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Restaurant owner, 67, hacked to ‘pieces’ in front of his partner in horrifying South African robbery

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restaurant owner 67 hacked to pieces in front of his partner in horrifying south african robbery

The owner of a German-themed restaurant has been murdered and hacked ‘into pieces’ by a machete-wielding robber in South Africa.

Eduard Neumeister, 67, who was born in Austria, was hit with ‘dozens of blows’ from a bush knife at his property in Balgowan, 70 miles outside Durban.

The frenzied attack happened as Eduard – known locally as Edi – went to feed his dogs and prepare for breakfast at the Bratwurst Sausage Restaurant and B&B that he ran with partner Margit Riebler, 62. 

Murdered restaurant owner Eduard Neumeister, 67, was hacked to death in front of his partner Margit Riebler (right) at their German-themed restaurant in South Africa

Murdered restaurant owner Eduard Neumeister, 67, was hacked to death in front of his partner Margit Riebler (right) at their German-themed restaurant in South Africa

Murdered restaurant owner Eduard Neumeister, 67, was hacked to death in front of his partner Margit Riebler (right) at their German-themed restaurant in South Africa

As Eduard went outside he was struck with such force by a man wearing a balaclava that he was knocked to the ground.

His devastated partner Margit told police Eduard bravely fought for his life before tragically collapsing in pool of his own blood.

Bloodied footprints and a splattered trail were left in the kitchen as Eduard desperately tried to save his partner's life

Bloodied footprints and a splattered trail were left in the kitchen as Eduard desperately tried to save his partner's life

Bloodied footprints and a splattered trail were left in the kitchen as Eduard desperately tried to save his partner’s life 

Thinking Eduard was dead, the attacker ambushed the restaurant kitchen, where he began strangling Margit and threatened: ‘Give me all the money or die’. 

At this point Eduard staggered through the door, despite his severe injuries, as he desperately tried to help Margit and begged the attacker to leave her alone.

But the man launched a second attack on Eduard with such such ferocity that he was hacked beyond recognition. 

Paramedics and police officers said they had never seen such horrific injuries to a person and revealed Eduard was cut ‘into pieces’.

As the murderer continued to hack Eduard’s body on the kitchen floor, Margit fled to the main road and flagged down car. 

She was driven to a nearby boarding school and called emergency services, but the murderer fled the scene before police arrived, and no arrests have been made. 

Paramedics and police officers said they had never seen such horrific injuries to a person and revealed Eduard was cut 'into pieces'

Paramedics and police officers said they had never seen such horrific injuries to a person and revealed Eduard was cut 'into pieces'

Paramedics and police officers said they had never seen such horrific injuries to a person and revealed Eduard was cut ‘into pieces’

Eduard, above, stands with his German sausage stall at an outdoor market in South Africa. He had opened his German-themed restaurant and B&B business in 2010 with partner Margit

Eduard, above, stands with his German sausage stall at an outdoor market in South Africa. He had opened his German-themed restaurant and B&B business in 2010 with partner Margit

Eduard, above, stands with his German sausage stall at an outdoor market in South Africa. He had opened his German-themed restaurant and B&B business in 2010 with partner Margit

Last night Eduard’s daughter Sylvia, 38, fought back tears at her Cape Town home and said her father stood little chance of surviving the frenzied attack. 

‘Dad was hit from behind with a machete outside and it must have hit an artery as there was so much blood.

‘Edi had gone out to feed our rottweilers who are just so soft that they barked and ran away when this man attacked, and we think to be there at that time he must have been lying in wait for him.

‘We don’t know how he got past the electric fence and inside the main compound area but it would seem he knew my dad always fed the dogs at about 7.30am and he was waiting for him.’

A pool of Eduard's blood is seen on the steps into the restaurant where he managed to get up in a bid to save his partner's life as the attacker strangled her

A pool of Eduard's blood is seen on the steps into the restaurant where he managed to get up in a bid to save his partner's life as the attacker strangled her

A pool of Eduard’s blood is seen on the steps into the restaurant where he managed to get up in a bid to save his partner’s life as the attacker strangled her 

‘Dad went down on the ground as you can see from all the bloodstains by the workshop but shouted a warning to Margit, but the black guy went inside then had his hands around her throat.’ 

She said that when her father heard Margit being attacked ‘he managed to get up and he tried to distract the burglar so that he could save her’. 

Sylvia, who works as a waitress, revealed her father’s injuries were ‘too gruesome for anyone to even try and identify him because it was just impossible to tell who he was’. 

She said so much of her father’s body had been attacked that ‘there was nothing left to put in a coffin’.    

Describing the killing as ‘plain brutal’, Sylvia added: ‘Our dad was a funny man with a wicked sense of humour who made people laugh. 

‘He did not harm anyone and was kind to everyone so he did not deserve this. His family had all helped him since 2010 build up his business and our blood, sweat and tears went into that.

‘Edi was a happy man who led a good life but thanks to this animal it was all over in an instant.

‘It is time this country woke up to what is happening on the farms and smallholdings because what happened here is just not right.’

Police tape protects the crime scene at the Bratwurst Sausage Restaurant and B&B. Authorities believe the motive for the attack was robbery, but the attacker - who remains at large - did not steal anything from safes

Police tape protects the crime scene at the Bratwurst Sausage Restaurant and B&B. Authorities believe the motive for the attack was robbery, but the attacker - who remains at large - did not steal anything from safes

Police tape protects the crime scene at the Bratwurst Sausage Restaurant and B&B. Authorities believe the motive for the attack was robbery, but the attacker – who remains at large – did not steal anything from safes 

Sylvia said that although her father had several safes containing cash and valuables nothing appeared to have been stolen, despite authorities believing robbery was the motive for the attack.

She said: ‘Perhaps when Margit ran and got away the killer just panicked and made a run for it’.  

Margit, a mother-of-two originally from Berlin, was too distraught to talk as she moved belongings out the property. 

Eduard’s son Tommy, a sommelier from Weinheim in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, said he spoke with his father on the phone each week and would often visit with his wife and three-year-old son Elijah. 

He said: ‘Edi and I had talked about farm attacks in South Africa but he never thought it would happen to him and he had upped security with two dogs and an electric fence and he felt he was safe.

Daughter Sylvia, above, revealed her father's injuries were 'too gruesome for anyone to even try and identify him because it was just impossible to tell who he was'

Daughter Sylvia, above, revealed her father's injuries were 'too gruesome for anyone to even try and identify him because it was just impossible to tell who he was'

Daughter Sylvia, above, revealed her father’s injuries were ‘too gruesome for anyone to even try and identify him because it was just impossible to tell who he was’

‘Killings like this need to stop right now and I don’t want anyone else going through what we are going through and more has to be done to keep farmers and those on these smallholdings safe.

‘Edi was a proud father and grandfather and I feel a part of me has been ripped out. I could not believe that on Sunday instead of chatting to him as usual I was dealing with his death’ he said. 

Authorities have secured the property which is being patrolled and lived in by security guards.

KZN Province Premier Sihle Zikalala condemned the murder and said: ‘Violent crime will not be tolerated and those who commit such acts will be dealt with harshly. 

‘We must ensure that the safety of those in our rural farming communities is prioritised’.

Chris Pappas, the opposition party Democratic Alliance KZN spokesperson, said they had constantly called for rural communities to be better protected.

Eduard, pictured above with his family, was described as 'one of the most loving members of our community'

Eduard, pictured above with his family, was described as 'one of the most loving members of our community'

Eduard, pictured above with his family, was described as ‘one of the most loving members of our community’

He said: ‘There has to be direct subsidising for security initiatives such as farm patrols and farm watches and the utilisation of technology such as CCTV and drones in hot spot areas.

‘We need the introduction and support of rural policing units that work with local crime prevention initiatives and the establishment of a provincial rural safety directorate’ he said.

South African Police Service spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala Mr Neumeister confirmed no arrests had yet been made.

Democratic Alliance local councillor Sandile Mnikati said: ‘I had met Mr Neumeister a few times when I went to his establishment and he was a gentle and loving man.

‘The brutal killing of one of the most loving members of our community is a tragedy and his loss to criminals in such a merciless manner will leave a scar for years to come on our community’.

Eduard's son Tommy, pictured about with his father and sister, said: 'Killings like this need to stop right now and I don't want anyone else going through what we are going through and more has to be done to keep farmers and those on these smallholdings safe'

Eduard's son Tommy, pictured about with his father and sister, said: 'Killings like this need to stop right now and I don't want anyone else going through what we are going through and more has to be done to keep farmers and those on these smallholdings safe'

Eduard’s son Tommy, pictured about with his father and sister, said: ‘Killings like this need to stop right now and I don’t want anyone else going through what we are going through and more has to be done to keep farmers and those on these smallholdings safe’

Eduard, originally from Salzburg in Austria, moved to South Africa in the 1970s where he met and married his first wife in 1980. 

The marriage broke down in 1994 and Eduard later found new love with Margit before the pair launched their B&B business in 2010. 

Daughter Sylvia said: ‘Dad basically offered a traditional bit of Germany up in the hills of KwaZulu-Natal and his sausage dishes and German beer went down very very well with the tourists.

Eduard is pictured with his son Tommy (left) and three-year-old grandson Elijah. Tommy said: 'Edi was a proud father and grandfather and I feel a part of me has been ripped out. I could not believe that on Sunday instead of chatting to him as usual I was dealing with his death.'

Eduard is pictured with his son Tommy (left) and three-year-old grandson Elijah. Tommy said: 'Edi was a proud father and grandfather and I feel a part of me has been ripped out. I could not believe that on Sunday instead of chatting to him as usual I was dealing with his death.'

Eduard is pictured with his son Tommy (left) and three-year-old grandson Elijah. Tommy said: ‘Edi was a proud father and grandfather and I feel a part of me has been ripped out. I could not believe that on Sunday instead of chatting to him as usual I was dealing with his death.’

Three-year-old grandson Elijah is pictured on a tractor with Eduard during a visit to South Africa

Three-year-old grandson Elijah is pictured on a tractor with Eduard during a visit to South Africa

Three-year-old grandson Elijah is pictured on a tractor with Eduard during a visit to South Africa

The entrance to the restaurant where Eduard was murdered is now shuttered off as authorities conduct investigations into his murder

The entrance to the restaurant where Eduard was murdered is now shuttered off as authorities conduct investigations into his murder

The entrance to the restaurant where Eduard was murdered is now shuttered off as authorities conduct investigations into his murder 

‘He also had a strong following of German locals with lots of passers-by mixed in and he became very well known locally and he loved nothing more than enjoying a few beers and a laugh.

‘The business was really taking off with the bed and breakfast side looking good for the future but then Covid-19 came along and he and Margit had to close their doors and then this happens.

‘My brother and I are devastated that something so dreadful could happen to our father and sadly know I think this is the end of his dream and I cannot see the restaurant ever reopening.

‘We just hope they catch the person responsible for his horrific murder and that anyone else who has had any involvement in setting it up in any way or shape or form is also caught’ she said.  

There were 21,000 murders in South Africa in 2019 – an average of 58 a day.  

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EastEnders stars ‘left unhappy over extended breaks and pay loss due to the coronavirus crisis’

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eastenders stars left unhappy over extended breaks and pay loss due to the coronavirus crisis

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.

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)

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)

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)

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.’ 

Earlier this week, EastEnders star Jake Wood quit the soap after 15 years playing the villain Max Branning.

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

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

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

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

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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

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,

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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

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.

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.’

 

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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.

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

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

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

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.

 

Advertisement

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.’

It comes as Government scientists spooked Boris Johnson with warnings of hundreds of daily coronavirus deaths ‘within weeks’ as they said: ‘There is no alternative to a second national lockdown’. 

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 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

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

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

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

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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