dannie Harding, 29, pictured with her five-year-old son Kobi-Lee, had travelled 45 miles to the Sgwd Gwladys waterfall in Pontneddfechan, Glynneath before the accident in 2018
The mother from Barry, South Wales, said: ‘I must have hit the bottom or a rock with my backside, because straight away I knew something was very wrong.
‘But, being as headstrong as I am, I fronted out the pain and managed to walk out of there.
‘It wasn’t until we’d all hiked a bit further on that the pain overcame me and I collapsed.’
She had been running a security firm before the horrific accident but had to stop when she lost the use of her limbs in the fall.
Her terrifying experience took place on a hot summer’s day in 2018. She had already plunged off the fall nine times before the final accident.
Danni was left needing a catheter and a string of operations. She later discovered her coccyx had snapped off and was inverted inside her.
Danni later discovered her coccyx had snapped off and was inverted inside her
She said: ‘I couldn’t so much as sit down or go to the toilet – it was horrific.
‘I had to have a catheter inserted in me and the bag filled up with blood – my son, who was only three at the time, is responsible for saving my life because he alerted hospital staff after I’d fallen on the floor in A&E and started having a fit.’
The seizures caused by FND, or Functional Neurological Disorder, a rare medical condition Danni developed after the accident.
She said: ‘Had you talked to me about a year ago I doubt you’d have been able to understand me, because it caused my speech to sound really addled too.
‘Two years of my life have been ripped away from me – I’ve lost work, had to shut down my business and even simple things like cooking a meal – which is one of my great passions – is beyond me now.
‘I’ve been offered a care worker but I’m lucky enough to have lovely neighbours who do a lot for me with regard to everyday things, although that’s hardly ideal.
‘Now I’m still awaiting three operations – all of which will leave me bedridden for long periods, along with requiring a colostomy bag for about a year.
‘What life will be like once I’m over those surgeries, I can’t say.
The Sgwd Gwladys waterfall in Glynneath, where the accident took place. Danni spoke out after hearing that a boy, 13, was airlifted to hospital after tombstoning in the same spot
‘And all this because, one day, I decided to jump off a waterfall for fun.’
Danni decided to speak out after hearing that a 13-year-old boy had to be airlifted to hospital after leaping in the same spot.
She said: ‘When I read about that lad it took me right back to when my own accident happened.
‘Please, anyone reading this who might be thinking of doing the same thing, I beg you to reconsider.
‘Don’t let what happened to me happen to you.’
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EastEnders stars ‘left unhappy over extended breaks and pay loss due to the coronavirus crisis’
It has been claimed that due to social distancing measures, fewer cast members can be allowed on the set at the same time.
And while stars are taking an ‘extended break’, they will not be paid during their time off.
Claims: EastEnders stars have reportedly been left unhappy and even considering quitting over extended breaks and pay losses on the soap due to the coronavirus crisis (Jake Wood pictured in 2019 quit the soap last week after 15 years playing the villain Max Branning)
It comes after Jake Wood quit the BBC One soap last week after 15 years playing the villain Max Branning and in August it was revealed that Ian Beale star Adam Woodyatt is taking an ‘extended break’.
Lacey Turner is also reportedly set to take a lengthy break from EastEnders just as her character Stacey Fowler has returned to Albert Square while Tiffany Butcher star Maisie Smith was announced as a contestant on Strictly earlier this month.
Yet an EastEnders spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘It is not unusual in soaps for cast to have breaks for storyline reasons or other projects.
‘However these are always planned months in advance and no discussions have taken place about operating a period of extended breaks, nor are we introducing a rotation system.’
Social distancing: It has been claimed that due to social distancing measures, fewer cast members can be allowed on the set at the same time (Lacey Turner, pictured in 2016, is also reportedly set to take a lengthy break from EastEnders)
Walford legend: In August, it was revealed that Ian Beale star Adam Woodyatt was being ‘written out’ of EastEnders as he is taking an ‘extended break’ from the soap (pictured in 2017)
It comes after a source told the Mirror: ‘Cast were called by producers over the past few weeks and told that, going forward, they would be operating a period of extended breaks for some.
‘It could see up to a third of the cast off at any one time on a loose rotation system. Actors will not be paid when they are off and they’re not happy. Some are considering quitting.
‘Social distancing means that fewer people can be on set at one time and they have to save money during difficult financial times.’
Exciting! While earlier this month it was announced that Tiffany Butcher star Maisie Smith would be one of the 12 contestants on Strictly Come Dancing
The actor, 48, confirmed he would be leaving Albert Square at the end of the year, but added that bosses will be leaving the door open for his return.
Lacey Turner is also reportedly set to take a lengthy break from EastEnders just as her character Stacey Fowler has returned to Albert Square.
The actress, 32, will be back on screens this week after she went on maternity leave for a year with her daughter Dusty, fourteen months.
According to the Daily Star, Lacey’s return will be a brief one as she will be off the soap again by the end of the year, with bosses currently plotting her temporary departure.
He’s off! Jake, 48, confirmed he would be leaving Albert Square at the end of the year, but added that bosses will be leaving the door open for his return
An insider said: ‘Lacey will be taking a break. The top bosses agreed to give her some time off from the show.
‘This is a great opportunity for the writers to come up with something big for Lacey to get her teeth into.’
The source added that Lacey will return to the soap within the year and there are no plans for her to permanently leave EastEnders.
MailOnline has contacted representatives for Lacey and EastEnders for comment.
In August, it was revealed that Ian Beale star Adam Woodyatt was being ‘written out’ of EastEnders as he is taking an ‘extended break’ from the soap.
While earlier this month it was announced that Tiffany Butcher star Maisie Smith would be one of the 12 contestants on Strictly Come Dancing.
EastEnders returned to screens on Monday, September 7 after it was forced off air when production was suspended during the coronavirus crisis.
The soap has introduced several social distancing measures on set, including perspex screens, body doubles and even CGI.
Break: Lacey, 32, will be back on screens this week after she went on maternity leave for a year with her daughter Dusty, fourteen months
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Countess of Wessex is joined by Prince Edward and children as they pick up litter on seaside
The Countess of Wessex was joined by her husband Prince Edward and their two children as they took to a Hampshire beach to pick up litter today.
Sophie, 55, and the Earl of Wessex, 56, appeared in high spirits as they arrived at the Great British Beach Clean on Southsea Beach in Portsmouth with Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and James Viscount Severn, 12.
The Countess looked casual in a pair of blue denim skinny jeans with a pink and white pair of deck shoes, while her hair was swept back in an elegant bun.
She wore minimal jewellery for the occasion, and donned a pair of black sunglasses, later adding an oversized brown coat to her outfit.
The Countess of Wessex, 55, was joined by her husband Prince Edward, 56, and their two children as they took to a Hampshire beach to pick up litter today
Her husband also opted for a laid back style, wearing a blue shirt and navy body warmer, paired with a pair of dark blue chino trousers and brown leather shoes.
Meanwhile Lady Louise matched her mother, donning a pair of blue skinny jeans and green shirt, with a body warmer and black sunglasses.
The Great British Beach Clean, run by the Marine Conservation society, has been leading the way in tackling ocean pollution for 26 years, with volunteers removing 319 tonnes of litter from their local beaches over the years.
The annual event is running from 18th – 25th September, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation is calling on individuals to adopt a 100m stretch of beach and organise their own beach cleans.
The mother-of-two beamed as she arrived at the litter pick alongside children Lady Louise Windsor, 16 James, Viscount Severn, 12,
These cleans will involve smaller groups of friends, family and ‘bubbles’, in line with government guidance.
The Marine Conservation Society published an article this week urging the public to take part, due to the ‘worrying combination’ of cancelled beach clean events and a ‘huge spike in littering and masses of PPE’ washing up on shores.
Yesterday, Sophie was spotted riding a horse and carriage in the grounds of the Queen’s residence in Berkshire.
Former PR executive Sophie lives at Bagshot Park in Surrey, with Edward and their two children and is widely recognised to be the Queen’s favourite royal.
The royal looked casual as she sported a pair of blue denim skinny jeans and swept her hair into an elegant bun
Meanwhile Prince Edward opted for a smart blue shirt with a cosy black gilet for the morning activity
It is often Sophie who’s picked to travel with the Queen when she is attending church services at either Sandringham or Balmoral.
It is believed that the mother is now seen by the Queen as the Royal Family’s safest pair of hands, because her marriage to Prince Edward has lasted, while Charles, Anne and Andrew have all been divorced.
The Queen and Sophie’s close bond is said to be down to their similar interests, with the pair often spending Saturday or Sunday evenings together at Windsor, watching old war films and historical documentaries.
Sophie, who was brought up in Kent by a tyre company executive father and a secretary mother, is even thought to have convinced the Queen to watch The Crown – suggesting she might enjoy the Netflix series which is based on her reign.
Lady Louise matched her mother, donning a pair of blue skinny jeans and green shirt paired with a body warmer and black sunglasses
The Wessex family are often spotted taking part in outdoor activities at Windsor Castle, which is just 10 miles from their home at Bagshot Park.
Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, and his family also visited his parents in Balmoral this summer.
The Queen and Prince Philip spent six weeks at their Aberdeenshire home but have now moved to Norfolk together to ‘spend time privately’ at the their Sandringham estate, where the Duke spends much of his retirement at Wood Farm.
Amid the Covid-19 crisis, the Queen will return to Windsor in October, from where she will travel to Buckingham Palace for working visits.
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Matt Hancock says Britons SHOULD grass on their neighbours if they break new self-isolation laws
The Health Secretary said people should ‘absolutely’ tell police if they see rule breakers as he warned he could not rule out a second national lockdown if rules continued to be flouted
Matt Hancock today told Britons to grass up their neighbours if they break tough new coronavirus laws that could see them fined £10,000 – and admitted he would do it himself.
The Health Secretary said people should ‘absolutely’ tell police if they see rule breakers as he warned he could not rule out a second national lockdown if rules continued to be flouted.
But the Government appears to be at sixes and seven over whether Britain should become a nation of narks with contradictory views around the Cabinet.
Mr Hancock’s comments were at odds with Boris Johnson’s position, after the Prime Minister said last week that he did not like ‘sneak culture’ and urged people to inform on neighbours as a last resort, ‘if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place … hot tubs and so forth, and there is a serious threat to public health’.
However Home Secretary Priti Patel had earlier backed people informing on their neighbours if they were breaking the new rules, adding: ‘It’s not dobbing in neighbours, it’s all about us taking personal responsibility.’
Mr Hancock spoke today as ministers unveiled plans to fine Covid sufferers up to £10,000 if they leave their house when they are meant to be self-isolating under draconian new rules being brought in to tackle a sharp up-spike in Covid-19 cases across the UK.
With his ministers locked in debate this weekend over whether to introduce a second lockdown that would devastate the economy, the Prime Minister announced that he was creating a new legal duty for people to self-isolate if they test positive for the virus or are told to do so by Test and Trace staff.
Asked this morning on Sky’s Ridge on Sunday if he would report a neighbour he said: ‘Yes, and everybody should. And the reason for that is that the way we control this virus is by breaking the chains of transmission.’
Repeating this view later on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show he added: ‘I’m not in this for a popularity contest. I’m in this to keep the country safe.’
The development came as:
- The number of daily cases reached 4,422, the highest level since early May, with scientists fearing that infections are growing between two and seven per cent each day, with a national R rate between 1.1 and 1.4;
- Sources said that Mr Whitty was on ‘resignation watch’ over fears he may quit if Ministers resist his calls for tougher restrictions – but Mr Johnson is said to be in Whitty’s ‘grip’;
- Supermarkets ran out of online delivery slots as the spectre of a second national lockdown prompted fears of panic buying, as Morrisons introduced limits on the number of shoppers across its 500 supermarkets for the first time since the height of the pandemic in March;
- Hospitality industry leaders warned they faced ‘economic disaster’ from a second lockdown with one in five of their venues – rising to a third in London – still closed and 900,000 employees on the Treasury furlough scheme which runs out at the end of October;
- No 10 reacted angrily to a ‘brutal and personal’ report in The Times claiming that Mr Johnson was miserable and short of money;
- Mr Sunak called for tough measures to balance the Treasury’s books in the wake of the Covid crisis, including a freeze on benefits and public sector pay, as officials mocked Mr Johnson’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ plan for mass testing as ‘Operation Moonf***’;
- Anti-vaccine protesters clashed with police in London; leading to 32 arrests;
- A third of the people recorded to have died from Covid in July and August may actually have passed away due to other causes, researchers at Oxford University suggested;
- The British Medical Association called on the Government to consider further tightening rules about who can meet, in the wake of the rise in daily cases.
Large groups of walkers enjoy the warm sunshine as Police patrol Hyde Park in London on the first weekend of the Rule of Six being in place
Drinkers hit the town ahead of Boris Johnson’s potential plan to close pubs in England. Nottingham was packed with revellers all enjoying a night out on Saturday September 19.
Make children the priority for coronavirus tests to keep schools open, says Labour
Sir Keir Starmer is urging ministers to put children ‘at the front of the queue’ for coronavirus tests.
The Labour leader warned of a ‘flood’ of school closures unless pupils were able to get the tests they needed.
His call came amid reports that 350 schools in England and Wales were forced to close completely or to send children home last week following positive Covid-19 tests.
Sir Keir said it was essential that children whose schooling was disrupted by the lockdown did not lose out even more because a shortage of tests meant they were unable to return to the classroom.
‘If the Prime Minister does not get a grip of the testing crisis, children will be robbed of an education. We are seeing a growing flood of schools closures,’ he said.
‘The testing regime is not working, nor does it appreciate the unique challenges many families are having to cope with.
‘That is why I’m urging the Prime Minister, like our key workers, to put children at the front of the queue for testing. To this week give parents a cast iron guarantee that they can get their child a test within 24 hours and the result back 24 hours later.’
Mr Hancock added: ‘If everybody follows the rules then we can avoid further national lockdowns, but we, of course, have to be prepared to take action if that’s what’s necessary. I don’t rule it out, I don’t want to see it.’
Under a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, four million people on low incomes who cannot work from home will receive a £500 lump sum if forced to self-isolate.
But fines for those breaching the rules, which come into effect a week tomorrow, will start at £1,000 – rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders and ‘the most egregious breaches’, which would include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work.
Mr Hancock this morning told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday the nation was at a ‘tipping point’ and there was a choice between following the current rules like the Rule of Six and self-isolation ‘or we will have to take more measures’.
‘I don’t want to see more measures, more restrictive measures. But unfortunately if people don’t follow the rules that is how the virus spreads,’ he added.
‘It comes down to individual choices of the 60million people who live in this country as to whether we can keep it there with a local lockdown approach or whether we have to take further national action.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party supported the action that would target ‘a small number’ of people.
‘There are a few people that are breaking the rules and something has to be done about that,’ he told Ridge on Sunday.
‘But it’s not going to be the silver bullet … we have a testing system that, when we need it to be effective, is barely serviceable.’
He also warned the Prime Minister that he needed to take immediate and hard-hitting action to avoid a miserable Christmas for millions of British families.
In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, the opposition leader said: ‘He has to act swiftly and decisively now to get infections under control so that Christmas is not lost.
‘We were promised world-beating testing, but we haven’t even got a serviceable system.
‘It is astonishing that the Government didn’t anticipate that we would need to boost testing when children went back to school and people went back to work.’
Party animals in Nottingham seemed to shake off concerns about the coronavirus and social distancing as they gathered for a night out on Saturday.
Plenty of people were seen in on Saturday in large crowds at Stables Market in Camden, London, and in Nottingham, where people hit the pubs before they potentially close their doors again.
Long queues were seen around Nottingham, with security having to step in and ask people to space out more due to zero social distancing going on. Police and community protection were doing patrols.
A sharp rise in the number of cases over recent weeks has triggered alarm in Downing Street, with the Government’s scientific advisers pushing for a ‘circuit breaking’ second lockdown – but Ministers led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak are warning of the devastating economic impact.
A No 10 source admitted last night: ‘It’s not looking good.’
In a carefully choreographed move, the advisers, including Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, are expected to release data showing the rise in cases at a public event tomorrow.
Mr Johnson could then make a televised appearance on Tuesday to set out new measures.
The extent, and the duration, of the new rules are still being discussed by Ministers, but are likely to include a nationwide curfew on pubs and a ban on the mixing of households.
Matt Hancock said the number of hospital admissions for coronavirus was rising and would be followed by an increase in the number of deaths.
‘We have seen in other countries when the case rate shoots up, the next thing that happens is the numbers going into hospital shoot up,’ he told Marr.
‘Sadly, we have seen that rise, it is doubling every eight days or so – people going into hospital – then, with a lag, you see the number of people dying sadly rise.’
But he added that it is still possible that there could be a coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year.
‘There is still hope that we will get one of the vaccines over the line this year. The Oxford vaccine is still at the front of the queue. More likely is next year, and probably the early part of next year.
‘We have got the cavalry coming over the next few months – the vaccine, the mass testing and the improvements in treatments – but we have got to all follow the rules between now and then to keep people safe.’
Under a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, 4 million people on low incomes who cannot work from home will receive a £500 lump sum if forced to self-isolate. Pictured: People sit on a terrace enjoying the weather in London
The Prime Minister said last night: ‘The best way we can fight this virus is by everyone following the rules and self-isolating if they’re at risk of passing on coronavirus. And so nobody underestimates just how important this is, new regulations will mean you are legally obliged to do so if you have the virus or have been asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.
‘People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines. We need to do all we can to control the spread of this virus, to prevent the most vulnerable people from becoming infected, and to protect the NHS and save lives’.
Under the new rules, Test and Trace call handlers will make regular contact with those self-isolating and will pass on suspicions about those breaking the rules to local authorities and the police.
But one Government adviser, Professor Robert Dingwall, argued that it would be premature to reintroduce tougher measures, especially as existing rules have become ‘unenforceable’ because people do not buy into the spirit of the restrictions.
Under the new rules, Test and Trace call handlers will make regular contact with those self-isolating and will pass on suspicions about those breaking the rules to local authorities and the police. Pictured: Members of the public sit outside a cafe in southwest London today
People in southwest London made the most of the good weather today to visit cafes and sit outside in the sun
‘There is a sense among some of the scientific advisers that the Government is perhaps jumping the gun,’ he said.
‘It’s a bit premature to say that we’re on this exponential growth curve when we may just be drifting up to a stable situation at a slightly higher level than we were a few weeks ago, which you would expect with the re-opening of the economy.’
Prof Dingwall also asked whether ‘we are drifting towards a situation where people are quite comfortable with the idea that 20,000 people will die every year from Covid as we are comfortable with the idea that 20,000 people will die every year from influenza. And we shrug our shoulders and get on with our lives.
‘We need to be having more of a national conversation that starts from the lives of ordinary people and what is practical to achieve, and what the costs of these measures are.’
Professor Carl Heneghan, director for the centre of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, told Sky News the country cannot afford to introduce ‘harsh measures’ immediately to curb the spread of Covid-19, adding: ‘What we have to do now is slow down, this is a long winter.’
He said: ‘What we’re seeing is that the virus is operating in a seasonal way.
‘As we’ve gone back to schools, actually what’s happened now is we’ve seen about a 60% increase in consultations for all the acute respiratory infections and that’s what’s driving the problems in the Test and Trace programme.
‘All the young children who have coughs and colds and these infections, one is called rhinovirus.
‘As we look at the data, Covid is operating in a similar seasonal way, and mirroring those respiratory infections, so what we have to do now is slow down, this is a long winter.
‘We can’t afford to go now with harsh measures … the impact on the economy here is going to be significant.
‘What happens is as soon as you pause and then open up again, it tends to come back.
‘We still have to be vigilant about ensuring the infections stay manageable across the board.’
Rishi gets tough: Chancellor plans to FREEZE benefits and state pay
Rishi Sunak is considering a freeze on benefits and public sector pay as he tries to get a grip on the spiralling cost of the coronavirus pandemic – and boost his own political ambitions.
With unemployment projected to rise to more than four million as a result of the crisis, the Chancellor has told fellow Ministers that he is deeply concerned about the long-term damage to the Treasury’s balance sheet.
In an attempt to claw back billions of pounds in economic bailouts, Mr Sunak has discussed scrapping inflation-linked increases to both welfare payments and public sector salaries – and is trying to persuade Boris Johnson to rip up the ‘triple lock’ which protects the income of pensioners.
It comes as Mr Sunak – whose public poll ratings during the pandemic have outstripped his colleagues, including the Prime Minister – has been making increasingly energetic efforts to meet ‘Red Wall’ MPs who entered Parliament in the 2019 Election to set out his political priorities.
This has led to mutterings on the Tory backbenches about the growing strength – and independence – of Mr Sunak’s operation.
Treasury staff are becoming increasingly outspoken about Downing Street’s grip on the Covid crisis, with Boris Johnson’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ plan to mass test ten million people a day by 2021 dismissively referred to in the department as a ‘Moonf***’ moneypit.
Mr Sunak has been the most hawkish Minister in the Government over the need to reopen the economy as quickly as possible, in the face of opposition from Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Government scientific advisers, led by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.
Has the second wave of panic-buying begun? Ocado and Sainsbury’s warn delivery slots are booking up fast as Britain braces for second lockdown
By EMER SCULLY for MailOnline
Ocado and Sainsbury’s have warned customers that delivery slots are booking up fast – as fears of a second wave appear to be fuelling the return of panic-buying.
The online supermarkets pasted notices on their ‘pick a slot’ page warning customers the sites were experiencing high demand.
Ocado’s read: ‘Delivery slots are selling out faster than usual. If you can’t find a slot now, please use the ‘Next 3 days’ button to see available slots further in advance.’
A senior citizen gets the last pack of toilet rolls at a Sainsbury’s Supermarket on March 19, 2020, in Northwich. A spate of panic buying in March saw supermarket shelves stripped bare
A notice on Sainsbury’s delivery slots page said: ‘Slots are still in high demand. We have been working hard to expand our service. More slots are now available and we are able to offer some of them to other customers.
‘Customers who are vulnerable will get priority access and are able to book slots in advance of anyone else. We’re releasing new slots regularly so please check back if you can’t see any available.’
Meanwhile Tesco was fully booked until Wednesday with an available slots all priced at £5.50 – and there were no available spaces until Monday at Asda.
Tesco (pictured) was fully booked until Wednesday with an available slots all priced at £5.50
The Prime Minister is now threatening to ‘intensify’ coronavirus restrictions as he blames the British public for the rise in cases – despite his repeated pleas for people to return to their desks and eat out at pubs and restaurants in a bid to resuscitate Britain’s economy.
It has led to concerns the nation could return to the days of panic shopping seen at the beginning of the pandemic in March.
On March 19 shoppers formed queues outside supermarkets up and down the country from 6am and stripped shelves bare by 9am.
And Ocado was forced to shut down its website and app on March 18 after being swamped with orders.
Customers were not be able to book a new delivery or edit existing orders.
It comes as the Prime Minister looks to ditch his Rule of Six and introduce fortnight-long ‘circuit breakers’ nationwide for six months, following claims that it was ‘inevitable’ that a second wave would hit the country last night.
Senior citizens walk past empty shelves as they shop at Sainsbury’s Supermarket on March 19, 2020 in Northwich, United Kingdom
Hundreds of customers queued for more than an hour with empty trollys zig-zaging through the car park at Costco wholesale warehouse, Sunbury-on-Thames, on March 19
The new approach to get the UK through winter would see it alternate periods of stricter measures, including bans on all social contact between households and shutting down hospitality and leisure venues like bars and restaurants, with intervals of relaxation. Schools will be shut as a ‘last resort’, a Whitehall source claimed.
It is understood that the new ‘circuit break’ shutdown could be announced via television press conference on Tuesday, in a move reminiscent of the Government’s behaviour during the peak of the pandemic.
Visiting the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford, Mr Johnson said: ‘What I can certainly say about parents and schools is we want to keep the schools open, that is going to happen.
‘We want to try and keep all parts of the economy open as far as we possibly can – I don’t think anybody wants to go into a second lockdown but clearly when you look at what is happening, you have got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we have brought in on Monday, so we will be looking at the local lockdowns we have got in large parts of the country now, looking at what we can do to intensify things that help bring the rate of infection down there, but also looking at other measures as well.’
Officials, including England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, are thought to be arguing for tough restrictions as panic within official circles grows.
Today the Government’s original lockdown architect, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, recommended ‘rolling back’ freedoms ‘sooner rather than later’ by ‘reducing contact rates between people’.
The epidemiologist, who was sacked from SAGE for flouting his own lockdown rules, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Right now we’re at about the levels of infections that we were seeing in late February, if we leave it at another two to four weeks we will be back at levels we were seeing more like mid March.
Customers were seen shopping as shelves sat empty amid a nationwide panic on March 20
‘That’s going to clearly cause deaths… I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later, the timing of any more intensive policy, temporary policy, is open to question’.
But the measures are thought to have been met with protests from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has warned against introducing new blanket restrictions by pointing to huge damage already inflicted to the economy.
Government sources claim that Mr Sunak gave ‘sombre warnings’ to the Prime Minister as he highlighted the severity of the damage caused to the UK economy as a result of the March lockdown – while Mr Johnson shrugged off the ‘grim’ economic forecasts, claiming that ‘he was confident it will all be OK in the end’.
Business leaders echoed the Chancellor’s concerns and warned that a second lockdown would tank the economy, with the British Chambers of Commerce saying: ‘Uncertainty and speculation around future national restrictions will sap business and consumer confidence at a delicate moment for the economy’.
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